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Michael and Andy reunited - new collaborations and lessons learned
JR: Are you excited by Mike and Andy's new collaboration?
DD: Well, I haven't heard a single note yet, but much as they might deny it, they do belong together. Obviously I've heard the stuff that Mike has done, and I've heard the stuff that Andy has done, and while I do like it, it's not the same. Neither one of them has quite put it all together. Separately, they're not the same as they are together. Whether it's too late in the day, I don't know, we shall see.
JR: It may be too late to conquer the world, but it's not too late to put out some good music.
DD: I was hugely excited by the fact that Page and Plant got back together, even if it was only briefly. I couldn't understand why it was that they had ever wanted to work apart. In the same way, Mike and Andy really belong to each other, and yet I understand.
JR: You can certainly understand their time apart from Michael's perspective. Andy used to be pretty stubborn about his control of the songwriting, and Michael never got much formal credit for his input on the Hanoi material. But it seems that Andy has changed his tune now. Michael is receiving full credit on the current collaboration, and there's even a possibility that the old Hanoi song credits will be redone to acknowledge Michael's input. That sounds good to me. Coming back together after so many years, you hope that all those personal things are going to be handled a little better. When you're young and full of ego, there can be so many misunderstandings. However the music comes out, it's good to hear that the two of them seem to have reached a better understanding.
DD: When Andy was working on Two Steps from the Move, and Bob Ezrin was bringing in all these other people into the studio, it was almost a mortal offense to say to Andy, "Look, you need some help with these records. What you've got here is great, but it can be even better." When you get guys like Ian Hunter and Lou Reed in the studio - these guys know how to write songs. While the material that Andy turned out was just amazing, it could have been taken a little bit further. But he was always incredibly protective of his work. I always thought, "If you lay a drumbeat down, you might not deserve a fifty percent credit, but you deserve something on it, and even if you've only composed a few lines of lyric or a melody, you deserve some credit." Andy is not alone here, most of us don't want to give credit to anybody else. I understand it, but by the same token, give credit where credit is due.
JR: Well, especially when it pertains to someone like Michael Monroe. Anyone who has listened to Andy's singing over the course of one of his solo albums - and I like his voice as well as anyone could - would agree that having someone like Michael around is a pretty good idea. It's not such a bad thing to offer Mike some songwriting credit and keep things on the up and up. Mike has proven two things during his solo career: first, his claim that he was an integral part of the Hanoi songwriting process has now been backed up by some pretty strong tunes of his own. Second, Michael has really evolved lyrically since Hanoi. He's come up with such outstanding lyrics as can be found on Relationshipwrecked and Where's the Fire John. More than ever, Michael is clearly a worthy collaborator. I think that when you take into account music, singing and lyrics, Michael's post-Hanoi output is not only equal to what Andy has done, it might even be superior. Part of that may be due to the fact that Michael has welcomed a series of collaborators into his life, such as, sadly, his now deceased wife Jude Wilder. Michael's been willing to share his own songwriting credits on many occasions, and as you said, the right collaborators can really bring out the best in your material.
DD: I don't think of Mike as the greatest singer in the world, and I don't think of Andy as the greatest guitarist in the world, but as a combination, they really had something special. I wouldn't put them in quite the same class as Jagger and Richards or Page and Plant, but they're right up there. There was a fire between them that I have rarely ever witnessed. I'm intrigued to find out what it is after all these years they're going to come out with now. With a great deal more years under their belt, and a great deal more maturity, I'm just hoping they're going to come up with something good. It's never going to be as frenetic and energetic and dangerous as it was, that's just not possible. But I'm hoping that they can come up with something which is pretty awesome.
JR: You almost hope that they don't try to recreate anything. The tribute band circuit is a pretty tired gig. The most compelling material done by older musicians allows them to incorporate the changes in their lives into the music, instead of just catering to the nostalgia of their old following.
DD: Exactly. It's like, "Well, you've done that, and now you've got to move on. You're not twenty year old kids anymore, and you can't pretend that you are." Now, people will say, "You know, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are almost 60 years old, and they can still get on stage and produce the goods and they're still turning out great material," but they've weathered with age. They don't try to do the stuff they were doing twenty or thirty years ago, because they're not physically capable anymore. Fifteen years on, Andy is this phenomenal songwriter, and Mike's pretty good too, and the pair of them can put on an incredible show, but they're not twenty years old anymore. I would be saddened if they said, "OK, let's redo Hanoi Rocks." No one is ever going to be able to redo Hanoi Rocks. That was just a moment in time and now it's gone.
JR: Well, if there's any indication, it seems they're both aware of that. One of the songs that Mike has been working on with Andy is called In My Darkest Moment, clearly a reference to what he's been going through in the last year. It's good to see that kind of personal honesty and emotion going into the material, and it's fascinating to think about Andy working together with Michael on it. I've got my fingers crossed for those guys.
DD: Ego is a huge part of being a musician, and it wouldn't work without it. But as you get older, it ought to become less important. I'm hoping that they have learned from the past and moved beyond it a little bit, because the world is big enough to handle it. The world almost needs someone like Mike and Andy to have a voice. I've had to live without it, and I like the idea that they will have moved on and they'll have something important and relevant and interesting to say. It's one of those things where you say, "Please God, let it be good." That was always the fear, when each new Hanoi album came out. Fortunately, every time they came out with an album, it always was.
In one of those old Hanoi pieces, I wrote about a time when I actually had to say to Andy, "I'm sorry, that show was shit." He really didn't want to hear it, but he knew it was true. What I promised to Andy was that I would never lie to him. Most other people would say, "Really great show Andy," but I would say, "Look, that was shit." He didn't appreciate me telling him, but if I had said, "Oh, no that was a really great show," he would have known that I was lying to him. If someone you really like and admire comes out with something that you think is crap, it's very difficult to say, "I'm sorry, I really don't rate this," because they've poured their heart and soul into it. If you think it's garbage, it's hard to say what you think. You might stall and say, "Well, how's the weather there," but then they say, "The weather's fine, but what do you think of my album?"