Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Hanoi Rocks’ Michael Monroe

In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz an artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: the Finnish glam-rockers' former frontman takes the test

Which band challenged Hanoi Rocks to a street fight in 1983, with their frontman turning up brandishing a baseball bat?

“Twisted Fucking Sister!”


“That was fantastic! Kerrang! asked [Hanoi Rocks guitarist] Andy McCoy what he thought of Twisted Sister. He said they looked like truck drivers in drag. Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider got pissed off and they challenged us to a fistfight in Covent Garden. We were skinny wimps living in squalor in Tooting Bec, so we’d never have gone [Laughs]. There was an article in Sounds magazine, with Dee with a loud-speaker going: ‘Alright Hanoi Rocks, where are you? Come out to play-ay!’ and looking in a trash can saying: ‘Michael Monroe, where are you?’.”

“I met Dee years later: he’s smart and cool, and we’re friends now. With the new reborn Hanoi in the 2000s, we opened for  Twisted Sister in the UK and I played a trick on Andy. He was sitting backstage and I rushed into the room with Dee saying: ‘There he is! He’s the one who called you a truck driver in drag! C’mon let’s beat him up!’ Andy was shitting himself for two seconds at least!”

“On that tour, I asked Twisted Sister’s bassist Mark ‘The Animal’ Mendoza if they were serious about the fight at the time, because we thought it was a PR stunt. He responded: ‘It wasn’t a joke – we were ready!’. [Laughs] He used to be a bounty hunter and his arm is bigger than my leg, so it’s a good thing we didn’t go down. We’d have got our asses kicked!”

Which rock frontman once claimed you were the only man he would ever sleep with?

Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott.”

CORRECT. Talking about ‘80s glam bands, he genuflected: “Michael Monroe was one of the best [rock stars]. I would have shagged him. I think he’s sexy and I’m not gay.”

“Joe’s the coolest guy in rock‘n’roll so it was very flattering to hear that comment from him! [Laughs]”

Obviously Hanoi Rocks provided the blueprint for the 1980s hair metal explosion, but even the Manic Street Preachers were heavily influenced by your style

“I heard that the Manics were influenced by Hanoi later on and I was touched, because they had their own distinctive style and took the right lessons from us. Which is unlike some poseur metal bands in the West Coast of America who missed the point and thought it was all about make-up and big hair, and who played their hairspray cans better than their instruments!”

Which NOFX song name-checks Hanoi Rocks in its lyrics?

“I like that band but had no idea they ever mentioned Hanoi Rocks!”

WRONG. It’s ‘We Got Two Jealous Agains’.

“Really? Wow! I’m honoured if they mention us. Razzle [Hanoi Rocks drummer who died in a car crash in 1984 in a vehicle driven by Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil] told me a story once about our Bangkok gig in 1983. We’d wanted to play Hanoi, Vietnam, but it wasn’t possible then. He was in a bar there with some American soldiers who asked: ‘What’s the name of your band?’ Razzle replied: ‘Hanoi Rocks… it means nothing – it just sounds good; it’s a laugh’. To which the guy pulled up his shirt revealing a huge scar from the Vietnam war and roared: ‘I don’t think it’s funny, man!’. Bob Ezrin [Hanoi’s producer] was always concerned about the band name and asked us to change it, but we refused.”


Which purple pop star turned down the opportunity to produce Hanoi Rocks’ 1983 album ‘Back to Mystery City’?



“I heard his ‘1999’ album and thought it would be cool if he’d produce Hanoi, but Prince’s answer was: ‘I don’t produce no white boys!’ I have no idea what it would have sounded like if he had produced us, but I’m sure it would have been special. It would have been something else and blown everybody’s minds.”

Hanoi Rocks is the favourite band of which Suicide Squad superhero?


CORRECT. In the 2022 TV spin-off Peacemaker, he lauds Hanoi Rocks as “only the greatest band of all time…They’re the original glam metal. They started it all: leather, teased hair, spandex.”

“That was so cool. The director, James Gunn, tagged me in an Instagram post of that scene. When I messaged him, he said:  ‘This is the biggest fan moment ever. I’ve been a fan for fucking years’. I even asked him if he wanted to do the video for my new song ‘Can’t Stop Falling Apart’. He said he’d never directed a music video – but would keep me in mind if he ever does. I sent him my new album, ‘I Live Too Fast to Die Young!’, and he liked it.”

Apart from DC defenders of justice, who’s the most unexpected person who’s turned out to be a fan of yours?

“When I played a festival in 2009 in Finland, I ended up at the side of the state watching Slipknot, when suddenly Dicknose came up to me and screamed:  ‘YOU! IT’S YOUR FAULT!’. I thought he was going to attack me! But then he continued: ‘IT’S YOUR FAULT I’M DOING THIS, MAN! THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER HAD WAS [Hanoi’s 1983 LP] ‘BACK TO MYSERY CITY’. I’M A HUGE FAN AND IT’S AN HONOUR TO MEET YOU’. Then he brought their lead singer, Corey Taylor, over and he was like: ‘Woah! Michael Monroe’s watching our show! Amazing!’ He was really moved, and I was so surprised and flattered that they’d been influenced by Hanoi.”

Which rocker’s hair did Razzle once set on fire?

“[Laughs] Whitesnake’s David Coverdale.”


“That was when he played a festival in Finland in ’83. We were going through airport customs, who would always take us aside and search us. Because of the way we looked, they’d yell gay slurs at us and we’d play up to it and say: ‘Why don’t you check up my ass? I’d like it – it feels good’. And that would stop them! Razzle was a prankster who’d always carry joke shop items. He threw some stink bombs at the customs officers and the whole airport ended up smelling like an open sewer. But Whitesnake arrived at the airport as we were leaving and got annoyed because they thought the stink bombs were aimed at them! It was all good fun. David Coverdale put limiters on our mixing board so we couldn’t play as loudly as Whitesnake – so he got his hair set on fire! [Laughs]”

You first met Razzle at a Johnny Thunders gig and you later ended up sharing a flat with Thunders and Dead Boy Stiv Bator. What was that like?

“Johnny loved us, and we toured with him loved him; our name was taken from  the Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers song ‘Chinese Rocks’. When Hanoi was breaking up [in 1985], I moved in with Stiv Bator and then Johnny moved in, and there was never a dull moment! Johnny had a lot going on but he was a sweet guy and we had some memorable conversations. He said to me: ‘Don’t ever do this to yourself’, referring to his heroin and [other] drug addictions. I used to have to hide his speed from him.”

“It was a tragic time for me: Razzle had died, my band had broke up, and my life was in smithereens. But Johnny helped me to remember the most important thing – if there was no heart in the band, it wasn’t right to carry on. I knew it was the right decision to abandon Hanoi Rocks because Razzle had gone and our bassist Sami [Yaffa] had left. I wanted the world to know Hanoi as the original band, not what it would have turned into if we’d continued.”

After Razzle died, Lemmy offered you himself and Motörhead to use as backing band for gigs…

“That was a huge compliment. I was grieving, so it didn’t register until later on. But I think Motörhead’s fans might have had the baby-faced me for breakfast then!”

Which Hanoi Rocks song did Guns N’ Roses toy with recording for their 1993 album ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’

“They were going to record ‘Beer and a Cigarette’.”


“They were planning to record that but then they met Andy McCoy and changed their minds! That’s what Slash told me. Andy had been so condescending and such a prick to them that they thought fuck him, he doesn’t deserve the money. Obviously it was a shame, but it was great that we did a duet of the Dead Boys’ ‘Ain’t It Fun’ on that album. All I wanted was for millions of their fans to see the name [of Dead Boys frontman] Stiv Bators who’d passed away two years before. I didn’t want money. I’m not sad that the ‘Beer and a Cigarette’ cover didn’t happen, because I wrote some lyrics for that song which I never got credit for, so I might have been pissed off that I didn’t get the royalties! [Laughs]”


Which four songs did you perform with Foo Fighters live onstage at a Helsinki festival in 2017?

“’The Pretender’; a cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Miss You’; ‘Best of You’; and the gig finished with a cover of AC/DC’s ‘Let There Be Rock’ with me doing the splits.”


“The best night of my life! When I played the nose-flute with them onstage, Dave Grohl gasped: ‘What the fuck was that?’. So when I went to say goodbye to them at their hotel the next day, I gave them each their own nose flute. Dave got how to play it on his first try. All the other guys couldn’t work out how to do it! They’re such sweet guys and I was so sorry about what happened to them with losing their drummer, Taylor Hawkins. He was such an amazing guy and I can’t believe  he’s gone. Personally, I know how horrible losing a band member is.”

You recorded the track ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ with Slash for the 1993 film Coneheads. Name the three stars of that movie.

“Jane Curtin, Dan Aykroyd, and… argh! I can’t remember the third one!”

WRONG. You missed out Michelle Burke. Slash is one of the guests on your new album ‘I Live Too Fast to Die Young!’. Tell us about it…

“I’m turning 60 this year and it’s the perfect title. I’ve renewed my sound for this album in the best possible way. There’s something of a death theme: the first track is ‘Murder the Summer of Love’, which is about killing an idea not a person, then ‘I Live Too Fast to Die Young’ reinvents the old cliché because there’s nothing cool about death. Then the song ‘Dearly Departed’ is about losing someone near to you and having to readjust your life. I wrote that song in 2001 when my late wife passed away, and I always thought it was too sad to record. But now felt like the right time to do it.”

Name the three bonus tracks on the Japanese edition of the 1982 Hanoi Rocks album ‘Self-Destruction Blues’.

“It had bonus tracks?! OK: I think I have the CD in the other room. Hold on! I just need to know if I have it!”

Michael leaves the room and returns with the Japanese edition of the album.

“Dead By X-Mas was the last song, so the three bonus tracks are: ‘In The Year ’79 (It’s Too Late)’, ‘Love’s An Injection’ and a cover of ‘Black Sabbath’.”

CORRECT. That’s serious dedication to winning a point!

The verdict: 8/10

“I’m feeling great about that score!”

– Michael Monroe’s new album, ‘I Live Too Fast To Die Young’ is released June 10 via Silver Lining Music.