Last week we had Ben reviewing one of the early shows on this tour and by all accounts another memorable night in the company of one of music most exceptional performers. Catching the tail end of the tour there were no plans to run a review but when we have bands this good it seems only right we should cover them as much as possible. Damn this band should be playing bloody arenas and be a household name but we know the world doesn’t work like that. for now, the people who get rewarded are the ones who just know, right? right!

Tonight the Fleece is very busy which is always a good sign, the last time this band played here in Bristol was aboard the good ship Thekla and the attendance wasn’t great. Tonight, with a brand new album in tow it was already looking promising as the room was busy for the opening band – Mother Vulture. They took the stage but quickly they weren’t my cup of tea at all, from the soaring vocals to the new wave of classic rock schtick of the band’s repertoire it’s just not what I listen to but there are plenty of satisfied punters digging their thing.

Next up Electric Eel Shock. A three-man ’80s cock rock assault on the senses, sure it’s bordering on the Barron Nights comedy but these guys do have a song in the shape of ‘Bastard’ that is so ’80s it’s wearing its own spandex and coughs up its own hairnet hairspray can.  They throw in enough shapes to make a Whitesnake tribute band blush and Don Dokken’s hair would fall out (again) if he were to follow these guys on stage.  But they have the audience smiling and wearing a Hanoi Rocks t-shirt is always going to go down well. Job Done I guess they have fun paying their dues and the audience goes along with them. 

Now, the reason we’re all here. Michael Monroe band, strap in, its time to Rock Like Fuck! After hearing many reports of how good the band has been on the tour so far and with only three shows left on the tour surely this one was going to be off the scale with the Fleece being such a good venue even with the pillars running through the venue it’s steeped in Rock and Roll. (even if they make their bread and butter off bloody tribute bands but if that means that nights like tonight and bands like The Monroes can tour and play then even I’ll turn a blind eye).

With ‘One Man Gang’ on heavy rotation the albums growing in stature on every play,  it’s a breath of fresh air to hear the band blast off with the opening five songs all taken from the new record! A bold move for any band but one that gets my approval that’s for sure. From the frantic punky title track to the catchy chorus of ‘Last Train To Tokyo’ to the New York cool of ‘Junk Planet’ this is cooking up to be an exceptional performance. With the band locked in and moving like a cat on a hot tin roof its hard to keep up,  with plenty of smiles on stage it looks like they’re having an absolute ball in this band. Of the songs on the new record to hear them run through ‘In the Tall Grass’ is super cool and such a great song to take on so early on in the set is a supremely confident move from such a great band.

Monroe and Conte make themselves comfortable on the barrier for a nice run through ‘Ballad Of The Lower East Side’ before ripping up ‘Old Kings Road’.  the band were flying through a rapid set that had ’78’ up next before cooling things down with a mellow ‘Black Ties And Red Tape’ (Not)  I’ve seen Monroe many many times live and with many line ups and in many venues all over the UK and I have to say with the exception of Hanoi Rocks classic line up in the mid 80s this is by far the best line up he’s had and the entertainment value is off the scale (it does help having such a strong cannon of songs to pick from for sure) but tonight they are on fire.

Step forward Mr Yaffa as we get the first Hanoi song of the evening as he thumps his way through the intro of the classic ‘Motorvatin’. Always wearing some splendid headwear and playing his bass with such style and having a Perma-smile its such a pleasure to be in the company of such talent. We get another new one in the shape of ‘Hollywood Paranoia’  before we head into the home straight as another thumping rendition of ‘This Aint No Love Song’.

I could have stayed all night listening to new songs or solo material played with an energy most bands could only dream of achieving but its also always nice to hear that Saxophone and a couple of Hanoi rocks tunes so things do slow down for a minute or two as ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’ makes way for ‘Malibu Beach’ before they hit the cover that the band took ownership of on the ‘Two Steps’ album ‘Up Around the Bend’ sees people lose their shit as the kids say and there are going to be some saw heads come the morning. The main set is wrapped up with a pulsating ‘Dead, Jail Or Rock and Roll’.

Play Vi

I’m still scratching my head as to how fuckin’ good this show was and how the hell this band isn’t playing venue ten times this size. I will console myself in the fact that if the world won’t listen then that’s their loss and you can only lead a horse to water and all that. The night wasn’t quite done yet as we had the pair of tunes from Demolition 23  and ‘Nothing’s Alright’ followed by the high kicks that go with ‘Hammersmith Palais’ which only left a blistering duelling rendition of the Stooges classic ‘I Feel Alright’ and then they were finally done. Until the next time that is and the sooner the better.  If you get the chance to see this band then take it they have a superb new album they’re showing off and its raised the bar for everyone else to follow.
There aren’t many bands who can compete with this one on the kind of form they were on tonight and it’s why going to live shows is still so much fun. Great company, great venue, great band, great songs, great memories and great fun and always a frontman who Rocks Like Fuck! always a pleasure – never a chore.
Author: Dom Daley

It’s been four long years since ‘Blackout States’ was released and four long years since Michael Monroe toured the UK. But The Monroes are back on the road promoting the newly released ‘One Man Gang’ opus, and joining them on this long overdue UK jaunt are Japan’s finest exponents of shock rock ‘n’ roll, Electric Eel Shock. With a date at my favourite venue The Brudenell Social Club on a Friday night, tickets were in the bag quick sharpish. This is a good job as it sold out a few days later.

Polish rockers Chemia are a bluesy-based, classic rock sort of affair. I only caught the last couple of songs of their set, but what I heard was fairly decent. I’m very wary of any band that has a bass player with 5 strings on his instrument and Chemia fit that bill. While they are not really my cup of tea, closer ‘I Love You So Much’ is a decent slice of 80’s rock with a cool catchy chorus and they seem to go down well with the growing crowd.

I’ve witnessed the Electric Eel Shock show before. Many here haven’t, and one of the best moments of this evening’s gig was seeing the reaction to their set around me. As Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ blasts from the PA, drummer Tomoharu stands on his kit and matches the beat. He is naked apart from a sock dangling from his cock. Either side of him, guitarist Akihito and bassist Kazuto incite the gobsmacked crowd to rock and bow down to the glorious event they are about to behold.
“We are Electric Eel Shock from Japaaan!” shouts Akihito after taking his flying V out of his mouth! Kazuto’s bass is above his head and the drummer is bashing out beats with four sticks. No one knows where to look, there is so much going on.
Electric Eel Shock have been doing this for 25 years and they have it off to a fine art. They sound like Dave Mustaine singing for Quiet Riot and I mean that in a good way. “We love 80’s heavy metaaal!” shouts the diminutive singer before blasting into ‘So Much 80’s”. He pulls off Eddie Van Halen style solos, sticks plectrums to his forehead and tells one liners that match any stand up comedian.
They have some kick ass tunes as well. ‘Bastard’ is one hell of a song live. As the singer points to his bassist and shouts the refrain, then at the crowd and at himself, we all sing along to that gratifying chorus, smiling and laughing in unison.
They played to a full house tonight and I don’t recall ever seeing such a positive response to a support band before. Electric Eel Shock came, they saw and they conquered.

There are not many bands that could follow that performance, and tonight’s headliners happen to be one of the few. As the lights drop and that familiar tribal intro blasts from the PA, the warmed up and sold out Brudenell crowd let out great cheers for Michael Monroe’s long awaited return to Leeds. Dressed all in black with matching ‘One Man Gang’ jackets, the Monroe cohorts face their drummer, as the legendary frontman bounds towards the microphone and leads them into the high energy tongue twister of a title track.
It’s no surprise that the band are on fire from the off. Rich Jones and Steve Conte play riffs off each other, Sami Yaffa brings the trademark low end rumble and Karl Rockfist pummels the hell out of his kit, as Finland’s very own Iggy Pop bounds about the stage like a 25 year old rock star with something to prove. This band is high energy rock ‘n’ roll personified and they sound magnificent.
Opening a set with 5 songs from your new album is a brave move, especially with the back catalogue Michael Monroe has. I guess it goes to show how strongly the band believes in the new material. And while ‘Last Train to Tokyo’ and ‘Junk Planet’ sound mighty live and get plenty of crowd reaction, no one down the front is moving. In fact it’s not until the familiar vocal drawl of ‘Ballad Of The Lower East Side’ that things really get cooking and the front erupts into a frenzy. So good, it sounds so good! The band have hit the level and the crowd are with them , then just after Conte pulls of a killer solo…boom! They blow the power!
Instant comedown…the show stops abruptly. But the livewire frontman is not going to let a simple thing like electricity stop his show, on no. So while the band shrug their shoulders and head to the bar while stage guys frantically try to fix the problem, the singer takes to the kit and does a 10 minute drum solo, entertains the front row with his spinning glowsticks and even gets his sax out for a solo, before power is thankfully restored.
The band strap on their instruments, have a quick discussion and blast back right where they left off mid-song, like nothing ever happened. Rock ‘n’ fuckin’ roll! ‘Old King’s Road’ and a punky ‘78’ follow, with Rich and Sami joining Michael with the high kick action. The band seem in their element, Rich Jones especially is animated and at the font mouthing the words to the songs.
The room erupts once more as Sami plays the classic bass riff that introduces ‘Motorvatin’. I will never tire of hearing those old Hanoi songs and neither will the majority here, judging by the response. Classic follows classic, an extended and emotive ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’, a killer ‘Malibu Beach’ and a frantic ‘Up Around The Bend’. The band play with the energy and attitude needed to deliver these classics to an audience that laps up every note and every melody.
A Demolition 23 double bill encore follows the dark and dramatic newbie ‘Low Life In High Places’. ‘Nothin’s Alright’ and ‘Hammersmith Palais’ are like an injection of adrenaline straight to the heart. Closing with The Stooges classic ‘I Feel Alright’ is the icing on the cake. Raw, sweaty, high energy rock ‘n’ roll, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Michael Monroe and his band are a well-oiled machine with an arsenal of some of the best rock ‘n’ roll songs you could wish for. And the legendary frontman is a performer who gives his all every show. Tonight they truly had to work for it, but technical issue were never going to halt a band of this calibre and in the live arena, they are simply untouchable. Probably the best gig I have seen at this venue.

Author: Ben Hughes

‘One Man Gang’ Album Review Here

Picture from the exceptionally talented Neil Vary Gig Photography

“Junk Planet” is the third single from Michael Monroe’s dirty and dangerous new album “One Man Gang” available to buy NOW on CD, Coloured Vinyl and Digital formats: Here and as special D2C bundles: Here

 

Recorded and mixed by Petri Majuri at E-Studio in Sipoo, Finland over three weeks in March 2018, the 12-song record was mixed that following Autumn with Monroe and band-mates Rich Jones and Steve Conte on production duties. With stunning presence, Monroe’s vocals blaze their unique trail across catchy, low-slung guitars mixing with saxophones, harmonicas and trumpets, plus a smorgasbord of exciting hooks and melodies. One Man Gang is old-skool strut with rudely fresh vigour.

 

2019 TOUR DATES

Oct 24 Fryshuset Klubben Stockholm, Sweden

Oct 25 High Voltage Rock Club Copenhagen, Denmark

Oct 26 HeadCRASH Hamburg, Germany

Oct 27 FRANNZ Club Berlin, Germany

Oct 29 La Maroquinerie Paris, France

Oct 30 02 Academy Islington London, United Kingdom

Nov 01 Brudenell Social Club Leeds, United Kingdom

Nov 02 The Craufurd Arms Wolverton, United Kingdom

Nov 03 Engine Rooms Southhampton, United Kingdom

Nov 04 The Mill, Digbeth Birmingham, United Kingdom

Nov 05 The Garage Glasgow, United Kingdom

Nov 06 Manchester Club Academy Manchester, United Kingdom

Nov 07 The Fleece Bristol, United Kingdom

Nov 08 The Sugarmill Stoke-on-trent, United Kingdom

Nov 09 Hard Rock Hell Chapter XIII Vauxhall Holiday Park, Great Yarmouth, United Kingdom

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Michael Monroe’s Official YouTube Channel, featuring official videos and music, behind the scenes footage, documentaries, tour diaries and much more! A genuine rock star since birth, Michael Monroe’ place in history was sealed with Hanoi Rocks, but he has never been one to rest on his laurels! Michael Monroe innately knows exactly how to sing, swagger and walk the most glamorous and colourful of walks. Together with Sami Yaffa, Rich Jones, Steve Conte and Karl Rockfist, Monroe takes you on a journey which is all about the fun of Friday nights, seven days a week, letting your hair down (or up!) for a dirty, dangerous, damn good time, and embracing a total escape into the rock ‘n’ roll dream!

Today sees the release of the new Michael Monroe single “One Man Gang” from the brand new album out Oct 18th.

The track also features the punk rock legend, Captain Sensible ( The Damned ) as a special guest playing the lead guitar on this one. If you’re into authentic, high-energy Rock’n’Roll you’re gonna dig this one!

Written by Rich Jones. The track features  Michael Monroe – lead vocal, Rich Jones & Steve Conte – guitars &  vocals, Sami Yaffa -bass, Karl Rockfist – drums, The Captain – guitar solo. ‘One Man Gang’ was also produced by the band. 

 

pic by tommy@tommyfoto.no

Matti Antero Kristian Fagerholm (Born 17 June 1962), you might know him as the legend that is Michael Monroe.  Not content with being the leader of the 80s best band Hanoi Rocks he then went on to form Demolition 23 (ok so Jerusalem Slim was before but that was something of an experiment) after Demolition 23 broke down he went on to record some superb solo albums as well as reform Hanoi for a few years with Andy before forging ahead with his solo career.

Beginning with ‘Nights Are So Long’ Monroe spent time living in NYC before returning to his native Finland where he still lives today.  You can debate til the cows come home as to which album is the best but for me ‘Nights Are So Long’ was the first and best.  ‘Not Fakin’ It’  followed and whilst it was commercially more accessible I never really liked the sound of the record as it tended to lean towards to Rock fraternity stateside and was the least Rock and Roll album of his back catalogue even if it did have some great tunes on it.

During the two thousands, his solo work contained some excellent self-penned songs as well as some awesome covers that gave the listener a glimpse into his record collection and what shaped him musically, before arriving at the last decade where his output and stable(ish) line up consisting of longtime collaborator and accomplice Sami Yaffa, Karl Rockfist and Steve Conte and Rich Jones are helping churn out some of the best live performances of his career as well as his most consistent albums since Hanoi.  ‘One Man Gang’ is eagerly anticipated and I’m sure will be a massive hit with fans old and new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Svart Records were responsible for doing an amazing job on ‘Nights Are So Long’ and ‘Peace Of Mind’ and work is well underway on the next reissues. So with these the tour and new album its all ramping up to an exciting second half of 2019 and no sign of Monroe slowing down any day soon.

Ask anyone who’s seen him live as he still performs like a teenager. Constantly touring around the world playing songs from all corners of his career he still has the chops that’s not even up for debate  – the energy and above all the songs are there as is his energy  Monroe is a lifer to the cause of Rock and Roll and the multi-instrumentalist still has the passion.

Having just announced an extensive UK tour for later this year to coincide with the release of this album as well as working on re-releases of his solo albums with new packaging and bonus tracks Michael Monroe is a formidable force of nature.  when the album comes out buy it and when the tour comes around watch it.

Over twenty albums and countless singles and guest appearances, Monroe deserves all the plaudits he gets and the adulation of his many fans.  Keep Rockin’ like Fuck and Happy Birthday from RPM Online.


Author MARK FISHER presents a new musical exploration of this highly talented and intriguing group:  ‘What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book‘ is a compelling 228-page book that involves not only these artists, but also some of the world’s leading musicians and keenest XTC fans. In 2017, Fisher published ‘The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls’, which Louder Than War dubbed “Music publication of the year” and Prog Magazine called “The most comprehensive and incisive book about XTC yet published”.

In this new XTC book, you’ll find contributions from Peter Gabriel and members of The Jam, Squeeze, The Bangles, Dr Hook, New York Dolls, Barenaked Ladies, The Waitresses, Voice of the Beehive, Odds, Jellyfish, Fassine and Future of the Left, among many others.

Order link Here
Burning Shed order Here
photo of XTC by Garry Stuart

 

“The song is a little machine. If you take apart the machine, it’s not a clock any more and you can’t tell the time by it.” – Andy Partridge

“Music… I couldn’t imagine life without it. It’s always there.” – Dave Gregory

“I was always quite envious of XTC because they weren’t put in the same pigeonhole as punk bands. They were regarded as a bit more arty than that. We always had to fight off this flag, being under the banner of punk… XTC never seemed to fall into that trap. They had that freedom.” – Rick Buckler ( The Jam)

“Seeing them on TV was like being in a tribe. Together I thought we might rule the world… Yes, I stole from them. I’m sure I was not the only one. The wit did woo mee. I fell head over heels for the clever word play, the charge of the story and the sentimental Britishness of it all.” – Chris Difford (Squeeze)

“XTC’s music has always been there in my consciousness. I think about it a lot when I’m making records… They come across as an everyday group of people and that’s very much what Barenaked Ladies were about too – living as ordinary a life as you can in a bizarre lifestyle like rock’n’roll.” – Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies)

“I remember when I first heard Making Plans for Nigel on the radio… I absolutely loved the song, especially the drum part… Terry’s drumming was so rhythmic. I was very much influenced by him. In fact, I would drum along to XTC songs to warm up. It was very inspiring to me!” – Debbi Peterson (The Bangles)

2018 marked the 40-year anniversary of XTC’s first studio album ‘White Music’. While XTC was founded in 1972, it wasn’t until 1979 that XTC had their first UK charting single. Colin Moulding and Andy Partridge continued their partnership until the group’s dissolution in 2006.

Lately, there has been renewed interest in XTC, in part due to the release of eye-opening XTC documentary ‘This Is Pop’ about the band’s history and legacy, which looks at XTC and their journey from mercurial pop outsiders to full-blown national treasures and one of Britain’s most influential yet unsung bands.

‘What Do You Call That Noise?’ will be released on March 4. Anyone ordering ‘What Do You Call That Noise?’ before midnight on Sunday, January 27 will be inducted into the Venerable League of Neon Shufflers and have their name published in the book. The book can be obtained for £17.99 + free UK p&p (from £5 international p&p)

Steve Conte is a man who needs no introduction. When he’s not tearing up stages around the world with Michael Monroe, he’s touring with his own solo band, playing early Faces songs with Blues Deluxe or jumping on stage to guest with legends anytime he has a glimmer of free time in his busy schedule. Oh, I forgot to mention, he’s also a former New York Doll. Pretty cool huh? I caught up with Steve in early November about all things gear and what’s going on in his world. This comes with a long-read disclaimer but strap in and enjoy the ride. Hope you have as much fun reading it as I did having this conversation!

 

Hey Steve, thanks for taking the time out to speak with me today. We’ll be having a chat about what gear you use to make noise in your various projects,

My pleasure. So, it’s kinda like that show, Rig Rundown you see sometimes on Youtube, have you ever seen that?

Yeah, I’m a big fan.

What bugs me about that thing is that they never get the actual player, they always get like the guys tech. I mean unless I’ve only seen, you know like the Brian May or the Keith Richards where they talked to the tech. Do they actually talk to the player themselves or is it always the tech?

Sometimes, but it depends on the player. You normally find that it’s the bigger players who tend to get their techs to take over.

Oh yeah, I can’t be bothered (laughs)

I did see one recently where Joe Bonamassa did his own so sometimes the bigger players will.

Yeah, he seems like a real down to earth guy.

You’d be surprised actually, watching some of them, how some of those guys don’t know anything about their gear. I was watching one with the Def Leppard guys recently and Vivian Campbell was telling them that he didn’t actually know what was in his rack, he just used it.

Wow, yeah it is Def Leppard. I bet he knew back in the day what he used. Def Leppard is like a touring machine now, you know?

Yeah exactly. He just shows up every day and gets on with it. Right let’s get down to business.

Awesome, just so you know, I have two different, completely different, setups on each side of the ocean.

 

Great, that’s good to know. I was going to ask if you had different setups for different countries. I think a good place to start is with the guitar side of things. What would you say your number one is at the moment?

 

Um, well again, both sides of the ocean have a different setup. When I play with Michael Monroe over here and in Europe, I leave two guitars over here permanently, two of my later period Gibson guitars since I’m a Gibson artist. Also, I’ve been working with Hagstrom lately who’ve been very nice to me, neither companies ask for exclusivity. So, you know, I promote both whenever I can. I use completely different instruments by both companies.  I have tons of Gibson’s at home that I’ve been buying and getting from them, since my first electric guitars when I was a kid. When I was 12, I got a Gibson 12 string Melody Maker, which is very rare. I still have it. I tend to hold on to almost everything I’ve ever had. I think I’ve only gotten rid of two or three really good guitars in my whole life. Then I regret it. I regret all of them deeply.

 

Here, right now I’m on tour with Michael Monroe in Finland and we’re coming over to the UK next week to do some dates with the MC5 for the MC50th anniversary tour. I’ll be using what I keep over here, which is my 2005 Gibson Les Paul Supreme, which is a bit of a thicker Les Paul Body, but it’s chambered inside so it’s a little bit lighter, but not much lighter. It’s  beautiful, white, well, it used to be white anyway (laughs)

I remember seeing you use that with the Dolls. I think maybe about 2009.

Yeah, yes that was my go-to guitar. The story behind that guitar is, before I was like an official Gibson artist. I was just borrowing things from them and, you know, they were sort of trying the relationship out, so I’d have to like go into the Gibson showroom in New York City and sign a waiver, to get the guitar out of there. So, I took that guitar out a number of times and one time I went a little bit crazy on stage and kind of threw it and smashed it and they made me buy it (laughs). I wasn’t expecting to buy a guitar, at least they gave me the artists price on it.

 

That’ll take the edge off it for sure.

Yeah, but,  it’s a $5,000 guitar, I mean I paid about half but that’s how I came to own that one and I was using it a lot.

I’ve also got a red, cherry 62 reissue SG that I’ve mainly been using because it’s just a lot lighter than the Les Paul. I mean it’s also a bit thinner sounding. I always have to roll a little bit of the treble off on the bridge pickup. I just kind of as a rule, just keep the treble dialed down to about eight just to take the trebly edge off because one of the major problems that I always find is trying to use two different guitars in the same rigs.

I mean, even when you’re playing with two Gibsons, I mean forget it, like at home in New York, which I’ll get into my stuff over there, I have Danelectros and Fenders and Juniors and, you know, P90’s and single coils. Try going from, a humbucker to a single coil to a P90 to a lipstick, on the same gig. You really should have like four different EQ pedals on the floor to compensate for each guitar. Anyway, I’ve been using the SG the past few years with Michael because it’s lighter and it’s still got the humbucker and a more beefy sound than a Junior. Well, actually, I did bring my Junior out recently. I have two Juniors. I have two vintage Juniors. I have a 1960 and 1959 double cutaway with one P90. I plugged that Junior into my rig and it was so fucking loud. It was louder than the SG, but not in a pleasing way. It was like a honky loud, at least through the rig that I was using, which I’ll get into in a minute. So, I had it over here for some reason, I can’t remember why, and it was just unusable. I tried it on one song and they said, hey, you know what, just leave it in the rack, I won’t use it. So those two guitars are the guitars that use over here on the tour.

 

Even when I do my own tours I used to leave a double gig bag over here,  that I would put the two guitars in and when I would leave Finland for the Summer, I spend my summers in the Netherlands, I would go over there and I’d bring the guitars with me and then I do my own touring in the Netherlands and I’d come to England, France and Belgium. But lately I’ve been using that bag at home and we got this giant road case that we put all the guitars in, so I don’t really use my own guitars for my own tours. I borrowed my bass players Les Paul. He’s got cherry burst. So, that’s a long answer to your question, over here I use Gibsons and that’s another story on the other side of the Atlantic.

 

Do you find that sometimes the single P90 can be a limit, tonally speaking, or do you find that having the single pickup is beneficial because it makes you make quick decisions about your tone in the moment?

 

It totally depends on the music. The stuff with Michael is a lot more high octane. So, I would get lost in the sauce if I had a single coil. I can’t really use a sensitive guitar, you know what I mean? It’s not, a Fender Jaguar gig.

So, the humbucker is more suited for Michael and the guys on the other side of the stage pretty much always used humbuckers because as well. Rich Jones has been using Epiphone Vikings, which are great. It’s a 335 sort of semi hollow thing. Also, Dregen used 335s when he was in the band. Ginger, when he was in the band, he was playing a Tele, but it was sort of a Frankenstein. I don’t think it was the traditional Fender. It might have been a Schecter or something.

For my own stuff, and when I was with the Dolls of course, that’s a good gig for the P90 and I also used the Les Paul with that too. I find with my own stuff, if you’re playing rock and roll, you don’t need to ever get jazzy with the front pickup or mellow, the P90 is fine, you know what I mean? Most of the tonal variations you can get by stepping on a stomp box if you want a little more drive or with your finger or your, your pick, you know.

I should also mention over here on this latest tour, we’ve been doing a little acoustic set in the middle and I’ve been using the Hagstrom Grand Auditorium Acoustics, which are nice. So, I’ve got some Hagstrom acoustics out here. What I have from Hagstrom, back home is a really nice baritone guitar and a jazz guitar and a bass. So, like I said, I have different instruments from the two different companies, so it’s not really competing. Yeah, absolutely.

 

Have you got any other gems in your collection outside of the Gibson and Hagstrom guitars? What else is hidden away in the archive?

Well, I’d have to tell you about all Gibson’s first of all, because I have three Melody Makers, all sixties. I have that one I mentioned before, the 12 string. I’m not sure of the year of it. It’s probably about a 65. It’s shaped like an SG style guitar, but it’s a 12 string with the long 12 string head stock, of course. It’s got those weird plastic, sort of a single coil pickups and not a regular toggle switch, but a little black plastic, sort of square, how do I describe it? It’s sort of a square button that sort of moves three positions in a slot. I can’t remember the exact name for them. It’s pretty rare guitar. I don’t ever take that out on the road, that’s one of my gems.

 

I also have another mid-sixties Melody Maker, which is like the shape that I just call it the Joan Jett shape. I don’t know what else to call it, but it’s that one. And then I have one that’s a little bit slimmer than that. And I guess different years they sort of change the shapes of Melody Makers. This one is starting to get closer to a Junior sort of shape. I’ve seen a lot of them that are like tobacco sunburst, but this one, I saw it in a music store when I was playing with the Dolls and I said, that’s got to be mine. It’s pink with a white pearloid pick guard and two humbuckers. So, it’s, you know, it’s a Gibson neck and body from the sixties, but it’s been totally hot rodded. So, I have those three Melody Makers. I have two Juniors, a 1959, all original in cherry red that I got from Chris Bedding. I really don’t take that one out, but I do use my 1960 that I’ve painted white and put the tortoiseshell pickguard on. That’s kind of my main guitar around New York.

Then, I have a three P90 loaded Non-reverse Firebird. Uh, let me just go through my Gibson’s in my mind. Oh, my 1970 Black Les Paul Custom, which was a fretless wonder. I put some decent size frets on it and now that’s kind of my main Les Paul. So, relating to New York, I’d go back and forth between the Les Paul and the 60 Junior and I have a 1962 Olympic White Fender Strat. It has a gorgeous neck. That’s like my go to single coil and a 1967 Telecaster, but that’s been refinished. It’s got a B-Bender, Hip Shot Drop D tuner, the whole rig on it, which is very convenient. So, those are like my more sensitive guitars and I have a Danelectro DC2, I think. Whatever the one Jimmy page used was.

 

I was gonna say is that the Jimmy Page one?

Yeah, it’s that one, but it’s an original 59. I’ve played some of the newer ones and you know, they’re okay. This is the real deal.

 

That seems to be the magic year for guitars, 59.

Oh yeah!

 

I played a real 59 Junior at a trade show a couple of months ago and it was just incredible. I own a seventies one but yeah, the 59 is something else altogether.

 

Oh yeah. Well, I guess it doesn’t really apply to the Danelectro because it’s not even real wood, but, probably the electronics and parts and everything where also being made a little better back then. I don’t have many new guitars. Oh, I also should mention I have a 1977, ES335. That was, that was my main guitar for a long time. It’s in a, sort of natural wood finish. I think that might be it for the electrics. Um, what else? Unless I forgot something. Then I have some acoustics as well. A Gibson Hummingbird, A Gibson J160E and Martin D-18 and I have a really cool Airline Resonator the I use for dobro and slide stuff and um, that might be it.

 

Great, nice to see a very vintage orientated collection. So what about amps? I know you’ve been using Blackstar for quite a while live. Do the Blackstar amps get used in the studio too, or are they just for live use?

 

Well, it really depends on who you’re working within the studio. When I made my International Coverup Record, I don’t know if you remember that one, where I did the covers, I used my Blackstar Artisan in the studio, because I did that in the Netherlands and thats the amp that I have over there, that’s my, like my go to amp, I just leave it there and when I tour over here with my own bands, I use that. It’s sorta like a Vox AC30 with more balls and more bass. So, I used that in the studio to make that record. Horns and Halos , if I remember, we were using a producer who I actually can’t name because his name is not on the album, but we had a bunch of amps in there and you know, Dregen was using his Fender Supersonics and the Blackstar just totally didn’t work with that so we ended up using Marshall and you know, I’m easy. I don’t say, hey man, I have to use this amp because I endorsed them. I mean, if it sounds right and it sounds great for the music, we use it, you know. And if it doesn’t, oh well. So, yeah, we ended up not using it there. I was using this HT-Venue series that Blackstar had given me for the road. I guess I’ve been using probably for five years or so and it just was not cutting it. I use these really heavy earplugs that have 15dB attenuation, so I can’t hear a fucking thing once I put them in. I have my monitors blasting and, as it turns out, the amp hadn’t been sounding very good and I wasn’t aware of it.

So, I asked Blackstar if they could give me another choice. They sent me an Artisan that they had made for Jeff Beck. It was a unique 50 watt Artisan head, but it had no master volume. It was so fucking loud. It was unusable, so I tried that for one gig and I couldn’t use it but then they just sent me these new HT-Venue MKii amps that are so much better than the original versions. They just have less of that mid range honk and more bottom end, and they just distort very nicely. I’m pretty happy with that. I’ve been using that on this whole tour and when I come to England next week, I suppose there’ll be one there waiting for me as well. That’s my Blackstar story, but I started with them back in, oh God, it must’ve been, I guess the end of the early 2000s, maybe 2007 or 2008 or something.

 

Yeah, that’s about the time they came out I think so I guess you’ve been there pretty much since the beginning.

 

Yeah, since the beginning. The first thing, even before I had an amp, I had these pedals that they were coming out with. These tube pedals, are you hip to those?

 

Yeah, I have some of those in my studio.

 

So that’s the first thing they gave me. They actually sent me one to New York and I was like, wow, it’s really great. Then they sent me another one. There’s like two different ones. There’s one with like a channel switching. So, if you ever showed up somewhere and it was a total crap amp, you know, you can just plug this tube pedal in and you can have two different tube amps. And then, it wasn’t until I started playing over here and I used the amps the first time that I discovered that they also made amps. So that’s Blackstar, and then when I’m home, I mean when you play clubs in New York, a lot of times it’s such a hassle to like bring your own shit that you ended up playing clubs that have a backline already. So you’re kind of at their mercy, unless you want to cart your own shit all over the place, which is very difficult in New York City. You end up sometimes just using a crappy amp that they have there so you really gotta bring your own pedals to compensate. If I do use my own stuff, I have a vintage 1962 AC30, a non top boost. I have a band called Blues Deluxe. We do all the old Jeff Beck group, Faces and solo Rod Stewart tracks, like early years stuff and I’ll use that amp. Then I have a 67 Marshall Plexi that is just killer. It’s a killer 100w, super tremolo that actually used to belong to Peter Frampton. He ran his Leslie rig off it on Frampton Comes Alive. I got it from a tech and it’s an amazing amp.

 

I can imagine. You can’t go too far wrong with a plexi.

 

Nope! I also have a vintage Marshall 4×12 cabinet from the 70s. When I’m on tour I have techs and guys that move the gear and everything. If I’m by myself and I’m going to do a gig in a club in Manhattan, I’m not dragging a Marshall half style myself you know? So sometimes that just gets used in the studio when I make my records.

 

That’s exactly the reason why I stopped using big amps all the time because you just don’t want the heavy lifting, and you realize there’s so many great smaller amps and, you know, great combos that you could just easily carry yourself and not need to take the 4×12 and big Marshall head.

 

Yeah, I’m actually looking for a small taxi cab amp, you know, one I can just grab with one hand, and you know, throw in the back of a cab. But, if you want a tube amp, I mean even those little guys are still pretty heavy, you know?

 

Yeah absolutely. I work with a guy from the Netherlands who builds amps under the name Kool Amplification and he build me a Plexi clone and it blew my head clean off when I first plugged it in. It sounds awesome.

Is it a head or a combo?

It’s a head but he builds them as a combo too. He’s based in the Netherlands and hand builds everything with military grade components. The Plexi he built me is based on his personal 68 or 69 mKii, the Deep Purple era one. He took it apart, looked at what he could improve and did it.

 

Sounds great. Oh, I also meant to say about my Plexi, it’s a 67 Super Tremolo but the tremolo circuit has been disabled. One of the controls is now a master volume so you can do the two channel volumes. I jump the two channels. One is a bassier channel and the other is more treble. I just get a balance of those two and then with the master volume I can have that Plexi tone at whatever level I need. You don’t want to go too low but still you know, if I’m ever going to play it at a club in New York, or anywhere, soundmen will be very happy that I have a master volume.

 

That’s how Kool builds their Plexi. He builds them with two master volumes, so you can drive the preamp and get the jumped channel sounds but keep the amp running at a sensible level.

Yeah, that sounds cool. I also have a bunch of small amps. I have an Ampeg Reverberocket, but I just blew it up actually. A Fender Princeton, oh, and I have a great 65 Fender Bandmaster. Sounds killer with the Tele and that, I mean it’s, I think it’s the greatest, like twangy clean, but with balls, you know,

 

I got offered one of those recently for a really good price, but the really good price was still a little bit more than I had at that moment.

 

Yeah, they hold their value. Mine is a black face and it’s also been modded so channel one is feeding into channel two. It was this way when I got it, I actually got it from a music business lawyer, believe it or not. He lived in my building in Manhattan and he was selling a bunch of stuff and I got such a good deal. I was like, wow, I actually got a good deal from a music business lawyer (laughs).

 

It does happen sometimes.

 

Haha, yeah sometimes. So, I have that and uh, what else do I have that I’m proud of?  That’s probably it. The Ampeg, the two Fenders, the Marshall and the Vox. I don’t have a Blackstar in New York. I’ve been talking to one of the guys over there at the distributor about, you know, getting a little taxi cab kinda amp and trying to figure out what the best, you know, single 12, all tube amp is that I could grab with one hand, but, I haven’t been able to hook that up yet. You wanna talk pedals?

 

Yes, that was going to be my next question. So, are you a bit of a pedal geek or have you got quite a stripped back approach when it comes to that world?

 

Right now, it’s pretty stripped back because all the music I’m playing is either pretty rootsy or punky. I’m not very proggy. So, I’ll get to some of the crazier pedals, but basically, in my rig for Monroe, I got the Boss tuner pedal of course, some sort of pedal power. I don’t even know what brand it is. I think something tank power tank, maybe. I don’t know the name. The Finnish techs built it. So, it’s got some sort of power supply. And I have a Dunlop Overdrive, that came out years ago, probably 2010 or so. I think it was a Bradshaw design. It’s like this dual overdrive thing where one side is like distortion and overdrive, one footswitch, with its own tone controls. Then there’s another footswitch next to it with just the volume that’s just a boost. So, you can either go like total, like clean boost or overdrive or together.

I think I’ve seen that one before, is that the Custom Audio Electronics one? The little black one?

 

Yeah, the black one. Yeah. I don’t know the name of it, but I have two of them. I think I have one in New York too, which I don’t really use in New York. So that’s my goto stomp box for overdrive here. I did have a Dunlop Wah as well, but Michael just smashed it with his mic stand. It wasn’t a Crybaby, it was like another sort of sexy high tech wah where I’d had some buttons on it, you know, that I’d never use. I’m just a basic guy, you know, it just has to have the right kind of sweep and feel, like it tapers evenly. When that thing broke, I was just, Oh man, I need something quick. So, I just want up to a music shop. And I the cheapest wah I could find there, which is a Vox with the silver top. Which is fine, it doesn’t have the same sweep as the Dunlop, but it’s okay. I tend to sometimes just get it in that middle position, like, and I get that Mick Ronson thing, you know, where it’s just raw, you know, very nasal, it just really cuts through.

 

Dunlop does a really cool Billy Duffy signature model that’s based on the Mick Ronson one. It’s got that mid-range honk, it’s quite hard to find now because they only did, like 500 of them, but I bought one when it came out and it’s just incredible because as soon as you touch it, it’s just got that honky sort of mid-range. It’s not too harsh. Some wahs can be a bit too harsh I think, especially as you turn them on.

 

Yeah. That’s, that’s always the thing you want to click it on and then quickly pull it back. Otherwise, it’s like (Emulates a noisy wah pedal!)

 

Yeah, exactly. This one switchless, so it starts in the heel position as well, so when you put your foot on it, it’s not straightaway in the treble end, it starts at the other end of the sweep.  Obviously, for live use, this is great because then you can sweep the wah in rather than, as you said, click it on and pull back.

 

Right. Oh, that’s an interesting concept. Does anyone else make them like that?

 

Dunlop does a few ones like that, I think. They do a standard one which is similar to that with the switchless plate and then the Billy Duffy one was based off the standard crossed with the Mick Ronson one. It’s got a built-in boost as well, which is quite cool.

Wow, I’ll have to research that!

 

Yeah and it’s white and chrome too, so it looks cool.

 

Oh yeah, I saw that one in the shop. I was like, that looks cool. That looks too expensive. Let me go for the 1998 era one. Actually, in my New York rig, I have the half size wah. Have you seen the little baby ones?

 

I’ve seen those, yeah. Do they take just getting used to?

 

Yeah. I mean it fits perfectly on my pedal board and it took a little getting used to, especially when you’re wearing big boots, but it does everything that a normal size wah does and it fits on my board, and I believe that’s, ooh, I should know this. I don’t know if that’s a Crybaby or not.

 

Yeah, if it’s Dunlop it’ll be the Crybaby.

 

Cool. I’ll get into the New York rig now. I think that’s it for the Monroe rig. Tuner, Wah, Overdrive and power supply. I mean its just balls to the wall. I don’t have any delays or anything. Nothing sexy, you know? For my own stuff in New York, what’s on my board right now is the Boss Tuner. It’s one of those Pedaltrain boards that I had my guy at 30th Street Guitars, Matt Brewster. He does all my work for me and he makes the boards really nice. He actually puts a piece of wood on it and carpet and drills stuff in and yeah, he just makes it nice. I’m using a Wampler Plexi Drive as my main overdrive, which is amazing. I mean it just sounds like a vintage amp. It sounds like a vintage Marshall. So, I’m using that as my main overdrive and then a Sex Drive, which is made for Charlie Sexton as a clean boost for after that. So, you know, if I’m playing on a shit amp in a club, I got the Plexi Drive on, it’s just beautiful vintage amp guitar tone, and then if I want to play solo the Sex Drive is the clean boost and you can also adjust the gain and there’s also  a compression in it a little bit and you can get a little subtle with it. So, that’s the overdrive system there. And then I also have a Voodoo Labs Tremolo. I like to use Tremolo on my own stuff. And a Carbon Copy Analogue Delay by MXR, which is really nice. It’s very warm.

 

Yeah. I personally prefer those vintage style delays over the digital ones. It’s the repeats having that warm, analogue tail off that breaks up.

Yeah. It just degrades a little bit. Like a tape echo would but not as extreme as a tape echo, but you know, I used to use those old pink Ibanez analogue delay boxes. I have a couple, but I don’t bring those out on the road, you know, I use them in the studio, but the Carbon Copy is a great warm delay and it’s also got a little button for modulation where you can have kind of just the slightest bit of Chorus. You can’t even really tell its Chorus. I was like a Chorus addict back in the eighties and a weaned myself off that haha. I don’t like to know that there’s chorus on it, but I’m like, oh boy. It really sounds beautiful. You know, if you’re holding a chord, especially on an SG where you can bend the neck a little bit. You’re holding a chord and you’ve just bent the neck slightly and that kind of natural guitar modulation goes with the delay modulation. It’s like really nice. I also recently just got a Leslie stomp box. This black little rectangle one. It does like three different Leslie cabinets and it does the whole ramp up with the speed. It’s beautiful. I haven’t used it much on gigs yet, but I look forward to it because I wanted something that could give me a crazy effect if I needed it. Something extreme. But, you know, I didn’t want the whole, like, flanger or chorus or phase shifter kind of typical thing, you know, the rest of my shit is really vintage anyway, so let me go Beatles or Jimmy Page

 

That’s the one thing that I’d been having the hardest time trying to find a good pedal that gives a convincing Leslie sound.

 

Well, this one is made by Leslie, hello! Haha. I tried a bunch of them out and there’s a lot of companies that are making digital, you know, rotary pedals that claim to be, oh, this is the one and whatever. But I mean, when I saw that Leslie made one, I went, wow, that’s got to be the perfect one. Right? And, I tried a bunch of them out. Some of the other ones sound really good too. But to be honest, this one fits on my board. I have a small board. They’re also making a, like a really long one now with like stereo outputs and all this crap. I didn’t need all that. I just needed, you know, I basically get one sound. I pick one and I just kind of go back and forth between the slow sound and in the fast sound and use ramped up and you know, you can keep stepping on it, so it goes up and down, up and down, while you’re playing. And it’s really like a real Leslie. So that’s what you want. That’s what I use now at home, but I have all kinds of other crazy things like I have a Digitech Whammy Pedal, which is great. I have, uh, you know, I have phase shifters, I have choruses, the Electro Harmonix Small Stone, I have a Boss Slow Gear. If you ever played one of those before, they’re pretty cool. It’s basically a volume swell pedal. I have the Boss Chorus Ensemble, which I used to live by, it’s the big grey one that plugs in and it’s got like, you know, stereo chorus, and then also Vibrato, which I would use that vibrato back in the 90s and you know, instead of having Leslie pedal.

 

That was my get by thing for a while too, a Vibrato running quite subtly instead of a Leslie style pedal.

 

Yeah, it works! I also have a Rotovibe which I never really got into. Someday I’ll mess with that and figure it out a little more. Oh, and I have a thing called a Seek Wah, you know whats-what is?

Isn’t that one of those pedals that a bit like an auto wah but a bit more “out there”?

 

Well, it’s basically, it’s like eight little EQs you could set them for various stages, and there’s a switch where you can get it to go and do patterns of four, three or eight and um, and it’s sort of a, you know, I don’t know how to explain how you write this down in print, but it can go like (Emulates a Seek Wah – We won’t even try to transcribe this noise!), know what I mean. It’s like almost that sample and hold kind of vibe from a synth. But, you know, it’ll go muted to like more open and you could set the pattern on these things from wherever you want it to go. It’s almost like a Townsend thing. You know, like what he would do in Baba O Riley with the organ at the beginning. It’s a really cool effect. I mean, you can only use it once on an album, but I’ve used it really effectively on a few albums and it’s always the little secret weapon, ah, seek wah. That’s what the song needs.

 

Yeah haha, it’s not a pedal you click on in every song!

 

No, no, no, no, no. So, that’s my arsenal. Unless I’m forgetting anything, but, that’s pretty much the stuff.

 

Cool. That’s a pretty range of gear to be getting stuck into, So, what’s next then? You’re coming over to the UK this week for a couple of dates but what’s happening after that? Anymore solo tours or Monroe tours. We know there’s the new Monroe album scheduled for 2019.

Um, yeah, that’s being mastered right now. And, as I said, we’re coming over to do the MC5 shows. Then I go home, and I do a couple of things in New York. Let’s see, what am I doing there? Uh, I’m playing a John Lennon show, in the house band for this John Lennon tribute show that happens every year. It’s like, 25 years or more it’s been happening. Patti Smith was the featured performer last year, I think this year it’s Rosanne Cash. I don’t have any of my own shows, so I need to make a new record, a new solo record and I’ve been writing for that so when I get home to New York, it’s just going to be a couple of other, you know, for hire things, which is what I do when I’m home. I don’t have a job, you know, so, besides being an artist and a songwriter and doing my own thing, I need to work, so I do stuff like that. There was a punk band called The Stilettos, Debbie Harry was one of the singers they had in and their main lead singer, I played a show with them last year. They were out around the time of the Dolls a little bit later, like mid-seventies. Probably between the Dolls and the Ramones and their singer just died so I’m doing a show. There’s a big extravaganza at the Bowery Electric with all of her friends and people that were in the band. Walter Lure from The Heartbreakers was in the band, Cheetah Chrome was in the band, Sylvain was this woman’s boyfriend. Elda Stiletto was what she was called. Elda Gentile is her real name. So, I’m going to be playing and musical directing the night, we’re the house band with all these people coming up to sit in and do a song like Cheetah Chrome will be there and Walter and Lenny Kaye from Patti Smith and all these different people. So, that’ll be fun. And I’m gonna like do a holiday show. I’m going to jump up with another band and do a holiday Christmas show with Jesse Malen and a bunch of other people in December. So, you know, I got a couple of things coming up. Nothing of my own, but I expect to be in the studio recording a new record for myself very soon. Probably within the next half a year.

 

Do you find that you do a lot of ‘for-hire’ work when you’re not on the road as yourself or with Monroe, or do you just pick and choose certain jobs?

 

Well luckily, I can pick and choose. But yeah, I have to work,  as I said. It’s not like the old days where you could sit around collecting royalty checks.

 

No, of course not. I do a lot of it myself. I do live and studio sessions and stuff like that, between everything else to keep the diary full and the work coming in.

 

Yeah, absolutely. I’ll produce records for people. I’ll do soundtracks, I’ll contribute my, my songs to film and TV soundtracks. I produced a couple of records in the last two years. A blues harmonica players record, Scott Dennis Gruenling, who’s really great. We did like a vintage kind of vibe with upright bass, drums, guitar, jazz guitar almost. A really traditional setup and he’s a great harp player. He plays the chromatic harps and the bass harps and everything. It was a great thing to produce. So, I’ll do that, and I’ll do sessions, you know, singers, songwriters or whatever bands if they need me, I come, I sing, I play whatever I’ve also done commercials, you know, not sure if that happens anymore. But, you know, whatever. I just don’t take everything that comes in because well I can’t. But in general, I don’t play live with too many different bands. I’m pretty much in the Monroe band and my own band and anything else I do. These special shows like the Lennon thing and the Stilettos thing are, you know, unfortunately, you rehearse, you know, 40 songs or whatever it is. And then the gig is over, and you don’t use those songs again ever, which is kind of a drag. But you know, what are you going to do?

 

Exactly! Well, thanks for your time Steve, enjoy the short UK run. I’m looking forward to catching the band in 2019 and catching up with you soon. Thanks again for today, it’s been a pleasure.

 

Alright, my man. I hope so. Keep me posted. Cheers mate!

Seeing as the weather outside is getting colder and getting up for that job seems a little harder let Steve Rockaway those blues with his video for ‘Gimme Gimme Rockaway’

The classic track from the upcoming Testors Tribute Album. Proceeds will go toward medical and housing expenses for Testors guitarist Sonny Vincent’s family. Facebook testors tribute page Alternatively you can donate to his gofundme page here:https://www.gofundme.com/xnvynbcc

To finish off this public service how about something off the new Heavy Drapes record ‘Crashing Like Stars’. ‘Should I suck Or should I Blow’ will see you out the door in double quick time.  enjoy folks.