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An interview with Ginger and Sami Yaffa (Michael Monroe band) - 17/04/2011 | FESTIVALPHOTO

An interview with Ginger and Sami Yaffa (Michael Monroe band) - 17/04/2011


I was originally due to interview Michael Monroe, but as he was losing his voice then interviews were cancelled and sound check cut short to allow him to rest his voice for the show. Instead, I caught up with Ginger, and Sami Yaffa in a nearby pub, where as you may be able to tell from some of their answers, they'd enjoyed quite a few drinks. Various bits of the interview have been deleted at the request of either Sami or Ginger.

Festivalphoto: The first album for the Michael Monroe band, "Sensory Overload" has now been released. How would you describe the music for anyone who hasn't heard it?

Sami: A bunch of shite. No, it's Loud, melodic, beautiful wonderful irie rastafari thing that was put together with love, stinky toes and wading in a puddle of snot.

Festivalphoto: How did the writing process work? Did you all sit down together and write for instance or does everyone come up with their own ideas separately?

Sami: We insult each other first.
Ginger: We pretty much sat down together and did it.
Sami: Then someone kicks arse more than the others and runs with the horses.

Festivalphoto: How do you decide which tracks you've written will end up on the album?

Ginger: It was easy. I mean there was a song we put on the end because Lemmy sang on it, which I thought wasn't up to the standard of the rest

of the album, but for the most part we all kind of, we just know what a good song is and what a bad song is.
Sami: And at the end of the day it fit the album perfectly.
Ginger: Yeah it did.
Sami: The icing on the cake.

Festivalphoto: As you've mentioned, Lemmy appears on the album on the track "Debauchery is a fine art". How did that come about?

Ginger: He's a friend of Michael's. I mean we all know him, but he's a friend of Michael and he's very fond of Michael.
Sami: He almost beat me up in '83
Ginger: That's a story I want to hear
Sami: Well I used to do bad things, and bad things that Lemmy doesnt approve of, and he realised I'd been doing bad things and he grabbed me by the throat, downstairs at the St Moritz club, grabbed me by the throat and lifted me up against the wall and started shouting at me. I was dangling in the air thinking "this is horrible...but its really great - I'm being beaten up by Lemmy".
Ginger: He's got things he doesn't approve of, he's got certain things he doesn't approve of and he's pretty kind of cut and dried.
Sami: Yeah there's no messing with that guy.

Festivalphoto: What is your favourite track from the album?

Ginger: The one with Lucinda Williams on it, because I'm a huge Lucinda Williams fan.
Sami: I agree
Ginger: And the fact that she's singing on anything I've ever been involved in is just like "Come ON !!!!!!!"
Sami: Its ridiculous
Ginger: It is ridiculous yeah. I mean she's right up there in my top ten favourite ever artists. So yeah, "Gone Baby Gone" is my favourite track on the album.

Festivalphoto: How does it feel working with someone like Lucinda Williams that you really admire?

Ginger: Well the whole thing was done with people I admire, from the band to the producer, to the guests, the whole thing was kind of like a little kids dream you know. I had posters of Lemmy on my bedroom wall when I was a kid, I've got records in my collection by Jack Douglas (the producer of Sensory Overdrive), I mean a lot of records by Jack Douglas, not just Aerosmith but Cheap Trick, and Stars
Sami: Patti Smith
Ginger: and John Lennon. It was what it must feel like to hang out with god, you know what I mean? It's kind of a bit weird and a bit cool and a bit like you're there so it's not that much out of the ordinary.

Festivalphoto: Michael's live shows are quite energetic and with his habit of swinging your microphone and its stand around on stage has he ever injured any of you?

Sami: No just my bass - he injured my bass the other night.
Ginger: But we've still got a gig tonight, so maybe.
Sami: He's pretty careful
Ginger: He's aware of what he's doing

NOTE: Ironically a couple of hours after them saying how careful he is, Michael managed to hit Steve Conte in the face with his Saxophone on stage.

Festivalphoto: When Michael climbs up on things and does crazy stunts, the crew and security always look nervous - for example in London he hung upside down from the balcony railing while singing.

Ginger: That sort of activity is the kind of stuff that makes everyone a bit nervous, when he's climbing on something you want to go "if you fall motherf**ker, you're going to die and I'm out of a job". He's one of those guys that doesn't really acknowledge danger - just doesn't get it. You know what I mean? He's like a kid, a very athletic kid so he can maintain it. He's very strong so if he's hanging from something he's like a f**king monkey, I mean he aint gonna fall but its f**king scary to watch sometimes.

Festivalphoto: The band has been described quite a lot as a super group as it includes Michael and Sami from Hanoi Rocks, Ginger (Wildhearts & Quireboys), Steve Conte (New York Dolls). How would you describe the band?

Sami: We're all superstars darling.
Ginger: I'ts called Michael Monroe you know. Its like..
Sami: It's a band of lunatics
Ginger: For us it's a band of musicians that we respect any everything, but you know, it says Michael Monroe on the cover - we're just staff.

Festivalphoto: How do you find it, because with the Wildhearts you were in charge, and also with your solo stuff, but now its Michael's name at the top?

Ginger: Well there's a lot of things gone wrong that wouldn't have gone wrong with the Wildhearts, that's for sure.
Sami (laughing): You wanted things to go wrong
Ginger(Laughing): I'm tired of everything going my way, I wanted to be pissed about as much as possible.

Festivalphoto: Any plans to do more Wildhearts stuff or more solo stuff?

Ginger: Well Solo stuff I'll be doing as long as I'm alive because i'll always be making music. Don't know whats going on with the Wildhearts, I honestly do not know if we're ever going to play again. It's been left like that. We all love each other and we're all very close so there's no weirdness, but we've all got different interests.

Festivalphoto: What bands or musicians first inspired you to start playing music?

Ginger: Ramones, Damned, Cheap Trick, Stiff little fingers, Jason and the scorchers, you know anything that was about the music. All my favourite bands have a theme...
Sami: All my favourite bands have one thing in common - they never sold any records !
Ginger: They never sold any records but the albums were brilliant
Sami: Damned, Sex Pistols, MC5, its a long list. The only top ten band I ever liked was the Rolling Stones.
Ginger: Pretty much, I used to like Kiss, Kiss and the Stones were the only two big bands I liked, and I dont like Kiss any more. I like the spirit of music as music as the sound and look. The spirit was really really important to me, and thats why I fell in love with Hanoi Rocks because I loved their punk spirit which obviously the Hanoi mark 2 didn't have, I don't think anyone would argue with that, but the first Hanoi was a punk band who just looked like the New York Dolls.
Sami: Kind of.
Ginger: They had that glammy kind of thing. There was nothing feminine about it, it was a testosterone fuelled onslaught of punk rock and pop. I just thought it was so audacious, "how f**king dare you mix punk rock with pop". These cheeky f**king b**tards, but I loved it.
Ginger: Bands influence me all the time, the ones who are willing to take chances, and the ones who aren't willing to take chances - I don't even include that as music, that's just a job, a business.

Festivalphoto: What bands do you listen to a lot at the moment?

Ginger: I love Trail of the dead, Chickenhawk, Exit international are so f**king good. There's a ton of bands doing great things right now, its like the emperors finally been revealed as not wearing any clothes.
Sami: I don't listen to very much rock these days because everything sounds the same to me, so I listen to other shit. I listen to stuff like Gogol Bordello, stuff that takes Rock'n'Roll into completely uncharted territory - that I find interesting, repetition bores me.

Festivalphoto: Tonight's the last night on the tour - how have you enjoyed the tour?

Ginger: It started off really weird..
Sami: Really bad, It started like a f**king pile of shite
Ginger: It started like no-one knew what they were doing, and then when we got up North.. I mean the crowds were great but it seemed like the promoters were better up North.
Sami: We played some weird-assed holes in the beginning man that we should not have been playing at and that's the truth. The second week of the tour and its like now we're rocking.
Ginger: Its all about the promotion, I mean the fans want a good night - they don't want to turn up with 30 people and its a bit embarrassing - they want to go there and have a big rock and roll experience. There are lots of links in the chain and they've all got to be strong or the chain breaks.

Festivalphoto: Do you have any festival appearances planned in the UK for later in the year?

Ginger: We don't know
Sami: Yes we do, we're at the one in Victoria Park, High Voltage. We're doing that, and Peace and Love in Sweden, and a bunch of festivals in Finland, and we're working on going to South America in August. We'll be playing Buenas Ares, Sau Paulo and Rio, and they're working on Mexico city.
Festivalphoto: They seem to really love their Rock and Metal music in South America.
Sami: Yeah they go to a concert with the same mentality as they take to a soccer game. It's great.

Festivalphoto: A lot of people are hoping you'll play the Hard Rock Hell festival in December.

Sami: I just played that one with New York Dolls man. Will people want to? I'm not sure if I wanna do it, f**king staying in a goddamn barrack you know. I envisioned myself hanging from a f**king noose there.
Festivalphoto: I've been told that the accommodation will all be refurbished before this years festival, so it should be a nicer place to stay.
Sami: I was there with Spike and Girlschool - I hadn't seen Kim for nearly 30 years. The best jam time I ever had was I went ot a Girlschool rehearsal with Michael in 83/84 and Philthy animal and Lemmy showed up and we started playing ZZ Top songs - me and Michael, Phil, Lemmy and Girlschool. Marvellous fun

Festivalphoto: What are your plans after the tour ends tonight?

Sami: I'm going home to New York. I have my other band Mad Juana, 7 people, we do a mix of punk rock, reggae music and mariachi music and we are writing and recording our new album when I get back.

Festivalphoto: Thanks very much for your time guys.

Writer: Anthony May
I don't have Facebook

Steve Steve Written 2011-04-22 02:06:58
Cool i would love to meet them also
kimi chaos kimi chaos Written 2011-04-21 21:31:14
good interview.I really really like this BAND!!!