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History - Part 5 - 1985
The beginning of 1985 looked like that the band's promising future was already behind but instead of drawbacks their record company believed – officially at least – that their band would still be a huge success. Dave Novak of CBS: "Hanoi Rocks is in the same category as Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Men At Work and Billy Joel. Naturally we have huge plans for them and we are going to invest a lot. During the next six months we will release perhaps two singles and in June an LP. This is a big time marketing with videos and newspaper ads. It is time to give them what they have rightfully earned. They have succeeded in creating their own fan base. This is the time when a big record company like CBS comes along."
January 1985 – Finland
2 Jan: Sam Yaffa announces his departure from the band. Sami (in 2004): "I just turned 21 then, full of drugs and I had been on the road for five years. I don't know what I was planning then. We had good times and we had bad times, we went up and down, fought and loved each others. We were a bunch of five nutters who flew all around the globe doing things that would eventually destroy us. When Razzle died I thought this was it."
3 Jan: Helsinki (Kulttuuritalo, Europe A Go-Go). Terry Chimes' first gig with Hanoi Rocks. Andy: "I knew Terry before he joined Hanoi and he was fast in learning those songs. We just practised basic stuff, nothin' fancy. Main thing was that the songs sounded good." Thursday's concert was recorded for Europe A Go-Go TV programme. Their bad luck continued. Nasty: "I stepped on the monitor and here we go again. First I didn't feel anything but then it started to swell..."
4 Jan: Helsinki (Kulttuuritalo, Europe A Go-Go). Sami's last concert with Hanoi Rocks. Michael: "We perform here in Finland just for our fans. These are the memorial gigs for Razzle... We've been depressed 'cause of his death. I've been really down. Fortunately I'm the kinda guy who can explain things to myself. Now it's gettin' better. Sami's departure was a surprise. Sam's changed a lot during the last few months. That's sad 'cause we've been such good mates. This is the last concert with him."
Sam Yaffa at the same day: "I don't want to talk with anybody. I ain't gonna answer any questions. I don't feel like it."
Michael in the Spring of 1985: "We didn't have any arguments with Sami. But I really don't know why he left the band. He hasn't talked to me after his departure... Weird."
January 1985 – England
After the Finnish concerts and the departure of Sami, the band flew back to London. Because of what had happened the European Tour was naturally cancelled. Michael: "We take a two month break now. We're not gonna stop now, we just spread all over to think things over. I'm gonna be mellow and take everything coolly in London and try to heal this fracture in my ankle. After this break we start thinkin' about new players and new album."
Andy was also very positive about the future: "Mike, me and Nasty have always been the main core of the band. We formed this and we've always been in it. After Helsinki gigs we take couple of months of holiday. Then we start moulding the new band and recording the new album."
After returning to London, boys had few possible choices for Razzle's and Sami's place but they decided to make the final decisions later in the spring. They still had very tight criteria about the bass player: "Bloke should be able to compose, sing, play well and look good." Jimi Sumen (who had played with Classix Nouveaux and every now and then with Hanoi also) looked as the proper replacement but he declined. Also UK Subs player Alvin Gibbs was contacted about this issue.
During this short pause Andy spent his time with his new girlfriend, Anastasia (Stiv Bators' ex-fiancee) and they flew to Sri Lanka. Nasty headed for Israel and Seppo Vesterinen to Bombay. Michael stayed in London to limp on the streets by himself.
It has been speculated (millions of "whatif's...") what kind of effect a longer and more organised pause would have had to the band. In real life those three were left badly in astray.
While Andy was still staying in Sri Lanka, Nasty and Michael went to see Rene Berg, their old pal. They planned to hire him as the new bassist. Michael: "Rene's our old friend from the Tooting Bec period... He's played with us every now and then and he can also write songs..." They had anonymous blokes for the drummer's seat but they also thought about Terry Chimes and Mark Laffin of Generation X. Terry got the job. But during that time Michael wasn't sure about anything: "We spent quite a lot of time together, me, Andy and Nasse. New guys Rene and Terry are cool but they're not in the band that way... Terry Chimes came with us to Finnish gigs. He's a good drummer."
Michael: "We chose Terry and Rene 'cause they had attitude. That's more important than how they play. We wanted guys that can be part of the band. We've practised new material. It's been tough but at the same time also fun. Everything's gone really well. If it hadn't we wouldn't be together anymore. Original band members were very close, we were like a family. Now we're more like a band and we try to work as closely as can be. Rene's cool. He's got his own personality. He's strong. It looks like he's staying with the band... First gigs will be at early May in Spain. Then we'll see how it goes."
Because the record company kept their fingers tightly on the original schedule, demotapes were recorded during spring. New album was supposed to be in the shops at autumn of 1985. Michael: "If we didn't believe in this band, we would have quit the whole thing. But it would be stupid to quit now 'cause we haven't done anything big yet. Finns think we're somekinda heroes outside Finland but it's not so. Everything's just begun."
Also back-up plans were made. Michael: "I've played with Stiv Bator (he didn't have s-letter in his surname then) and had fun time. Johnny Thunders came to London for three days to make some demos. I played sax, harmonica and sang with Stiv the backing vocals. We made three songs and Johnny's gone back to New York performing first time since ages ago. I played few times with Lords on stage... They were good gigs. Lords is a very good band and the players are cool. Those are the things I've done. I become easily twitchety 'cause I miss touring. We've never had such long breaks. I've eased up in London and noticed this would be a cool place for me to live..."
Also Andy told about his contacts: "I've gone far. Many big rock bands have offered a job to me. I don't say any names but I ain't goin'. They've offered millions but I ain't gonna throw away the work I've done with Hanoi."
Band members were still very positive about the future. Andy: "We go to Bermuda before summer to rehearse for six weeks. Band wants to make the world tour after that with some big name, ya know. In the Spring we put up a single. In Autumn there will be an LP. It's a possibility that I produce it myself. The songs are almost ready." Andy: "I always try to be better and better. Everything's based on self-confidence."
In addition to this there were many rumours in the rocking world. Michael: "Me at Motley Crue! No chance! Of course if I had been a total nincompoop I would have joined them. They're really big in America but they're heavy metal. Hanoi Rocks is rock'n'roll. If being rich was the only thing for us, we would've played heavy metal for years now and be CBS's number one band nowadays. But we gotta our own thing. This band will be naturally changed, for example Terry's different than rest of us. But it's useless trying to keep the image we had... that's gone by now. Terry's also good for the fact that the band's not playing heavy metal."
February 1985 – England
Though CBS still had their faith on the band, the band wasn't anymore satisfied with them nevertheless their 70-page deal included 220 000 pounds in advance, 6-7 albums, world wide distribution and total artistic freedom to do the records. Vesterinen: "Deal's very good but I'm not satisfied to CBS. People in there change too frequently. On the other hand, big firm's advantage are computers that tells us where we're going."
Michael also wasn't happy about them: "We haven't had any success at charts 'cause record company's done bad job about it. They had poor advertising of Up Around The Bend. Of course we don't want any of this twisted celebrity. It's proven that a record company can create a band from nothin'." Michael: "Here in England we're unknown to kids of ten years and above. Those who buy shitloadsa records. That's also an advantage 'cause I live here in London. I can walk in peace on the streets. In Tokyo for example I couldn't go outside the hotel 'cause they all know me. I'm tall and blonde and everybody else black and tiny. We have a small faithful fan base but it's growin' all the time." Michael didn't feel homesickness: "I never can live in Helsinki. I got one friend in there. He's called Hepa and he plays sax. It's pity people in there are so narrowminded." Andy also had the world citizen attitude: "I think I never can return to Finland. I've gone so far from the lifestyle of Helsinki. It would be hellish tryin' to adapt it again. People think they're free. Fuck 'em, they're not. Freedom's that that you can do anything you want without hurtin' others."
Vesterinen was still hopeful: "We're in a situation where anything is possible. We can go either up or down. Nothing's lost yet. Of course it's true that Hanoi aren't at the top. As long as the record selling is this tiny the journey's going to be long. Last record sold, so far, about 150 000. Main areas are England, Japan, Finland and America. Mainly Los Angeles from America. 150 is just enough to keep the band going on but it's not nearly enough what we want. Germany's hopeless, we've sold only 23 copies in Belgium. Trend is upwards, every new album sells more than previous one. Our main difficulty is that we cannot jump onto the bandwagon, mainstream. You know, we cannot go warming up Iron Maiden or something. Hanoi's not a heavy band, we do our stuff with our own terms. Terms that other bands will copy someday. That's long and hard road and it will take time."
March 1985 – England
In March the long and hard road described by Vesterinen reached its critical point. Rene had been too eager to control other band members while making demos. Vesterinen: "In the studio Rene tried to take the control nevertheless he had no clue about anything. He stopped Makkonen while he was playing sax or was singing and told how the things should go and in what order." Still the band thought that at least this one time they try hard enough. Vesterinen: "Poland tour was booked and they decided to do that and see how the group co-operate on stage."
May 1985 – Poland tour
Nevertheless it sounded strange to do a tour in Poland, they kicked it off on 9 May. The adventure behind the Iron Curtain lasted for ten days and the feelings were down from the beginning. Vesterinen: "After the first gig it was clear that Rene should leave the band... We dressed him in black, didn't give him any spotlights and gave him so short cable he couldn't leave his drumset to blow things up on stage." Andy continues this issue in his From Hanoi Till Eternity –book: "We didn't get him. The thing that happened was when during the first nights when Makkonen introduced the band he announced Rene afterwards. That was kinda cruel but that was my idea. We had a nasty sense of humour. He introduced everybody except Rene to five thousand people."
19 May: Warsaw (Rockerina Festivals). The last gig of Hanoi Rocks. Andy: "In Poland we knew that this would be the last tour." Andy: "...but that was the last tour and last gig and we we're really depressed, really weird party. That was a silent gig, a real anti-climax. We should have stopped before that tour."
June 1985 – England
After visiting Eastern Block they had plans to visit Spain and Bermuda but they had pains that were far worse than normal diseases you carry out from those countries. And there wasn't any cure available. That's why further plans were buried. Rumba-magazine had so called inside information about the situation: "In England, Hanoi Rocks have cancelled some concerts and TV appearances because the band has 'personal problems'. Officially Poland tour was a success but Vesterinen announced that the present day Hanoi Rocks will not be final and now Nisse is betting that Rene Berg at least will be shipping out..."
Rene was sacked, that at least was true. After his departure he got lots of shit coming towards him. Michael: "Rene Berg didn't fit in at all. He wasn't having any opinions of his own. He wasn't a part of our gang." Vesterinen: "The bass player of the band Rene Berg never adapted to the band and he had to leave." Andy: "We sacked Rene 'cause he couldn't keep his head together while playing long periods." Vesterinen accused Rene in Andy's book (so far if he was quoted correctly): "The reason Hanoi Rocks broke-up was because Rene Berg was in the band. It wasn't because of Mike's and Andy's disputes like some sources have claimed. Mike felt that the band wasn't the same after two new faces came along and then it was Rene who was the main issue... But as a friend he was okay."
Afterwards it would be interesting to know were the previous claims the real reasons at all for the departure of musically talented Rene. Though Andy and Michael have slammed him down publicly, accusing him for everything bad that happened to the band, Nasty felt comfortable with him and played with Rene years after Hanoi had vanished. And Rene was a visiting singer in Andy's and Nasty's record Silver Missiles And Nightingales. Also Andy's views about Rene's bad behaviour and nasty habits seem very odd...
Nevertheless what the real reason behind sackings was, Hanoi hired officially Timo Kaltio (their longtime roadie) as their new bass player. This wasn't a longtime job for him because on 17 June Ilta-Sanomat newspaper announced that Michael was going to leave the band. After this announcement other band members realised that they should fold the band at the same time.
I just turned 21 then, full of drugs and I had been on the road for five years. I don't know what I was planning then. We had good times and we had bad times, we went up and down, fought and loved each others.