Hanoi in Kerrang!: a wild card in a metal mag

DD: In the Hanoi tribute piece I did for Classic Rock [January 2001], I said that if you worked at Kerrang! in the '80's, you weren't supposed to like pop and you weren't supposed to like punk. I liked them both. Hanoi were always a bit suspicious about being in a heavy metal magazine, but I said to them, "Bear with me here, because all heavy metal is rock 'n' roll but not all rock 'n' roll is heavy metal." I was always a rock 'n' roll fan, so there was always some metal that I really loved. For example, I'm a huge Judas Priest fan. I just think they're incredible. And I like some of the stuff Motorhead's done, and obviously I like Zeppelin, and I like Deep Purple - all of which gets categorized as heavy metal. To me, they're all rock 'n' roll bands, they just play a particular form or rock 'n' roll which can be classified as heavy metal or heavy rock, call it what you will. So I said to Hanoi, "Yeah, it's a heavy metal magazine, but you're a rock 'n' roll band, and this is where you can extend your audience." They always said to me, "We don't want heavy metal fans," but I said, "You want fans where you can get them. You don't want to start discriminating against any one type of fan."

JR: You make a good point there. At the time Hanoi broke out overseas, I was buying imported copies of Kerrang! at a local head shop. Kerrang! had an eye for spotting new talent and predicting the rise of certain bands ahead of their time. Of all the bands that I "discovered" because of Kerrang!, the two that had the most impact on my own development were Metallica and Hanoi Rocks. Obviously, I would have eventually found out about Metallica without the help of Kerrang!, but growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I might have totally missed out on Hanoi Rocks if not for that magazine. Because Hanoi Rocks had such a broad appeal, you could imagine a Metallica fan like me listening to Hanoi Rocks and saying, "Hey, this band's pretty good." Hanoi ended up having a very visible presence in Kerrang!, from your Oriental Beat record review in June of 1982 through the end of their career.

DD: The thing with Metallica was that ostensibly they were a straight-down-the-line heavy metal act. But there were large elements of punk in Metallica.

JR: Absolutely.

DD: As well as large elements of raucous rock 'n' roll Metallica played the field and did it brilliantly. I still say that Kill 'Em All is one of the finest debut albums I've ever heard. To me, it doesn't matter what category the press tries to put you in. If it's good, it's good. I never said this to Hanoi or the guys at Kerrang!, but one of the finest gigs I ever went to was a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London with Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, and Sammy Davis, JR. Frank Sinatra was just awesome! He was an old man at the time and could barely get the songs out, but he had such presence that it almost didn't matter. Now, this was far away removed from rock 'n' roll, but I would have challenged anybody in rock 'n' roll to come along to that show and learn about what it means to get in front of an audience and just have them in the palm of your hand.

The British press is particularly prone to shoving people into categories, and then you can't get out of them. I once wrote an editorial comment in Kerrang! regarding "Beat It," Michael Jackson's collaboration with Eddie Van Halen. I basically said, "What is wrong with this? Now you might not like Michael Jackson, and you may think Eddie Van Halen isn't the greatest guitarist on earth, but those guys could really work together." Thriller was a great album. Well, OK, it had three great tracks on it and the rest is pretty much filler, but those three great tracks live on. I went on for years at Kerrang! prodding people. I hate to use the expression "think outside the box," but I would implore heavy metal fans, I would say, "OK, you like Slayer, or Motorhead, or whatever it is - great. But there's a whole bunch of other music out there which you might like if you took the time to listen." To me, the Stones were always the greatest. Obviously, the Stones were the precursors to all of this. The Dolls came from the Stones, Iggy came from the Stones, and Hanoi came from the Stones.