History - Part 7 - Reborn Hanoi Rocks

Andy McCoy’s and Michael Monroe’s new collaboration since 1985 incidents began on 23rd March 2001 at Club Feenix in Turku. They were promoting a Hanoi Rocks compilation album and there was a party held because of that event. “We went to Turku and played few songs with Crystal Ecstacy, the supporting band of Hellacopters. We had a groovy time,” Andy McCoy told.

After finding the long lost friendship, Andy and Michael decided to play at Ruisrock Festivals in Turku as Hanoi Rocks Revisited. This was supposed to be this one-time unique gig and the rest of the musicians were hired from Michael Monroe’s tour band. Second guitarist was Mickey Crane, bass player Timo “Timpa” Laine and the drummer Kari “Lacu” Lahtinen.

Nevertheless what the original plans had been before Ruisrock Andy and Michael decided to continue the collaboration but both thought that this wasn’t to be just a comeback of Hanoi Rocks. “At least we’re writing new songs, we’re not interested in playing old Hanoi tunes. This is the last chance for you to hear these old classic Hanoi songs,” Andy told just before the Ruisrock gig.

In the following autumn Michael finished his solo album with Pink Gibson, Timpa Laine and Lacu.

After Andy and Michael told the press that they’re playing together again, there were lots of speculations about the line-up of the band. Some were sure that Sam Yaffa’s prediction back in 1997 was to come true: he suggested then that the original Hanoi Rocks will be back some day. The same rumour was that all other band members were for it except Michael Monroe. That’s why some fans were too wishful about the future of the band. Nevertheless Andy and Michael tried to lure Jan Stenfors back he only performed few times with them. The other Hanoi legends, Sami and Gyp Casino weren’t even asked to join the band. Nevertheless there were lots of international rock stars queuing for the band (at least according to Andy) at the end of 2001 they decided to stick with Monroe’s band members. The only difference being the replacement of Pink Gibson with Andy.

The informations of us borning again were hugely exaggerated
The first touch to new songs was received on 22nd April 2002 when People like me single was released. And nevertheless Andy and Michael promised not to use Hanoi Rocks name again, it was released as Hanoi Rocks. The style of the song was very close to what Michael recorded on his solo albums. The single sold enough to earn gold in Finland and for a fortnight it was even number one. After this Andy and Michael kept going on about how this was the Reborn Hanoi Rocks. Finally they told the fans that they thought that the main core of the Hanoi Rocks had always been them two and the others were more or less just hired guns. They felt that after this announcement they could leave “Reborn” out of the name. Still, at this part of the band’s history we will use the name Reborn Hanoi Rocks.

12 shots
The first album of Reborn Hanoi Rocks (Twelve Shots On The Rocks) was released on 29th November 2002 by Major Leiden Productions and RFL Music Oy which was owned by Michael, Andy and some of their friends. Even at this early stage everyone could see that not all was kosher and the record was released before the final mixings. Michael: “12 Shots was mixed originally without us and that was the wrong version. It was released then only in Finland and Japan. Me and Andy then re-mixed it before releasing it at UK and US. This was in early 2003 and we also put three bonus songs on the album. The correct version was finally released in Finland in summer 2006.”

There were lots of hassle before they finally released the album and that showed how difficult it was to get the band going on like in the good old days. But they were still a great live band and the fans were thrilled to hear the classics but also OK’d the newer songs. But nevertheless of the success they still couldn’t manage to get a lucrative deal from a big record company or an important promoter.

In spring 2003 they released a single A Day Late, A Dollar Short and kept themselves busy by touring in Finland, Japan, other Nordic Countries, England and the rest of the Europe. The scenes varied much: from huge festivals with thousands of fans to crappy bars. Before this tour they were joined keyboardist Petteri “Pate Flinstone” Kivinen.

At the end of 2003 Costello decided to concentrate only on Popeda and played his last Hanoi gig at Tavastia Club, Helsinki on 27 December 2003. Jan Stenfors replaced him when Hanoi was playing at Caribia, Turku on New Year’s Eve. Jan played half of the gig and Mika “Lamppari” Lamminsivu (a.k.a. Sir Lombardo) played the other half. He was familiar to others from playing at Michael’s tour band.

Keep our fire burning
Costello’s departure kicked off a phase which included arguments e.g. about RLF Music’s cash flow and who’s playing in the band and who’s not. One infamous incident was Andy’s and Michael’s promotion tour to The States in March 2004. Andy had to come back to Finland when the Customs in USA realized that Andy was a persona non grata because of some unclear mishaps. Official explanation was that he had to come back to choose a new guitarist for the band, so Michael did all the interviews in The States by himself. And nevertheless they made zillion promises of conquering the Big USA with the new band they never could do that because of Andy.

In spring 2004 they announced their new guitarist. Swedish Stevie Klasson who had been playing e.g. with Johnny Thunders was the chosen one. On 18th June Hanoi Rocks released a new single Keep Our Fire Burning where Stevie was already playing. Basically it was recycled from 1983 album Angel Of Glass by Japanese Yasuaki Honda and it was Andy’s own composition. Also Finnish band Pelle Miljoona & Rockers used the same tune with a Finnish title Kaipaan sua. It was also recorded by the Rockers in 1996 when Andy was their occasional guitarist.

This is how Stevie remembered the recording sessions: “I only recorded with them once... First, we recorded with the band for a couple o' days, and knocked down basic tracks... Then, Michael locked himself in the studio, for a couple o' days, and overdubbed a lot o' multi-tracked saxophones, guitars, and synthesizers....and that was the end of my recording career with Hanoi Rocks. We're all friends, but its not my cup o' meat, musically.” Stevie played only few gigs in Finland and Sweden and by the end of autumn it was clear he wasn’t going to continue with the band.

Cut and paste
They went to the studio at the end of 2004 and started recording a new album and it was then when the bass player Timpa jumped off the Hanoi Rocks wagon because of family reasons. The new album Another Hostile Takeover which was released on 30th May 2005 wasn’t really a band album because Andy and Michael mainly did it by themselves . Lacu did most of the drum tracks and Timpa’s bass playing is also recognizable in some songs. New signings also provided their small contribution: Conny Bloom (guitar) and Andy “AC” Christell (bass) but there’s also miscellaneous bits and pieces by Pate Flintstone, Stevie Klasson and DJ duo Alimo and Control. The album itself gave an impression that there were too many cooks in the kitchen making the stew and it never was a real success.

This One’s For Rock and Roll
Old pals Conny and AC brought the much needed spunk to the band. With their help the band did very intensive gigs in 2005-06 around the world, excluding USA again.

New single with this line-up was called Fashion and it was released on 16th May 2007. It also included their first and only truly professional promotional video. At this point the band sounded and looked good. And after all that shit that had hit the fan during the past years it was finally looking like Hanoi’s future would be blooming.

The next single This One’s For Rock’n’Roll was released on 8th August 2007. Before the traditional release the song was available on the internet.

The third album Street Poetry is perhaps the most balanced album of Reborn Hanoi Rocks and it was released on 5th September 2007. After this event the band hit the road again.

“This One’s For Rock’n’Roll” was released as a CD single on 19th November 2007.

Kicking the bucket
The first hint of breaking up again came after Lacu announced on 11th January 2008 that he’s going to be the drummer of Popeda. He was probably the first member who after leaving the band didn’t get a bad word from the band.

In November 2008 the rest of the band did an unplugged tour named Steppin’ Out Acoustically. During this tour their drum technician banged behind the drum kit. At the same time they were searching a new drummer and after many who tried to impress they chose Swedish George “Jolle” Atlagic. And in the press release it stated: Jolle is skilful and his style is very close to early Hanoi drummers Gyp Casino and Razzle. And he already looks like a drummer who’s playing in the very successful band. Jolle’s first gig was on 20th April 2008 and officially he became a member on 25th May.

Teenage Revolution single came out on 28th May 2008 and it had a picture sleeve of the band with Lacu standing with the rest of the group which was a right thing to do since he played on the track. The new line-up performed only every now and then after this.

On 21st October 2008 it was announced that the Reborn Hanoi Rocks will no longer function after spring 2009. The farewell tour ended to concerts at Tavastia Club in Helsinki and there were six sold out concerts (7-12 April 2009). Jan Stenfors played in couple of those gigs. All the Tavastia concerts were filmed and a DVD was released later.

Andy and Michael told that they took Hanoi Rocks as far as it was possible to take in these conditions and they decided to put a stop to it while everybody was still having a good time.

Although it would be interesting to compare the Reborn Hanoi Rocks to the original band, it would be unfair because the eighties isn’t here anymore. Hanoi Rocks was a phenomenon at Soviet Finland (a.k.a. Kekkoslovakia) of that time. We were proud of the band and they gave us a glimpse of what the true rock and roll lifestyle outside this small and outback Finland really was. The sad truth is that Hanoi Rocks didn’t conquer the whole world but still that small achievement is priceless for us Finns.

Reborn Hanoi Rocks worked in a time period when they were just a band amongst other bands. The only difference to others was their energetic live performances, they grooved like hell. They were an entertaining band with big balls – perhaps the best group of that time. Unfortunately the world had changed in a way that now only a handful showed their respect towards them and the rest didn’t actually care. Because of this they didn’t get that juicy big deal with an outside promoter and without that it was impossible to work in a 21st century rock and roll world. They tried to make excuses why there weren’t any deals done (like “we don’t want outsiders to mess with our band”) but eventually you can’t run a business and play in a rock and roll band at the same time without having a burn out. Still they offered the audiences all around the world worthy shows and they released some fine albums where you can even hear real instruments! Not many albums nowadays can boast with the fact like that.

At least we’re writing new songs, we’re not interested in playing old Hanoi tunes. This is the last chance for you to hear these old classic Hanoi songs.

Andy McCoy