Sometimes, bands forget about the fun in what they do and take themselves way too seriously. The CONNECTION decided to go back to their roots and offer us 10 covers just for fun! From Bob Seger (“Get Out Of Denver”) to Sylvain Sylvain (“Teenage News”), The ROLLING STONES (“No Expectations”), CHEAP TRICK (“Southern Girls”), GEORGE THOROGOOD (“Get a Haircut”), and The DICTATORS (“Stay With Me”), you can feel that the band really put their heart into playing these songs, just like a group of friends would do during a jam session at the local bar. The CONNECTION also shows the wide variety of their tastes, with country classic “The Streets of Baltimore”, and the more obscure “I Can Read Between The Lines” (GARY LEWIS & THE PLAYBOYS.)
Produced by Brad (lead vocals/gutar) and Geoff (guitar/vocals), mixed by Mike Kennerty (ALL AMERICAN REJECTS), and mastered by Mass Giorgini (GREEN DAY, SCREECHING WEASEL, The QUEERS, GROOVIE GHOULIES…), “Just For Fun” doesn’t sound vintage, and thus gives a second birth to these songs, especially with amazing personal interpretations such as BUDDY HOLY‘s “Think It Over.”
In the end, “Just For Fun” is more than just a cover album, it’s a great powerpop record!/Laurent C.
Founded in 2011 in Portland, Oregon, The HOT LZ’s offer us 12 garage punk songs full of search and destroy energy, with a contemporary powerpop feel in the vocals. Guitars sometimes bring JOHNNY THUNDERS to mind (“Living in Rewind”, “Don’t Wanna See You”), tunes like “Art Of Failing” and “Missing The Point” have a sharp street punk edge, and garage rock’n’roll fans will probably enjoy “Murder In My Heart”. The HOT LZ’s bring the proto-punk spirit back to life with songs like “Margins (Of My Mind)” or “Drain The Dregs” that sound as if the band just put two mics in a room, drank a few beers, and pressed on the record button. You’ll even hear a bit of surf rock in “Better You Than Me”, and “Fade, Decay (And Blow Away)”, “Baby, You Ain’t Shit”, or “I Can’t Seem To Die” flirt with American old-school hardcore.
“Aggravate My Mind” is raw and real, it is out on vinyl, and it looks as cool as it sounds, so get in touch with the band, and maybe you can have it for Christmas!/Laurent C.
HANOÏ ROCKS’ biography All Those Wasted Years is finally available in English. We thought it would be interesting to ask author Ari Väntänen a few questions about the book and how it all came up together. He also tells us about his everlasting love for one of the best rock’n’roll bands ever!
When did you first hear HANOÏ ROCKS?
Hmmm… The first song I remember hearing was “Up Around the Bend”. I think I saw the video on TV in 1984, when I was ten. I couldn’t believe they were Finnish. Unlike most of the bands from my country at the time, they looked cool. But then I heard my parents were acquainted with Andy McCoy’s dad and that our neighbours were related to him, so I had to believe it.
Growing up in Scandinavia must have been quite different from the rest of the world when it comes to HANOÏ ROCKS. What do you remember about them from those days? Were they considered as a famous band there?
Oh yes, they were famous. To us Finnish kids they were real rock stars, and they looked and sounded the part. We’d read about them in magazines. The cover stories were often about them. I had a Hanoi poster on my wall. I used to read “Michael’s Adventures”, a column he wrote for a Finnish teen magazine. Unlike their Finnish peers, they were international. I don’t think they even saw themselves as being a Nordic band or whatever. They’d tour wherever they could, Finland, Japan, the US, the UK, India… They were a wild bunch, strange boys, and I’m sure many didn’t know what to make of them, but they also had a lot of devoted fans. I was always fascinated about Hanoi, but unfortunately too young to catch them live.
How did you get the idea of a HANOÏ biography?
Well, I became a music writer, and I always took writing seriously. I did a lot of work for music magazines, and writing a book was a dream of mine. I was wondering why no-one had written a proper biography of Hanoi Rocks. It was such a fantastic story with all kinds of adventures, and I was certain that soon someone would make a great book out of it. But time went by, and nothing happened. So, I decided to do it myself. I worked on it for a few years before I told anybody. Finally, the Finnish version was released in April 2009.
Can you tell us about the American release of the book?
One day I got an e-mail from Jyrki 69 of The 69 Eyes, whom I know a bit from work. He told me that his friends at Cleopatra Records were putting together a Hanoi Rocks vinyl box called Strange Boys Box. He asked if I’d write the liner notes for it, since I knew the story. Then one thing led to another, and suddenly me and Michael were working on the English version of “All Those Wasted Years” with Cleopatra. The Strange Boys Box liner notes are excerpts from the book. The book was translated by my English friend Andy Stowe. He is a musician himself, a good writer and he even saw Hanoi live back in the day, so he was really on the case. I’m really happy how it turned out. Cleopatra put a lot of love into it.
You co-wrote the book with Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy, how did it all happen? How did you do it, was it based on interviews?
I wrote it all by myself, but the book project was a co-operation. When I had the first version of the manuscript ready, I showed it to Michael and told him what I was up to. He liked what I had written, and we got a publishing deal for a official Hanoi Rocks biography. Then I continued writing and started doing interviews with band members and people who were there when the magic happened. To name a few, I spoke with Michael, Andy, Nasty Suicide, Gyp Casino, Bob Ezrin, Tyla, Ginger Wildheart, Dee Snider, Duff McKagan, Overend Watts… I had a job in a music paper back then, which made it easy to reach people in the music business.
So, to answer your question, the book is based on interviews, but also on all kinds of other materials, like print articles, recordings, TV appearances… whatever I found interesting. A British Hanoi fan named Xan sent me her whole huge Hanoi Rocks articles collection, of which I’m eternally grateful. And Mr. Monroe went through his vast archives and found a lot of interesting photos, documents and other stuff that we could use. He also commented on the text, made corrections and gave me many in-depth interviews. Michael put a lot of effort into both the Finnish and the English version.
So it wasn’t too difficult to find never seen before photos, or other things that haven’t been online before?
Not really. My Finnish publisher Like has been around for a long time and is really well-connected, and like I said, Michael had a lots of material at his place. Hanoi’s Finnish record company Johanna also had stuff to share. Seven years ago not a lot of it was online yet. But now it is.
Have you learned a lot of things you didn’t know before about the band when writing the book?
When I started writing, I had a pretty good idea of how the story went. But when you write a book you dig deeper. Of course you have to tell what happened, but when you start writing about why things went the way they did, you’re onto something. I feel like I learned a lot about their personalities, and those explain a lot of what happened. The guys in the band were very different from each other. In some cases, total opposites. But when they made music together, they really clicked. Their chemistry was just out of this world.
Do you have any favourite HANOÏ ROCKS albums or songs?
I used to, but now they all seem like crucial parts of the story. For example, people say that “Oriental Beat” doesn’t sound very good (which is true) but in my ears it captures the mood the band was in back then. They were going through tough times in 1982, and the album is a reflection of all that. I love that record. I love all of them.
Favourite rock’n’roll books?
There’s lots of good stuff out there. I love The Dirt, Neil Strauss did a great job with it. The latest Jerry Lee Lewis book by Rick Bragg is brilliant. Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain is a classic. The writers interest me, obviously, but sometimes you don’t even know who actually wrote the great book you’re enjoying. Even the “autobiographies” are often not written by the stars themselves, even if they’re narrated in the first person. You need a writer to write a book, just like you need a songwriter to write a song. I think Patti Smith, Richard Hell, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young write great songs and great books.
What about HANOÏ members’ other bands/projects, have you been into them?
Always. I have pretty much all of their records. I just bought a copy of Cheap And Nasty’s second album “Cool Talk Injection”. It’s hard to find and I’m happy to have it. The Suicide Twins’ “Silver Missiles And Nightingales” is one of my all-time favourites, and Sami Yaffa’s band Mad Juana is great. Michael’s solo career I know through and through. His current band is fantastic.
The HANOÏ ROCKS legacy is very important, and they paved the way for GUNS N’ ROSES and many other bands. Have you ever thought about how they would be/sound nowadays if they could have been still around since the 80s with the same line-up?
That’s always the question with Hanoi: “what if….?” But that’s impossible to answer. All I know is that many things would have had to change to keep them together. There were problems and drama there even before Razzle died. I think it was a good decision to stop when they did, in 1985, because the band was dying or dead already. It would be great to have Razzle here with us. I never got to meet him, but apparently he was a great guy. Everybody loved him and still does.
What would you think if somebody came up to you with the project of a movie based on the book?
Well, it’s not my story at all, it’s Hanoi’s. The book is just my interpretation of it, just like the movie would be the director’s version. If there was a movie project and somebody asked me to, I’d be happy to read the script and say what I think. It’s a brilliant story that could very well be adapted into a brilliant movie. But it also could end up being very corny and silly. There are so many things that could go wrong. You’d have to understand who they were and what they represented. Not many actually get it. That’s one of the reasons for writing the book.
What other books have you written, and are you working on other projects? What other bands would you like to write about if you could choose a few?
I wrote the authorized Michael Monroe biography that came out in Finnish in 2011. It was updated in 2014. That one really should be published in English, too. Then I wrote a book about the band Apulanta, they’re huge in Finland. Who I’d like to write about? I don’t know… I write in Finnish, so I guess it would have to be someone from here. A band with some soul and a story to tell.
These four young poets from Montreal, Canada are bringing us two songs on No Front Teeh Records: “I (Wanna) Bang You” and “I (Just Wanna) Cum On Your Face”, they sure wanna do things, but the RAMONES did too! You’ll find members of The SANGOMAS, CHEAP THRILLS and DAGGER EYES in JONESY, so you can only expect an orgy of power pop, bubblegum glam punk and sleazy rock’n’roll!
These two songs will make you think that it’s silly, but also that you need more of them! There are three editions of this 7″ (classic, photo sleeve on translucent film, and metallic gold), so you should be able to find one to your tastes./Laurent C.
The South of France is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about glam metal, but RAKEL TRAXX has been around for a while now and these guys know what they’re talking about. Here they are again with 10 traxx full of heavy, sleazy rock’n’roll riffs, catchy choruses (“Can’ t You See”, “Red N’ Hot”, “I Need Your Love Tonite”), and 80s rock influenced melodies (“You’ll Never Stop The Game”, “Cry and Die”…)
While so many singers in that style torture us with high-pitched vocals, Shanon’s voice does a great job, reminding me of Davy Vain. It perfectly fits with the band’s heavy rock’n’roll music.
The production is solid, modern (especially on songs like “Lady Got a Gun”), but still keeps some raw live energy, and the good thing about this album is that there’s no filler (even the epic “Drugs to Kill Your Mind” is better than most power ballads in the genre): 10 songs, the perfect number for a vinyl release, so maybe this will be released as an LP? For now, “Dirty Dollz” is available on CD through Shotgun Generation Records./Laurent C.
After reviewing a few of their releases, it was time to ask BORN LOOSE a few questions. Drummer Eric Robel tells us almost everything…
Can you give us a bit of history, when did BORN LOOSE start?
It started back in February of 2009. Larry had been living in NYC for a bit by then and had recently suffered the loss of his good friend and band mate
Matthew Odietus of the Candy Snatchers, so it ended his band. Being from VA beach with lots of playing history here in NYC, Larry’s move here was a no-brainer.
Suke, having history of playing with The Candy Snatchers years earlier, and playing with Mike Dee (our original bass player) and myself briefly in our band Nova Express made the connection for Larry when they both wanted to form Born Loose. It was like all of a sudden we all met in a hourly rehearsal studio one day and played together as if we were in the same band for years. It was very comfortable and easy- we pumped out three songs in two hours, two of them were to become the A and B sides of our first single “Congratugoddamnlations.” To this day, we pretty much rehearse in the same efficient way, there are times that we pull out two or three in one day, only to have them finalized by the next week or two. The writing styles of Suke and Larry complement each other nicely.
Tell us about your new 10″ “Death From Above”, which is out on Hound Gawd! Records. You already have a few releases out on this record label. How did it first happen?
It may be some of our best work to date. In my eyes it combines perfectly all of the things that are best represented by our writing; Garage, 77′ punk, hard rock and R-n-R. All of those styles can be heard in some form or another on all of our work, but somehow the “Death” EP ties them together in a more pure and frantic way. This is music to Drive, Fuck and Kill to, in that order.
I saw that you played some German dates last year. Was it the first time in Europe for the band? … and do you tour a lot in the US?
No, we actually did a nice little tour of Germany the previous year revolving around the Get Lost Fest in Hamburg. That is when we met Oliver from Hound Gawd! Records- great guy, and a rare character in the indy record industry: someone who keeps his promises and delivers on time. That tour was really good for us, I barely remember it.
Another thing that made it successful was working with Michael from Wild Wax Shows- another stand up guy who we all now consider a life-long dear friend.
As far as touring the US- our attitude is YES, but we know there is more enthusiasm in Europe for our kind of music, therefore we haven’t really done substantial
touring here. From 2009 to 2014 we regularly hit some of the east coast cities where we had great shows, some of our best for sure- but we haven’t ventured too far off the right coast. There is talk of a mid-west tour in the Spring actually, and we may record our new album there as well.
What are the best places for rock’n’roll in NY these days?
Larry’s apartment. There’s still some great places around, the main staples linger around for a few years and the lesser footnotes pop up and down more often.
In Manhattan there is Otto’s Shrunken Head, Clockwork, Bowery Electric, International Bar etc… As everyone in the world knows, things move fast around here- no longer are the long standing live venues of CBGB or Continental, nor bars like Motor City or Mars Bar. In Brooklyn they are going through the same thing we here in Manhattan have recently, a great live venue like The Grand Victory pops up for a few years, then closes. That place was Born Loose‘s back yard, we played most of our shows there in the beginning, and right up to their last night of business pretty much- great people over there, we hope they open something else soon. But in general there are some cool places in Brooklyn: Don Pedros, Acheron and now the newly opened Gold Sounds. But if you ask me again in 6 months, the list may change- welcome to NYC! Pay attention!
NYC has always been very inspiring for artists and bands. Do you think that you would play the same music if you were living in California, or elsewhere?
Great question. There is the assumption that there is no intensity on the left coast. Not true, but there might be a more laze-fare attitude on pushing the envelope. There are exceptions to every rule, but many over there may have other things to think about vs the compressed, pushed to the limit, no-sun shine,cold as shit-rat-infested NY people. If we lived in California, we would probably write and play even more intensively- just to keep things “right” in our own heads.
It should be noted that Larry also plays in a band based in LA once in a while, The Ringleaders.
You like your rock’n’roll wild and fast. Any other American bands you feel close to these days?
No. There is nobody like Larry on this earth. We provide the backdrop and soundtrack to the insanity of his ferocious performance.
5 records that are important to you.
I would like to have the other guys jump in on this: Hey Larry, try if you can to take the hundreds of records that are vital to you to come up with five.
Larry: Ramones – Rocket to Russia Stooges – Funhouse Radio Birdman – Radios Appear Saints – I’m Stranded Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
Suke: Muddy Waters – Live at Newport Rolling Stones – Beggers Banquet/Sticky Fingers/Let it Bleed (all counted as one) Otis Redding – Live at Monterey Dead Boys – Young, Loud & Snotty Thin Lizzy – Fighting/Jailbreak (counted as one)
Shane: Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak Beach Boys – Pet Sounds Replacements – Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take out the Trash Suicidal Tendencies – s/t
Eric: The Who – Sell Out The Beatles – 1962-1966 Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks Ramones – Road To Ruin Led Zeppelin – 3
Is there any chance Donald Trump will call you to play his presidential inauguration?
I sure as hell hope so, we might get paid a shit load! but wait, I did hear he doesn’t like to pay his debts so we actually might not get paid at all! SHIT!
I might do it for free just to sneak a pussy-grab on Melania or Ivanka.
What’s next for BORN LOOSE?
Full length album by late 2017, new 7″ sooner, mini-tour in the Mid-west and Germany in Aug/Sept. And…practice tonight! who’s turn is it for pops?
This power trio from Portland, Oregon seems to have been on a serious 80s heavy metal and 70s hard rock diet for long! While some guitar riffs sometimes evoke early JUDAS PRIEST, songs like “Pistol Grip Baby” or “Evil Woman” shows us that BREAKER BREAKER is all about high energy. rock’n’roll. Some 80s glam metal can also be heard in “Zombie” or opening track “Move It.”
While most hard rock bands tend to sound too clean nowadays, these guys are keeping it raw and sleazy, just the way it should be! MOTÖRHEAD guitars mixed to early SKID ROW can’t be a bad thing, just listen to “Come Get A Piece” or “Seein’ Red”!, and you’ll want nothing but a good headbanging session! Songs like “Weather Man”, “Wreckin’ Machine” and “Electrify” have a bit of a 90s feel, reminding underrated bands like ELECTRIC BOYS or BANG TANGO.
Don’t look further if you need some real wild hard rock’n’roll, BREAKER BREAKER are one of the best bands I’ve heard in that style this year./Laurent C.