Sam Yaffa

Is there anyone out here who wouldn’t enjoy collecting some thoughts of one of the most talented and enigmatic bass player on earth? We humbly did it, but also with a bit of pride. Ladies & Gentlemen, Mr. Sam Yaffa…

When did you start playing music? Could you have ever imagined in your craziest dreams that you’d have such a long and brilliant career?

I started around 14 when I got my first bass.Played till my fingers bled and joined a bunch bands…thats kinda what I’ve done ever since.I’m lucky to have been able to make a living out of something I truly love.Also grateful for all the incredible musicians that I’ve had a chance to work with and consider as friends.

You played some gigs with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan between 1985 and 1986, what memories do you have of these times? You probably thought about those days when you got asked to join NEW YORK DOLLS?

Yea, playing w Johnny&Jerry was a good,messed up fun, got to do most of LAMF and a bunch Dolls w them, great memories.

You also recorded two wongs with SMACK, right? How was this experience? Were you close to the guys? Do you think this band should have become bigger?

We were drinking buddies in LA, some of the guys I’d known since teens,it was fun fucked up time in Hollywood, didn’t take it too serious.Smack was great.

What about the JETBOY days? How did you decide to join the band?

Nothing better to do, stuck in a snowstorm in Stockholm, my girlfriend had left and I was broke.Got a phone call from California, rest is history..

You created MAD JUANA in Spain, how did you get the idea of starting this band that sounds quite different from your other/previous bands?

I was sick and tired of doin the same old ,same old + after Demolition 23 breaking up I was demoralized, needed a change.Spain and jumping into something totally different cured my ills and opened my head and heart to other kinds of music, healed me.

From the outside, MAD JUANA looks like a big family. How would you define the way the band is working together and the spirit of the band?

Thats what it is, its a family thing where everyone does it for the love of the music, I really wish I had more time to dedicate to it, its frustrating sometimes.

You and your wife share a passion for music, which of you both decides what to listen to on the stereo at home once you’re back from tour?

We are not together as a couple anymore but continue to make music together and remain friends,so,I don’t have that problem no mo.

I read that you played with hardcore band MURPHY’S LAW for year? It must have been a different experience too.

Half a year, a violent,fast and beautiful experience, I loved playing w them.Punk,Ska,Reggae,R’n’R Ah!

There’s not much information about your days in the BLACKHEARTS and in VASQUEZ with Richard Bacchus? Can you tell us a bit about these experiences?

I played w Joan Jett for almost 2 years and loved the experience, she is incredible.We toured,toured,toured and then we toured again.Thommy Price the drummer was an old friend who hooked me up w Joan,she IS the hardest working lady in show biz, all respect. Vasquez w Ricky was a neighborhood thing.Rick and I lived on the same street, would go to the bar, book a gig, have a drink(s) play some R’n’R and then have some more drinks.I love Mr Ricky Bacchus.

You’ve been living in the USA for long now. Do you miss Europe sometimes? If so, for which reasons mainly?

I miss Europe a lot, thankfully I get to tour there a lot.I’ve had my heart in NYC for 2 decades now, I love the place.Would love to get a place in Europe as well next year.

You seem like a nice and pleasing person, did you ever think about playing annoying arrogant rockstar?

Heh,seen enough of those idiots, not pretty…

Here’s a question that probably won’t be an easy one. Imagine you can form a band with any members you have played with over the years. What would be the ideal line-up?

A big Band Of Massive proportions,5 guitarists,4 drummers, 1 Bass Player, 4 vocalists, add some horns, accordions and violins.

Sylvain,McCoy,Thunders,Suicide,Ginger,Nolan,Ferrer,Razzle,Scabies,Me,Monroe,Johansen,Bators,Karmen,Danny Ray,Frank London,Nico Camargo,Marni Rice,Zach Broch,Jone Takamaki….

Thats a band….

Some people (including us at Veglam!) think that 1980-1985 HANOI ROCKS was one of the best bands ever on earth. Don’t you somtimes think that you should have deserved more recognition? Why didn’t you?

Too Much Too Soon, ahead of time by 6 years….

What are the main differences between 70s NEW YORK DOLLS and today’s ones musicwise?

Its not as ruff anymore, Thunders and Nolan had a VERY individual style of playing that can not be duplicated.Band sound is ALWAYS about chemistry between the players

Can you tell us in a few words what these bands mean to you?:

Pelle Miljoona:

Oy My first love

Fallen Angels:

A lovely one night stand

Jerusalem Slim:

ugh, wish that broad had never entered my life

Alison Gordy’s band:

My big city woman

Demolition 23:

will kick you in the face,my 3rd love

According to you, what are the main qualities of a good bass player?


You’re now in the new Michael Monroe band, how was the reunion? Your first practice session together?

I love Michael,Have always loved him and will continue to love him.It sounds like home

You’ve got people like Antonin Artaud and Noam Chomsky on your MySpace top friends. What kind of books do you usually like to read? Are you reading any these days?

Yea, been on a big Bukowski kick, read all the time, all kinds of books.

What does an elegant hat wearing person like you think about Syl Sylvain’s homemade hats? Does he sometimes make some for you?

He owes one that rat bastard!