Sami Yaffa - New York Dolls/Michael Monroe - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Raquel F   
Thursday, 08 April 2010 05:00

sami-yaffaIf ever anyone wanted to break into ÜRHQ and steal the promo of the new FM album then this week would be the best time. Why? Because we are all going to see, potentially, the gig of the year - Michael Monroe at Islington O2 Academy.


Friend of Über Röck Todd Youth may not be involved anymore but we can certainly live with his replacement, Steve Conte! And, without even touching on our love for all things Ginger(!), we will be seeing two members of one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands to ever walk the face of this planet - Michael Monroe and Sami Yaffa.


Of course, that's not cool enough for Yaffa. He returns to London a couple of weeks later with the legendary New York Dolls. In anticipation of this pair of righteous rock shows, our Spanish vixen Raquel F managed to squeeze a quick chat out of Sami for your reading pleasure!


Hello Sami, how's life treating you lately?


It's good - busy as hell with New York Dolls, Michael Monroe and Mad Juana, waiting for cloning to become reality. 


How and why did you start to play bass? Why did you choose bass? 


I always heard the low rumble first and could hum bass lines - I always loved a big bottom and thought bass was the coolest instrument there was.


How does it feel to have replaced Arthur Kane as a New York Doll? 


An honour.NewYorkDollsnew_york_dolls_l


What's the best thing that's happened to you on tour with the NY Dolls......and the worst?


Jamming with Hubert Sumlin (Howlin Wolf's guitar player); sitting in a van listening to David Johansen tell a joke for two hours; seeing Sylvain Sylvain play up close; seeing the damage Brian "Fancypants" Delancey did in Glasgow after ten shots of whisky  - pukesville......they're the best things. The worst? I can't say there's been anything bad with the Dolls in the past six years.


The Dolls are about to play just one live UK date in London, how are you feeling about it? 


We just did a UK tour in December with the Dolls, hence just the one gig this time. We are doing some territories that we haven't done in a while which is fun and I'm looking forward to it. We are taking it a little easy on the touring front this year after five years of pretty non-stop travelling, also writing some new material for the next album.


hanoi_rocksHow about your recent reunion with former Hanoi Rocks bandmate Michael Monroe? How did that come up and how happy are you about this new project with Michael Monroe, Ginger and the rest of the band? 


It's cool as hell! Michael and I have always stayed in contact and have remained very good friends through the years. We talked about maybe re-releasing the Demolition 23 album and putting the band back together a while back. I met with Michael in Finland last summer when the Dolls came through and he ended up jamming 'Personality Crisis' and 'Hey Bo Diddley' with us, which was a blast. After the gig we talked about doing something together and started looking for other players last Fall.


Tell me of a memorable time you can think about now, shared with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan, back when you played live with them?


I played a private/illegal party with Johnny and Jerry back in '86 in Stockholm, Sweden. Got paid a nice chunk a money up front so I went and bought some fine Italian shoes. Later that night upon entering the cellar/venue a mohawk-haired punk bastard puked on 'em and ruined 'em! After the show the police raided the club, we got away through the back door and ended up spending the rest of the night in a gay club in Stockholm with my puke encrusted Italian shoes.....



Your musical career has been quite amazing, you have played in and with some of the best punk/rock bands ever - how happy are you in a scale from 0 to 1 million? 


I'm doing what I love to do and have been blessed with the musicians I've had and have a chance to play with.....happy as a pig in shit.


You have your own band, Mad Juana with your wife Karmen, where you play acousticMadJuana2 guitar instead of bass. What are the current plans for it? What inspired you to make a band with such a different sound from all your other musical projects? How much has it got to do with the fact that you lived in Spain for a while? 


Karmen and I have spilt up but continue with Mad Juana. The music we make is our own music unlike anything or anyone else around, we use ALL the influences and sounds we have loved and love to create this weird hybrid that is Mad Juana music. Spain played a big part in it in opening up the possibility to use mainly acoustic instruments for what we do.


You also played with Joan Jett, describe your experience with her with a few words, if you can... and...have you seen The Runaways movie, or plan to? 


Loved Joan, Thommy and Dougie (The Blackhearts) - it was a great year and a half. I have nothing but huge respect for the lady, a class act and one of a kind. She's still out there, touring her tush off as usual, hardest working lady in R'n'R biz! I haven't had time to go to movies for a loooong time so I'll probably wait and see when it gets in rotation in airplanes...


What would you think if someone wanted to make a movie about the story of Hanoi Rocks? Would you like to be involved and who would you choose to play you? 


sami_02I think they would be up for a very difficult movie, as we were Finns, with the language, culture, sense of humour etc......  Sometimes movies about bands can be very, very cheesy and difficult to make - I haven't seen one yet that I liked. I would say Brad Pitt should play me!


What's your fave New York Dolls song to play live and why? 


From the old ones, 'Jet Boy' - the song is epic! From the new ones, 'Dance Like A Monkey'


What band are you currently infatuated with and can recommend?


 I've been in love and infatuated with Gogol Bordello for years and it's not fading....


Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for us, would you like to add something?

Thank you for havin' me! Cheers everyone, see you around! 



Über Röck spies will be infiltrating both the Michael Monroe and New York Dolls London shows this month so, if you can't make it to the rock show, you can read all about what you missed right here!!!!