Paying little attention to the extreme death metal sounds their hometown was renowned for, the four natives of Gothenburg, Sweden, who formed Hardcore Superstar in 1998 drew upon melodic, glammed-up hard rock, especially the sleazy L.A. pop-metal sound of the '80s. Vocalist Jocke Berg, guitarist Silver Silver, bassist Martin Sandvik, and drummer Magnus Andreasson recorded an album titled It's Only Rock 'N' Roll and released it on their own label in 1998, attracting praise from Motorhead's Lemmy. After opening for Motorhead on a Scandinavian tour, Hardcore Superstar signed with Music for Nations and recorded their debut album, Bad Sneakers and a Piña Colada, in 1999. They scored two Swedish Top Ten singles from the record, and built up their audience through constant gigging. Koch Records issued their album in the U.S. in early 2001.
What’s in a name? If the name is Michael Monroe, the answer is A WHOLE LOT. Right now, Michael Monroe is first and foremost a kickass rock band. The band’s new album Horns And Halos is due out on August 23rd, 2013 worldwide on Spinefarm Records and Ballad Of The Lower East Side was released back in March as the first single and video. Horns And Halos is a cosmopolitan affair, written and recorded around the world by an international posse. Los Angeles, Stockholm, New York and various locations in Finland have all left their mark on the record. Stockholm was especially important, with recording taking place in the same room where Hanoi Rocks recorded their debut album over 30 years ago. Petri Majuri, Monroe’s trusted man for over a decade, mixed the album at Seawolf Studios in scenic Suomenlinna, a fortress island off Helsinki. It’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List and it’s all about the vibe.
Let’s look at the band’s anatomy.
The beating heart of the group consists of bass player Sami Yaffa and drummer Karl Rockfist. Sami and Michael go way back, to the 1980s. Sami played bass in Hanoi Rocks, started Demolition 23 with Michael, started cult band Mad Juana in Spain in the 1990s and ended up playing in the reformed New York Dolls, as well as with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in the 2000s. Karl has gone from charging neighborhood kids to see his preteen Kiss cover project to pounding the skins behind stars like Glenn Danzig and Joan Osborne.
The band’s six-string guts pack a real punch with Swedish legend Dregen and lead guitarist and primary songwriter Steve Conte. Dregen was one of the prime movers behind the Scandinavian rock renaissance of the 1990s, having delivered both The Backyard Babies and The Hellacopters into this world. Steve Conte started his career at the age of 11 by making his first album in the family living room and backing his jazz singer mom at venues in New York and New Jersey. Since then he’s led his own bands, The Crazy Truth and Company Of Wolves and provided the rhythmic backbone and tasty leads for artists like Suzi Quatro, Willy DeVille and Eric Burdon as well as being called upon to fill the sizable void left by Johnny Thunders in the reformed New York Dolls in 2004.
What about the man with the name, then? Michael Monroe’s inclusion in rock’s pantheon was a done deal with Hanoi Rocks, but the fact is he’s just kept getting better and more intense since then, culminating in the last few whirlwind years as the head of this band. Multi-instrumentalist, fearless and consummate performer, bearer of the rock’n’roll torch, Michael Monroe has been putting himself on the line for decades and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. There is no half-stepping in Monroe’s world. Michael Monroe’s last album Sensory Overdrive was a worldwide critical and commercial success and ended up winning Classic Rock magazine’s album of the year award. It also took the band on tour all over the globe. The stage is where Michael Monroe belongs and comes into its own as a living, breathing rock organism capable of total, literally rib-snapping abandon.
Now, with all the new pieces of the rock puzzle firmly in place, Michael Monroe is gearing up for total domination.