Michael breaks out: the evolution of a songwriter

JR: Did you get the feeling that one of the tensions during the breakup was Michael looking for more freedom of expression within the band?

DD: Well, I was thousands of miles away and I wasn't there. I only picked up on it after the event. Everybody in the band knew that Andy was the songwriter, and everybody would look to Andy to deliver the goods. Assume, for the sake of argument, that the band had stayed together and grown. Everyone would have started wanting their own little slice of the pie. Mike, who was incredibly reclusive and retiring but also very artistic, would have probably wanted a bigger slice of that particular pie, and deservedly so. That might have created tension. Andy was loath to give up anything, because Andy is Andy, and also because he wrote the bulk of the material. Without him, there wouldn't have been a band. So it potentially could have caused problems. I can't lay my hand on my heart and say, "No, I'm sure that wasn't an issue." I just don't know.

JR: I guess I'm just reading between the lines of things Michael has said and recorded after the fact. When you look at Michael's solo career, he has a tendency to put more of a bitter, punk-like, political bent to the lyrics. Hanoi's lyrical vibe was more that of the "eternal party." It was not at all an endorsement of the status quo; there was a definite punk edge to everything they did, but Hanoi was the party where you could lose your mind and forget about the fucked up "straight world" of suits and ties for a little while. With Hanoi, it almost felt like the party would last forever, so the corrupt "real" world was irrelevant.

Hanoi was the great escape, and everyone was too young, reckless, and free to be bitter. Hanoi wasn't really about facing the truth, as so many of Mike's solo lyrics are. I guess, looking at Mike's songwriting evolution, you can speculate that eventually Mike would have found that Hanoi escapism a little confining to his worldview. It's all speculation. I don't know what you thought of Demolition 23, Mike's punk venture with Sami and Nasty, but I thought that was a different side of Mike, or to put it another way, a logical outgrowth of Hanoi's punk tendencies into a more explicit and bitter indictment of the ugliness of life ("The Scum Lives On" comes to mind). These sentiments really would not have fit in with Hanoi Rocks as we all knew them. Although perhaps it was the death of Hanoi and the end of the "eternal party" that led Mike to express a much edgier type of world view in his music.

DD: Again, it's really hard to say. No one knows for sure except Mike and Andy, but from someone who knew Hanoi pretty well from the outside, it seems obvious that Mike would not have been given the outlet by Andy for this sort of thing. I can see it from both sides. They've had a lot of years away from each other to sort this all out now. But when things all fell apart, the blame all fell on Andy because of what he is like. He sort of fell victim to his own deeds. I don't know what was said at the time, because I wasn't there, but I imagine that a lot of harsh words were spoken, people saying things that they probably regretted later. Mike probably wanted to get it out somehow, and a lot of that did seem to come out in his later music. Emotionally, I think the end of Hanoi affected Mike more than any of them, he just seemed completely destroyed by it. Sami just sort of disappeared, and Andy and Nasty went off together...

JR: " Suicide Twins..."

DD: Yes, and then later the Cherry Bombz. Nasty was always Andy's sidekick, and Mike was suddenly set adrift. He was completely unprepared to deal with it. The easiest person to blame for all this was Andy, because Andy was always the bad guy. Obviously, Mike and Andy got most of the attention throughout Hanoi's career, but even that was an unequal partnership, because Andy had the bulk of the songwriting, and also, because Mike was so shy and retiring, and Andy was really incredibly in your face. It was much easier to like Mike. He's a wonderful guy and I love him dearly. You kind of want to mother him because he always seems just a bit fragile. Whereas Andy - you could drop him anywhere in the world, in any situation, and you'd know he'd survive.