Interview with Sam Yaffa; August 2004

When I say glam, what's the first person whose face jumps into your mind? For many in the know, it's Sami Yaffa, a veteran of the scene whose resume includes acts like Hanoi Rocks, Mad Juana, Jetboy, and Joan Jett, to name a few. Sami and I had a chance to visit to discuss his current and past career in the music industry.

Q1. Recently, a rumor has been going around that your career is in jeopardy due to an incident with a security guard. Could you please confirm or deny this and, if true, please explain what happened.

A1. We're in the middle of litigation, sorry but I can¹t talk too much about it.

Q2. Mad Juana sounds considerably different than your past projects. Please describe the sound for those who have yet to hear it.

A2. Think of the Poques meets Clash with all acoustic instruments. Beautiful female voice in a Velvet Underground dungeon. Go check out some sound bites from the "Acoustic VooDoo" EP from, we're finishing off our full length album, should be out by Sept.-Oct. Also booking a European tour for Oct. also I play acoustic guitar in Mad Juana instead of bass.

Q3. Keeping with the last question, how did you come about the sound of Mad Juana. Also, are you noticing a different fan base than your other projects such as Hanoi Rocks?

A3. It¹s a natural development from the sound that we came up with for our First album "Skin of my teeth" (Spinefarm records) We lived in Spain at the time and picked up some of the Spanish vibe, put it in the blender with my Punk/Rock 'n' Roll past and voila, there the fecker is!! For the second part of your question, the funny thing is that 99% of the Hanoi fans who come and check us out fall in love with the band, there¹s always some cranky old Hanoi fans who can't see past the past, can¹t please 'em all you know.

Q4. Although I¹m sure you¹ve been badgered by this question, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn¹t ask what your opinions are about Mike and Andy putting the band back together. Were you approached to rejoin? Are you still close with them?

A4. Nope, I was not approached to re-join the Hanoi resurrection for whatever reason. The new Hanoi in my mind doesn't have much in common with the original, soundwise or attitude wise, just a different trip you know. I love Michael & Andy with all my heart and wish 'em all the best with everything they do, 2 talented muthas. I¹m close with both of 'em, saw them both in Japan last October while I was there with Joan Jett, fun as hell. Michael also breezed thru New York a few months back, had a chance to hang out + he ended up playin' some incredible harmonica for the new Mad Juana record and doin' some vocs as well.

Q5. Another Hanoi Rocks question. At the time of the Razzle tragedy, from what I understand, you were planning on leaving the band anyway. What were the reasons for this?

A5. Jeesus, I was what? just turned 21, full of dope ,been on the road For solid 5 years, I can't even start to tell you what my plans was, even if I had any. There was always good times, bad times, ups, downs, fights, big loves. 5 maniacs running around the world doin' everything possible to self-destruct. Once Razz was gone, everything just pretty much caved in.

Q6. Last year saw us saying goodbye to another Hanoi Rocks alumnus with the passing of Rene Berg. He was in the band after you'd left but do you have any feelings or thoughts concerning his passing?

A6. Rene was an old friend, always a gentleman to me, I think it¹s terrible that another talented, beautiful human being was taken away way too early.

Q7. Will you be on the new Joan Jett CD when it comes out? Will you get to do any writing?

A7. Well... I'm not with that organization anymore. I played on some demos which ended up being on the new record. Writing? I don't think anybody gets to do any writing except for Laguna/Jett

Q8. I caught you at last year's Joan Jett show here in Lincoln and we talked a little about the Fallen Angels. Please discuss this project. How did it come together?

A8. Richard Bishop, Hanoi's manager had something to do with The Vibrators. Knox loved Hanoi, we loved Knox. We bashed that album out in 5 days Basically laying on our backs drunk as skunks in this stinky little studio in Waterloo in London...still one of my absolute favorite records I've ever played on!!

Q9. Although you did get face time with a pretty funny interview segment on the VH1¹s top hair bands of all time countdown, did you think that #40 was pretty damned low for Hanoi Rocks? Any feelings on that or the rest of the list?

A9. We were a hat band, not a hair band!!!!!!

Q10. Here's a series of either/or questions. Please feel free to toss in an explanation wherever you see fit.

A. Mary Kate or Ashley? Who the fook are they!??
B. Leather or Lipstick? Both
C. Punk or Glam? Both
D. Suicide Twins or Cherry Bombz? The Twins hands down!
E. FM or AM? Internet Radio. Doctor Dick's Dub Shack rules!!!
F. Donuts or Bagels? Oy vey!! Bagels!!
G. Underground hero or superstar sellout? None of my heroes ever made it top 40 except for Alice Cooper Band
H. Blues or Folk? Bluuuueeeesssss!!!
I. Light or Dark Beer? Dark!! And lots of it!!

Q11. Last I heard you were in New York. Any nervousness being there with constant terrorist warnings going around?

A11. I lived in London when the IRA had their campaign, I lived in Spain when ETA was blowin' shit up everywhere. Nervous??? No. The world is a fucked up place full of fucked up people, terrorist and governments alike. People will have to do something. Vote, vote, vote that mutha out!!

Q12. You were credited as producer on the excellent Dogtown Balladeers CD, Antique Wine and Roses. How did this project come about?

A12. I was rehearsing with Alison Gordy and Jamie Heath from Johnny Thunders's band here I NYC. They were next door bangin' away. We connected and had great time making the album. I just got a copy of it last year from Jackie. Great record!! Good old school R'n'R

Q13. Are there any new bands that you think our readers should keep an eye out for?

A13. I like the Finnish band Flaming Sideburns

Q14. What¹re the top 5 CDs currently getting the most spins in your player?

A14. The Clash-Super Blackmarket Clash
Johnny Cash-at Folsom Prison
The Faces-the best of good boys. when they are asleep
The Reggae Box-The routes of Jamaican music
The Meters-the Josie years

Q15. You were in Jetboy for two albums. I might be wrong on this assumption, but after having heard early demos, did the label have a hand in making the band change their sound? What were your feelings on this, if it was the case.

A15. Nope. The label(s) pretty much left us to our own de(vices)

Q16. Please compare and contrast being on a major label as opposed to being on an Indie.

A16. Big advance, deal with assholes and get lost in politics. Small Advance, deal with assholes and get lost in politics.

Q17. In this section, please feel free to promote any of your projects.

A17. Keep your eyes glued to for the new album which will blow your already blown mind. Come and check us out if we play at a venue near you. Bring Tequila!!

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

No problem, thank you!!


Interviewed by Lycan Davis

Visit the Mad Juana Website