MELODY LANE had the pleasure and the honor of interviewing the legendary Finnish bass player SAMI YAFFA! 
Sami Yaffa, current member of the MICHAEL MONROE's band, is best known as the bassist of the influential glam rock band Hanoi Rocks in the 1980s, and he has also played with and been part of cult bands such as New York Dolls, Jetboy, Johnny Thunders and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. On September 3, Sami released his first solo album titled "The Innermost Journey To Your Outermost Mind", an explosive and engaging blend of the best ingredients of Punk and Rock contaminated with Acid Blues, Folk and Reggae. Our advice is not to miss this album for nothing in the world and to dedicate some of your time to read the words of a great musician, who has crossed the length and breadth of the world of Rock, without ever losing his style and his artistic integrity. Enjoy the reading! 

MELODY LANE: In your career, which is vast and rich of different experiences, you have played and keep on playing with awesome guitarists, just to say the least… I think of ANDY McCoy, NASTY SUICIDE, DREGEN, STEVE CONTE... Not involving any of them in your album was a deliberate choice? Did you want maybe to get away from your 'comfort zone' and from your usual working patterns… or is there any other reason?
SAMI YAFFA: Oh well… It would have been very typical and that’s exactly why I didn’t do it, you know what I mean? I’ve made tons of records with all of those guys and they are all strong personalities in their guitar-playing, but to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure that the kind of stuff I was working on was right for them to play …I jammed ARMAGEDDON TOGETHER with ANDY McCOY,  two years ago in the studio, and he was ok but he didn’t really get on fire, you know what I mean?... While as for Nasty ... Nasty is my brother, he’s a real brother and he still plays guitar beautifully, he's fucking awesome, but I didn't think those songs would be right for him and the same goes for STEVE CONTE ... Do you know that I have never played with anyone more than I have played with STEVE CONTE? We started in 2004, so it's been 16 years, more or less, never stop playing together, that's crazy…But anyway… I don't think they would have fit.
I used the people that I thought would be perfect for the songs, that’s why I got CHRISTIAN MARTUCCI to do four of the songs, because he’s very versatile and he’s very heavy… you know…he comes from the school of THE STOOGES, MC5 and all that, and he also played in THE CHELSEA SMILES… that’s actually how I got to meet him the first time, when THE CHELSEA SMILES played with THE NEW YORK DOLLS…He's very old school but he's also very new school, so I wanted to get some kind of that mix for some of the songs. CHRISTIAN is an incredible guitarist.

MELODY LANE: SAMI, keeping on talking about your album and the guitarists you collaborated with, we inevitably have to talk about the tragic, unexpected and heartbreaking news concerning the death of TIMO KALTIO. We were in contact with him, he was always very kind and helpful, and some time ago he even gave a fantastic interview for us... Can you tell us something about it and something about your collaboration with him?
SAMI YAFFA: It came as shock to all of us. I’ve known TIMO for 41 years, he really was like a brother to me. I don’t have words… it’s really rough. I’m glad that TIMO got to play on my record because we’d never recorded together…you know…we played together a lot, we jammed together, years ago we even had a jam band together in Los Angeles, but we never got to record together; so when he moved back  here in Finland in spring, I had two songs that needed guitars on and I thought they were right for him …so I asked TIMO to come to the studio. And one day he came in and he basically cursed me…I remember he saying: “…only a bass player can write a guitar riff like that…”. And it was a great afternoon, he played on FORTUNATE ONE and I CAN’T STAND IT. So I’m just glad that we got to record together at last, you know…it’s some kind of memoir. 

MELODY LANE: Another guitarist, RANE from SMACK, played on your album ... if I’m not wrong, he’s a long-time friend of yours too...
SAMI YAFFA: Oh yes,  RANE RAITSIKKA, from SMACK and ATOMIROTTA. I have known him since we were 14 or 15 years old. We are like childhood friends, we were little punks together here in Helsinki, we fucking rebelled against the society (laughs)... you know…It was actually me, TIMO and RANE who were running around Los Angeles in the late ‘80s…We were the three of us, we were a sort of “horrible three”(laughs)…And I really wanted to  keep this thing, I wanted my best friends on my album…         

MELODY LANE: Regarding the songs included in your album… Did you wrote those for yourself, just for your solo record, or have you previously presented or submitted them to the attention of MICHAEL MONROE's band or to the NEW YORK DOLLS?
SAMI YAFFA: Well…some of them, not all of them. You know…MICHAEL needs to feel a connection with the songs, it’s not that simple… you know what I mean?...I had SELLING ME SHITS, I had it for quite a while, I showed it to the MICHAEL MONROE’s band and we actually demoed it, but it was still on work; RICH JONES and STEVE CONTE were not the right kind of guitar players for it, you know…RICH’s got a sort of punk background but STEVE doesn’t, STEVE comes from guitar rock of the ‘70s and all that so…I needed a punk vibe for the song, you know what I mean?...and then on the original demo there was this crazy ‘reggae breakdown’ so…I don’t think they really got into it, they wanted to turn the riff into a straighter riff and they came with new parts to make it more melodic and all that…so I preferred to let it go and to use it later for myself…

MELODY LANE: Which are the first songs you composed for the record, the ones you wrote a long time ago… and then ended up on the final tracklist?
SAMI YAFFA: The first song that came together was THE LAST TIME, which is maybe six years old; also DOWN AT ST. JOE I had it for a long time, and I had the music for CANCEL THE END OF THE WORLD for a long time too; I played it to SYLVAIN SYLVAIN and he thought it was an amazing, genius song… but it was not suitable for the NEW YORK DOLLS.

MELODY LANE: CANCEL THE END OF THE WORLD is a wonderful closing for the album... Who played the guitar on the song and what can you tell us about the fantastic female vocals?
SAMI YAFFA: It’s COSTELLO on guitar, he’s the guy who played with the ‘new HANOI ROCKS’ for a little while…and NICOLE WILLIS on vocals. 
NICOLE is an old friend of mine from NEW YORK; I have been knowing NICOLE since the early ‘90s; she married a Finnish musician called JIMI TENOR and so… I knew she was in Helsinki and I wanted to get a real fucking strong female vocal on the song, so I just called her up one day and she came to the studio and we recorded… and it was really great.

MELODY LANE: So far we have talked a lot about guitarists but we absolutely have to say a few words about your drummer too ... JANNE HAAVISTO, what can you tell us about him?
SAMI YAFFA: Oh JANNE…When I was 14 years old I got my first bass and I was in the same class of this guy, and we started playing together and we started recording and doing musical experiments. Then I joined the Finnish punk band PELLE MILJOONA OY and he followed his own way and he became a very well-known producer and drummer over here. He’s also one of my favorite human being: he’s a chill little guy with a great sense of humor. He’s one of my favorite drummer, this guy is fucking unbelievable, he can play anything and you know…a lot of the drums tracks on the album are really first takes. I come from the old school, I’m looking for the takes, I’m looking for the swing, I don’t mind if the song goes a little bit forward or a little bit behind, as long as we play ‘as a group’… and I think that a lot of bands nowadays forgot about it, they are just making records too fucking perfect but Rock ’n’ Roll was never meant to be perfect, quite the opposite.

MELODY LANE: Do you feel more pressure or excitement playing with the MICHAEL MONROE's band at an open air festival in front of 60,000 people... or playing with your project now that you are the front-man, singer and leader…?
SAMI YAFFA: Oh I have never had any pressure at all, I love playing bass…I’ve played in such great bands and I’m always happy when I’m on the stage, that’s where I belong… but now it’s a completely different story because I’ve never sang lead vocals before, and playing bass and singing lead vocals it’s not as easy as it looks… Just think that my first idea was to release a 4 or 5 songs EP with different singers, I wasn’t even thinking about singing myself.

MELODY LANE:  Have you ever done it in the past?
SAMI YAFFA: I sang some lead vocals with WALTER LURE’s band, in Japan; he made me sung four songs in the set…He asked me to go with him to Japan and we started rehearsing and one day he said: “ SAMI you’re going to sing four songs on the set…” and I was like: “ What are you talking about? I don’t sing”…and he said: “ No, do”…So I sang I WANNA BE LOVED, PIRATE LOVE, GET OFF THE PHONE and something else that I can’t remember…And then three or four years ago I went to Japan again with STEVE CONTE, SYLVAIN SYLVA
IN and ROBERT ERIKSSON from THE HELLACOPTERS, and it was the same thing: SYLVAIN told me “…You have to sing some songs ‘Jackson’…”, so I sang some NEW YORK DOLLS’ songs and some HEARTBREAKERS’ too. I know how to sing,  I know what the Rock ’n’ Roll thing is all about, but singing songs like CANCEL THE END OF THE WORLD or DOWN AT ST.JOE or GIMME FEVER and stuff like that, that's where the real challenge was as a singer ... but I guess it went well, it's cool and I like it now ...

MELODY LANE: Singing and playing bass at the same time, a Rock fan inevitably ends up thinking about LEMMY ...
SAMI YAFFA: Oh man, MOTORHEAD…that’s pretty deep stuff…One of my favorite records is NO SLEEP ‘TIL HAMMERSMITH, the Motorhead’s live album. I haven’t listened to it for years, so just the other day, after a long time, I put it on and…It’s fucking hell man, there’s no other band like that band; that record is still in my ‘top five’ records…

MELODY LANE: Let's talk now about the tour to promote the album, I read that with your band you will tour Finland in September and October...
SAMI YAFFA:  Yes, it should be a five or six weeks tour but there are still many restrictions due to the pandemic, so in these days I’m waiting for some kind of answer from my agent to see if the tour happens and how many of the dates scheduled will be confirmed: it’s just a fucking fucked up situation…Anyway next year I want to tour Europe, the album is getting great reviews in the UK, people are going kind of nuts about it, so I’m planning to get a European agent to book a tour all around… We just rehearsed today and I made the band play the set first backwards, starting from the last song, and then we made it all again starting from the first song to the end…I drove them crazy (laughs). I can say that our set is a fucking high-energy set, we’ve done a version of LOOK AHEAD for the live purposes that’s just going to drive people insane, because we’ve been extending it a little bit, making it a little nuts…it’s gonna be really cool…and you know… We gonna play also one song from THE FALLEN ANGELS’ album, INNER PLANET LOVE.  

MELODY LANE: For a new project like yours, which is meant to promote a new album and try to expand its fan base, maybe the best thing would be to open or play in support of big bands that can attract big crowds ... what do you think?... Or would you rather go on tour with some 'friends' band?
SAMI YAFFA: Oh, at this point anything goes, man. I just wanna play. I’ve been waiting for almost two fucking years…It’s killing me. I love playing clubs, I love playing theaters, I love playing big festivals’ stages with other bands…sometimes the clubs are better than big shows, they are funnier…To play with THE HELLACOPTERS or BACKYARD BABIES would be great…they are my friends, that would be fun as fuck, that would be a great bill absolutely… and I’d love to go out with GUNS ‘N’ ROSES…But I don’t really have a preference. I like to play clubs in Europe, it is a lot of fun…but if I can get on a little bigger tour, small arenas or theaters,  that’s even better. If there was the chance to do a tour with some big band I would jump on it immediately, as long as they are bands that I like and I think that the audience they play for can get what I’m doing.

MELODY LANE: Do you think that you will release other solo albums in the future or this album can be considered a one-off? Could it be the start of some sort of a solo career ... parallel to your other commitments?
SAMI YAFFA: Honestly I have never thought about it, to be honest I'm just happy that I made this album! You know…I sent it to Japan, to the record label that puts out the whole HANOI ROCKS’ back catalog and the MICHAEL MONROE’s stuff and once they heard the record they wanted it, and they said "... the record is great ... we want to put it out, we will send you the contract ... ". And once I got the contract I found on it : "options for the next two albums" , so I guess I have to make two more records (laughs) ... But it's okay, I have some material, I've been writing a lot... the fountain is open...I'm gonna keep writing and if good stuff comes out I'll  definitely make another album... 

MELODY LANE: Let's talk about your book now: can you confirm that your biography will be translated into English language and will be available worldwide? Will it be titled ‘The Road Bends’?
SAMI YAFFA: Yes, right now “Sami Yaffa: The road bends”  release will be around February 2022, in English. It will be available through Rare Bird Publishing ( It’s my life from my birth until 2015…it has everything in it and then some more!!! 

MELODY LANE: How are things  with the MICHAEL MONROE's band? I read on the net that you finally gathered to rehearse and record new stuff...
SAMI YAFFA: Yeah, the guys came here in mid-august, for two weeks. We got eighteen songs demoed, it’s literally fucking brilliant stuff, it’s a really badass cool record coming. The idea is to go to the studio in November, record the new album and put it out in the spring 2022…

MELODY LANE: During the live shows the band is a real steamroller, and over the years your last four albums have been enthusiastically reviewed by the specialized press ... What is the secret of a band that continues to compose high quality music without giving the slightest sign of letting up?
SAMI YAFFA: Oh thanks man…Well, it’s a great band with really great guys. We've been playing together for eleven years, and everything gets more and more fun year after year. I miss the moments when the band was all together in a room playing and writing songs. In the first two albums of the MICHAEL MONROE’s band the writing was very collaborative. In the last two albums most of the stuff was written by STEVE CONTE and RICH JONES, they took the ball, especially RICH… he has a kind of writing frenzy, there were months when he sent us a new song almost every day, it was insane (laughs). Furthermore this situation, that has arisen due to Covid, has forced us to work and to write separately
; each of us lives in different countries you know... RICH is in Canada, STEVE is in NEW YORK, ROCKFIST is in Stockholm, I’m in Helsinki and MICHAEL is in Turku…but it is still a blessing to be in a band like ours that has different and skilled songwriters.

MELODY LANE: Now I would like to ask you a question about another great band from the past that you were part of together with MICHAEL MONROE and that is DEMOLITION23 ... Is it true that the album, a true punk rock masterpiece, will be re-mastered soon?
SAMI YAFFA: Yes, it’s has been already re-mastered and it’s coming out again. I don’t know exactly when but it’s definitely in the works. It’s coming out on vinyl through the LITTLE STEVEN’s label, WICKED COOL RECORDS (LITTLE STEVEN produced the album). I can’t wait for that, it’s a great album.

MELODY LANE: Can you tell us the origins of the band and how DEMOLITION23 was born?
SAMI YAFFA: Well it all kind of started that MICHAEL and I had this favorite club in NEW YORK called ‘TELEPHONE BAR & GRILL’,  and one of the girls who worked there got sick with cancer and you know…in America there's a crappy health's care and she needed money for treatments, so we decided to put a band together to raise some money for her. The band was me and MICHAEL MONROE, THOMMY PRICE from BILLY IDOL and JOAN JETT on drums, JOHNNY RÁO from THE DAVID JOHANSEN’S GROUP and a young kid called JAY HENING on guitars. JAY HENING (R.i.p) was THOMMY PRICE’s friend and played in the band STAR STAR. THOMMY PRICE introduced JAY to us and said that the guy was fucking amazing and that he came from the right school of playing…you know… STEVE JONES, MICK RONSON, that kind of stuff. We played a bunch of shows in downtown, at this club, and  we had all this visiting guest stars… JOEY RAMONE, IAN HUNTER,  BOBBY STEELE from MISFITS, KORY CLARKE… every night we had one of those people playing with us ... It was fucking awesome. Unfortunately we weren't together that long, it was very fast; we recorded the album in 1994 and by the end of 1995 we were done. DEMOLITION23 it's one of my favorite albums out of all the ones I've done. HAMMERSMITH PALAIS and NOTHING'S ALRIGHTthose songs are always present in the set list of the MICHAEL MONROE's band, for years now

MELODY LANE: What happened to your very original 'gypsy flamenco punk' project MAD JUANA? Is it still on work or is it on hiatus?
SAMI YAFFA: Oh man, I think it’s done. …KARMEN (MAD JUANA’s singer) lives in Mexico nowadays and the other guys are over there in the US; we tried to work long distance, and put it all together, but it’s just not possible so… Our lives have gone in different directions … 

MELODY LANE: I have a curiosity to ask you …The drummer PAUL GARISTO (IGGY POP/THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS) played with you in MAD JUANA, he recorded on the BRUJA ON THE CORNER album... I love that album…A particular coincidence is that, before MAD JUANA, PAUL GARISTO had played also with MICHAEL MONROE and in the band SHOOTING GALLERY with ANDY McCOY... Somehow he had already had something to do with your past ... How did you meet PAUL? How did your collaboration start?SAMI YAFFA: Oh BRUJA ON THE CORNER… that’s a fucking great record. I met Paul when he was playing in the MICHAEL MONROE’s touring band  for the NOT FAKIN’ IT record, in the late ‘80s. I travelled with them a little bit in California. I went down to San Diego and then to Los Angeles and then to San Francisco with them and I got to know all of those guys; that’s when I met Paul for the first time. Then we met again in New York, Paul lived in downtown…I think we lived literally one hundred meters away from each other for a long time. It’s a small world…

MELODY LANE:  Speaking of ANDY McCOY, you played on his latest album, in the song MARIA MARIA ... And then you told us, a little while ago, that you jammed a bit with him in the studio ... How's it going with ANDY? ... Are you in touch?
SAMI YAFFA: Well, three years ago we did a re-union with the Finnish band we were in before HANOI ROCKS that’s called Pelle Miljoona OY; we did a tour so I played with ANDY again…and you know  man…ANDY is ANDY…We fight, we get along… We fight, we get along… We fight, we get along (laughs)…ANDY’s an amazing guitar player, a really fucking great song-writer, but he’s a very difficult human being so…you can only take him in small doses, do you know what I mean? He asked me to play on one of his song and I was happy to do it, so I went down to the studio and we had great time…It was good. 

MELODY LANE: Do you have a 'big regret' about your career? Maybe something that in hindsight you wish you had done differently? Something that maybe could have changed things about your bands or your career ...?
SAMI YAFFA: No man, I think it’s useless to look back. Life goes the way it goes. I hate looking in the past and I hate thinking about the future, it’s completely useless I think…Life’s a fucking mystery. What I know is that I just want to stay healthy, I want to treat people right, I want to do experiments with things and be creative and that’s all… Life goes on. “PAST IS GONE” like NASTY wrote on his solo record, there’s no-use thinking about it…Looking back…It’s a fucking shame that RAZZLE died. That’s the biggest shame that ever is in my life, it is that RAZZLE passed away… that  he passed away so young. I don’t care if HANOI ROCKS would have broken-up or not, but I wish he had lived… I wish he had had more from life, nobody deserves to die at the age of 24, it’s a real shame. 

MELODY LANE: SAMI thank you so much, you have been very kind. Thanks for your time and availability. Good luck and we hope to see you soon on tour...
SAMI YAFFA: Thank you guys! Stay safe and hope to see you soon!



Article by: MIKE MATTY