Who did you pretend to be when singing into a hairbrush in front of the mirror?
My grandfather was a professional cellist and my mother and father worked in radio, so I was always into music from day one. At eight years old I saw a televised concert from Black Sabbath, live in Paris in 1970. The sound was so heavy and they looked cool. I wanted to be like either the drummer or the singer. My brother took up drums, so I became the long-haired guy who goes crazy on stage.
What was the album that set you on your path?
Sabbath’s Master Of Reality sounded incredible, and still does today, but Alice Cooper’s Love It To Death took things to the next level. The original Alice Cooper band were just so, so cool; [drummer] Neal Smith’s hair was wavy and down to his waist. I didn’t like mine being so straight and boring so I started backcombing it to look like him. I knew I needed big, big hair. Later on all these bands said that Hanoi Rocks influenced them by starting the whole LA glam thing. I’d say: “What are you talking about?” I don’t mind looking unusual – let’s face it, I’m a freak – but most of them just looked silly.
Is Axl Rose a hero to you, even though what he did with Guns N’ Roses led back to the path you’re talking about?
[Sounding somewhat incredulous] Is he a hero of mine?!
Well, Guns N’ Roses popularised the Hanoi Rocks blueprint…
Axl looked like Michael Monroe and they were influenced by Hanoi, but in the end they did their own thing. I’m sure he’s a hero for a lot of people, and that’s good. He’s passing on the legacy. What I’m doing is continuing my own legacy of genuine, authentic, kick‑ass rock’n’roll with a punky attitude. [Laughing] Does that answer your question?
Who are your heroes away from music?
Those like Bob Geldof that make a difference. Live Aid was so great. I’ve no time for politicians that just talk egotistical crap.
Which of your heroes have you met?
Alice Cooper was incredibly sweet – “Hold on, this can’t be the nasty, evil Alice!” I was a huge fan of Stiv Bators from Lords Of The New Church, and our paths crossed in London. He had such a heart of gold. I learnt so much from him. My self-confidence was shot when Hanoi broke up in 1985, and he invited me to move in with him. Those were confusing and scary times – I didn’t know what the hell I was gonna do. Stiv was there for me when nobody else was.