Sami Yaffa Talks New York Dolls
The New York Dolls return to London next month for a one-off show. Classic Rock talked exclusively to bassist Sami Yaffa about we can expect…
The Dolls appear to have reinvented themselves. Is that the way you see it?
“Well, yeah, there was the Dolls in the 70s and now the Dolls in the 2000s, David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain’s songwriting, singing and playing has always had its own flavour that shines through both Dolls periods.
“As far as consciously re-inventing ourselves, I would say no. It is what it is, a natural collision, instinctual reaction to each other and what we deem sounds good to our ears and what feels good in the gut. A lucky happenstance that the chemistry in the band works as well as it does.
Will the set vary much since the last time you played in the UK in 2009?
“That still remains to be seen as we are a buncha last-minute ADD-inflicted individuals, we have four albums to draw from, and every one of them will be represented.”
What are the plans next for the band? New album, or carry on touring?
“A new album at some point, everyone is writing on their own as we speak, when we get together for writing sessions we throw all the ideas in the hat and start picking them apart one by one and see which ones work, this year we are taking it a little bit quieter on the touring front as we went pretty heavy on it for the last five years.
Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the band’s original formation. Any plans to mark it?
“Haven’t even thought of that, I’m sure we’ll do something spectacular and glittery, maybe David flying through the venue in a rhinestone cape?”
Is it odd to know that Morrissey is such a big fan, and effectively drove the reunion in 2004?
“I knew about Morrissey being a huge fan a long time ago, as a friend of mine had that fanzine of Morrissey’s in his house in the early 80s, although it took me a while to figure out it was THAT Morrissey! I never saw the influence in The Smiths and always wondered what the connection was. I’ve met the man a few times now and like him a lot, brilliant sense of humour and a very nice person.”
You played in a band with Jerry Nolan and Johnny Thunders. Now you’re with David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain. Different eras, obviously, but who were the cooler?
“Apples and oranges, they were/are a very special breed of exotic birds. Very, very New York, you don’t find people like that in NYC anymore, The city is now inhabited by mid-westerners and Europeans. With all of them talking about music it was/is like being let into a vault of musical history, artists and songs you’d never even heard of that made the New York Dolls what they were. They are all completely insane and cooler than anyone you’ve ever wish to meet.”
You’re also in a new band with Michael Monroe, Ginger, Steve Conte and Karl Rockfist. Plus there’s Mad Juana. How do you prioritize your time?
“Toss of the dice!”
The New York Dolls play the London Koko on April 19, their only UK show on this European tour. Get tickets by phoning 08700 603 777, or go online at www.seetickets.com