In The Studio With Sylvain Sylvain
Part 2

As the recording session progressed into the night I got some more time with Syl during a break:

Sylvain in the studio with his "Cadillac green" Gretsch guitar

Chris R: What did you think about the Dolls nomination for induction into the Rock 'n' Roll hall of Fame?

Sylvain Sylvain: Oh God. I was so damn happy and proud. I looked up towards the sky and said "Johnny can you see this now?". After they [the musical press] told us we sucked, couldn't tune, couldn't play, couldn't write.

CR: The nomination was great but what did you think about Aerosmith getting in and you guys not?

SS: It didn't bother me. To me just the nomination showed how much power we really did have without anybody supporting us. No one even pushing us a nickel except for the fans and people like yourself that really believed in one of us or all or us or when we were together or whatever that beautiful thing called the New York Dolls. I certainly have nothing against anyone else getting picked or not picked. Cause they [Aerosmith] got a huge machinery working for them and they sold millions and millions of records. The record companies told us we didn't sell that many records.

CR: But I think the Dolls were way more influential than Aerosmith. Aerosmith is a great band but...

SS: Yeah but I don't think that's the way the business works. We're just so happy that somebody got a chance to see the Dolls. Otherwise it would be just a flash in the pan. The New York Dolls could have been one of those great groups that were completely passed up and no one would have ever heard of them. If you go by the headlines, like "I only know you because I hear you on the radio " then you don't know nothing. It's the ones that are searching for music that are keeping the Dolls alive. There's a lot of people that are say "I'd rather just stay at home and you deliver". They never heard of The Dolls. If anything, they say "Oh The Dolls? Oh yeah - Kiss". They relate cause of the makeup (which we had nothing to do with). What 2 different bands! It's like we're both white and that's about it.

CR: You both appeared on the same bill though.

SS: The Dolls, when they put on makeup, they were experimenting. First of all, they got the makeup from their girlfriend's pocketbooks and they did it to get even more girlfriends. It was a sex thing. When Kiss put on makeup, it was like a truckdriver putting on makeup. If I was a truckdriver and I thought I want to put on makeup and play around and I want to be a super-hero like batman. Kiss was like Batman. The Dolls were like the most sexual fucking rock 'n' roll band you can ever fucking see.

CR: Girl crazy.

Syl's single - Out With The Wrong Woman

SS: Right. They were Marily Monroe. That's the only difference. And, it's all songs. When you compare the songs, I mean forget it! We were intelects. Johansen wrote some incredible lyrics. I mean he dared you to have sex with Frankenstein. I never saw Kiss do anything like that.

CR: Frankenstein - was that partly your composition?

SS: Frankenstein was my music, yes.

CR: And Johansen's lyrics.

SS: I'm so glad there is such a thing as "Well if I sell more records than you then I'm the king". I'm glad. Besides, to me it only answers that when you get the whole mass it's not half as clever as those few that... In other words, it's so much easier to make a billion copies of something and 2 Rolls Royce's. Y'know what I mean? And that's the way I'd rather to go with it. We might not have been a Toyota as far as sales are concerned but I think we were the Maserati and the Ferraris.

CR: More exotic

SS: And sexy too.

CR: So what's the story with Malcom Mclaren - did he ever manage the band or what was the relationship?

SS: Yes, but on a friendly term. He never had any paper on the New York Dolls. He never had us under contract.

CR: You guys paid him or he took a percentage? He never took any money?

SS: No. As a matter of fact, he invested. The only time ever took something was when he took "Sylvain". He took my white Les Paul and my piano that I played on the Red Patent Leather album (the Fender Rhodes I played on Pirate Love), on a promise and I basically gave it to him. He didn't take it like a thief in the middle of the night. It was on the promise that there's a lot of kids that hang around my Wife's [Vivienne Westwood] shop [Sex] and we're going to put a band together and I'm going to send you a plane ticket. I'll go to England and I'll take your guitar and your piano and I'll sell them and I'll send you some money. Well guess what? I'm still waiting for that fucking plane ticket [laughs]. But besides that, you know the Rock 'n' Roll museum that you we were just taking about, they have one of the letters that changed the course of history. They have the famous Malcom Mclaren letter that he writes to Sylvain. He addresses it to my mother's house in Queens. On the back it says "Mrs. Mizrahi - give this to your son - urgent! A friend from England". Inside it goes on for 7 pages, on and on how he doesn't like David Johansen. That he doesn't trust him. Don't go to Japan with him Sylvain. He rags a little bit on Bob Gruen. And he includes these quarter booth photos and says "this could be the lead singer". We're thinking of calling him Johnny Rotten. He doesn't know how to sing but he can fucking sing better that Johansen. It's so funny and they have that in the rock 'n' roll museum.

That's all the time I had with Sylvain before he had to finish off some retakes.


...Part 1

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Modified: July 2, 2001