POISON - POWER TO THE PEOPLE - CYANIDE/ TREND
POISON - THE BEST OF POISON 20 YEARS OF ROCK - CAPITOL
BRET MICHAELS - ROCK MY WORLD - POOR BOY RECORDS/VH1 CLASSIC
The mere mention of the name Poison is cause for controversy on the metal scene. Regardless of where one stands on the 'metal or not metal' side of the discussion there is no denying the band's steadfast loyalty to the glam scene and the amount of fan support that singer Bret Michaels, guitarist C.C. DeVille, bassist Bobby Dall and Metallian's interview partner Rikki Rockett still Command. The band has remained one of the biggest draws on the North American live circuit and is doing the rounds again this summer, along with openers Cinderella where both bands intend to celebrate their twentieth anniversaries. In addition to the 20 Years Of Rock Tour the band has also just released a compilation called The Best Of Poison: 20 Years Of Rock. Ali "The Metallian" caught up with a jovial, lively and friendly Rikki on a warm Monday afternoon and reports on the latest with the Los Angeles glamsters. - 17.04.2006
METALLIAN: Hello Rikki, you have just announced a tour, but the number of dates seem limited. Why is that?
RIKKI: I think there will be more dates announced soon. We will announce Toronto soon, for example. By the time the readers see this our website (www.poisonweb.com) will have an update.
METALLIAN: Let's take it from the top, Rikki. Your most recent biography refers to Poison as "80s rockers." What do you think of that?
RIKKI: It does bother me personally. I think it is a narrow definition. What does that mean? I mean Cyndi Lauper was an '80s rocker, but we don't have that much in common - well, maybe my hair was similar to hers. A Flock Of Seagulls were '80s rockers and so was Megadeth. It doesn't mean much. I wouldn't want to narrow down Aerosmith like that or call the Stones '60s rockers! I think people are getting over that '80s rocker thing anyway. For a couple of years there, around 1999, it started to become retro-fun. Now people know that we are here to do business. They know we are not a cute ironic thing that is looking back.
METALLIAN: Having said that Poison has not exactly been productive recently in terms of releasing new material. Do you think that might be contributing to your being pigeonholed as such?
RIKKI: There hasn't been, you are right. We basically toured. That has been our career. We made a record called Hollyweird. It didn't do very well. It didn't have much of a distribution in terms of a major label. That broke our spirit a little bit. I think the new record and Capitol Records' involvement and how excited they are has renewed our belief and refreshed our faith a little bit in ourselves. We might see something productive here soon. I would like to do something here other just tour. I like to make records. That is a lot of fun.
METALLIAN: In fact, in the middle of 2005 you did announce a new album for this year.
RIKKI: (Laughingly) I think we lied! What happens... you know, we are not connected at the hip. One member will walk away from a meeting with a particular impression of how something is going to happen and the other members have different impressions. We all did think something like that will happen. We did go to Capitol and say we would like to release a new album, but they said they will release this 'greatest hit' CD and see how that does. They didn't think a new album would be a good idea. We were wondering how many compilations they want to release! At least, we got them to include a new song on it. They gave us their half of the bargain and we gave them our half of the bargain so I think we might finally do an album with them. The new compilation is #17 on the Billboard charts right now.
METALLIAN: The new song is in fact a cover version.
RIKKI: We went in and recorded Grand Funk's We're An American Band with Don Was. He has produced Rolling Stones, Dylan and artists I can't even remember. The fact that he has worked with The Rolling Stones was good enough for me. That was a really cool experience. I think capitol is now looking at Poison and thinking that this band is viable. It is twenty years later and they haven't missed a beat. They know we are not just messing around or just touring. It is not even a decision anymore.
Some artists go on a journey and they don't even know how it's going to go. Then they put it aside and say, "I've been there, done that. What is my next thing in life?" We think this is our life. This our choice. Our career was down for a while, but so what? I can't change who I am. This is who I have chosen to be. Poison has chosen to be this in the same way that Kiss isn't going anywhere or the Stones aren't going anywhere. I am putting myself with some big company by saying this, but it's OK. We have been around for twenty years. We have hung in there. It is a contribution in itself to do that because we have some stories to tell. We are not done.
METALLIAN: You have never denied your roots or the glam scene. I'll give you that.
RIKKI: Thanks. I thank you for noticing that. I do feel that way. I don't apologize for any records that Poison has done. There were mistakes made and I can point them out to you. I don't listen to our records and say that since one is my favourite because it went 'Top 10.' Some other people who became famous... I mean don't talk to Vanilla Ice about Vanilla Ice. I don't get that. I don't even get why he is embarrassed about what he did. So what? You did a song, you did well with it, whatever.
METALLIAN: I tend to agree. No one will respect you if you don't respect yourself.
RIKKI: Right! (Starts laughing) you said, in like five words, what took me seven paragraphs.
METALLIAN: Actually, interviewers appreciate that kind of a thing. Back to Poison though and a question on many peoples' minds. How are the members getting along nowadays? It hasn't always been a bed of roses in that camp.
RIKKI: It's volatile. I'll be completely honest with you. It worries me. It always worries me. I try to find some kind of a restitution so I don't worry, but I do. This is my family. I am married to these guys so to speak. I can walk away from it, but you know what, and I have said this to the band too, if I walk outside right now and get hit by a car it will be "Rikki Rockett from Poison got killed." They will put in the Poison part. I carry that cross no matter what I do. Now that cross is either something that I am proud of or is something that is heavy and weighs me down. This is what I am known for, I gotta make the most out of, I can't help it. I cannot change it. I can get famous for something else, but I doubt I am going to be more famous for something else. I guess I can do a porno or something. I keep saying that to the band every time we get into a dispute.
METALLIAN: Are you guys going to stick together?
RIKKI: I hope so. We have a couple more records and a few more tours in us. I think we would be dropping the ball if we didn't. We would be doing a disservice to the fans and ourselves if we didn't do it. I will do whatever is necessary to try to make that happen. I can't make people do what they don't want to do though. I can show up and do my best.
METALLIAN: Finally, how is your relationship with the guys from Mötley Crüe nowadays?
RIKKI: We might have our differences with Mötley Crüe, but they put together a nice show this year and they gave the fans a lot of bang for the buck. That is what I want to do this year too. It is all entertainment. I got into this because I enjoy entertainment. I want the whole pageantry to go along with it.
METALLIAN: Did you actually attend a Crüe show this past year?
RIKKI: I didn't, but I saw a DVD of it. You know, Nikki Sixx has a hard-on for Poison for some reason. I can't figure it out. I really don't. At one point he didn't want to be affiliated with the bands of the '80s. Well, where the fuck are you from? Whatever. We are doing our thing and they are doing their thing. We share a lot of the same fans. Nikki doesn't want to believe that, but we do. Rock & Roll is only 6% of the music market so why would we all fight amongst ourselves? It's beyond me.
Poison has indeed announced a long summer trek for the summer, which does include Toronto! Thanks goes to the dogged Tracie Galinski for making this happen and Rikki for being such a talkative and interested interview partner.
If you enjoyed this, read Cry Havoc