Rikki Rockett - Poison - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com

Who would have thought that, twenty years after the release of ‘Look What The Cat Dragged In’ those guys from Los Angeles with big hair & make-up would still be rockin out to sold-out crowds across America. That’s right, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Poison who have had twenty years of fun, pain, extensive touring, break-ups, make-ups, addictions & much more. Poison will soon be announcing plans for their American 20th anniversary tour which will hopefully see the band cross the waters into Europe, Japan & Australia for the first time in almost twenty years. Like so many other hard rock fans my age, I grew up listening to those three & a half minute sleazy songs like ‘Talk Dirty to Me’ & ‘I Want Action’. To this day I still believe that the first two Poison albums were some of the best hair metal releases during the eighties. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Poison skins-man Rikki Rockett about his drumming & elaborate kits, the up and coming tour, the soon to be released ‘Seven Days Live’ DVD, his memories of Australia & much more. Strap yourself in for nothing but a good time with the one & only Rikki Rockett.

Metal Fanatix: Hey Rikki, I want to thank you for putting time aside to answer the following questions for all of our readers. Let’s get straight into talking about the up and coming Poison 20th anniversary tour! Congratulations first of all for lasting in an industry that many don’t seem to be in longer than five years. If you were to reflect on the last twenty years what is the one thing you would have changed?

Rikki Rockett: I would have done something to change the perception that our band can't play very well. I think we were too humble & it translated into, "We suck!" But, we don't suck & it can be irritating at times to hear. However, we did set out to play great songs & have a great show, not be muso’s.

Metal Fanatix: Looking back twenty years ago when you guys first started out did you ever think the day would come when you were planning the 20th anniversary tour?

Rikki Rockett: Hell, no! I'm still in disbelief.

Metal Fanatix: Now so far you guys are planning a series of shows throughout America. Is there any chance that the tour will head to Australia?

Rikki Rockett: There is a chance & I would love it. I have friends down there & all the memories of being down there rule!

Metal Fanatix: Well, I would love to see that show. The one & only time you guys made it here was back in 1989 almost twenty years ago [laughs] what memories do you have from the Australian tour?

Rikki Rockett: All the people outside the hotel singing Poison songs night & day. It was mind blowing.

Metal Fanatix: Going back to the 20th anniversary tour for a minute what can fans expect to see? Can you reveal the stage layout etc?

Rikki Rockett: No not yet. We are still hashing a ton of ideas out. However, I'd say that the word ‘insanity’ might lead off the whole concept.

Metal Fanatix: I want to also talk to you about the soon to be released ‘Seven Days Live’ DVD many fans are upset at the fact that the DVD being released includes Richie Kotzen instead of C.C. Deville. Was there any reason that you guys decided to put out a live DVD of that line-up over any number of live shows that could have been released with C.C.?

Rikki Rockett: Poison had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was a label move. The last thing I wanna see is Kotzen.

Metal Fanatix: The new DVD consists of fifteen tracks and is going to include all the classics, will there be any extra bonus backstage footage etc added to the DVD?

Rikki Rockett: Yes. It's being edited. I haven't seen it yet so I can’t really say what will be or will not be on the DVD.

Metal Fanatix: There was talk a few months ago of the band releasing a box set this year to coincide with the 20th anniversary, is it still just a rumour or is this something you can finally give us details on?

Rikki Rockett: I'm not sure that it's a box set as much as a collection. Yes, we re-did American Band by Grand Funk. Don Was produced the track at Capitol.

Metal Fanatix: Now Rikki, I’m sure there are plenty of people who still don’t know about the Animal shelter you are involved in out there in California, how has it all been going? Would you like to give us a quick run down on how it all started?

Rikki Rockett: It's not a shelter.

Metal Fanatix: Oh, what is it exactly?

Rikki Rockett: I have been involved in a grass roots style group called Last Chance for Animals (LCA) for about fourteen years now. It's an animal rights group whose thrust is the "pet theft" rings. These illegal rings sell to legal labs for live experimentation.

Metal Fanatix: OH o.k. thanks for clearing that up for us. Now, it’s no secret that you are a dog lover! How many dogs do you have now?

Rikki Rockett: As of right now, I have seven dogs.

Metal Fanatix: I have been inspired by many different drummers over the years (Eric Carr, Yourself, Tommy Lee & Charlie Benante among others) growing up who inspired you to pick up the sticks?

Rikki Rockett: An old guy in an old top forty band called the "Riverboat Crew". That's the real truth.

Metal Fanatix: Over the years you have had some amazing looking drum kits. I remember one of the kits consisting of three kick drums which blew me away, of all the kits you have had/designed what has been your favorite?

Rikki Rockett: Oh Jeez! I love 'em all! [laughs]. Sometimes I like the simplest ones in the end. I am now 50% of Chop Shop Drum Company (http://www.chopshopdrums.com), so I get to indulge my sickest drum fantasies.

Metal Fanatix: Did you always want to become a drummer?

Rikki Rockett: No, I just wound up a drummer. I started on trumpet & I just didn't have it. My Dad was a trumpet player. He loved the drums, though. So, there was never anything but support.

Metal Fanatix: Awesome! What was the first kit you owned?

Rikki Rockett: A Japanese knock off of a Slingerland kit. I did have a Rogers Dynasonic with the kit, though. I did & still do love Rogers drums.

Metal Fanatix: Do you do anything specific to warm up & prepare for a show?

Rikki Rockett: Oh yeah! Stretching mainly, I go to the gym a few times a week on the road, so stretching is the key. I also do a fun little stick drill, right-10 times, left-10 times, right-9 times, left-9 times so on down to one & then work my way back up to ten. Try it fast. It can get crazy!

Metal Fanatix: Using only five words: How would you describe your playing?

Rikki Rockett: Over the top solid insanity.

Metal Fanatix: Rikki I want to talk to you a little about life on the road; what’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever asked for on a tour rider?

Rikki Rockett: A motorcycle. (It didn't work!) [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] That’s a great request though [laughs]. What's the strangest/funniest thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

Rikki Rockett: Two things that come to mind that I’ll tell ya about. I lost a tooth during the intro & handed it to my drum tech [laughs]. I also remember a guy ran up onstage, grabbed my 12" inch rack tom & did an up the middle run until a roadie clothes lined the guy. There are many more tales...[laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] I bet there are. Going back, tell us about your first experience playing outside of the U.S.A.?

Rikki Rockett: Japan. I had no idea anyone was in the building. They were so quiet until we came onstage.

Metal Fanatix: How about the first ever Poison gig, it must be strange looking back to the club days & comparing it to the massive stadium shows?

Rikki Rockett: The first gig was at a skating rink. Everything failed. All of the pyro, effects, you name it. But, we had a spark & it somehow worked. People saw it & we knew we had something special there.

Metal Fanatix: Over the years you have shared the stage with so many great bands. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most & could you share a funny road story with us from the tour?

Rikki Rockett: Mike Fasano from Warrant. We were seriously fucked up people on the road that year [laughs]. I collected about one hundred & fifty dollars per show, for him to show his hide the coke can trick. We made a killing that year! [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] When the time comes to work out the set list, do you find it hard to choose the right songs, I mean there will always be fans who want to hear the old stuff & the occasional obscure song & of course you have to play some new tracks. Do you find it hard to make a set that is for fans of all eras?

Rikki Rockett: Yes, it sucks big time! You want the hits, but you want to rock, but you want the ballads & then bam, time is up! It's very difficult.

Metal Fanatix: Rikki, there has been so many highlights in your career, what would you say have been your greatest achievements to date?

Rikki Rockett: Really just keeping this thing together & living through it all [laughs]. I'm serious. It really is amazing.

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] I can imagine there have been some very wild times over the years. What are the biggest differences you notice these days in the business compared to when you guys were starting out?

Rikki Rockett: It seems that careers are fleeting for the most part. I feel for these new bands. People lose interest in them so quickly & the labels drop them so fast. It has gone from "here today, gone tomorrow" to "here today gone later today"!

Metal Fanatix: In a few words can you tell us the first thing that comes to mind when I mention the following Poison tracks:

Rikki Rockett:

Talk Dirty to Me - The twins in the video. They talked dirty to me the whole time we were shooting some of those scenes.[laughs]

Fallen Angel - I really buy into this song because I observed what happens in this song first hand so many times.

Ride the Wind - Bikes. It's what it is about. The freedom of riding a motorcycle.

Good Love - Happy. It is a down right happy tune without being goofy and chipper.

Lay Your Body Down - I actually visualize the studio that we recorded that song in. John Purdell co-produced that record & sang back ground vocals on that song. John passed away from cancer a few years ago after playing keys on the Cinderella tour.

Metal Fanatix: Over the years Poison have done some fantastic covers such as ‘The Cover of The Rolling Stone’ & ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ to name a couple, is there a song that you have always wanted to cover but just haven’t had the chance to do so yet?

Rikki Rockett: Yes, I think Poison should cover any T-Rex song.

Metal Fanatix: Rikki, what do you think you would be doing if you stopped playing?

Rikki Rockett: I'd be dreaming of playing. Just like I am now!

Metal Fanatix: From all the albums you have appeared on what one would be your favorite to listen to & why?

Rikki Rockett: ‘Crack a Smile’. It's just a really damn good record & I don't listen to it enough.

Metal Fanatix: In your honest opinion what do you think about the direction that Hard Rock & Heavy Metal music has taken over the last few years?

Rikki Rockett: It's roaring back fast. But, it has to come of age too in order to really hit again hard. You can't write about the same subjects as before. The world has changed & people have got to face it.

Metal Fanatix: During the eighties I can remember seeing so many different hard rock & metal videos on our televisions but these days they are few & far between, Being in a rock/metal band do you feel it is still important to spend so much money making film clips that don’t get anywhere near the airplay they deserve?

Rikki Rockett: I don't think you have to spend as much money as back then. You can make great stuff with DV these days. Many, many more people now have the power to create this stuff on simple PC's. But, just like we can all grab a pen & paper, that doesn't mean we are all going to be great writers. But, we have the opportunity.

Metal Fanatix: Being in the industry for so many years, what advice would you give to those bands busting their ass to get in the door?

Rikki Rockett: Make it your lifestyle. You can't put a time limit on it. As trite as it may sound, stick to your guns.

Metal Fanatix: Which record/song would define Rikki Rockett to a complete stranger?

Rikki Rockett: Oh geez!. Can that even happen? [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] I’d have a problem picking one for myself too [laughs]. With the 20th anniversary tour in the planning stages what does the future hold for the band, have you guys talked about a new album, has there been any writing going on?

Rikki Rockett: I would love a new record more than anything. Poison is a very volatile band & recording takes a bit of soft temperament. We're getting there.

Metal Fanatix: If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed and/or present who would they be and what would you call the band?

Rikki Rockett: Rikki and The Rockets All girl rockabilly band.

Metal Fanatix: Rikki I want to thank you again for your time today mate, do you have any last words for our readers?

Rikki Rockett: Never any last words. I Hope to see you all soon. I miss playin' for ya's! Cheers!

To keep up with all the latest on Rikki & Poison check out the following websites

http://www.rikkirockett.com - Official Rikki Rockett Site
http://www.myspace.com/rikkirockett - Rikki Rockett MySpace Site
http://www.poisonweb.com - Official Poison Site
http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com - Dedicated to 40 years of hard rock & metal music

Poison is confirmed to play at the Wisconsin Rock fest 2006 along side Kiss, Warrant, Puddle Of Mudd & more. The Festival will take place July 20-23 in Cadott, Wisconsin.

© Cameron Edney February, March 2006 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.