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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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 &
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
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
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
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
- Official Rikki Rockett Site
- Rikki Rockett MySpace Site
- Official Poison Site
- 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.