RIKKI ROCKETT INTERVIEW:
July 13, 2006
When it comes to the big-haired glam of the late 80s, few bands can touch the success of Poison. Celebrating their 20 year anniversary, the band has hit the road across America and released an accompanying greatest hits CD. In this interview, conducted prior to their gig in Fargo, North Dakota, longtime drummer Rikki Rockett sat down with Sarah and talked about the evolution of the band and the dysfunction within it.
SR: What was the best part about creating the album 20 Years Of Rock?
RR: The fact that I really didn’t have to create too much. Capital did it really; no it was really fun to work with our producer. To go in and do the songs, it didn’t matter what song we did, it was just the opportunity to work with the guy who worked with everybody, including Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, kind of cool to say the least.
SR: How do you think Poison has evolved as a band since the start 20 years ago?
RR: I think we’ve become more seasoned, you know we evolved individually as people, so as a band we worked out the show, how we were going to do everything, but we couldn’t figure out a lot of specific little things, how to go from this song to that song, little things, we couldn’t figure it out. But as soon as we hit the stage again, all of that came back. It was really weird how it happened, but so I chalk that up to being seasoned. It’s a nice way of saying we got kind of older.
SR: Is there anything new or different fans can expect on this tour since it’s the 20th anniversary tour?
RR: Everything is different; it’s an entirely new stage. We lost the stage a couple years ago to a truck fire. We had an axle fire on one of the trucks so we lost everything, our backdrops, the stage itself, we lost everything. We were due for a change anyway; it was almost like God smiled on us. So now we have everything new, new drum riser, new props, and new video, so all of that. Obviously we are playing a lot of the same songs because people want to hear the hits, we also pulled a few old ones out, we got We’re An American band, so there is a lot of new stuff to see.
SR: Poison has always had a steady level of success, what keeps the fans wanting more from Poison as a band?
RR: I think what keeps fans wanting more is that we haven’t done a whole lot of new material, they are kind of like expecting it, and you know what I want that desperately for us to make a new record. I think that people know that when they go see Poison, that there is an element of excitement there and it’s the type of excitement that every band can deliver. I don’t think that every band can do what we do. I think there are a lot of great bands out there and a lot of great music. They contribute a lot of their own stuff to music, but I think what we contribute is a particular type of excitement and there is not a lot of us that do that. I think KISS is one of them that do that and I think that is what keeps fans coming back.
SR: How is it to be on the road again after a few years of being on break?
RR: It feels good, so far so good. It’s going good. It’s about getting my routine down, I’ve done it so much that it just feels normal.
SR: This tour you’re touring with Cinderella, anything that you are looking forward to with that?
RR: I like to watch them guys on stage every night, they have a good time and they are super good, we have been friends for a long time, like 20 years, we’ve been friends and its great to see those out on the road doing it. It definitely has its own element of importance.
SR: Have you noticed a different audience over the years as the band keeps touring?
RR: Not really, there are new people and there are old people, older fans and newer fans both. Somehow we manage to get away with that, I have no idea why, our detractors, here’s the thing there are a few people that show up who are older who probably shouldn’t dress like they did in 1986 and they do anyways, and I get a kick out of it, I think its kind of cool, but there are very few that actually, honestly do that but what will happen is the critic will get a hold of that and that is our only fan base. There are a lot of people, there are some of those people, older fans that are older people that have moved on, that come out and support us and then there are our newer fans that come out, sixteen year olds that come out to our shows, it’s unbelievable, it amazes me. If they are going to take one part of our audience and rip us apart, then that is what they are going to do.
SR: Being a fan of your music, I know that the band was previously Paris, any songs from that era ever going to surface on a disk?
RR: No not really, no.
SR: I’ve heard a lot of rumors that this is the last tour for Poison, and that the members are all going separate ways to work on solo projects; is there any truth to these rumors?
RR: Bret’s been doing his solo thing for a while, here and there, no not really. I have a drum company now and I work with that a lot now, it’s called Chop Shop Drums but otherwise no. If we do a solo project its because we want to do something, its not as known as Poison, its not like I’m going to quit Poison because I cant stand it anymore, its not like that at all. If I was pissed at Poison I wouldn’t be touring with them. This band is an addiction, there are a lot of problems, but we’re all kind of addicted to each other; we have a lot of dysfunction, but we are all like a family.
SR: How do you feel as a member of the band, about fans that get permanent pieces of art on their bodies for you such as tattoos of album covers and song titles and such?
RR: I think it’s awesome, it makes me feel like we really have had an impact you know. I think Poison is bigger than just one person of the band; it’s taken on a life of its own. It’s become like a phenomenon in a lot of ways which means we’ve had an impact, a social impact. Not a social impact like U2 has had, not like that. It’s a movement; it’s the whole mid to late 80’s glam rock movement. It was in fact a movement. We get tossed in with the hair bands that are just a fragment of what we were, there weren’t a whole lot of glam bands though, a lot of people thought they were glam. They used hair spray. Well your not. If you sound like you’re from a band that sings about swords and shit you’re not glam. A lot of people thought they were, of course during the 90’s they wanted to say they weren’t. I never denied it.
SR: How did Glitter For Your Soul come about? Are there plans for another Glitter For Your Soul album?
RR: I was going through a bunch of tapes and I found a song that Blues and I did at my studio when we made the Crack A Smile record, Fame by David Bowie and it sounded great. I was like I have to put this out, how am I going to put it out, I don’t really have a record to put it out on and CC is back in the band, what am I going to put this out with Blues on it? So I called up Blues and said how about we put a record out of all these types of songs, would you be into it, and he said yeah he kind of would. So that is what we did, we ended up cutting a bunch of songs and that’s how it came about. I’ve always wanted to do something like that, a tribute.
SR: The Gibbs Brothers Band is supported highly by you and has opened for Poison on a few occasions. How were they discovered?
RR: They opened for us at Burlington Steam Boat Days in Iowa, and I really liked them, and my drum tech Spidie stayed in contact with them and we would like to have Rikki work with us, so he kept bugging me to do it. I talked to Eric and he asked what I thought of them, I said you know I really like them, but I think they need a little help here and there, but I would be willing to work with them. If you would be willing to work with them, I’d be willing to put them on more shows. So I said okay, done lets get to work. So they came out to my place on a few different occasions and we’ve recorded 5 songs and my partner Brian who is managing them. So that is kind of how it happened. They just opened for us at Steamboat days again, great crowd response you know, they are awesome guys and talented and they have a great future.
SR: Anything else you would like to say or want to say to the fans and supporters of you and your band?
RR: Let me say one thing about Fargo, when we first played there, there was a lot of suspicion about us. You know what I mean. Not the fans, but from a lot of detractors. We are not sure we want Poison here in Fargo, it’s because of the fans, we came out and kicked ass because of the fans. If it weren’t for the fans, we would not be back in Fargo, they are just awesome. I love the fans from Fargo for that. It’s the one place we can come back to each year and be welcomed and rock our asses off. We know there will be people there for us. So no one can ever talk shit about Fargo to me.
Thanks to Rikki Rockett and interviewer Sarah