Interview by Andrew Dansby of RollingStone.com
With Great White, Warrant, Quiet Riot, Vince Neil, Enuff Znuff, the Bullet Boys on board for dates on the 2001 Glam Slam Metal Jam, Poison frontman Michaels suggests that the success of the tour package is due in part to nostalgia for old-fashioned rock & roll and all of its theatrics. "Our old school fans stuck with us," he says, "but then there were also these brand new fans that had been jonesing to see a rock show that their older siblings talked about . . . 'No, there's still bands that actually have stuff blow up, and it explodes and they come out and the lights change colors and there's confetti and they'll pull you up on stage.'"
So are you guys all geared up? There's a helluva lot of dates.
I cannot wait. We've been in Chicago redesigning the stage for this year. Each year it's exciting for me. We've been redesigning all the lights and the pyro and the sound and we're going to kick it all off in Amarillo, Texas.
You've been doing this awhile now, it's almost becoming an institution.
[Laughs] Yeah, this is the third year of the reunion. Now it has become something bigger. When C.C. got himself clean and sober and in good enough health to get back on the road, it was just a great feeling. Great to see the same guys on stage.
So do you seek out the tourmates, or are they coming to you?
Fortunately throughout our career, one thing we've had a reputation for, [laughs], well, mostly we've had a bad reputation . . . but since we've been headlining since 1987, everyone that's come out with us, co-headlining or opening the shows for us, we've always treated great. They get full lights, full sound, there's no ego, no funk. Last year Cinderella said, "Hey we've got a big backdrop, and pyro and a stage, can we bring it?" And we're like, "The more you bring the better. Because the better your show is, the better the people love the whole thing." I feel very confident in what we do, and I like what we do and we're not in competition with the other bands. Most of the bands end up coming to us and say, "Hey we've got something new or we'd like to go out in this slot."
So no more touring tempers?
No, truthfully if you were ever to be out riding the bus with us through a couple of cities, you will see that -- it's one of the biggest mysteries of our band -- the truth is we're really great friends. We were a bunch of high school buddies who had a dream of making music. For the most part, with C.C. and me, we're like brothers, we're best friends and worst enemies. We have had some serious falling outs and fist fights, but all of that has gone by the way. And now we get along great, if there's a flare up between us, we work it out right away.
C.C. said that he had no regrets about the "Behind the Music," because he felt it was done tastefully and tenderly, do you have the same take?
I think that they did a pretty damn good job. Some of it was stuff that didn't necessarily need to come out, but at the same time that was what people were looking for. And with our band, my God, that was about a quarter of the well. If they had dug the rest of the way, people would've said, "No no, we don't wanna know that." But I know what C.C. meant, they did it as tastefully as they could without digging up too many bones.n
Did any of it make you cringe?
You know what made me cringe, and I know you know where I'm gonna go with this, there was a photographer and I always considered him to be a friend of mine. This was the guy who got on there and said, "Poison thought they were the fucking Beatles." I'm thinking, now this fucker, I've had him on the bus, he flew from London to shoot me for one of the covers for his photography book; and I remember treating this guy great, having drinks with him. He got on there and I had no idea he felt that way about our band. It was mind-blowing, this guy has made money from taking pictures of our band and selling them. The other critic who was on there, I've spoken to before, and he was never a fan of the band, and that's OK. That's his opinion and he's welcome to it. So on a personal note, I'd be lying to say those things don't affect me, but I have nerves of steel, so you let it soak in and you put it someplace and you put it in your music and let it come out elsewhere.
C.C. said he lost touch with reality during those days, did you feel the same way?
For me, I say this, no. I know it would sound better to say I was completely lost. But truthfully I've always been in touch with what's going on with our band. I knew musical climates were going to change. I never thought that music was supposed to end with us. When Alice in Chains came along, we embraced them and took them out on the road with us. The first arenas they ever did were with Poison. I knew things were changing. You can't continue to convince yourself that you're the only thing that exists. C.C., I believe truly did lose touch with things in there, but it was extremely drug-induced. Believe me, I've partied up there with the best of them, but being diabetic I was brought down to earth the next day. I couldn't stay high for two weeks and they could.
Were you surprised when the fans were still there?
Put it this way, more than surprised, I was just damn thankful. Somehow, we bridged that generation gap, and that's what Aerosmith and AC/DC and Kiss have done, and I'm glad we've had the opportunity to do that as well.
So there's a new song on the site, are we going to hear a new album soon?
If I have it my way -- and this proves that democracy does not work -- we would be making a new album with every tour. But there's four of us and there's different things going on with each others' lives. I'm jonesing to make a brand new album with ten new songs and I think that is our plan when we come off the road. But when you have four guys, you do it out as friends and what works for everybody. And when it's said and done, we'll have a great record. I'm looking at spring 2002 and I can't wait to do it.
So, C.C. told me last year that he was spending his free time gardening...
What did he say? [Laughs] He did not say that.
I can find the quote.
[Laughs]. See that's why I love him. He's brilliant. C.C. should have been the singer in our band, if only because his quotes and his off-color humor entertain me for days. He's brilliant . . . gardening . . . [Laughs]. I get to see his house and I can truly tell you he does not have a green thumb yet. I won't go any further. I don't want to step on the plants [Laughs].
So do you have any favorite stops along the way?
Well, it's not a favorite, but last year at Jones Beach was memorable; it poured all day. We still played, in about a foot of water.
Isn't that dangerous?
Somehow they don't care about our band. They're like, "You're gonna play anyway, you're disposable, go. Bret if you blow up we can get C.C. to finish the set."