Metal Masters: I've got to tell you, you have one of the most recognizable speaking voices. I can be in another room and hear someone on TV and think, "that's gotta be Bret Michaels". I'll go in to check it out and yes, there you are, commenting on something or another.
Bret Michaels: You're like "I know that voice, I can't escape it." (laughs)
MM: Wow, you've got a lot going on right now. On the road with Poison, your new solo album just came out...what else is on your plate?
BM: Right now what we're doing, and I'll kind of take you through it...I've got the brand new solo album out, Bret Michaels "Songs of Life." It came out May 20th and I'm out on the road with Poison right now. We've got the single "Raine" and it seems to be taking off at the radio stations in the towns we're playing in. What we're doing is, I'm just letting people know while I'm out on the Poison tour that "Songs of Life" is out there. The Poison tour ends in mid-September and then September 26th I kick off the solo tour. The 'Songs of Life' tour kicks off in Cincinnati at The Theater and we're out on the road until Christmas.
MM: So I checked the itinerary for Poison (Florida dates are scheduled for August 2003) and you seem to be going everywhere except Nashville? Maybe your solo tour will make it to town?
BM: I am gonna be in Nashville whether you like it or not. I'm comin' in! Whether we get through as Poison at the Amsouth or the Exit/In or one of the good rock places, we'll play someplace.
MM: Not too many people know you lived in Nashville, did you ever go to the Exit/In when you lived here?
BM: I think I did and I actually played one show when I was down there because I wrote...a long story, real short - I got a chance to write with some great writers in Nashville, one of the best music cities in the world, it truly is. And I got to write with Gary Baker and Frank Myers that wrote "I Swear," and we had a great, great writing session and I got offered from that song (we wrote) called 'The Other Side of Me' a contemporary country album deal with Curb Records.
MM: I recall hearing about that.
BM: Yeah, it was great and I wanted to do it but I just didn't feel I had enough material yet. So eventually down the road, I'm going to come down to Nashville for about six months to a year. Hopefully I'll get to work with Kenny Chesney, who's a buddy of mine, and really make a great, I truly mean this, make a great contemporary slash Americana album.
MM: Well you know, the kind of lyrics that, I mean...granted the first Poison album was probably one of the best tongue-in-cheek, party, rock-n-roll records out there. It still holds forth. But I think as the band went on you got a bit more serious in your subject matter and became more poignant...and as you know, country music songs are about life. You are that kind of songwriter.
BM: Yeah...I think, even with the album "Songs Of Life," I've always...even with lyrics, like on all the Poison records we've done, you can pick any song on any record and I can tell you what I was thinking when I wrote it. On all of our albums, even on "Look What The Cat Dragged In" we had 'I Won't forget You' and then we had 'Every Rose...' on "Open Up And say Aah!" we had 'Life Goes On' and 'Something To Believe In' on "Flesh And Blood" and lyrics...I think in life I've just found that if you write honestly and express yourself, that's what music has always been to me. I was raised in a family where my dad was the country fanatic. He liked Hank Williams Sr., Patsy Cline, George Jones and you know those were the people that he listened to and let me listen to. My mom, obviously, she was more influenced by the Beatles and the Stones even though they didn't play a lot of music they sure let me listen to a lot of music. So I got the best of both worlds. But what I got from it was that it was about song writing. You know, writing about life. It's about lyrics...you know when you listen to Bob Dylan and you listen to the Stones, you know it wasn't like the Stones just...even a song like 'Satisfaction' had a really cool meaning to it...even though it sounded like it was just a party song musically, it actually had some pretty cool lyrics, you know. I've tried always to have done that, even with 'Unskinny Bop' I really tried to get through so that you can paint some kind of picture.
MM: I think a lot of Poison songs and even tracks on "Songs of Life" are stories. You can picture what's going on...kind of like jumping in the middle of a movie. I think you write great lyrics, you get the mood across. I also wanted to tell you that I think you're a great vocalist, you've got one of the best rock voices out there...
BM: Thank you...
MM: It would be great to hear you, whether you're singing a rocker or doing a ballad...you know...you rock dude!
BM: Why thank you, that means the world to hear you saying that, it's an awesome feeling. I try to be true to myself and write stuff that I'm expressing and what you hope for is that people relate or catch in to what you're saying. Sometimes it really goes big and radio plays it and other times your key fans may either get it, or not be exposed to it if radio doesn't feel it's a hit for their station. I've picked up lots of records where I like to listen to a whole album, I like the hit, but I like a whole record. I think that's one of the things that draws me to like "Songs of Life." I try to make every song extremely personal and make it so that there is no filler at all.
MM: I get that vibe and you do pretty much go all over the place with sounds and style here. You take it into different moods on here. 'Raine' I think is one of the most beautiful songs on the album. You can tell what it means to you, your connection with your daughter, but regardless, it's just a beautiful song. You can picture that connection...
BM: But then you can also picture it kind of as a universal song as well. And also those lyrics let you know that I'm human, "If I ever let you down, I didn't mean to do that, ..." I think a lot of people feel that. It's about us being human. We want to be there, we want to give them love and give them strength. I want to be a good person, but I'm also a human and I also tour and I'm not there every single day for her and I really miss her. I think people can miss that in a love affair, miss that in life...with a family member, and I hope the fact that...fortunately for me the song 'Raine' has been doing real well on radio. I'm thankful, I think it's because fans are hearing it and going, "Wow, I really relate to these lyrics."
MM: I know that you are getting a lot of support from your fan base. On VH-1 Classic, not too long ago they did an hour feature on Poison videos which they concluded with 'Raine.' It was great. As I was watching some of the videos...I was like "Oh my God, I forgot about some of these." You really had a lot of songs and videos on the radio and TV throughout the 80's and 90's.
BM: Yeah, you're right and even last year with "Squeeze Box" and "Hollyweird," it slipped through and did pretty good. It's wired 'cause people come to our show and they're like "My God, you had all these songs in the 80's and the 90's" and then all of a sudden they go to our Greatest Hits album, which alone in the United States is at a million-seven...with no advertisement. That's why people go...they're buying it because they're good songs not because there was a big push.
MM: Yeah, and some of the media has been trying to tell us that glam rock and 80's rock...nobody really wants to hear that. So why do these bands sell out when they play? Why do their records keep selling? The fans are still out there. Just cause we grew up doesn't mean we've stopped listening to rock music.
BM: Absolutely. Media is all about selling. They care about one thing...what kind of clothes they can sell with the artist. Poison...we're way beyond that, after 18 years, we're about the music and I truly mean this; it's about my music being based in reality and the show being a rock-n-roll extravaganza. And we did what you pray happens, we bridged a generation gap. You know, now there's young fans - last night at the show, there were fifteen, sixteen, seventeen year olds and college fans mixed in with our hardcore fans, fans that have been with us for eighteen years.
MM: This time though, there's a twist with that...those teenagers - they're old enough to be our kids, technically. (laughs)
BM: (laughing) Yes, you're right! Yeah, they're all out there jamming. In the front row I'm looking at a guy that I've known since like '86, '87, he's a biker guy. He's there with his family and his daughter's there and she's fifteen and she's rocking out to our music. She knows every lyric and I'm going, "hey, we've bridged the generation gap."
MM: Isn't it a hoot? It's the kids of the people that were rocking out in the front row a few years back. Poison is a fun band, even on the more serious tunes...there's that vibe.
BM: Yeah, because it's...and this is the thing about life, I think one of the things that's happened for us is that you needed something to believe in there. Because my life...my life has had some great times and some very bad times and I don't think that music can be all just one thing. I think the bands that last the longest, Aerosmith, for an example, they write great lyrics and Tyler writes some lyrics that are about fun, and party stuff and sex and then he turns around and writes lyrics that are real emotional. You know what I mean? I like that kind of writing. Now, Zeppelin, I grew up on Zeppelin, Kiss...they had 'Detroit Rock City' but they also had 'Beth.' How many bands can, and do really get away with that now? Most bands that come out now, know that the record companies tell them that they have to have one certain sound and one certain look and they always tell them who they have to play for. With us, we play what we feel and let the fans figure out if they like us or not.
MM: I think that you guys still have it. "Songs of Life" is a contemporary album from what I hear on it. By that I mean, there's nothing staid or dated about it. I like a statement that you made in an interview I read, you said something like, and I guess this goes with the fact that you are doing this record all by yourself...
BM: I am truly independently owned and operated. (laughing)
MM: The backbone of America...
BM: Yes, it is. (laughing)
MM: Well, what you had said was "I'm writing what I want to put out there." I think that's great - that you really could care less what media-frenzy people and others may think. I mean, you're not writing for them.
BM: Yeah, I'm writing first and foremost for me and I'm writing for the fans that like the music. You know, any band that is out there chasing it, is doing more destruction to music then someone who is out there playing what they truly feel. And listen, I've had plenty of big hits and I've had plenty of big misses. That's okay because I felt great when I wrote it - that's really where it's got to start.
MM: Was it difficult choosing what songs were going to go on "Songs of Life?" Are there some that you are saving for your second solo record?
BM: (laughs) Yeah... I'll put it like this, I've got a lot of songs and when I had to select down to the ones that I felt gave a good rounded snapshot of my life. In other words, good times, bad times, happy times, sad times, you know? I tried to make this a well-rounded record. I had a whole bunch of material and I just kind of broke it down to these songs.
MM: I want to commend you - there's a lot of tunes on this disc for the buck. With music being quite pricey these days, it's good to get your money's worth.
BM: I need to say this, if people go to www.bretmichaels.com, I offer the album at a price that I think most records should be selling for, which is $8.99. If they go there, they get it shipped the next day, they don't have to go out searching for it, it's in all the major stores, but I'm offering it to the fans at really fair price. It's not like I'm offering it at a cheap price or an expensive price, I'm offering it at what records should be, $8.99 or $9.99. I think paying $24.00 at a store for a record with 8 songs on it is ludicrous.
MM: Well some artists have said that if the industry wouldn't charge so much for the music, then people wouldn't be downloading it for free all the time.
BM: Damn straight.
MM: That is an excellent deal. When's the last time a record sold retail for $8.99, back in what...'82?
BM: Yeah, I'll just say this...paying $20.00 or $24.00 for a record is too much...the fans are what keeps this business alive and that's just too much.
MM: The musicians that played on the album with you, they are really great musicians - I guess you could have gone the superstar route and picked name musicians. Are they all friends of yours?v
BM: Yeah, long time friends, and that's the way I work in my studio. I'm not a guy that goes out and searches for names. Music to me is a reality thing and I've gotta be with people that I feel close with. When you're creating something, I never want to be in a stale, surgical environment. I wouldn't even be able to do it. I mean if someone was surgically putting my songs together...here's how you mend a chorus with this, and this is how it works. I don't even know how to write like that...I write for real. And like I said...you know Edwin McCain is a buddy of mine, a great singer and songwriter and he came on and sang 'Raine' with me, which was great.
MM: So how do the guys in your band, Poison, feel about your record? Were they disappointed or maybe feeling any jealousy (laughing) that they weren't asked to participate?
BM: No, I don't think...I mean I didn't get any feeling of jealousy. I mean CC years ago, did a glitter album, Rikki did "Glitter For The Soul." They know that I'm achieving my goal - I do films, I do solo work...they know I'm addicted to creating and writing. They know to try to box me in would be a mistake anyway, so I just tell them, look...I will never put an album out on top of our record 'cause Poison is also me. In other words, I would be kicking my own self in the face. I love what I do with Poison and I have no intention of ever leaving the band. They all thought the record sounded real good. CC thought that 'Raine' was one of the best songs that I have ever written, and actually, that was a very nice compliment.
MM: You obviously are kicking butt and you look fantastic. You've always looked good, you've really buffed out there.
BM: Well thank you, I'm trying. (laughs) You know, 4-0, being diabetic...I'm trying to keep things right.
MM: Bret, I think you're doing just fine. Thanks for your time and have fun out on the Poison tour.