Interview by ClevelandOnstage.com
COS: Hi Bret! How are you?
BM: OK man, how are you doing today?
COS: I?m not too bad.
COS: We were up in Milwaukee for the 100th anniversary celebration because we?re Harley riders.
BM: Yeah, me too.
COS: And we caught you (Poison) up there and that show, I mean it was a little bit short and we understand why it was short, but it was a kick-ass rock and roll show nonetheless.
BM: Ahhh thanks. It was an awesome night. Yeah you know most of our equipment burned down and we lost one of our trucks with just about all of our staging and everything.
COS: I heard. We?ll be seeing again when you come here.
BM: Yeah absolutely. It?s going to be a great show in Cleveland, too.
COS: I know you?ve got only about 15 minutes so I?m going to try and keep it short. First I want to talk about the CD a little bit, a couple of songs on there, and then I want to talk about the tour.
BM: You?ve got it!
COS: Let me start off with what I?ve got here. All the tracks on the ?Songs of Life? album have different sounds yet the lyrics all pretty much relate to life as we all know it. Why, at this point in your life, did you decide to write something like this?
BM: Real simple. For me, you know I just hit my 40th birthday this year.
COS: Congratulations! You made it!
BM: I have made it! I think the first half? and what a beautiful and strange feeling it is. But here is my feeling. I felt that after forty years this was sort of a birthday present to myself. In other words, I feel like it?s for me, after forty years and twenty of it spent in the music industry, that I had quite a bit to say just about life in general. I mean, I have seen and been through quite a bit in fact and I just felt that this album was sort of for me a birthday present, kind of to myself to want to write music. Basically it was just something I wanted to do and give people some insight on things I?ve been through all my life and I figure after forty years I?ve got to the first chapter. I?ve got a good collection of stuff.
COS: When I turned forty I realized that this is it. You get one shot and you better make the best of it.
BM: Absolutely. Believe me. I?ve said this even when I did some different lyrics for ?Something to Believe In? and I?ve written in there. I?m thankful for what I?ve got because I?ve known so many friends of mine and people that never had a chance to grow old?meaning older, let?s not use the word ?old.?
It?s an amazing feeling that to just put in songs like the one I wrote about my daughter or the one I wrote about 911 and then there?s also some party songs like you know, ?It?s My Party? and ?Menace to Society? that also express that sort of what can be fun or what can be angst?you know? just different emotions that I went through throughout the course of my life and fortunately a lot of people who have gotten the record are finding a couple of the tracks that they really relate to.
COS: The track ?One More Day? was written after 9/11, why did you write the song?
BM: When I wrote ?One More Day? I sat down and literally (and this was right after 911). And I?ll tell you what I was feeling. I was watching you know what I thought was one of the most horrific sights. There was a woman who was pregnant and I don?t know if you remember this because she was on Barbara Walters later. The girl had blonde hair and blue eyes and she was running around with this soot on her face putting up pictures of her husband on a Xerox machine and that is what the song is based on. I could not believe?I?m like thinking?what an act of absolute fucking stupidity by these clowns and it just, you know, it was my only way of expressing myself without being so angry that I wanted to punch someone but you know when you get that feeling? You?re like thinking, ?What were these fucking idiots thinking?? And here?s this woman who is now I believe they had a son who is never going to see his father, you know.
COS: That leads me to the next question still about ?One More Day.? The track also seems to be about you coming to terms with your own mortality. The next question was going to be, ?Has anything inspired you to write this track?? and obviously 9/11 did.
BM: Yes, 911, without a doubt. It really did. And I think, too, as I look at that, it?s simply what I felt and was looking at on TV and people like yourself and myself and a lot of other people have really related to that song and I didn?t do it for any other reason than for me to almost just self-expression. I didn?t know what else to do. You know when you don?t know whether you are so angry you?re like, ?What do I do to realize that this was the Pearl Harbor of our generation?? For me and you this was our Pearl Harbor. Do you know what I?m saying? What a strange thing and that?s what ?One More Day? was inspired by.
COS: As an artist do you realize that your own mortality changes the way you write music?
BM: Well even dating back to ?Something to Believe In,? I?ve obviously been a little closer to my own mortality with being diabetic. In other words, believe me, I spent most of my youth in a hospital trying to regulate my blood sugar.
COS: I see the way it affects people everyday. A lot people look up to you. I talked to people who do have juvenile diabetes or diabetes and they know about you and they know that you have survived. They know that they can survive just by looking at you. We?re also walking this Saturday for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to help raise money for a cure.
BM: And believe me, thank you guys for doing that and also for me, I?m telling you it was mind and music. I always had this: mind, music, motorcycle, and muscle over matter theory. You know, in other words, for me, you know when I was a kid (on a lighter subject) I always wanted to race motocross. That was my big dream. I own a couple of Harleys now, a couple of dirt bikes. I don?t know if you ever saw the Cribs thing they did on my house where I have the motocross track? If it was up to me, I?d be around those bikes 24/7 and I think that a lot of that is mind over matter.
I always tell kids, ?It?s mind over matter.? You can?t look for everything to go wrong. Look for as much right that you can do. I mean, it?s a tough battle. Now the new way of doing your blood sugar and insulin is 4 times a day. I mean, when you?re a kid, you?re out playing in the fucking park and next thing you know, all of your other friends want to go and take a bike ride and you?re on low blood sugar and you?re checking your blood. Let me tell you something, it sucks sometimes and that?s when I decided when I was young that I?m not going to let it beat me. I?m just going to do it and I?m going to kick its ass for as long as I can.
COS: Thank you. Thank you. Sorry, didn?t mean to sidetrack you. Has 'Raine' affected the way you write music?
BM: Well, absolutely, especially for the song ?Raine.? It affected me in the fact that she is my only daughter and 3 years old. When she was born it was one of the most defining moment in my life and it was on a personal note. Yes, it obviously affected the way I wrote that song. It doesn?t affect all the music but it affects that song. In other words, it?s not going to stop me from writing a song if I?m angry. We have a curse jar in the house and she will be a multi-millionaire one day from just the curse jar alone, but other than that, I?m still going to let her know that freedom of expression is the most important thing.
COS: Yeah and you should do that with kids today. I mean you let them express themselves because we do a lot of new music coming to town and we see a lot of young kids and you know a lot of them are with their parents and their parents share their music with them which is great! You didn?t see that back in my day.
BM: I don?t know how old you are but I?m forty.
COS: I?m forty four. That?s why I said, ?Welcome to the Club.? My Dad couldn?t stand the music I listened to.
BM: My Dad?s a country fanatic to this day. No, he learned to appreciate what I do but my Dad ? I grew up, it was Hee-Haw and Hank Williams, Sr. You know, that?s what we watched. I knew Buck Owens; I knew more country before I knew rock than anything.
COS: Yeah, we watched Hee-Haw, too.
BM: It had a lot of pretty girls on it, though, so I didn?t really complain.
COS: The track ?I Remember? comes off like your musical autobiography; actually the whole album comes off like that. Is that what you intended?
BM: It was in a sense. I just wanted to write songs that were as it says, "Songs of Life", pieces and moments in my life. ?I Remember? dealt with my diabetes, my first broken heart. You know, it was just basically self-expression in music is what it was, things I?ve been through or things that I?ve seen.
COS: That?s what I figured from listening to this. I mean, I?ve listened to it probably about 200 times. It?s a great CD.
BM: Hey, thank you and are you going to be at the show?
COS: Oh yeah. We?ll be photographing.
BM: OK good. Well, let me tell you something. I can tell you this. You will be pleasantly blown away by the show because it?s half Poison and ?
COS: Wait wait? before you go ahead, I?ve got questions like. Let me ask you this first, is there a Bret Michaels book in the offing?
BM: I?ve been offered a book deal and actually the guy who made the offer is the interview after yours. He also writes for a huge magazine but he made an offer to do like an autobiography book and that?s in the works right now.
COS: That?s great! I will definitely buy a copy of that because it?s going to be one of those books you can?t put down.
BM: I hope. Thank you. That would be awesome.
COS: How long did it take you to write, compose, and record ?Songs of Life??
BM: Did this process over about two years. You know I do three songs, then two songs, then we went out on the road with Poison then I came off the road, wrote a couple more, and recorded them. And then I found some old lyrics like ?Menace to Society? that I dug out of my old notebook. You know, over the course of 2 years?there was no rush. I just put together some stuff and had always planned on it coming out sometime in either like I said when I was thirty nine and then when I turned forty, it was perfect.
COS: What?s your favorite track on this album?
BM: God, tough. I would say my favorite track to perform, lyrically is ?Raine?. I just like that song. I like the sound. I get the feel of it. You know it has a good hook in the chorus. But the fun songs for me to play obviously like ?Loaded Gun? or ?Menace to Society? or ?Bittersweet?. They are fun to play live.
COS: OK. The tour starts soon. Are you excited about this or are you used to it by now?
BM: No, very excited, very excited. Pumped up, worked on a whole new set and yes, extremely excited.
COS: You picked the Midwest to start your tour, why?
BM: I picked Cincinnati because it was the first offer I got was from Lance Server. He?s a promoter for ?Long Distance Concerts? down there and he made an offer for a place called Annie?s and he turned the offer in and said, ?Look, I?ll let you rehearse here for a couple of nights if you need It? and Cincinnati sounded like a great place to start. I think Detroit?s the next night and then the next night?s you guys.
COS: Yeah Cleveland. Cleveland?s a big market for you guys for Poison and Bret Michaels. I mean we just can't get enough of you guys.
BM: That?s ?cause you rule! You kick ass!
COS: What won?t you be playing on tour that you think your fans will want you to play?
BM: Hmmm?tough to say because I?m planning the set of both half Poison and half solo and it will be a fairly long set.
COS: Well that answered my next question.
BM: It?s a long set. There?s close to twenty songs right now but I?m also doing stuff like ?Good Love? and ?Let it Play?. I?m not only doing the hits from Poison but also some of the obscure stuff and I?m putting a twist on it. I?m going to do some stuff on slide guitar where the solo would be for ?Fallen Angel?. I?m going to do ?Something to Believe In? completely acoustically. You know, just some different interesting twists.
COS: Who?s in the band?
BM: It?s all guys who worked on the solo records, just buddies of mine from LA that have done all my other musical projects and the soundtracks and scores. Just really good friends of mine from LA.
COS: How long have you guys rehearsed?
BM: They?ve been rehearsing for probably about three weeks now and then I go down for this next last week. I spend a week with them and then two days at the club.
COS: And then you?re going to change everything they?ve done, right?
BM: Absolutely. Everything you?ve done, now you can strap it. I know all these songs like the back of my hand and I just needed them to get it tight and then I?ll step in and we?ll work through the set and decide where each song is going to go.
COS: How long will you tour?
BM: Right now we?re booked through December 7th.
COS: Is it going to go longer than that?
BM: Probably to Christmas.
COS: How is it going to be performing on stage without the guys from Poison?
BM: Let me put it this way. Obviously I feel extremely comfortable and excited with Poison but with these guys I?m also extremely excited because they?re buddies. I?ve known these guys a long time and it will make me a little more nervous but I think it?s going to put up for a great show. Musically these guys are hot shit. They are really good.
COS: Can you keep telling me what the show is going to be like? Will it be a full blown stage show with lights and cannons and all the stuff you see at a Poison concert or is it going to be more intimate?
BM: It will be more intimate but it will be more?let me put it this way?it will be energetic but intimate. It?s not going to be a completely laid back show. Obviously in these venues we?re in, we?re not going to have pyro and stuff like that but, it?s still going to be a party atmosphere, good vibes, but it will just be in a more intimate setting.
COS: Any acoustic songs?
BM: Right now we worked up about two or three acoustic songs. ?Something to Believe In? so far really sounds amazing. Wait until you hear it. It really sounds cool the way we did it.
COS: Will you be playing ?Stay With Me??
BM: I know we rehearsed it. I don?t know if we?re going to do it in the set or not.
COS: Are you going to play the piano?
BM: That?s what we?ve got to decide whether I?m going to do ?Something to Believe In? on the piano and just play it by myself or just go and play it with the guitar.
COS: New album for Poison?
BM: New album for Poison will be 2005.
COS: We?re all looking forward to that you know. I mean we may be getting older but we still love Poison.
BM: Thank you. I?m telling you, it?s going to be an awesome record. They?re not letting it come out until it?s great.
COS: Good, good. All I?ve got to say is that it?s an amazing album. I wish you all the success in the world while you start the next chapter in your life and I want to thank you for this interview. You didn?t have to do what you did and I just want to thank you. I appreciate it.
BM: You?re very welcome and I?m glad to be part of it and I look forward to seeing you at the Agora.