Interview by Gina Vivinetto of St. Petersburg Times
Q: Is it true you're classically trained?
A: I studied music theory at New York University.
Q: NYU? You're a brainy son of a gun.
A: No, I'm not. I'm an a---. I left NYU to be a star. I wanted to be an entertainer in an unconventional way.
Q: Who are your guitar idols ?
A: Man, Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls) was the hippest guy in the world to me. I also loved Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick and Richie Stotts from the Plasmatics.
Q: So you dig punk rock ?
A: Oh yeah, yeah. That's my background. And, see, I like songs. That's why I love the Samantha 7 record. It's got songs. That's why 'N Sync and Britney Spears do so well. There's a bunch of really great songs on those albums.
Q: Do you miss the big hair ?
A: At the time I didn't think my hair was so over the top. Now I look back and I think, "What the f--? I can see why everyone talks about it."
Q: Everyone's getting back into that 1980s hair metal.
A: There's a real resurgence for that stuff, but it became so bloated. That's why everyone loved Nirvana. It was a reaction to all that. Everyone heard Nirvana and went, "Oh, thank God, we're so sick of the makeup and the shaking the hips and stuff. Enough already with the f--- pouting."
Q: Does rock and roll keep you young ?
A: My running keeps me young. I run eight to 10 miles every day.
Q: Only a handful of rock stars have gotten fat. Jim Morrison, Ann Wilson of Heart. Last year the press crucified Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty for putting on weight. What was your experience ?
A: I put on 80 pounds when I got sober. I never planned on going back into music. Let me tell you, you can be a junkie in this industry and as long as you don't put it in people's faces -- it's a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy -- but if you're overweight, everyone says, "That's disgusting." It jeopardizes your career. It's all about looks, man. Hollywood is so superficial.
When I wanted to get back into music, I knew I had to take the weight off. I started running and jogging. That became compulsive, but I can control it. Plus it's good. It's about time I started being compulsive about things that are good for me.
Q: Was it hard to write music when you got clean ?
A: At first it's hard. You can't create like you used to when you first get sober. But all the creativity comes back eventually. And you have to be creative in the first place; the drugs don't make you creative.
Q: Like Brian Wilson ?
A: Brian Wilson was a genius. He kills me, that f--. He's my favorite. That Pet Sounds album blows me away.
Q: What do you think about those guys like Tommy Lee who can't seem to get it together ?
A: I know for me, I needed to get better. I like Tommy Lee a lot. He's the archetypal prodigal son. He's a rebel. Let's face it, rock and roll has gotten a little wimpy. I'm guilty of it, too. I mean, who wants their rock stars to be running?
Q: What's your favorite food ?
A: Sushi. The sashimi kind. I love brown rice. And Diet Coke and Diet Dr Pepper.
Q: Do the guys in Poison still have those knock-down, drag-out fights ?
A: We're all getting along fantastic. We've been in Poison since 1985, 15 years. It's like a marriage. My mom would say, "You guys fight, you make up, you fight, you make up.' Then at some point you realize this is a part of you. Me and my brother saw my parents bicker, but it was never an issue. We knew they would never split up. It's like that.
Q: The truth: Why does Bret always wear that bandana ? Is he bald ?
A: I don't know.
Q: You're just being diplomatic.
A: I wouldn't even know about that situation.