Bill Blankenship of CJOnline recently did an interview with C.C.DeVille about been sober, Samantha 7 and Poison.
BONNER SPRINGS -- Although C.C. DeVille had performed many times in Cincinnati as part of the glam rock band Poison, he was seeing something there Tuesday he had never seen before: Cincinnati.
DeVille, who performs tonight with Poison at Sandstone Amphitheatre, had just finished his daily run at a local track when he called for an interview from his hotel room. During the initial heyday of Poison, DeVille said he probably wouldn't have seen much of Cincinnati or any other city on tour than a hotel room, where he "would close all the blinds and hang out in the dark."
"I was addicted to drugs, and I was addicted to that whole lifestyle," a clean and sober and extremely upbeat DeVille said. "I really didn't get to enjoy how fun and wonderful going on tour is -- going and meeting new people and actually seeing the towns you're in."
DeVille's drug- and alcohol-hazed journey with Poison are the stuff rock legends are made of, especially the guitarist's clashes with singer Bret Michaels. Their biggest blowup came after the 1992 MTV Music Video Awards when they stunk up the stage when an addled DeVille played a completely different song than the rest of the band was trying to perform.
POISON, along with Cinderella, Dokken and Slaughter, will perform at a concert that starts at 6 p.m. today, June 23, at Sandstone Amphitheatre in Bonner Springs. Reserved seats are $28.50 and $23.50, while lawn tickets are $19. They are on sale through Ticketmaster at 234-4545 or at any of their outlets, including the J.M. Bauersfeld's stores in Topeka and the Jones Store in West Ridge Mall.
Shortly after Michaels and DeVille exchanged blows, the band fired DeVille, replacing him first with Richie Kotzen then later with Blues Saraceno until DeVille was straight enough to rejoin the group for a tour last summer by the band's original lineup, which includes Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dall.
"I'm just lucky enough to not have that rage that drugs do to you," DeVille said. "You get this rage and this chip on your shoulder, and you tend to alienate everyone who loves you. It's awful. I'm really glad I'm where I'm at now."
Where Poison is now is on the wave of a renewed interest in the party anthems and power ballad hair bands of the 1980s, of which Poison rated in record sales just behind Bon Jovi and Def Leppard,
Beyond loyal Poison fans, DeVille said younger audiences are eager to see the showmanship that disappeared when grunge came on the scene with its angry, minimalist styling.
"With a band like Nirvana, I ain't complaining," DeVille said, "But for every band like Nirvana there were a million bands that weren't exactly that good who would just turn their back on the audience."
By touring with three other vintage rock bands -- Cinderella, Dokken and Slaughter -- DeVille said the band's "Power to the People" tour restores that rock festival atmosphere of years past.
And enjoying it as much as the crowd is DeVille, who said, "I'm able to be C.C. DeVille without being scared that I'm high or ashamed of it."
However, DeVille said that joy wasn't immediate with sobriety.
"I got sober, but the first couple of years of me being sober I had no passion," he said. "I had no passion to write songs. I had no passion sexually. Everything was always connected to drugs.
"I would do drugs and have sex. I would do drugs and write a song. I would do drugs and socialize with people. Everything was based around the drugs. Once I stopped doing the drugs, I had to relearn all my people skills. I had to relearn how to live."
During that process DeVille said he found a new depth of creativity, which resulted in an album full of songs he wrote for his new group, Samantha 7, with DeVille as the lead singer.
"Deep down, everybody wants to be a singer," said DeVille, with a laugh. "But I did not realize how creative you can be until I started singing."
The result has surprised everyone, including DeVille, with the band's just-released self-titled album getting good reviews.
"I'm even surprised it's me," DeVille said. "When I listen to it, I go, 'Wow! That's pretty good even for me.'"
"As soon as the Poison tour is over, I'm going to take Samantha 7 out all over the country, probably doing club," he said. "I plan on staying out for a year and a half. I plan on staying out until this album is a household world. I believe that strongly in it."
Meanwhile, it will be DeVille and the other members of Poison playing the same tune for a welcome change.
"I'm not saying I make less mistakes, but if I do make a mistake, I'm so much more graceful with the way I get out of it," he said.
And along the way, DeVille is enjoying himself more and giving back more to those around him, including a celebrity bowling event staged last night at an Overland Park bowling center as a fund-raiser for Children's Mercy Hospital.
Asked about his bowling prowess, DeVille said, "They call me 'Gutter Cat' DeVille, but that doesn't stop me from trying."
"What matters is you try," he added. "Believe me, I'm so gifted to be given another chance. I know it's very rare that you get two chances like this."