Heart of Steel: Interviews

Bret Michaels - June 6th, 2003

Interviewed By Celtic Bob

Some pics courtesy of bretmichaels.com
Live Pics from Toronto by Celtic Bob

Hey, it's Bret!

How's it goin'?

I'm doing awesome man, how you doin'?

Pretty good.

Very good.



I have to say SONGS OF LIFE album is great.

Well thank you very much. I really appreciate you saying that.

I just reviewed it and said it is the best album I've heard all year.

I can only thank you, and I mean it on a personal level. I put a lot of effort (and it's on my own label) not only into my writing but production and my time. The songs are very personal and to get a good review especially from someone like you who gets to review a lot of great stuff. That's a great feeling.



What is the significance of the title SONGS OF LIFE?

It's basically me speaking lyrically. It's just me taking snapshots of moments in my life. Mentally and physically things I was going through and just trying to put them into lyrics. It's basically doing what I've done my whole career with Poison. Music to me is my form of expression. Regardless of weather I sit down on piano like "Stay With Me" or I turn around and it's a song like "Raine" with full production behind it. Lyrically SONGS OF LIFE is snapshots of moments in my life and trying to give people a feel of what I was going through. With the song "Menace To Society" that's the way I felt when I was 17 years old working as a cook & busboy, and my boss in PA literally (no lie) informed me many times that as I sat and played my guitar I was never going to make it out of there. So that sort of gave me the fire to make it even more.



With the song "Raine" being about your daughter. Which do you find tougher, being a father or a rockstar?

Well you know I say this…being a dad…I will truly say the way I feel. I love being a dad, I like being a father & I like being a dad and I think I'm a good dad. I go in there and try and teach her all the right things. I do all the stuff that I feel will open her life and mind to many things and music is one of them. I mean she loves music. I think one of the tough things is being away from her, that's the toughest.



Has being a family man changed your rockstar persona?

Well no. I still go out on the road and have a blast. I'm still partying and having fun and having a great time. You don't have to give up your entire soul because you have children. You have to be good to your kids. You don't want to wake up in 10 years and go wait a minute; I regret that I gave up my own life. What you want to do is give them the best of what you got and continue to have a good life yourself. When my father had me he still liked to hunt and fish and play sports and do stuff, it isn't like he gave up his life. He adapted it so I fit in. I respected him for that.



I saw you guys last year for the first time and I've been a fan since LOOK WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN

We're talking 85/86.

Yes, that's when I started listening to you guys. From the first listen I was hooked and last year I flew halfway across Canada to Toronto to see you guys.


Out of all the shows I've seen that was the most energetic show ever.

And thank you. That energy is the real deal. I'm not up there and someone telling me to go out and act energetic. If you're that close I'm sure you can sense I'm into what I'm doing.

You were the hardest one to snap a pic of.

(Laughs) I'm not in one spot long enough.

I think only 1 pic of you during the first 3 songs never came out blurred.

(Laughs) I truly think I hold the reign. Most singers figured this out, This is what I have figured out in my 18 years of being onstage. If you want a good picture: stand still. Me, I'm running around, excited. They're shooting you from underneath too. I can say I've taken some of the most blurry and/or ugly pictures in rock history. I don't stand in one spot long enough to pose for photos.



I had a blast and really enjoyed the show.

You come from Vancouver side?

Nope, other side. Newfoundland.

Newfoundland, OK great.

I flew up basically on a moments notice for it.

We just played Toronto a couple nights ago. What a great show. There are so many bands that cancelled there and we said screw it, we're gonna play there. It turned out to be one of the best shows of the season.

I was hoping to make it again this year but couldn't.

Well we're coming to Montreal at the Bell Center and London,Ont.

I'm hoping to make it to the London gig.

You let me know and we'll take care of you. We'll drag you up on stage at one point.

That'd be a blast.

We're always dragging people up there for songs at the end of the set.



Any plans to play eastern Canada?

I can tell you this. We've tried to plan it every summer in our routing. The fall If Poison doesn't get there, I'm going out solo Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec. I will come up there sometime in early Oct.

I'm going to put on a hell of a great show. It'll be part SONGS OF LIFE and part Poison. You know what I mean? Do a "Evening With Bret Michaels" kind of thing.



Sort of a "Coffee House" sort of thing with just you and a piano and acoustic?

No, no, no...It'll be like a Poison show just without the other guys. I'll be doing a lot of SONGS OF LIFE as well. It'll be a rock show.



What keeps you inspired as a songwriter after all these years?

For me it's really simple. It's about life. Everyday for me…I can truly tell you my life is a rose and a thorn. Meaning I have great times in my life, I go through tough times in my life. Being a diabetic, being a father, the car wreck, the sex tape scandal thing; It seems every time something good happens I get a couple bada bing bada booms that knock me around A little bit. It gives me plenty to work on, plenty to write about. (Laughs) I'm truly one of those people that isn't hidden away in some big house where I don't speak to anybody. I go out, even though Poison has done well and stuff like that. I'm truly out there living life.



I just got my copy of your COUNTRY DEMOS disc and I have to say I'm not a fan of country music at all but this is quite good. I've always been into rock since I first got Cheap Tricks Budokan LP.

I remember it well. I got offered to do a…You know I write a lot of what is considered contemporary sounding country songs. I'm friends with Kenny Chesney and some of the big country artists. One of the things eventually I'm going to take the offer with Curb Records and do my…When I say contemporary its almost now like John Cougar or the early Rolling Stones. It almost has a classic rock feel to it, it's about singing and song writing. I was raised on country on my father's side. My father was a country fanatic liked Hank Williams Sr. and Patsy Cline.

The classics.

Yeah, the old school classics. Then my mom liked The Beatles and the Stones and Bob Dylan but they both agreed on Elvis. So I got the best of both worlds. For the most part of my life I was listening to both styles of music but rock is what really captured it in my early youth. When I got my first Peavey amp and my first sears guitar and my distortion pedal I was done.

That sealed it for you?

Yeah, it just sounded right.



So there is a full country album in the future?

Yeah, that would be in the future. I gotta make sure I got all the right material and like I said… almost a singer/songwriter record more than anything, just really great songs with a real contemporary country feel to it.



What does the future hold for Poison? Will we see a box set with rare and unreleased stuff…

Next year Poison will be off the road and coming in 2005 Poison's going to be...We're taking 1 year off the road in 2004. 2005 we're coming back stronger than ever, Poison: 20 Years in The Making. It'll be a bunch of rare unheard stuff, new stuff, and remade stuff of our greatest hits. It'll be a really awesome box set.



Looking forward to that. Will we also get a live dvd?

Full fledged live concert DVD. We're gonna have stuff, people on us on the records. You know we always have it at our show, everyone from Paul Stanley and Jimmy Page to the guys in Korn and Pantera. They'll all come out to our shows so we might even have them do the songs with us.



How does it feel to have the "Every Rose" guitar in the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame?

Most awesome feeling in the world. There were so many people there that day they had to close the doors. It was just an amazing feeling putting that up there in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. It was such a great feeling to be part of Rock n roll history. That's a good day. You have to go, it's a trip. You got to make sure your there for 2 days, you can't really see it all in one.



OK, back to the first LP. Why did you take such an extreme image on it? It was as far glammed out as you could possibly go. Was it just for the shock value?

Absolutely!! For and I say this...I wanted to be shocking because I felt we had great music and we'd survive because of the music. Here's how I've always lived my career: My music is based on reality and my image and soul (and you saw that on stage), the stage show is a Rock n Roll extravaganza and the music is about reality and I don't think you can have a better combination. It's not like the lyrics are based in outer space lyrics. You know what I'm getting at? The music for Poison is very real and the show is over the top. Just an over the top unbelievable rock show, exciting. You seen it. I think I got the best of both worlds.



True, the energy was amazing. Everyone seemed to be really enjoying it.

They were all going crazy and this year was even bigger and better. They were just going nuclear. It was great.

I wish I would have made it up there for it.

We'll make up for it in Montreal or in London.

Hopefully I'll make it to the London show.

That'd be great



Back in the late 80's critics wrote you off saying you were just a hair band with no musical talent. Here it is 20 years later and they're gone and your still here. They never gave you guys the respect, they never seemed to get past the image to the music.

Yeah, and I've always said this. The one thing I managed to do…you said it perfectly. They're gone, I'm still standing. Here's what annoyed them: it annoyed them the most is that I enjoyed what I did. Their reviews never pissed me off. I was like hey, you judge a book by its cover and they were doing exactly what they were taught to do. I said listen, what school do you goto to become a critic? Please let me know. (Laughs)

I'm like "What school did you goto to learn this?" Look, my point was simple; I love what I do, I love the music I make and what they didn't realize is that everyone of them that unfairly gave a bad review just threw another log on the fire, cause I'm not a guy that backs down. I don't back down to anything and anyone around me will tell you that. I think it added more fuckin' steam to the boat if you know what I mean?

My logic is "If you don't like it then don't buy it or listen to it".

You gotta remember something. When everyone loves ya that's when I think you have more to fear. When some love you and some hate you then it's more real. When everyone love's you that's when I get scared.

Like the flavour of the month. Here today, gone later today?

Hey, exactly!

I am still listening to the same bands I did years ago like Motley Crue, Van Halen, Poison, Warrant…

Right On.

It's not on the radio now 24/7 so a lot don't know they're still around.

Here's the dilemma too. Unfortunately some people don't love music as much as you and I do. Sometimes they are just kind of fair-weather that always watch stuff on TV to know what to like. I've been a person who lives by my own rules. I do what I want to do and never look back or around to see who cares. That make any sense? I live my life the way I want to live, I like what I like. If someone busts my balls I couldn't give a shit, I'm like your just adding fuel to my fire.

Some people have to be told what to like by TV and I think they're missing out on life. For us this is the beauty of it; AC/DC has been around, Aerosmith has been around, Poison, Bon Jovi. I'd rather be one of those bands than one of these other bands that comes out and is hot for 1 year and gone the next.



I know. I listen to music 24/7 except at work. Even when I'm asleep the tunes are on.

Oh yeah, you and me both.

…and cranked in the car.

(Laughs) Right.

I never care what people think of my music. I like it so that's all that matters.

Exactly, It gives you your own personality; it makes you who you are. That's what its all about, otherwise we become one of them, a mass clump of turds (Laughs)


Poison 2002


What's out now that you're listening to?

You know what, I can honestly say I'm a big fan of some of the new bands that put out some stuff that is rockin' and cool. I like Good Charlotte, I think they got some good stuff. I don't know if you're familiar?

No I'm not.

Check out Good Charlotte, good new band. Kind of almost early Poison, punk, glam. Sum 41, they got some good tunes out there, I like the Foo Fighters. They got what I call some good rock tunes with some melody. Right now that's the three that I've been checking out recently.



Here's one I've been listening to a lot. A Canadian band called Big Sugar.

Hang on I'll write this down.

They're a Canadian rock band with a bit of blues feel. They are really good and use like old Gibson's and tube amps.

That's the kind of shit I used on this record.

They are amazing live too.

If you see them and can get me the records. If you could bring 'em to me or get Janna or Laurie any of their info maybe we can get them on a couple of shows up there. Yeah, get me one of their albums and some info would be great.


I went out and saw Nickleback and Default and I thought those guys were great, really cool. They've all come to Poison concerts, they grew up listening to Poison and were very cool guys to me. Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains is my buddy and I went and saw them. Just great guys.



So how's the movie career going?

Very good and I'll have to get you up some of the info. We'll talk about it later when we start to film a new one in late late winter/early spring.



What is the connection with Charlie Sheen?

He's my buddy that I formed the film company with.

I never knew you had a film company.

Yea, Sheen Michaels Entertainment.



I know your into racing, bikes and cars. Being a fan of classic cars I'd like to know what your all time favourite car is?

I would have to say the 63 Vette. That was the first year of the Stingray body and it was the year I was born.


Cool, I have a 71 Beetle and it's also the year I was born.

Don't give that one away man. That's a classic.

I had it shipped in from California.

Unreal! That's awesome!! Out of the muscle cars that'd be my choice. For me I'm strictly talking the car I like and it marks the year I was born, the Stingray body. Very cool.

Is that your daily driver?

No no, I got the new Mercedes SL 500.

Is that the one pictured on the site with you by Santa Monica beach?

No, that's the 600. That's still there but the 500 is this years. That's a 2001 in the picture.


Do you do any of the body or mechanical work yourself?

On the bikes, not on the cars. I can do standard stuff. I can work on a car minor stuff but the bikes I can rip apart.

Myself included. Minor stuff I can do but the rest goes to the garage.

Exactly, or else I'll be redoing it again for twice as much as it would've cost me in the first place.



Anything you'd like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules?

I'm thankful for them being open minded and not listening to asshole critics and to the ones who stuck with us: Thank You very much. Check out SONGS OF LIFE with an open mind and goto bretmichaels.com and they can check it out there as well. Thanks for being with us and we can't wait to sing and play for them.

Thank you for your time.

No problem. We'll set ya up and hopefully see ya soon.


Hey Rob, thanks again and have a lot of fun on your car!

Website: bretmichaels.com