Everyone knows that Bret Michaels is having a hell of a time on the Rock of Love Bus. But fans should also know that Bret’s bringing the boyz in Poison out on the road this summer. They’re sharing a bunch of tour dates with Def Leppard and Cheap Trick. Poison’s got a great songbook, natch. We spoke with Bret about which of their many songs turn out to be his favorite. Here he is in his own words.
Talk Dirty to Me
There’s something I’ve always wanted to get off my chest – if I may. A lot of people who call themselves acclaimed musicians have said, “Well, I like Poison’s music, but they’re not virtuosos.” When we had our first audition for a guitarist, every single guy from the Guitar Institute of Technology showed up! I’m like, “Dude, I thought this wasn’t your thing!” It came down to three guys – C.C. DeVille, Slash, and Steve Silva from The Joe Perry Project. It was a tough battle. Probably what started our friction was that in the band vote, I leaned towards Slash. He had this Joe Perry thing and C.C. had this in-your-face Rick Neilsen thing. But C.C. brought in the riff to “Talk Dirty to Me.” In hindsight, he was great for our band. He loves The Ramones and those very down and dirty in your face guitar riffs. It’s like a grand punk anthem.
Nothing But a Good Time
There are songs that you write which will never see the light of day. Back when I was 15, I wrote a song called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Bandit.” The riff is great, but I’ve set fire to the lyrics and no one will ever find them. Back then, however, I thought it was brilliant stuff. The end result may not have put “Stairway to Heaven” out of business, but it was the effort that counted. I tried to show C.C. the riff, and he added the C.C. to it that really gave the song its life. When I wrote the new lyrics, I was thinking about when I worked [cleaning tables] at Bob’s Big Boy on Trindle Road in Mechanicsburg, Pa. I know what it means when that five o’clock whistle blows.
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
During the Look What the Cat Dragged In tour in 1986, we were playing a cowboy bar in Dallas. It was their only rock night. I called my girlfriend from the road and learned she was f*cking around on me. She was a stripper – who knew she would cheat on me?! [Laughs] I never saw that one coming! But it was heartbreaking. I loved her, or thought I was in love anyway. So while we were in Dallas – and this is no lie – I sat in a laundromat and wrote “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” It was written from my heart. I’m somewhere between hard rock, southern rock and Americana. So my riffs tend to be the “Nothing But a Good Times” or “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” kind of thing. C.C. leans more towards stuff like “Talk Dirty to Me” and “Ride the Wind.”
Something to Believe In
One of those songs I wish I never had to write. It was inspired by my friend Kimo, who worked for us as security. I had been around this guy almost every day for four years straight. During a Christmas break, I got a phone call at 3 AM in the morning and I knew instantly something was wrong. I stayed up for two days writing that song. How did he die? A combination of partying and a bad heart. Saying he OD’d sounds too cheap. With life comes death. It’s just the way it is, but I wasn’t ready for it to happen. Now, whenever we’re backstage, I’ll get approached by the most tattooed, angry looking metal head and he’ll tell me, “Thank you for writing ‘Something to Believe In.’ My friend was killed and this song got me through it.” That right there takes all the sh*t that you collect along the way and wipes it all out.
I Won’t Forget You
I wrote those lyrics when we drove out of the metropolis of Mechanicsburg, heading to California to quote/unquote “make it big.” It was about my family, my girlfriend and everything that I knew we were leaving behind to try to do this. We had no idea about what was going to happen to us. There were 12 million other bands all hoping to do the same thing. When I play it now, it reminds me of how I felt. We had a “nothing to lose” attitude, and I think that a lot of people related to that song. Music is a feeling. Guys tell me, “Dude, the reason I love ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ is because the first time I heard that me and my old lady were making love in the back of my car. It brings back a point in my life and every time I hear it, it gives me a great feeling.” That’s what music is supposed to do, and that’s what it does for me, too.