POISON: Bouffantery In The UK (1990)

By STEVE MASCORD

YOU’VE GOT to give Bret Michaels one thing — he’s a hustler.
Ten minutes ago, he had just one shiny billiard ball to sink on his miniature pool table, and I had five. An embarrassing defeat was looming for yours truly.
Now, we’re both shooting for the black.
“I can’t get beaten on my own table,” Bret exclaims, pressing a bangled right hand to his forehead- It’s as if he doesn’t realise I have the billiard-playing ability of a watermelon.
Glancing around at the platinum discs adorning the wall of Bret’s games room, it occurs to me that he might let me win. As a good-will gesture, to put me in a good mood for the interview.
Yanking gently on his cue, Bret sends the white ball gliding across the baize,  striking the black just so, and it goes tumbling into the left pocket.
“Aw, bad luck,” he opines, replacing his cue on the rack.

BRET MICHAELS lives in a rather impressive, but by no means obscenely plush, two storey house just 15 minutes from Sunset Boulevard. The door is answered by his girlfriend Suzy Hatton (for whom he is currently producing an album) and she takes me onto what seems at first to be a video set, but which is actually a lounge.
The acoustic guitar bearing a painted rose sits on a stand in front of the fireplace, like a freeze frame frons the ‘Every Rose…’ vid. Everything is bathed in a luminous green light.
“I thought it was about time to do something worthwhile with my money, so we moved into this house,” Bret explains on his descent from upstairs.
“You should see my room. Everything’s in suitcases — it’s like a hotel!”
Bret, now 27, is eager to impress. He’s about to go out, wearing an ebony cowboy hat and a pair of jeans fit for an anorexic scarecrow.
With Flesh And Blood still fresh on the shelves and a do-or-die Donington appearance approaching, we don’t have to scrape the barrel for topics of conversation. The LP has only spawned one hit single to date, “Unskinny Bop”, but Michaels says he’s elated with it and thanks mogul producer Bruce Fairbairn.
“Bruce is great with melody,” he says. “I’d try  something and he’d say, ‘That’s cool, but I think you can do it better than that’. So I’d try something else and we’d finally come up with something unique.
“Lately I’ve been trying a lot of different things vocally. I’ve really spread my musical wings — or my vocal wings, you might say. I’ve been trying a lot of new things since we ended the last tour.
“There’s a song called ‘Souls Of Fire’ which was the only song that didn’t make the record because I think we need to work on it more. It’s a real, real soulful song. I think we’re gonna hold off until the fourth record on that one. It has a great riff and a great melody but I don’t think we’re ready to put it on a record yet.”

WHILE POISON’S new platter has been received reasonably well, their first visit to Ole Blighty has the potential to start the world tour on a bitterly flat note.
Hardly universally liked in this country, the thought of what a few well-aimed bottles of  piss could do to their confidence is frightening.
And the situation isn’t helped by the fact that the Glamsters have never visited these shores before, and so will have fewer supporters on hand at Donington than any other band on the bill.
Why, when their last tour went  for 15 sweat-soaked months, did they not bother to include Europe?
“We’ve just never played there yet. I don’t know why, we just never scheduled it,” Bret says, holding outstretched hands above his head.
“No reason, we just never thought about it. Good or bad, we just didn’t do it.
“But Donington will be raw. It’ll just be some drumkits, some amps and us. No explosions, no nothing.
“We’re not that big over in Britain. We won’t make any money, believe me, but I know we’ll make some good fans. What’s interesting is that it’s like America; we’ve got to build our following there first. We’ve got to go over there and prove to a lot of people that we’re good.
“You can’t just go over and expect the world to love you. It doesn’t happen like that.
At least with us it doesn’t, anyway..”
‘Lord I’m feeling lonely, Feel like like I can’t go on/The streets have all grown cold now/The mystery’s all gone.”(‘Life Loves A Tragedy’) 

POlSON ARE the ultimate rock stars. Big cars, big arenas, big wallets, big sex, perhaps big drugs and – yeah -big, loud pop-rock. I toured with Poison during the final stages of their last tour—just two cities in Australia. And, for them (stealing a phrase from Bruce Dickinson) life really was ‘a limo and a bottle of Jack’.
There were models applying to be included on their infamous ‘groupie computer’, the arenas were sold out, their albums and singles were riding high in the charts and every day was a party. This was the dream of every red blooded, starry-eyed kid, never mind musician, in the world.
But now, Poison are serious. There are no real dirty songs on this album, no boasts that ‘I got a girl on the left of me/A girl on the right/I know damn well I slept with both last night’ Yes, Poison have got serious. On the surface it seems to he just another exercise in tasteless marketing, but it maybe not.

AT CHRISTMAS 1988, Poison bodyguard Kimo died alone in a Palm Springs hotel room. A close friend of the band, a night’s heavy drinking didn’t mix with his daily insulin shot.
Two weeks later, another dream came true — ‘Every Rose Has It’s Thorn’ went to number one in the US. But what should have been pure euphoria was only numbness.
A year later, in a nearby Palm Springs bar, guitarist CC DeVille’s former girlfriend was busy fixing drinks on a still night. A violent drunk stumbled in and started harassing patrons. He was thrown out, but when he returned he brought a shotgun and the blast could be heard around the block.
A grieving CC flew back from Vancouver, where Flesh And Blood was being recorded, to attend the girl’s funeral. They had only just decided it worked better if they were friends. In the meantime, a girlfriend of drummer Rikki Rockett died in a car accident.
Something very sweet had patently gone very, very sour.

THE very problems which may prevent Guns N’ Roses from ever releasing another album, the consequences of excess, the untimely reminders of mortality that haunt anyone who thinks he’s immortal, produced Flesh And Blood.
Then, at the other end of a harrowing emotional spectrum, the band’s arch party animal and leading hedonist, bassist Bobby Dall, got married. The ‘Flesh’ component fell into place. Bret wrote “Flesh And Blood (Sacrifice)”about that.
If you try to tape this LP onto one side of a C90, “‘Life Loves A Tragedy” won’t fit. You’ll miss the one song that’s worth the cover price alone, in which Bret admits: “One more step and I swear I go 0ver theedge/I’ve got to stop living at a pace that kills/Before I wake up dead’.
Michaels pauses and winces just a little, as if he’s recovered a painflul memory.
“That’s kind of a hard one to describe,” he says, when asked about the song. “Actually, that was about a night when I was in Hollywood, and I did some substances I shouldn’t have. It was a party night, it was the first time of trying it – it was pretty heavy stuff and it gave me a bad experience.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those nights, where you’re partying with not quite the right partyables. I won’t go into the explicit details. But I stayed up all night, needless to say, and next morning I was still up and I etched some things down for ‘Life Loves A Tragedy’.
“It’s just a growing up process,” he theorises. “It just reflects that the more experiences I got, the more I had to write about. When you’re 16 years old, you just care about getting laid, y’know what I’m saying?
“You care about gettin’ laid – and where’s the party? When you turn 21, by then you’ve had your first break-up. You went out with a girl, you dug her and she.., screwed you over, and you take something to heart. As I get older, the more things I have to write about.
“And although I don’t want to get older, unfortunately that’s the way it goes…”

THE FIGURE sitting next to me on the sofa seems a world away from the mascara-masked lead singer who once admitted that he always wanted to prove ‘I drink too much, I fight too much and I fuck too much.”
“We were young and innocent when we did our first record,” he remarks. “We didn’t know about anything. That’s the best thing about our band, we just don’t know any better.
“My theory on making a record is: make everything louder than everything else!”
But has that changed now?
“No. With everything we do, you can’t take away two things: the honesty and the heartfelt quality. You can’t take it away. We’ve made some mistakes, we’ve screwed up, we’ve gone on stage drunk when we shouldn’t have. We’ve done a whole lot of things that we shouldn’t have.
“I went on stage at Madison Square Garden when I was shitfaced, off my brain, collapsed because my blood sugar level was low (Michaels is a diabetic Ed.), and we took shit for it. And we should have. We didn’t mean to do it, it was just one of those things we felt like doing.
“We were partying all day. We loved it; we were in New York, it was great… then you turn around and you have a touching moment…”
Relapsing back to his usual self, however, Michaels assures me that Poison have not totally de-sleazed themselves.
Reaching down to the torn knee on his demins, he says “we start from here, go to here, and….”
All well and good but with this new heady subject matter, are they growing with their audience or simply making an over-obvious pitch at longevity?
“Put it this way, I want longevity. There’s nobody that doesn’t. I want Poison to be around forever, or for as long as we can do it. But you can’t force anybody to like your band. You can only play what you play and do what you do and there’s only so many people who are gonna like you.”

BUT IF you’re planning to toss any bottled bodily fluids in Bret’s direction this month, don’t expect him to stand there and take it. Poison aren’t in the habit of scampering meekly offstage if their make-up streaks or someone calls them names.
“Y’know the World Series Of Rock?” Bret recalls. “We played that. We were headlining, our first night headlining, two nights sold out. The first time we went on stage our complete back line shut down. We had to stop the show. It sucked. We just kept on going. My mic worked, I clapped for a minute, rapped, the crowd loved it, and we got the guitars back up, and the sound and we were playing again five minutes later!
Last time I spoke to Bret, he had become cynical. With all the misfortune since then, surely he must be worse by now.

“I never became cynical about playing live. I just became cynical about some of the red tape that’s involved in whether your song gets played on the radio, like whether you said hello to eomeone’s daughter. Because you forgot to, maybe you were sick that night, in the next day’s newspaper it’s written that you’re the worst band in the world. There’s a lot of red tape that’s involved between rock bands and the media. That’s the truth.
“I don’t mind someone having an opinion about me. If you leave here tonight and you write, ‘I thought Bret was an asshole’, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. I just don’t like it when someone puts words in my mouth, and that’s been done a lot. I’ll do an interview and the interviewer will write whatever they think should have come out of my mouth.
“Sometimes, it seems, if you’re cool it all gets bubbled away, but if you’re an asshole what you said gets in there.”

YOU MAY think Bret is an asshole. You may hate Poison’s new album. You may think they’ve grown up and bccome boring.
Even if you do, they say they’re coming back to Europe early next year to give you another chance to like them.
They’re not thinking about failure. They’ve already met the biggest challenge imaginable — surviving.


Filed for: KERRANG!

 

ROCK HEDONISM: December 21, 1988

By STEVE MASCORD

OLD Lemmy from Motorhead had an interesting view of the Donnington disaster, in which two people were trampled to death earlier this year during the annual rock festival, when we spoke to him last week.
“I think two out of half a million aint bad really,” said Lemmy from California, where Motorhead are winding up a national tour.
“We lost more than that in the second world war. It cost us 200,000 just to get on the beach at France, and that was from about the same amount of people.”
The boys will have a break now before beginning work on a new album. “We haven’t written a new song yet, not one,” Lemmy proclaimed.
ANOTHER new band to hit the local live scene is Silverthorn. The boys  opened for Enticer the other night at the Sutherland Royal and look set for a few weeks of hard gigging.
In case you haven’t heard Enticer, they play a tasty combination of covers from Metallica, Metal Church and Iron Maiden and original material.
DEF Leppard’s new single worldwide will be “Rocket”. The band has rernixed the song to an “acceptable length” and is planning to unleash it soon on an unsuspecting globe.
“It’s not exactly the sort of song you think of as a single, but we’ve remixed it and it sounds good,” said guitarist Steve Clark.
Good to see HR acts going around promoting themselves wh press releases and stuff. When it comes to out of this world self-promotion, there’s nothing like your average Eathlings press release.
Earthlines were Kevin Borich‘s support on his recent Sydney dates and according to one recent release “it was not unusual to see record company and industry people hanging out backstage after the performance to talk to the boys about their future (which we all know will be bigger than BIG)”
Earthlings played recently Warilla Bowling Club. Rumour has it the boss of one of the world’s biggest record companies chartered the space shuttle and flew into Albion Park from New York, where a limousine took him to the Bowling Club. After the show he offered Earthlings two billion dollars, as many American Girls as they could handle and all the drugs in Columbia to sign with the company, but they rejected on personal grounds.
Only joshing. Keep up the good work boys.
THIRD Poison  single “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” is looking like their first US number one. It moved up from five to three stateside this week.
Guns N’ Roses “Welcome To The Jungle” moved up one spot to nine on the Cashbox chart.
SO you thought the days of big outdoor concerts with humungous line-ups were over? Then you’re a raving looney because there’s a big one on just down the road in Wollongong next month.
They were not at the Showground because it is in what is termed a residential area.
Hope they don’t expect Jon Stevens and the boys to be quiet!
Noiseworks, Johnny Diesel & The Injectors, The Sunnyboys and The Bombers, supported by The Beefeaters and Imaginary Boys, will be playing the big Illawarra Steelers concert at Wollongong Showground on
January 29.

 AS for the ñdiculously hard working Diesels, Johnny and the boys will be on at the Revesby Roundhouse tonight, Banjos at Gladesville tomorrow night and Dee Why’s The Venue on Christmas Eve with Colour BWE and The Factory.
After Coogee Beach, The Diesels will be joined by Sundogs on Boxing Day at the Kardomah. That’s if there’s anything left of the place after the Candy Harlots play there tomorrow night!
The Hard Ons  plus Cosmic Psychos and Slush Puppies on Friday the 30th.
Noisworks Touch LP has been certified platinum less than 4 weeks of release, according to CBS.

COMING DOWN ROSES (by Margaret  Cott)

“I cant believe thata band that has a#1 album in America and is supposedly one of the biggest bands around at the moment could get this upset by a three line comment from an up and coming band in a free Sydney newspaper.” Well they can and they did, as speaker Jeffrey Hoad of Kings Of The Sun discovered when they supported Guns N’Roses at the Entertainment Centre last Saturday night. Booked to do a 45 minute set, the Kings had the set cut to 25 minutes, had half their production pulled (not that unusual in supports) and were told in no uncertain terms to ‘leave the stage’. Then the US Management confiscated all Kings members and guests’ Backstage Passes and ordered Out. Just because the boys told OTS in the interview published the week before that Rose Tatoo perhaps should have been accorded more credit for the kind of bad boy’ image that is so common today among LA bands like Guns and Motley Crue! Slash may never ‘say’ anything to OTS again, despite the flood of letters this particular free Sydney newspaper has received asking for a copy of Steve Mascord’s complete Slash interview transcript.

Poison To Play At Donnington

US GLAM rock quartet Poison have confirmed that they will make their UK live debut at the Monsters Of Rock Festival at Donington Park on August 18.
Poison join headliners Whitesnake, Aerosmith and the Quireboys as the confirmed acts to date. They’ll fill the third on the bill spot.
Lead singer Bret Michaels told Mayhem this week that the band would begin their world tour in the UK before embarking on a series of support dates around Europe, opening for either Whitesnake or Aerosmith. Michaels told Mayhem that Poison had no qualms about being reduced to support status In Europe.
“We won’t make any money, believe me, but we’ll make some good fans I think,” he said. “We have to build up a fan base. We’ve got a loyal following there but I think we have to go over and play and prove to a lot of people that we’re good.
“We’re gonna come back again by ourselves, probably in ‘91, and do a full headlining tour.”
Poison have been in Vancouver since the beginning of the year with producer Bruce Fairbairn recording a follow-up LP to their multi-platinum second album ‘Open Up And Say…Ahh!
Entitled ‘Flesh and Blood’, it’s penciled in for a May/June release, and includes the following songs: ‘Ball And Chain’, ‘Life Loves A Tragedy’, ‘Don’t Give Up An Inch’, ‘Valley Of Lost Souls’, ‘Let It Play’, ‘Poor Boy Blues’, ‘Swamp Juice’, ‘Unskinny Bop’, ‘‘Something To Believe In’, ‘Sacrifice (Flesh And Blood)’, ‘Ride The Wind’, ‘Come Hell Or High Water’ and a special effects interlude called ‘Strange Sounds By Uncle Jack’.
In further Poison news, guitarist CC DeVille recently flew home to Los Angeles after his former flatmate was shot dead in a Palm Springs bar.
“She worked at a bar down there and a guy came in drunk. The bouncers threw him out and she was just In the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Michaels, commenting on the incident.
Ironically, Poison bodyguard Kuno died of a seizure at Christmas 1988, also In Palm Springs.
His death inspired the new ballad ‘Something To Believe In’.
Says Michaels: Bobby Dall called me and said, ‘Bret, it’s a curse, we’ll never play there, we can’t even vacation there’.”
Preparation for the new album was thrown into further disarray when a bag containing Michaels’ lyric book was lost in transit to Vancouver in January.
“It was a mess, luckily it showed up after a couple of days,” he said. STEVE MASCORD 

Filed for: KERRANG!