Poison frontman Bret Michaels will be back in the Cleveland area tomorrow night for a show at Hard Rock Live. Both solo and with Poison, the veteran singer/songwriter has seen nearly every inch of the city and he’s got fond memories of the time he’s been able to spend here.”You know, Cleveland has always been such a great rock and roll town, I’ve done the clubs and the amphitheaters and it’s always a packed house with lots of energy and the fans are amazing. It’s always a party in Cleveland — never a bad time!”
Cleveland fans can expect Michaels to bring “1000 percent” to the stage on Friday evening and he promises a setlist with all of the expected Poison favorites, selections from his solo catalog and the TV shows he’s been associated with and even some of his favorite songs from other bands that he listened to in his formative years. We hit him with some questions via email and he was happy to share his thoughts.
Your latest album, Jammin’ With Friends, is quite a collection. How did the collaboration on “Nothin’ But A Good Time” with Michael Anthony, Lil Jon and Ace Frehley develop? That’s an interesting cast of characters.
I had a lot of fun with that album. There was not really a lot of rhyme or reason to that track — all those guys are my friends and that’s the song that worked best for all of them as individuals. I never really thought, “I’d like these three guys on this or that track.” It was more like, “Hey, I’m doing these songs...which [ones] would you be interested in playing on?” It was so much fun, On “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” we have Joe Perry, Hugh McDonald of Bon Jovi, and Loretta Lynn — that’s a cool combo too.
How many of the tracks on the album were ones where you actually had the opportunity to work in the same studio with the people you had as guests?
Almost all of them. Today’s technology makes it so easy. A lot of it was done on the bus, and the artist would stop by for the day, or we’d take the bus to them. Some [of them], we flew to their place and for some them, they flew to mine. I travel with a mobile recording rig and it made it real easy for this kind of thing to happen.
You revisit some of your biggest hits with Poison on that album — these are songs that in some cases, you wrote them while searching for your first hit single. You’ve traveled a lot of miles since then. It doesn’t really seem like anything was off limits as you deconstructed and reworked this material. Creatively, it sounds like you felt free to explore any direction.
I absolutely did. As the years go by and you’re influenced by sounds and songs that weren't around when I originally wrote and recorded that material, it can be a lot of fun to go back and interject that stuff. A lot of artists do that live and I thought it would be cool to revisit them on recordings as well. Also, the technology is so different now that the truth is you can do things you just couldn't do back then and that opens up infinite possibilities.
It had to be pretty cool to get a chance to do “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” with Loretta. How did that collaboration come about?
I’m a huge country music fan. Loretta’s music was always playing in the house when I was growing up, She’s an amazing woman, and she turned out to be a fan of what I do. A couple of years ago, we had Thanksgiving dinner at her house and we had an amazing time hanging out and playing music. It developed from that moment.
Obviously, you spent a lot of energy building Poison up into the monster that it became. What do you really enjoy about working solo vs. working with Poison?
The truth of the matter is I just love to play live. With Poison, you have come to expect exactly what you see — big pyro and this huge arena show, With the solo band, it’s a little more raw but just as big and it gives me the chance to explore more of my personal side and share certain elements that maybe don’t come across in Poison. But I love them both.
As a songwriter and artist, what sorts of things are you still working to get better at?
Songwriting is a never ending craft and you constantly try to better yourself whether it be melody or just lyrics in general. you just keep listening, getting inspired and writing, the process never stops building.
There’s been word that Poison could tour again in 2015. What’s the latest status there?
It looks like it will happen. It’s been a few years — we just want to put together the right package and show to celebrate with everyone.
What about another Poison album?
When the time’s right, I’m sure it will happen. We are all just in different places right now — But we are never done making music.
What else is on deck for you that you want folks to know about?
I’m always doing something and I’m always creating, We have new solo music on the way, my book and some new TV show ideas I can’t talk about yet. All I can say is keep your eyes out.