Q&A: Poison’s Bret Michaels

by: Jeff Cavanaugh
November 8, 2011

BM 2Everyone always likes to say that there's no place like home, and even though it's been more than a quarter-century since Bret Michaels fronted the cover band Spectres in local bars, Mechanicsburg will always be "home" to the multi-platinum rocker.

Michaels' "Get Your Rock On 2011" tour makes its rescheduled stop at the Forum in Harrisburg on Thursday night at 8 p.m.

Bret took time earlier this week to check in from the road and talk about his excitement to play on his home turf, future recording plans, reality TV stardom and his health. 

Read Jeff's full interview with Michaels after the jump:

Everyone knows that Poison broke on the scene in the 80s in Los Angeles, but you were originally a Mechanicsburg band. It has to be nostalgic to play shows back home. Do you feel different about playing to a home crowd?

I'm beyond excited to be heading back to my home turf. It's always a beautiful thing to come home. Being from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania is where it all began for me, so there's definitely that nostalgia and I think it is a different feel with the audience as well. It's always a homecoming. Some of my most loyal fans and my best memories are in Pennsylvania. 

It always seems like your solo tours and Poison tours make their way through central Pennsylvania. Do you make a conscious effort to schedule a 'home' show on every tour?

For sure. We try to make it to as many cities as we can on each tour, but central PA is full of diehard fans, and I love coming back and playing for them, so we always come through. 

Your upcoming show at the Forum in Harrisburg is part of your ongoing solo tour. Do you prefer this kind of tour over a Poison tour? I'm sure there is a lot more creative freedom in crafting a set list on your solo tour as opposed to a Poison tour where the set list pretty much makes itself.

As a solo artist it's my own band, my own thing entirely. With Poison, we've been playing together for 25 years, we're like brothers. We have an amazing chemistry, and I honestly think that as the years go by, we just keep getting better and better. But my solo act is such a great way for me to express who I am as a musician and a performer beyond all of that. I have more of a chance to take risks as an artist and try out new things and evolve in my own way. 

What kind of show should your fans expect at the Forum? You've recently crossed over into the country music market with some success, any plans to make another country record? Any plans to release a new album with Poison?

This tour has such a personal vibe. It's really almost like "Story Tellers" in that I get to share the process of making the music and swap some stories with the fans. I get to talk a lot about what went into each song, where I was when I wrote each one, the personal details and the crazy stories. It's great to get to lay all that out there, so I have been loving "Get Your Rock On," and I think the fans have as well. It's an incredible vibe with a great energy in its own right.

As far as crossing over into country music, I've never wanted to be confined to any one kind of music. I grew up on real old country like Hank Williams Sr. – I've always, always loved country as a genre. I definitely grew into the hard rock that I'm most associated with and as an artist with a 25-year career, you have to branch out and do different things. I love all kinds of music and I'm fortunate enough to be an independent artist and to have the freedom to experiment with my music. I have no concrete plans to release another country record or another Poison record, but who knows what the future holds. 

You've experienced a bit of a pop culture rebirth in recent years through reality TV with Celebrity Apprentice and Rock of Love. How much Bret Michaels 'reality' comes through in a show like that? 

Aside from being in the show, I was actually the executive producer of  "Rock of Love" as well and we had three really fun seasons. I've said this before and I'll say it again, but the girls – they were the real stars of the show.

And following that up with Celebrity Apprentice was unbelievably awesome.  I had the best time- and I was excited to show the world that I'm driven and determined and a hard worker … It was coming off of Rock of Love, which was such a blast, but I wanted to let the world know there was more to me than just partying it up. I've worked very hard my whole life, I felt up to the challenge, and obviously I did something right. As far as my life, the impact was incredible. Anytime you achieve something like that it gives you the confidence to go after more. And the fact that I was working to support diabetes research and that my winnings were to cause that's so important to me- that was a huge motivator.

You had quite the health scare last year. How are you feeling? 

I'm feeling great these days. There are three things that keep me going no matter what: My family, my music and my fans. Those are the biggest blessings in my life, and without them I'd be nowhere; those are the things that inspire me to get up and get out there, and give it my all day after day after day. 2010 and the beginning of 2011, were without question, a rollercoaster period for me. But when you have an amazing family, and you still have a lot music left to make, and you have such incredible and supportive fans behind you, you're going to fight until the very last breath before you throw in that towel. 

Lastly, you've experienced some great successes in your music career. Anything left on your music 'bucket list'?

I'm only getting started.  I have a ton of great projects in the works. And it's definitely going to be another whirlwind year for me. "Get Your Rock On" will go right on through 2012. I'll be releasing a solo album early next year, and I recently partnered with Dean Guitars to create my own line of signature guitars. I always use Dean guitars on tour so I'm really excited to be working with them to create my own line. I have a new line of pet toys coming out with Pet Smart in 2012 and I also have another reality show in the works with Donald Trump. I’m also the face of the American Diabetes Association – there are always more projects. Tom Petty once said, "You never slow down, you never get old" – that line has served me well thus far, so I definitely don't plan on slowing down any time soon.

Tickets are still available online, and there is no better place to pregame for the show than at the SaraBozich.com Happy Hour that starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Company.

Categories: Harrisburg, Music

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