POISON Singer BRET MICHAELS Releases New Single… But How Many Bandanas Does He Own - “Literally In The Thousands”
January 19, 2023, a week ago
By "Metal" Tim Henderson
It had to be asked. Of course the focus is a brand-spankin’ new hot single called “Back In The Day” (see video below) and he can’t wait to get back out on the road for the inaugural Parti-Gras shows. But he’s crazy bananas about bandanas! “I’m going to tell you, that's literally gotta be in the thousands,” he answers later in the interview. Bret Michaels knows how to play the game. Why? Cuz his game is on. ALWAYS on. That’s the real beauty, as he just loves his role in rock n’ roll! Even though his band haven’t released a new album in 15 years. But this is a new game. And the Poison singer is quite passionate reminiscing about the record-breaking Stadium Tour that also featured Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Joan Jett and Classless Act last summer. It truly was one of the greatest moments in rock concert history, grossing nearly $180 Million US, playing 36 shows across North America. The venues were sold-out and packed from the first act early in the day. The fans were hungry. The bands were hungry. And when Poison hit the stage, there’s “Nothin' But A Good Time” to be had as the parade of ‘80s classics pours out like sugar!
"Well, first of all, thank you, and I love you for saying that, but I gotta tell you, let's start with this last summer, with The Stadium Tour,” he gushes. “Again, we were really excited to do it, knowing that for two years with everything going on with the pandemic it pushed a lot of stuff back. But I was determined from day one, when I hit that stage in Atlanta, it was one of those things where I got in there and I just stayed at the stadium. I was like, 'I'm going to live on my bus, I'm going to stay here, I'm going to throw a baseball, I mean for football, and I'm going to enjoy every moment of it'. I'm not making this up, we got the sound check the night before, then the day of, and I was literally on my bus. When they opened up that stadium I might have been there earlier than the crew the next morning, I enjoyed every minute, It was, again I wasn't to make sure I go on record, I'm completely grateful to the fans and want to make a toast to not only all of our crews, meaning no pun intended, to Mötley's, to Leppards, to Joan's, and Zakk and Poison, our crews, but the local crew loading basically a city. It was a city of gear going in every single day, and I just want to take a moment to thank them for helping us keeping the rocking' world going round."
(Bret at Hershey Stadium - photo by Tammy Vega)
BraveWords: Bret, what do you learn and feed off of when you're actually sitting there watching your buds in Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard?
Michaels: "Oh, they were awesome. Do you mean me personally?
Michaels: "If you look at any of the pictures from the tour, the first thing I did was went up and said hello to everybody. I saw Vince, then I walked over and saw Joe and Phil, and all the guys, you know what I mean? I was playing baseball, I don't know if you ever watched that TikTok of me and Joan Jett throwing a baseball? It was amazing. And, we were honestly all having a great time, and I thank them all for the opportunity. There's a picture of Tommy and me standing up, he'd come up to watch our show, and I'd just stepped off the stage, and C.C. (DeVille) was whaling on the guitar and doing a great job. He was whaling and I checked my blood sugar, you know what I mean? So I thanked him for giving me a moment just to make sure my diabetes is in check. And Tommy and I are just sitting there and talking, and pointing out to the crowd. How amazing it is. I think that, when you love what you're doing, like for me the passion and being out there and playing your hits and getting the opportunity to do it, it's a great feeling honestly. And I think that's what made the stadium tour so rockin', but what I felt I got, myself and Poison went out there, we knew we were given one hour in the afternoon, from six to seven, and we just brought everything, all the weapons, hit 'em with hits, and we would change out the set. One night we'd do Something To Believe In, then we'd change it up, put this song in do that song, and I think that kept it exciting for us, and exciting for the fans. But where Parti-Gras was truly born was the fact that I was bringing so many people up on stage, having a great time, and that's what Live Nation saw with me, I created and produced this thing called Parti-Gras Mardi Gras. And I said, 'I want to bring that back to the amphitheatres'. I mean, it was born before that, but that's where it truly got a chance for the twelve Live Nation dates we're getting ready to do, you know, kicking off in Detroit. Once they saw the concept, and now there's like 40 or 50 dates, but only the twelve-date music festival with Live Nation in this particular lineup that's going on out. And I think that's what they saw, what myself and Poison brought, was this high-energy, positive, nothing but a good time vibe to the stage, and the fans really reacted to it, it was amazing."
BraveWords: Just one last question about this stadium tour, because you guys played relatively early. Someone from Team Bret sent me a photo of you, and you've been doing this a long time, obviously, and as a fan you've seen some big shows, but dude - every one of these venues - we're talking huge sold-out venues - everyone was there for the first band. It was one of the greatest tours in rock n' roll history, right?
Michaels: "One million percent. You summed it up best. For me, it was truly one of the greatest tours in rock n' roll history for this reason. The fans were there early, they were ready to party, and from the moment we all hit the stage, and I'm including Joan Jett and Classless Act. Classless Act was amazing sounding, and I was friends with them, I told them, 'you guys need to use my dressing room, take it'. I said, 'I pretty much live on my bus', you know what I mean? I said, 'if you guys need anything from us, let me know, you're welcome to ask'. And I'd go up and check on them almost daily. And here's the truth - I walked out there and there's 60,000 people already there. When we played Toronto - I can't make this up, I still get chills. I get a photo and the place, they took all their lighters and they lit that place - I said 'lighters' I went old-school - they took their phone lighters, and it looked like you were in outer space. It was so awesome. And the energy that came back. And, I'm talking, listen every band, every band brought their special, what I call their special magic to that stage. Joan Jett different from Poison, different from Mötley, different from Leppard. But all of us gave a thousand percent, and I think that's what made it incredible."
BraveWords: What do you think the biggest difference is between a Poison show and a Bret Michaels show?
Michaels: "Here's the thing. One thousand percent the energy is the same, the good thing is that it's the same. I get to play as a musician. You know, I get to go up there and I get to play the piano, I get to play the Congos, I get to play guitar a little more, but I think it's the same energy and the same feel. It just allows me to do a few different things, that with respect to the other guys. We would not necessarily do in Poison, you know what I'm getting at. It's one of those things. Poison has it's own unique energy and so does my solo band, but my solo band has, and again these guys are like my best buddies as well, and we go up there and have that same energy, but just get to add a few different songs or perform them slightly differently than we would with Poison."
BraveWords: Now, you've launched a new song. Just let me tell you a really quick story. I was reading Keith Richards' biography, and he was talking about the first Rolling Stones record which was pretty much just a bunch of blues covers, and then he turned to Mick Jagger and he said, "We need to write a song". And it was the biggest moment in his life. Writing a song. Can you remember back in the day when you did that?
Michaels: "No pun intended, 'back in the day' - I love that! I feel like it's a song title. But go ahead, I'm with you, back in the day Keith Richards told Mick we gotta write a song, and we're going back in the day too, and then we'll finish the question you had."
BraveWords: No really, that was the question - do you remember that first song that you wrote? Where it was like, "Oh my god! I wrote my first song!"?
Michaels: "Absolutely. I remember like it was literally yesterday. And I think, you gotta remember, for me, I'm going back to the early days of writing, going down in my basement and recording music, right? And when I say 'recording music', you're down in your basement and you literally turn on an old-school recording, right? And back then some of them were on micro or macro cassette. You know what I mean? Just to hear the song. But I remember it very well. And we had songs like ‘Steal Away The Night’, ‘Rock Like A Rocker’. I'm not making it up, I was so excited to tell people 'We're rockin'!', I'm going to wrote a song ‘Rock Like A Rocker’, and eventually things like that turned into ‘Nothin’ But A Good Time’, you know the guitar riffs. But I remember that being vividly, being in my basement, even before Poison, writing original songs. It's hard to even describe it, you know what I mean? And I've got some of those old, let's say cassettes or ADATs going back of some of the original stuff, and how exciting it was to have your own song, where it went from playing it on an acoustic and writing the lyrics, to actually recording it."
BraveWords: Do you think the album concept is dead? Because you must have a ton of material in the vault.
Michaels: "I've got, when I say vault, on the very phone I'm talking to you on, I still call it the vault. I literally, like if we're done with this interview and something hits me, I record it. Like, I'll take my mouth off and I'll be like, 'Ok, here's the guitar riff' (mimics a riff), and I'll like record it, with the beat. I lay the whole thing down. I cannot tell fans how much music is in my phone and how much music I would have to go back through, through everything that is just recorded in, like you said, in the vault."
BraveWords: But do you think the album concept is dead? Like even Poison has not released a new record in 15 years.
Michaels: "Lemme say this. I don't ever think the album concept is dead. I think the, for me, with new technology the ability to be able to release digital singles is I think more the way a lot of fans have gone. So what happens is, you're able now to take the process of writing something, recording it, and putting it out almost the next day. Like, you could say, 'Hey, here's a song I wrote, I recorded this, I put it out in pieces'. But if you look at mine, there's a solo career. I continuously like to take music and put it out. I wrote one with my daughter called Unbroken. We didn't know where it was going to go, and fans really related to it, we made a video to it. And I think with Poison the same thing. I think what's best for us to go in there and is instead of thinking about a whole album, so in there and write a couple good songs. Have a really great time and go put those out digitally, if we want to, make a video of it, you know which I think is a great idea, and I think the same thing with me as solo artist, I'm just so hands-on. And I want to make sure you understand, I've always stated, music is a universal language. It is meant to unite us and not divide us. And I think if that's what you want to do whether it's Poison or solo, go in there and write something that really says, 'That's it! That's a good guitar riff'. And that for me is what happened back in the day. That's how it came together. I'm like, 'I got this guitar riff and this melody in my head, and here's this reflective - it's sort of a reflection song that was exciting for me to write'. And to be very concise about it , it's one of those things where I said, 'I want this to be a feel-good road trip anthem song', and 'Back In The Day' was born. I said, 'I just want this song to reflect on how grateful I am for radio breakout music', the good times when me and all my friends would get in the car, we'd be with our girlfriends driving down to the beach, and just singing songs at the top of our lungs, literally. And that's what 'Back In The Day' is."
BraveWords: (Side note, we spoke the day after Jeff Beck’s death) Our rock n' roll legends are aging and some are falling. What's going through your head when you've got this brand new song, and meanwhile we're mourning the death of Jeff Beck or Eddie Van Halen, but you're still rockin'. Describe that feeling.
Michaels: "First of all, again I want to be very clear, that I am grateful for all the years, the fans, the celebration of music. With it, as a diabetic, who has been through some horrific medical setbacks in my own life, I am grateful to be on that stage. The minute I know that I can get back out there and continue to fight - that's what happened on the stadium tour and every Poison show and Bret Michaels show. I'm a thousand percent guy. When we say 'Let's get our game on', it is game on. If I'm able to hit that stage and perform, I'm giving a thousand percent. Leaving it, as Bob Seger said, leaving every drop of sweat out there. You know what I mean, leaving it on stage, right? And that's what I want to do, and with that comes life, which is understanding the loss of Eddie Van Halen, understanding the loss of Jeff Beck, who, you know, for me I listen to the collaboration between Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck, ‘People Get Ready’. For me, I'm a song guy . When you listen to that guitar, I'm getting a chill right now, I literally had a chill up and down my arm. When you listen to that guitar in that song ‘There's a Train Coming…’, I just want to say that that's part of accepting it. Because here's something I hope you will quote me right on this, that there is - I'm glad I'm a rocker that is going through the ageing process, because what is my option? You're either ageing and experiencing, or you're dead. There's no other way to put that. I'd love to put it nicer than that, but there's no other way. You’re either ageing, or the alternative isn't as good. So I've accepted the fact that I'm going through the, let's call it the 'experience process', life experience process, I am grateful for it. And again, also at the same time, it is bittersweet that the journey of life is also losing some incredible musicians along the way."
BraveWords: How is your health?
Michaels: "So, right now, today, at this moment, I feel great. I feel great, and I'm enjoying every minute of it right now. And occasionally, my one and only regret of the entire stadium tour, was getting sick just before the Nashville show. So, I finished up Charlotte, and I felt great, then I got sick, I was dehydrated. Severe dehydration was a big part of it. Being a diabetic, I was in the hospital with two IVs, listening to the stadium tour down the street, while I was sitting there with two IVs. I just had to tell the fans it was not physically possible for me to even perform. And you don't know how many friends and family I flew into Nashville. The people who came out to that show, I was truly bummed out, but I will go back to Nashville and give them a thousand percent probably just as the Bret Michaels band, as best as I can. Right now I feel great, and I got my ass handed to me there, I got sick as a dog, and as soon as I was able to come back and perform, I was right back in St. Louis."
BraveWords: And how many bandanas do you own?
Michaels: "Geez, I'm going to tell you, that's literally gotta be in the thousands. And, that's the whole concept, literally the whole concept of beads and bandanas of the Parti-Gras, just basically a celebration of bands, fans, and a music festival. I literally cannot explain to you how cool the Parti-Gras is going to be. We can get into that closer to it. It is, when I say this, it is the moment those doors open I've got a DJ spinning music, all the bands get to perform. All killer, no filler, that's the whole concept of Parti-Gras. All killer hits, no filler, and then at the end of the night they all haul back on stage with me, and we just perform with Night Ranger, Starship, you've got Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray, Steve Augeri from Journey, and we are doing nothing but hits, an entire set of it."
BraveWords: BraveWords covers numerous genres, and when I was growing up as a kid - and I lean a little bit heavier - but I was still collecting the Poison records at the same time as the Slayer albums. Were you aware of the Big Four? When the whole hair band phenomenon was exploding, were you also aware or fans of the other genres? Because they were all exploding at the same time.
Michaels: "Actually, let me say this - music - I want to go on record - music is a continuum. In other words, very aware of Slayer, very aware of Metallica, very aware of, for me, country music, rock music, hip-hop, pop. This is what we're supposed to do. Music is a universal language that is absolutely meant for different genres, different songs, for everybody. Think about what I'm saying for one minute. There is nothing out there in music that you can't find for the moment you're going through in your life. Music is one of the only things that provides that. If I'm in the mood to work out and I have to have my Metallica and AC/DC, right? I gotta have it. Me, I'm a fan of country music, I love country music, there's no rhyme or reason, I love my Americana, I love my southern rock. What I mean by that is, that's what back in the day is reflecting on, so you're listening to the Stones, or Tom Petty American Girl, you know, for me, and all of a sudden I'm turning around and I loved when people like Aerosmith and Run DMC could pull together a great version of Walk This Way. But I also appreciate that there were so many different styles of music, and you look at some of the stuff I've done and the people I've brought onstage, you know, Josey (Scott) from Saliva comes on and we do a song together. Then the next night I've got Frank Ray doing a country song. Do you know what I mean? I'm very aware of music. It's meant to be appreciated by everybody and it's meant to unite us, not divide us. And I think that we have learned in a new day and age that we can do much more of this. That music can be appreciated on so many different levels, and this sincerely is what I mean. That for me, I grew up with everything. Remember we had tables. This is going to make you laugh. At our school we had tables, and one table was more the progressive rock crowd, you know, you had Rush, then over here was Kiss, over here was Skynyrd, and I was able to eat at all the tables, how's that sound? So I could go eat at all the tables, enjoy all of it. I went to see Rush, front row, I spent every penny that I had to get that ticket. Hershey Park Arena, front row for Rush. Then, a couple of weeks later was The Outlaws and .38 Special, and I went to see that. I'm not making this up. Then James Taylor. Of course I was in the 1200s, I ran out of money, but I would literally go see James Taylor and I was like, 'this is awesome!'. And then I went and saw Kansas and Blue Öyster Cult."
BraveWords: Bret Michaels, you totally rock. And you are living the dream.
Michaels: "Hey, thank you for your time. Truly, thank you all for just, again, we don't get to do this without you, and I'm sorry about the loss of Jeff Beck, make sure the fans know that Wired was one of my - is one of my favourite albums. So, just thank you and have a great day."
13 - Clarkston, MI - Pine Knob Music Theatre
15 - Burgettstown, PA - The Pavilion at Star Lake
16 - Holmdel, NJ - PNC Bank Arts Center
21 - Mansfield, MA - Xfinity Center
22 - Gilford, NH - Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion
23 - Camden, NJ - Freedom Mortgage Pavilion
28 - Maryland Heights, MO - Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
29 - Tinley Park, IL - Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
30 - Noblesville, IN - Ruoff Music Center
4 - Tampa, FL - MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State Fairgrounds
5 - Alpharetta, GA - Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
6 - Charlotte, NC - PNC Music Pavilion
(Air Bret photo above by Kevin Mazur)