Last month in California, Poison launched a new tour, Nothin’ But a Good Time 2018. The title is not only an apt reference to one of Poison’s most iconic tracks, but a promise about what fans will get from the experience. The legendary and high energy rock band is touring with special guests Cheap Trick and Pop Evil. Poison drummer Rikki Rockett called me this week for a quick chat about drumming, motorcycle vlogging, and a very important anniversary.
In music, who were a couple of your early inspirations?
If I start from the very beginning, of course, it was my sister’s Beatles records, my mom’s Elvis records, and my dad’s Santana records. That was influential to me to make it that I wanted to keep exploring music more. I would say those three things were critical.
Do you play other instruments?
I can play guitar well enough to get by, to write a song, and get an idea across, but I certainly wouldn’t be able join a band doing that. (laughs) I guess I could play bass enough to get by.
When did you realize you wanted to be a drummer?
When I tried trumpet and I went, “No, this isn’t working.” Every time I’d go to see a live band of any kind, it was always the drummer I focused on. I was always just blown away with that instrument. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Was there a particular aspect that drew you in?
It was so loud! This instrument was producing all this volume. I felt like the guys were casually hitting the drums. You know what I mean? Today, people are trying to beat the shit out of their drums. In those days, seeing those old guys doing standards … the sounds they were producing from cylinders! I don’t know what was going through my little 10-year-old head back then, but it was something like that. It’s physical and I’ve always been a little more physical.
Since we’re talking about physicality, do you have a workout routine?
I’m a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu so that fight game is such a chess match. I do think drums are 50 percent mental and 50 percent is physical. I tend to choose things in life that are sort of like that.
Do you have a favorite tour stop?
I don’t have a particularly favorite stop like in terms of the audience. I really love our fans everywhere. There are certain places I like to go, like one of my favorite camera shops in Chicago for example. Things like that become a favorite. The fans aren’t better somewhere than in the other places.
I read you bought your first Harley in the late 1980s. Do you still have that bike?
No, I do not have that bike anymore. It got stolen, believe it or not. I have seven motorcycles right now, everything ranging from my British bikes up to an Indian that I have out on the road with me right now. Motorcycling is a big part of my life. I have a vlog called “Rockett Vlog” that is pretty much motorcycle-centric. Most of the things that I do in the vlog have to do with either traveling on the motorcycle or installing something on a motorcycle. Not always, sometimes I go astray in my studio or something like that. I’m a YouTuber.
I just did one [vlog] in Texarkana. It’s where there was a series of murders in 1946 that spawned urban legends. I dedicated that vlog to that and I went visiting the spot where it first happened. If people like true crime, that one is pretty fun. Motorcycles and true crime? Then they’re really going to love that one.
It’s been 30 years since the release of Open Up and Say… Ahh!. How do you feel about making the album and reaching this milestone?
I think that album is pivotal because they say that it takes your whole life to write your first record and two months to write your second. That’s why people flop on their second record. Everybody was looking for that sophomore flop out of us at that time. They were like, “Oh, Poison’s done well but they won’t be able to repeat that again.”
That album was even bigger than the first record. It was monumental in that respect. That was our first real record, not like …Cat Dragged In wasn’t a real record, but it was so rushed that it was almost like a glorified demo. There’s a certain magic to it because of that. It was raw and needed to happen now. I feel like the second one was where we really got to examine the songs and take our time instead of what we had to settle for.
What would you like to see in the future for Poison?
I hope we continue to play. I’d love for us to do some more material. I don’t have an announcement about that right now, but I’d love for that to happen. I’m just happy to go and continue to do this for a living.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’d love to spread love to our fans everywhere. I know people sort of say that off the cuff, but at this point of 32 years, we haven’t put anything out really in a while. It’s clearly the fans that are the reason we’re still here. And it always is. Any band that doesn’t embrace their fans all the way are really missing the point.