Making Music on His Own Terms
America was first introduced to the sunny, blond-haired, blue-eyed rock icon Bret Michaels when he hit the music scene in 1986 as front man of Poison, a legendary rock band that went on to sell more than 25 million albums worldwide and score 15 Top 40 hits, including “Nothin’ but a Good Time” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” Since the early days, Michaels has kept busy with both Poison and a solo career, while also working with other industry heavy-hitters, from Stevie Nicks to Kenny Chesney. The multifaceted Michaels has also prospered in producing, directing, writing, acting and scoring for film, having had a production company with actor Charlie Sheen. He’s even served as a celebrity judge for the country music singing program Nashville Star. Recently, Michaels has been thrust into the blinding spotlight with his wildly successful reality relationship series, VH1’s Rock of Love With Bret Michaels, a number one–rated show on cable, which had the rock ‘n’ roll bachelor on a mission to find a mate who fit his lifestyle.
On June 3, Michaels is set to release a new solo album, Rock My World, a straightup rock record flavored with Americana and a bit of contemporary country. In support of it, Michaels is hitting the road hard, playing back-to-back sold-out shows. Michaels is bringing his electrifying concert to the gorgeous new Hard Rock Live at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi on Saturday May 24, where he promises fans nothing but a good time! (Michaels is also performing at the Texas Club in Baton Rouge on Thursday, May 22, and at the Riverdome at the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City on Friday, May 23.) In addition to more solo touring throughout the year, Bret will be joining his Poison band mates for a steamer of a summer tour. He’ll also pen his autobiography, Between a Rose and a Thorn due out next year, and he’ll be hard at work on another exciting reality show for VH1 called Bret Michaels’ Big Rock Road Show. We were stoked to get the lowdown on the high life with Michaels, and to learn firsthand that the future is so bright for this megatalented artist that he better have a serious pair of shades on hand—or perhaps a welding helmet!
Hey, Bret! It’s so sweet of you to grant me this interview, thank you so very much! You have got to be the busiest man on the planet today!
I think I just might be, Christine! And it’s been awesome! I’m constantly doing multiple things at once; I just got off the bus to play a sold-out show tonight in Green Bay, and Big John and I are doing a workout as we’re speaking!
It’s so cool that your new solo record, Rock My World, will be released June 3. You’ve continued to be successful ever since the success of Poison back in the ’80s.
My whole purpose of getting into anything was to make music. When I was a kid, I dreamed about making music. I’ve never stopped writing new material, whether it was with Poison while we built our career from the ground up or when I continued to work by making movies, writing scripts or doing my solo music. I know every song I write isn’t going to be a megahit, but I still continue to write. And on the new record, I was able to collect a few songs from my solo albums Songs of Life and Freedom of Sound to put on it, plus there’s a bunch of brand-new material as well. I’ve been playing stuff from the new album at shows and the crowds are responding well, so I’m thrilled!
How thrilled are you about playing at the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi on Saturday, May 24?
Let me just say that the Biloxi show at the Hard Rock is going to be an unbelievable celebration of life! We’ve got some special stuff planned; I’m hoping to bring my Hollywood Taxi Harley down and put it in the lobby because I want to do something cool for the fans so they can get pictures with it and stuff. And I’ll be playing all the Poison hits, my solo music and cover stuff mixed in. It’s kind of like an electrified, energetic Storytellers show. I make everyone feel like they could be sitting in my living room with me and the acoustic guitar, but then I give them the full-on production so they still get that excitement and energy. In between songs, I’ll talk about what was going on in my head when I wrote a particular song, and I’ll dedicate “Something to Believe In” to our men and women in the troops to thank them for the freedom we get in this country.
That’s cool that it’s a high-energy show with an intimate approach, because everyone wants to be intimate with you these days, Bret, thanks to Rock of Love!
Yes! That’s how things seem to be turning out! [Laughs]
We’ve seen so many trends and fads come and go, but you’ve always stuck around and remained Bret Michaels and continued to make your music on your terms. You never did change your tune to go with whatever way the wind blew.
And if you write that in this article, I will hug and kiss you!
Woo-hoo, Bret! See you soon in Biloxi! [Laughs] I love that! And that’s what I’ve been trying to get across. I think it was Us Weekly that did this big, funny “Everyone Wants to Be Bret Michaels” thing, and it was Fergie and Ashton Kutcher and all these people wearing bandannas or whatever! And I laughed for a minute and thought, trust me, there have been years when no one wanted to be me, then they wanted to be me; they didn’t like me, then they loved me. There is no secret to success; it’s just staying in the game and taking a beating, believe me. Don’t think it gets any easier! It just gets bigger and crazier!
Speaking of big and crazy, VH1’s reality series Rock of Love With Bret Michaels and Rock of Love Season 2 were tremendous! The shows were a smash because you’re a really nice guy with a self-deprecating sense of humor. If you were an arrogant rock star jerk, it would’ve been unbearable to watch. You’re like a likable bad boy!
It’s really nice to hear that! Believe me, I don’t get that enough. I never try to be anything different than what I am. I’ve found that women are attracted to you if you’re strong in who you are and you’re kind. I’m confident in what I do, and I like who I am, but I’ve never thought I was better than my fans, and I mean that. I’m hoping my humble Pennsylvania upbringing is what shined through, because when realness and likableness comes through, it takes people to another level. I like where I’m at in my life right now, and I wanted to shoot the show in the here and now and do what I do, which is play my music, ride motorcycles and work on my bikes and cars. I didn’t want to be a novelty kickback to 1986.
And I’ve got to give credit to all the girls from both seasons, who were all fantastic and made the show successful because they were willing to be on a crazy dating show and go through some brutal challenges, like motocross and mud football. Every single one of them from the first season wrote me to thank me, saying they would’ve never done some things that they thought turned out to be really cool. I think if you treat people as an equal and you go out and do things and learn about people, it works. Plus they let me watch them put lingerie on, and that worked! [Laughs] It was a win-win situation!
You’ve had diehard fans for years now, but what Rock of Love did was open you up to newer generations of fans. Even my dad knows who you are, and he wanted me to tell you that he’s okay with your passing your rejected girlfriends on to him, although my mom is unaware of his request!
Your dad rocks! You have got to call him a “miscellaneous person” in the article, though—don’t throw your dad under the bus! [Laughs] But honestly, thank you, because what’s been great at the solo shows is there are 18-year-olds, 45-year-olds, bikers and all types at the venues, and they can all relate to the music. Brady Quinn with the Cleveland Browns is a huge fan! I just play the music and let the party roll.
So you’re actually dating Ambre, the girl you picked from Rock of Love Season 2?
Absolutely! What I love about her is that I’m physically attracted to her and she’s smart, funny, witty and very independent. It’s not like she’s living in this fantasy world where everything’s roses and we’re married and living in the castle with dragons and a moat! Right now we have a great relationship; we speak to each other all the time and we see each other as often as we can. I have two young daughters that keep me busy, and we both have our own lives. I like that Ambre is a strong human being.
Many thought you’d choose Daisy. People lost bets over that! [Laughs]
In Daisy’s defense, I connected with her immediately, physically. Daisy’s very witty and got it together, but I was confused by her still living with her old boyfriend, and in the same bed with him. I thought that was a bit much! If I said, “Listen, I’m still sleeping in the same bed with my old girlfriend, but we don’t like each other!” you’d have to question it a little! I could understand if she was sleeping on the couch, maybe! The one thing I’m not is judgmental; I’m the last person to cast the first stone!
But since Rock of Love is the highest-rated series in the history of VH1 ever, poor Ambre doesn’t stand a chance of staying with you! They’ll make you do another show!
They definitely want to do something new, and this is going to be good: We’re shooting a show for VH1 right now called Bret Michaels’ Big Rock Road Show. It’s exciting, different and funny and will take everything we’ve done to whole new heights! We’re going to take this Americana trip through my real everyday life; the highs, the lows, the truck stops at 4 a.m. after I finished playing a sold-out arena, where there aren’t four people that know who I am! I let people see the good, the bad, the ugly and the humorous sides of my life.
Well, everyone’s waiting for more from you! And I understand that next year, you’re putting out an autobiography, Between a Rose and a Thorn.
Yes! I went to Simon & Schuster’s New York offices and their entire crew was in the room, and they asked, “What was it like when you were first born?” and truthfully, the first thing that saw the light of day was my butt checks because I came out as a breech baby! Then, at 6 years old I was diagnosed with diabetes, so I said to them life could only get better for me down the line! [Laughs]
Being a New Orleans girl, I have a strong feeling you’ve had yourself a really, really, really, really, really good time in my town before, Mr. Michaels!
Let me just say this … I have many stories about New Orleans, some which are quite blurry! I’ve had great times walking in and jamming with bands at joints in New Orleans. I’ve been to the Dungeon; I’ve hit it all at some point—you name it. I’ve even brought my kids down for a family outing. I’ve come down by myself, too. I have spent so many good times in New Orleans, and let me say, I’ve had times I know were good but I just don’t remember! [Laughs] Yes, New Orleans has brought many, many good times in my life!
With your busy schedule for the Biloxi Hard Rock show, you probably won’t have time to swing by New Orleans for a visit, will you?
Let me say this: Don’t ever count me out of New Orleans. I love New Orleans so very, very much. I can always make time for New Orleans!