Bobby Dall, 2007

 

Written & Photos by: Jason Perlman

 

What's happening, brother?
Not much. Are you anticipating and expecting my call?

 

Of course I am!
Well, then here we are. So you are up there in Ohio?

 

I am up in Ohio.
Ohio is one of our largest markets, my friend.

 

Well, we love the Poison.
You guys do love the Poison and even at this stage in our career, we manage to play three or four Ohio dates every year. And back in the day, we used to run through your state 12 times per tour.

 

I actually remember being in ninth grade going to the Newport Music Hall to see you guys open for Quiet Riot.
[Laughing]. That is way back there. What a fucking show that was, and I don't have to tell you. I remember that show. Quiet Riot threw us off of that tour. Years later, Kevin Dubrow (singer for Quiet Riot) apologized to me and was humbled. And I have to tell you, I accepted. I love their band, I love Kevin and I love Frankie (Banali). I can't say enough good things about Rudy (Sarzo). I never knew Carlos (Cavazo) that much, but the other three guys are real sweethearts and I have always respected them. Kevin, of course we had our problems that one year, but he came up to me and said, "Bob, I was an asshole and what more can I say." So Kevin, you are forgiven. I was never really that upset anyway. My life went on.

I remember buying the tee shirt at the end of the show and it had the scraggly cat coming out of the garbage can with the red three-quarter's sleeve.
I just saw it myself the other day, believe it or not. My brother-in-law brought over a box of shirts for my son who is sixteen now, and he had all the original Poison shirts. Well, my ex-brother-in-law, let me phrase that correctly. But I actually just saw that shirt the other day, and although it wasn't our first, it was like the second or third tee shirt we ever had. It was a great design, absolutely.

 

So, as someone who has seen a lot of Poison shows over the last few decades, I need to ask how the hell you can even do it for this long? Poison do not shoe gaze on stage. It is a full-on show night in and night out.
I don't know and I just booked 59 shows over the next 10 weeks. But that is the thing with our band. We just finished this new record and we just finished making the new video and just came off the tour from last year and got a bit of a break. But it was the first week of January that we got started again. But you know, we are very hard-working guys. We come from a background that stressed and ethic of hard work, and you get that when you come out of Pennsylvania. And where most bands would want to slow down and only want to play about three nights a week, but to be honest, I have no interest of being on the road if I am not playing somewhere. I will be honest with you; I like playing five, six or even sometimes seven nights a week. But we try to throw at least one day a week in there so the crew can catch their breath. But we just brought on a new tour manager for this last week where we began our video shoot in New York for our single, and he spent 48 hours with us and said, "Oh my god!" [Laughing]

 

He probably thought it was going to be an easy gig.
But you better be able to run with the big dogs if you are going to hang with us. We run fast and furious. The word slow is not in Poison's dictionary.

 

I think that speaks to the new record where so many bands will continue to tour, but rely solely on the back catalogue. You guys still like to make new music and it shows on Poison'd. What was it like to make this record?
Making this record was great. But we love our back catalogue and it is a great asset that has a value and we own it. EMI has been great partner in that. But having said that, making this new record was fantastic. But you also have to wait for the opportunities. A lot of bands often time just don't have the opportunity. But last year we went in to the studio with Don Was to do that one song (We're An American Band) for the greatest hits CD The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock and it sold 500,000 copies and we had another gold record. So EMI's ears perk up and they want to take it to the next step. So the band isn't creatively functional enough at this moment, in my opinion, to make a full, new studio record. So EMI presented this opportunity to us and we said, "You know what, this could be fun." This will be great. I mean, out biggest challenge was just picking what songs to play. It was not about writing them. So it wasn't a very difficult process to go through. But we still worked our asses off and spent seven weeks on it from start to finish on producing those nine songs. Well, Don Was produced them and we were the band, but you get the idea. But we spend seven weeks doing them and it came out incredible. It's a great, eclectic great collection of songs that we grew up on. And we didn't want to pick the obvious choices. Most people who play Sweet will play Ball Room Blitz, and we really did not want to do that. We did Little Willy, which is a song most people don't have the balls to play. [Laughing].

 

Obviously whenever you add a new record and new music, it means a new set list has to be created. Some songs have to go and others have to come in. How does that work for this tour?
It is actually going to be the easiest year we have ever dealt with this issue. It is already figured out. We are just taking out the old covers and we are putting in new covers. Poison has always played Rock and Roll All Night and Poison has always played Your Mama Don't Dance, and then different years we would play We're An American Band. So those three are coming out of the set and you are getting three or four new ones this year. So we will have three or four new songs this year, period. And if there were ever complaints about our show, that would be it. It was, "Hey would you play something new or do something differently." But we can't help it that we have 10 Top 10 hits, I just can't. If I yank Talk Dirty to Me out of the set, you are going to yell at me. If I pull Every Rose Has It's Thorn, you think they are going to be okay? You can sit here and tell me you want us to play, Mama, Let Me Go To the Show, then fine, but we will have to lost Look What The Cat Dragged In. "Oh, you can't lose Look What the Cat Dragged In." Well, no shit! So it's a fine line that we walk and we try to change it up and give people something a little different, but I can't imagine seeing the Stones and not having them play Honky Tonk. I did have an experience with a band that I did go through this exact thing with. I won't say the band, but it was one of my favorite bands in the world. And he took the stage and said, "I hope you are not here to hear the hits, because I am not going to play them, I am playing my new record." Needless to say, after an hour and thirty minutes later, I have never gone to one of their concerts again. I want to hear the hits when I go to a show. That's what I want and I am sure almost everyone else in the world would agree. But I am not going to call out the name of the artist because I am still a huge fan and respect the music. But I am just not going to see them live again. I mean, jack off all you want, just don't cum in my face! [Laughing]

One of the things Poison has done so well was every summer come out on tour with some other 80s "hair metal" bands and puts on a rock show. But one year, you guys hit the summer circuit with Kiss and the thought was would Poison lose the momentum of that style of summer show. But here you are again bringing it back.
It wasn't a very hard decision for us to make to go out with Kiss, and not because once you get a tour like that you get a tour like that, it was not much decision to make because it was Kiss asking us. My band grew up on Kiss and we idolized Kiss. And if Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley ask Bobby, Brett (Michaels), Rikki (Rocket) and C.C. (DeVille) to come tour with them? We say yea! [Laughing]. It was really that simple. And there are not a lot of bands that I would do that for, and there are a lot of people asking me and I say no. I won't co-headline or share the stage with a bunch of artists that get presented to me. Kiss was a very easy and obvious choice. But it is a fine like we walk. My band has been so versatile, I feel, that we used to play with heavier bands and with lighter bands. The name of our band is Poison; we are not a heavy metal band. I mean, we have pop hits, we have ballads, we have great rock songs and we have great hard rock songs. And we may have a few songs that come on the verge of heavy metal, but we are not a heavy metal band. So we can play in just about any spectrum. And when we got the offer to go with Kiss, the only hesitation that was in our mind was how would their audience that wasn't already into Poison appreciate us. And that thought was eliminated in a nanosecond of the first night of the tour. It was a great tour and a great time. It was one of my fondest touring memories, actually. Just let them be the headliner, it made for a fun summer. It really was.

 

What Poison has always embraced were the similar bands of that era. This year, Def Leppard is touring with R.E.O. Speedwagon and Styx. That never would have happened in 1987. But 20 years later, they are hooking up. Where you seem to bring the bands that would have toured with you 20 years ago.
We purposely every year try to build our package for about what our fans want and what our band wants. There is a little bit of both. We have always felt that the most important function of Poison is to give the audience what they like. And if you grew up on Poison, you grew up on Ratt and you grew up on White Lion. And in different years, it was if you grew up on Poison, you grew up with Cinderella and you grew up on Great White. You follow what I am saying? I will use an example with Aerosmith. When I go see Aerosmith and they try the new stuff, I am like, "Yea, I like Lenny (Kravitz), but I am not sure if I want to see them together. But I love Lenny. But when I go see Aerosmith and Cheap Trick opens, then mother fucker I know I am at a rock concert. It's that same train of thought for us. People who like our genre like the other bands from that genre. Sometimes you can cross it like we did with Kiss, but you have to be careful. It is a fine line that you have to walk. And Kiss is one of the few bands that we can actually do that with because I think if you are a fan of Kiss, you will totally understand Poison. It is like, if you are a fan of AC/DC, you are probably going to totally understand Metallica. There are certain bands that can cross with other certain bands. Kiss was one of the rare opportunities for us where it totally worked. Otherwise I am always very cautious of that. Every now and then we will grab a new, up-and-coming band, and different years we put different new bands on there to give then a shot at that first slot, but otherwise we try to stay true to the fans. So, if you by a $30, $40 or $50 ticket, bring your girlfriend or wife and see some bands you really like, we think that is worth it to our fans.

 

The one comment that always seems to get made by the photographers and journalists at your shows is the number of teenagers who are there, buying and wearing the merch and are there without their parents!
The same thing can be said of most great bands throughout history. There is always that 5-10 percent of the market that continues to add to the band for generations to come. I mean the Rolling Stones were the largest band in the world back in the '60s and '70s. They haven't been as productive since then, but they are still the largest band in the world. I was not old enough when the Rolling Stones were at their peak to know who the Stones were, but later on in life, when I was a teenager, then I became one of those 5-10 percent. That is the great thing about Poison. Not is it only the 15-16 year-olds, but there is this college clique every year. They leave home, they go to college and they are like, "Ooh, the 80s thing. Poison was really one of the coolest."

 

Thank you VH-1!
You have to love VH-1.

Doing this for so long and playing the same venues year after year, you get a lot of the same crowd each and every year. Can the band ever fall into a mode of just the same ol', same ol'?
I don't think we ever fall into that. For me, I take the stage and I see 10,000-20,000 people and it is more of a sea and a mass versus seeing the same individuals. But every year, I do see faces that I remember and often times the faces I remember are the ones that go from show to show to show. We have some of that Grateful Dead-type vibe going on with some of our fans. They may hit 20 shows on the East Coast. So I do see familiar faces and I do know some people because I meet a lot of people after each show, but I don't think that breeds complacency if that is what you are asking me. For me, it about the power and energy and being a rock star. That is truly what being on that stage means to me. I am a fucking junkie and give me my junk. And that is all it is about, my friend. One hundred percent pure-charged adrenaline. I am just a junkie looking for junk and it is on that stage. My heart explodes; my adrenaline pumps and I feel no pain whatsoever. I feel no anxiety; I just feel the sheer power of being a rock star, period. That is why I am in it. I am in it because I am a junkie.

 

Unlike some bands of your era, Poison has never made any apologies whatsoever about who and what Poison is. A rock band doing what people assume rock stars ought to do. So did you know there would be a "second coming" of Poison, or was that just the icing on the cake of your career?
The only reason there was a second coming was because we stopped the band. And I don't mean that arrogantly, but we were successful through 1993. In 1994, Poison came apart and we decided to stop working. In 1999 we decided to go back to work, so the five years that Poison was gone, we chose to be gone. And to be honest I also get tired of people asking this question. Because the second coming was about the fact that we didn't tour for five years. As long as this band tours, we will be successful. We are a great touring band. That is what we do. All the products are just products. They are fun and they are great, but a poster is just a poster. A video is a video and a record is a record. The band is Bobby, Brett, Rikki and C.C. on that stage. That is what Poison is and year after year after year we deliver the goods. Those four people, put them in a room and you have fucking Poison. A room, a stage, wherever you want it to be that is what you will get with these four guys. But having said that, it is a blessing that we get the opportunity to continue to do this. And we don't apologize for anything because we have nothing to apologize for. I don't mean this rudely, but Kurt Cobain ought to apologize to his child for killing himself. I don't think Poison should apologize for being Poison. Does that make any sense? Because I say that will all due respect for Nirvana who I think was one of the greatest bands in the world. But that is the comparison you are asking me about and trying to make. So there is your answer.

 

True, but is just seems like a lot of 80s bands are trying so apologize for what they were, and I just don't understand that motive.
You're right, so we have nothing to apologize for. I think Poison is a great rock band and anyone who doesn't love Poison, I don't love them and they can go fuck themselves. [Laughing] This is my life, this is what I do and if you don't like me, I don't like you. There are no apologies and I won't accept any from anyone else, either. It's that simple.

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