Bret Michaels

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

When Singer, Songwriter, musician Bret Michaels was growing up and then started his career in the 1980’s, cell phones and computers were just starting to exist, but there certainly were no iPads, tablets, or androids. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok were never heard of, or thought of yet for that matter. High tech was initially phones on a wall with a cord and then cordless, and color televisions with around seven channels that expanded into cable TV with around thirty channels which increased throughout the 80’s.

Making his mark in the music industry to become world renown, this extraordinarily talented musician started his career as the front man of rock band Poison with their debut album LOOK WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN released in 1986, which led them to sell over forty million records, reach multi–platinum status and accomplish twelve Top 10 hits.

Now, Michaels has displayed his amazing abilities again with his new single “Back In The Day” which fans can see on his YouTube channel January 18th at 1:00 pm EST, and then that evening he will have a Facebook Live chat with followers at 9:00 pm EST.

Catching up with Michaels, he revealed some details about the new single and video, his latest tour coming up, additional projects and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: You have a new song coming out next week “Back In The Day” with a video. What inspired that song?
Bret Michaels: “Back In The Day”, this is what it is for me. It is a, I’m calling it the right thing. It’s a modern-day throwback to basically just great songs, great radio. The songs that inspired not only my youth then, but now. It’s just kind of reflecting back on all the great times then and now. So, I’m paying it forward and I think that “Back In The Day”, what we attentively titled, it started out as a feel good, road trip, anthem song. That’s the way I also kind of envisioned it, not only as I was writing the lyrics, but as I was shooting the video for it, I said, I want to do something that kind of gives a great modern-day throwback to the early video days of MTV with the green screen, and then it tells the whole story behind it. It’s got never before seen images and pictures of my youth from, I’m talking garage, basement jamming with friends and then it’s got all kinds of pictures of me as a kid playing football, motor cross and movie images. I have some of the earliest images of me playing my guitar when I was like two and three years old, just strumming away on it in front of the Christmas tree. Then I match it with now. So, it has a lot of now and then throughout the whole video and that’s what the song reflects on too. It’s got pop up captions in the video, so you’ve got the pop up, early MTV feel with pop up captioning and never before seen images shot against a green screen, but I just want to tell people it’s me in the here and now. I’m not trying to throw myself back (he laughed). Everything of me is in the here and now, and then I take it back within the story I’m telling.

SFL Music: That’s very cool especially with our big birthdays coming up, right?
Michaels: Absolutely! Big birthday’s coming. I’m just gonna say this, we are just more experienced. I tell people look, just consider me like a muscle car, right? I’m throwing back to a muscle car. I’m just as fast, but just need a little more maintenance. That’s all (he laughed).

SFL Music: That’s perfect!
Michaels: I’m just as fast. Try to keep a good paint job, but just need a bit more maintenance.

SFL Music: You are really good about working out and taking care of yourself and that comes in handy with your touring pace, right?
Michaels: Absolutely! First of all, it starts out with knowing that I’ve been a diabetic since I’ve been six years old you know, I already got thrown that card. I always say, I’d rather be victorious than be a victim and that is truly how I feel. I want to remain unbroken as long as I can, and so that means putting in the extra time to work out, feel good. Not to mention, like I said, I’ve been through some really tough obstacles in my life. I’m not talking about just growing up, but tough obstacles in the sense of medically, or my health, and every time I get a chance to come back from those, I just come back, I’m grateful for as I always say it this way; I’m grateful for great medical, the grace of God and a lot of great family, friends and fans. It inspires because the fans and family and your friends they give you that you know, that extra bit of will and fight that you need. Then to come back from a brain hemorrhage and then heart surgery and a lot of other crazy stuff, and still be able to go out there and do that stadium tour and give a thousand percent. That’s what’s been happening on The Parti-Gras. I want to just say to you how important this parti-gras was to me. I’ve tried this on several levels and it’s worked. In other words, I experimented here. I had Mark McGrath come up onstage and half-way through the set we segued over to his songs. I’ve done it with Steve (Augeri) from Journey. I’ve done it with different people throughout my career. I just did a show with Pitbull and Flo Rida and it was amazing! So, what I did is, I took that and I said, this has got to start with me. This is the truth. I made a phone call to each of these artists myself. From Night Ranger to (Jefferson) Starship to Steve to Mark McGrath, and I just told them look, you guys are my friends. Before we get into management, before we get into the agencies and everything, I’m doing this thing called Parti-Gras, Marti-Gras. I created it, produced it and I took it to Live Nation. They really liked the idea. Their statement was “you brought the hits and you brought the party to the stadium tour, so let’s just take this into the amphitheaters.” And I said, here’s the quote. I said, it’s got to be all killer, no filler. So, I said to my friends on the phone that have joined me now on this first run of it, I said, we got to go out there as friends and that stage will be big for all of us. I said, let’s all sing together, we’ll let Starship open it, Night Ranger. Then they’ll roll back onto the stage when I come out to headline. Halfway through, I’m saying four songs into it, I’m gonna do the Poison hits and I’m literally going to throw the microphone to Steve from Journey. He starts, then he throws it to Mark McGrath. I mean, literally hit after hit after hit after hit. That’s what this is. The minute fans roll in, I have a crew of people that are going out just to hand out beads and bandanas and it’s like a Parti-Gras, Marti-Gras.

SFL Music: You’ve been doing a lot. Over the Holidays you did Homes for the Holidays partnering with Tunnel to Towers Foundation?
Michaels: Yeah. That was incredible and you know that I’ve always said this, I want to make very clear. So, we’ve got this new podcast coming out. It’s called Bret ‘the Boat’ Michaels which means Bret on any topic. It says except for religion and politics. I don’t talk politics or religion. I said, listen I can talk about a lot of stuff. I’m a solution, revolution guy, right? I’m like, let’s just come together as people and figure out a solution that makes prosperity for everybody as best we can. Most people know I’m a son of a veteran and I put no politics onstage, but I’m always up there honoring our hometown heroes. Our vets, our front-line workers, first responders, teachers, utility workers. I bring them onstage no matter what the concert is. Whether I’m doing a rock show. Co-headlining a country festival. I always bring them onstage and that’s part of what this tour will be about is also giving back to the hometown heroes in all of the cities.

SFL Music: What influenced you to become a professional musician?
Michaels: Here’s the simple way to put this. For me, music moved my life. It inspired me in so many ways and then I just naturally started playing guitar. I’d start playing piano. I’d be singing. I’d go down to the small guitar shops. I would stare for hours. Other kids would get dropped off at the mall. My dad would drop me off at Bill’s Music in Mechanicsburg and I would just stare at the rows of guitars, the drum kits, and so it was just inevitably going to be part of my life then and now. Here was the difference for a lot of people. I had this certain fight that is always inside me that realizes that you have to be able to bridge that gap, and what I mean by that is, I’m the kind of person that I just find a way to get it done. It isn’t always pretty, but when other people will be told you don’t have a chance in making it or told, look this song doesn’t sound good, I just never gave up and I just find a way to get it done, and I think having that passion and that will, that’s what truly pushed me forward.

SFL Music: You always had great advise like work hard, play hard. You always had that keen business sense, but what would you say is maybe the secret to your success and Poison’s success?
Michaels: Here’s the secret from me. I have a book. It’s my first one, there’s three volumes. The first one is simply called BRET MICHAELS AUTO-SCRAP-OGRAPHY. Just so you know, I made the book pictures that you could match to the stories. There’s nothing worse than a five-hundred-page autobiography, but there’s not one photo of the friends you’re talking about. I’m like no, no. I want every story to be short, to the point and show the people and time stamped photos that I lived, but the secret for me as I’ve said in the book, is that its bet on yourself. Find a way to have fun, but you got to get it done. Never, ever let go of being hands on. That’s my opinion. Again, I want to make sure I state in my opinion, you got to bet on yourself. Whose gonna believe in me if I don’t believe in me? You better realize, it’s not gonna be easy and when someone said no, it just made me come back fighting harder to prove them wrong.

SFL Music: Is that what you would recommend to an up-and-coming musician?
Michaels: Here would be my recommendation. Here’s the greatest thing. Find the music you want to play. Stick to what you like to write, right? Then there is a ton of new opportunities out there. Look at the, I’m saying the world of the internet. Let’s just say social media. It’s given a lot of people opportunities. Make a list of how many different ways to get the music you love, starting with the music you’re passionate about exposed, but still you’ve got to take it to the streets. You still got to go play live. You still got to wake up and have that excitement inside of ya to take what you’re passionate about and do something with it. And again, I go back to this, take care of your business. In other words, surround yourself with good business managers, good people and follow your gut. If you start to feel someone isn’t good in your life, you’ve got to let them go, and there’s a lot of them out there. There’s a lot of great people and there’s a lot of sleazeballs. I hate to say it like that, but that’s the truth. This is the best thing I can tell them too. For me, there was no magical moment. For me it was a lot of small victories that kept me going. In other words, everyone shows you in a movie these aha moments, but the truth of the matter, it’s a lot of small victories that lead up to a big win.

SFL Music: That’s good advice. That’s important, I think.
Michaels: Really important because you know what happens to people? They watch a movie on TV, go with me. Oh, my God! I was a janitor and the next thing you know; Clive Davis discovers me and there’s a hundred-million-dollar deal. It doesn’t work like that. I’m just telling you, that’s a movie. You go in there and you pick out the music you love and you find the next. It’s about steps. Its small victories leading to a big win.

SFL Music: You always had leadership and great business sense skills and I see you are still Implementing those?
Michaels: Oh, hell yeah (he laughed).

SFL Music: You have your diabetes foundation which has been very helpful and you are doing things with sports teams. You’re doing a Media Superbowl in February?
Michaels: Yes.

SFL Music: How did that come about?
Michaels: I am just so embraced in the world of sports. Like in other words, anyone that follows me knows, I sort of laugh, I go look, I’m like the ultimate rock and jock, right? I love sports. It’s influenced me as much as music has, so what I mean is, that sports side of me has kept me healthy, excited. I like to play sports. I like to watch sports and then all of the sudden, I go on all the talk stuff. I go on with Rich Eisen. I go on to Good Morning Football. I talk baseball and during the whole stadium tour I threw baseball or football at every single one of the stadiums which was incredible. Each day, I just lived in the moment and I would throw football. I’d throw baseball. I got pictures of me and Joan Jett. I tell fans if they ever need a good laugh or their having a down moment, go to my official Bret Michaels TikTok and watch me trying to fix my RV before going to the stadium show. Like literally, day of. Like I’m underneath there I go, man this thing. I literally was gonna drive it. I said, if I could take the family truckster under the stadium verses the tour bus that will be parked eight blocks away. You know what I mean? And they’re like, oh we’ll let you park under the stadium. I literally had to get underneath it and fix it. It’ll give people a good laugh. I’m not kidding you. I’m literally going to play a stadium show and I’m under there with a drill bit, trying to make a two by four after I cut it, support a part of the RV underneath where the storage unit is (he laughed). It’s just funny and I want people to enjoy it to see, that’s the other thing is, I’ve learned truly that being able to be self-deprecating and learn to laugh at myself. That laughter is the best medicine for me, and treating people with respect. That’s number one. Treat people with respect and I’ve done it from the beginning of my life and career until this very day.

SFL Music: That is very true and one thing I can think of when we talk about “Back In The Day”, that was important. We all were respectful and worked well together.
Michaels: You know what’s good too is? I always tell people, I want them to know I love having a great time. This is what I love to do and I’m grateful for it, but you got to pay your dues and put in your hard work and the further you go along, the more your gonna have to dig in and keep reinvigorating your career. As long as your passionate about it, it’s doable. I still love what I get to do, so if anything else, when a fan leaves a concert, as long as they know that I will never go through the motions.

SFL Music: You are also very funny and have a wonderful sense of humor.
Michaels: I like to think that if I leave something that I treated people good. I was self-deprecatingly funny (he laughed) and kind to people.

SFL Music: What inspired your song “Get Your Rock On”?
Michaels: So, “Get Your Rock On”, I wrote this song just as a badass, just as a great rock song. It was starting off our solo concerts with the Bret Michaels band and then I segued it into “Get Tour Ride On”. I re-wrote it for Supercross and it became this Supercross theme song. Then I rewrote it for Good Morning Football which is now called “Get Your Game On”. So, if you watch Good Morning Football on the NFL Network you see it, and now it’s gonna also be used at the Superbowl which is incredible, and then “Nothin’ But A Good Time”, this weekend for the (Los Angeles) Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars game.

SFL Music: Now is that something in your future Bret, that we’re going to see you doing sports broadcasting?
Michaels: I’m throwing it out there that In The Boat, go with me, Bret on any topic. I’m not going to lie. It leans a little into the rock and jock podcast. I’m just throwing it out there, but I’m good on topics like me and you talking like this, this is what I love to do all day and I want people to see that because they’re always looking for this magic moment and I say, the magic moment is you. The magic moment is betting on yourself and those little victories. You call somebody, they know somebody. It opens a door to here, but all I know, the only time its ever over is when you truly say, that’s it, I’m done or give up. Listen, there’s bumps and bruises and a lot of setbacks along the way, but I don’t know if I’m a weirdo, but I like the challenge (he laughed). I’m like, I kind of like this challenge. Bring it, you know what I mean? I got a little bit of a warrior spirit so, here we go.

SFL Music: You’re going to be on an episode of Impractical Jokers (season starts in February). How did that come about?
Michaels: So, they’re buddies of mine. I’ve done a couple little bit parts on it. I invited them to come to the stadium tour in Cincinnati. They came out on the stage with us. The place went crazy and they’re going to join me on this tour on Parti-Gras at PNC in New Jersey in Holmdel. While I’m filming it, one of my favorite actors ever is Paul Rudd, and all of the sudden he just comes in and he is the nicest guy. He had his family with him and he was just gonna come in and say hello and the next thing you know; we spent the entire day filming the Impractical Jokers with Paul Rudd. The Ant-Man, but I’m gonna tell you, we had a great time and there may have been a few adult beverages along the way. It is one of the best episodes they’ve ever shot they said. They go, “this is just crazy, naturally funny.” They are saving it as one of their big highlight shows, and then we’ve also got The Origins of Bret Michaels on A&E. It’s gonna be a kick off with a two hour, all the shows are an hour long, mine’s a two-hour special, and we’re still filming parts of it. I drove them all around Pittsburgh, Mechanicsburg, in the studio in L.A., Arizona. It’s a truly in-depth, deep dive piece that A&E is doing.

SFL Music: Was there anything else that you wanted to add for fans to look forward to?
Michaels: Yeah, I just want to say first and foremost to the fans again, I go back to this. Thank you for a continued incredible career and always and forever grateful. Thank you for the Stadium tour and the Parti-Gras is gonna be awesome!

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