Given Poison's history of indulging every whim during their '80s heyday, it's probably no surprise that frontman Bret Michaels is trying to scratch his solo itch while still waving the Poison banner.
Michaels is gearing up for a summer tour with Poison, Skid Row and Vince Neil while also making preparations for a fall solo excursion.
Each song on of Michaels' new solo LP, Songs of Life, focuses on an event or sentiment from the singer/songwriter's life. "It's a very personal record, as with all the music I've always written," he explained. "For me, it's what I write music about. It's things I see, things I feel. ... I got into music to express myself."
Nearly every track has a decidedly Poison feel, with lyrics about rebellion ("Menace to Society") and love and lust ("Bittersweet"), plus aggressive guitar riffs ("Loaded Gun," "Strange Sensation"). And because every rocker has a soft side, there are also ballads, including the 9/11 remembrance song "One More Day" and the tribute to veterans, "War Machine," partly inspired by Michaels' father, who served in the Korean War.
The album, due May 20, has been a long time coming. Opener "Menace to Society" was written when Michaels was 17. "I was working, I'll never forget, at Bob's Big Boy. It was just a very angry time for me because I really wanted to show people I can make it in music. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — not many musicians make it out of there."
Songs of Life's first single concerns one of Michaels' greatest achievements since finding his way out of Harrisburg and onto the stage. "Raine" was written for his 2-year-old daughter, and it's the first song off the disc to be made into a video. Directed by Michaels, the "Raine" clip features 8 mm film from the singer's childhood.
"I got a lot of treatments from different producers and directors and it became a little impersonal to me," Michaels said, "because everything they wanted to do [involved filming] me in a big warehouse with throw rugs, because they said that's what would make me look modern. And I said, 'Well, I'm not concerned about looking any certain way. I wanted to tell a story.' ... I'm not going to fool anybody by trying to be what I'm not. I've been around too long for that, so I just did it myself."
Michaels will hit the road in October after finishing a summer Poison tour that kicks off May 23. Don't expect to hear any Songs of Life tracks at the Poison shows.
"A Poison [show] is meant to be a Poison show," Michaels insisted. "The fans come to a Poison show, [so] I don't want to force anything on them. I want them to come and enjoy Poison."
Poison, Skid Row and Vince Neil tour dates:
- 5/23 - Mankato, MN @ Midwest Wireless Civic Arena
- 5/25 - Tinley Park, IL @ Tweeter Center
- 5/28 - Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center
- 5/30 - Clarkston, MI @ DTE Energy Music
- 5/31 - Cuyahoga Falls, OH @ Blossom Music Center
- 6/1 - Columbus, OH @ Germain Amphitheatre
- 6/3 - Toronto, Ontario @ Molson Amphitheatre
- 6/4 - Darien Lake, NY @ Darien Lake PAC
- 6/6 - Milwaukee, WI @ Marcus Amphitheatre
- 6/7 - Maryland Heights, MO @ UMB Bank Pavillion
- 6/8 - Indianapolis, IN @ Verizon Wireless
- 6/10 - Burgettstown, PA @ Post Gazette Pavillion
- 6/11 - Hartford, CT @ Meadows Music Theatre
- 6/13 - Wantagh, NY @ Tommy Hilfiger/Jones Beach
- 6/14 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
- 6/15 - Mansfield, MA @ Tweeter Center
- 6/19 - Burlington, IA @ Steamboat Days
- 6/20 - West Fargo, ND @ Red River Valley Fair
- 6/21 - Sioux City, IA @ Sioux City Auditorium
- 6/22 - Bonner Springs, KS @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
- 6/24 - Casper, WY @ Casper Events Center Arena
- 6/26 - Boise, ID @ The Big Easy Concert House
- 6/27 - Idaho Falls, ID @ Sandy Downs
- 6/28 - Missoula, MT @ Western Montana Fair
- 7/3 - Universal City, CA @ Universal Amphitheatre
- 9/5 - York, PA @ York Fair
- 9/6 - Allegan, MI @ Allegan County Fair