Interview and Photos : Robert Cavuoto
With over 40 million albums sold worldwide Poison with Bret Michaels (vocals), CC Deville (guitar), Bobby Dall (bass), and Rikki Rockett (drums) continue to be one of the most important American rock bands of our time. Over the course of their multi-platinum career, the band has released some ground-breaking albums like Look What the Cat Dragged In and Open Up And Say… Ahh! They have charted 12 singles to the Top 40 of the Billboard “Hot 100,” including six Top 10 singles “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” “Talk Dirty To Me,” “Unskinny Bop,” and “Something To Believe In,” as well as the #1 smash hit, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” With some good time, Rock & Roll and an outrageous glam look Poison ignited their musical career.
Poison is now finishing up their headlining Nothin’ But A Good Time Tour with Cheap Trick and Pop Evil. A summer tour that would take them across the U.S. for approximately 30 back-to-back shows! I attended their PNC Art Center show in New Jersey and don’t think I have ever seen a band happier and more grateful to be on stage performing for their fans than Poison!
I caught up with bassist Bobby Dall prior to that show New Jersey to give us a tour update, what lies ahead for the band musically, and to take a retrospective look back at the band’s outrageous look.
Robert Cavuoto: What has it been like touring with Cheap Trick again? I believe they were a major influence in the early days of Poison.
Bobby Dall: Absolutely, Cheap Trick was one of the first concerts that I ever saw when was about 15 or 16 years old. Rick Nielson and Robin Zander were larger than life and blew my mind; they are a great band and still are to this day. We originally met them on a Ratt, Cheap Trick, and Poison tour. It was when “Talk Dirty to Me” broke. Cheap Trick was with us for about the first two or three weeks of the tour, and they went off to do their own thing, and we stayed with Ratt the rest of the tour. We became friends during that period and remained friends. This is the fourth time we have been out touring with them.
Robert Cavuoto: How has the tour been going so far?
Bobby Dall: Everything has been fantastic; we haven’t had a bad show.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you feel there is more excitement and demand for Poison from promoters and fans, as Poison is not guaranteed to tour every year?
Bobby Dall: I don’t know if that is the reason, but it seems that every year the venues get bigger and bigger. It could be the longevity of the band or having all the original members or the depth of the catalog. It’s hard to pinpoint. You can definitely get to the point where you overplay the markets, and things can be a little softer.
Robert Cavuoto: With the advent of social media and the fact that something you say right now, could be a headline in ten minutes affecting the friendship or relationship of the band; was that something that is hard for the band to adjust to?
Bobby Dall: With today’s media of a 24-hour cycle on the internet, you really have to be more cautious about how you word things and what you say. It’s not always what you say, but things being taken out of context. They will take one line of something you said and turn it into something negative when theoretically what you were saying was positive. I really don’t think too much about, and I’m glad we broke before the internet [laughing]. I’m glad it wasn’t around back in the beginning.
Robert Cavuoto: I imagine the same goes for cell phones with video cameras. [Laughing]
Bobby Dall: Yes! There would be more embarrassing moments of my life out there for the world to discover! [Laughing]
Robert Cavuoto: I’ve read in the press about members of Poison wanting to do an album, but there is still a level of uncertainty if it will happen. The 80s were very positive uplifting times, and Poison’s music reflected it. If you wrote new music in the current times, how do you think it would sound?
Bobby Dall: To be quite honest with you, I don’t think that we would change! We never changed any of the musical styles, like when grunge came out in the early 90’s, we never chased trends. For us it has always been about entertainment, it doesn’t mean that some of the songs don’t have depth, because we have some song s like “Something to Believe In” which goes a little deeper. For the most part, it has always been about writing great rock/pop songs. So I really don’t think we would change at all and remain true to our roots.
Robert Cavuoto: Back in 1988 when the band wrote, “Every Rose has its Thorn” did you have any inclination that it would be a hit or have the longevity it does?
Bobby Dall: I think we all felt it would be a Top 10 song. Did anyone of us know particularly that it would go to number #1; the answer would be no. We had #2 and #3 songs, but that is something you can’t predict. It did happen, and there was a lot of competition back then. Kudos to the band and the song! Were we pleased to have it be at #1 for two weeks? There is this longevity with many of our hits; you can still turn on the radio and hear them being played. Every one of our hits was a monumental moment.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you ever miss the days around the time of your first album, when Poison crossed over to pop radio with “Talk Dirty to Me” then the band really blew up with the album Open Up And Say… Ahh!?
Bobby Dall: I don’t know if “miss” is the appropriate word because we achieved a lot in our career and every time we put a tour together whether opening for Def Leppard or headlining with Cheap Trick & Pop Evil it’s a fantastic experience. The bands are great, and the venues continue to get bigger and better! Those were the best of times is one way to look at it. When you turn on MTV and see your first video being played or turn on the radio and hear your song being played for the first time or you get your first gold album; all of those “firsts” are the greatest memories.
Robert Cavuoto: When you look back on the videos with the big hair and spandex, what do you think of it now?
Bobby Dall: Sometimes it’s a great feeling, and sometimes it’s a laugh at yourself moment. [laughing].
Robert Cavuoto: Do you think Poison would ever consider revisiting the Hollywood glam look you made so famous?
Bobby Dall: We are not in our 20’s anymore, and we would probably look like old drag queens. [Laughing] Nothing against that, I just don’t think it would be a good look for us. That look was really a marking decision. Back in the days of trying to break as a band and stick your head above the crowd, you had this 12 x 12 platform, which was the vinyl album. It really was about how we could make ourselves stand out. You couldn’t have walked by the album cover and not picked it up or ask yourself if these were girls or guys. If you can’t get someone to pick it up, you can’t get someone to buy it.
Robert Cavuoto: How do you still embody the spirit of a Rock &Roller some 30 years later on stage?
Bobby Dall: We still give it our all. The difference is that our bodies may hurt more at the end of the night. [Laughing] That’s the only thing that comes with age is a little more pain. We still go out there give the fans the best show possible.
Robert Cavuoto: How about the physicality of touring, does it ever get old?
Bobby Dall: No, I love touring. There comes a time in a tour when you know the end is near and winding down but you still must find that momentum and deliver at every show.
Robert Cavuoto: Was there ever a moment when your faith in playing bass as a career choice was shaken?
Bobby Dall: I can’t say that I ever have. I have no regrets, and this band has been blessed with so much success I never could experience what I have in Poison. There are times when I was playing that I missed in my youth like not finishing school or not going to college. Never when I’m playing.
Robert Cavuoto: What song do you look forward to playing night after night and never gets old?
Bobby Dall: I love playing all the songs but “Ride the Wind” is my favorite to perform.