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A Conversation With Rikki Rockett
by Samuel Barker
May 17, 2002

Rikki Rockett
Rikki Rockett

Samuel Barker: To begin, how are preparations for the tour coming along? I know last year you played a huge festival type show here in Houston with eight bands or so, are you looking forward to hitting the road with a smaller line-up of four bands this year?

Rikki Rockett: (Coughs) Well (coughs)Öexcuse me, my doctor said Iím not smoking enough.

Both: (laughter)

Rikki: We just did a couple of those like that last year. It was four acts the entire tour; we just did a couple of different festivals where there were six to nine bands. That just happened to be where you guys were.

Samuel: So we were fortunate enough to have the huge show fall in our town.

Rikki: Yeah, you know what, it was really cool. I liked seeing Vince Neil and hearing all the old Motley songs. Great White played it too, it was bitchiní.

Samuel: You mentioned Vince Neil and Great White who are both older bands, is it ever disheartening to see there are not any new bands playing this style of music?

Rikki: You know what, itís interesting. You have guys like Dave from Drowning Pool who cited us as an influence in Rolling Stone magazine. These guys are doing what has become a culmination of their influences. For someone to do the same style of music we were doing, they would have had to be influenced by the same people we were. Just because we influence someone, doesnít mean theyíll sound like us. For instance, Lynard Skynard was a big influence of mine, so was the New York Dolls, but you donít look at us and be like ĎThey look a lot like Lynard Skynardí you know? Let me tell you something, songs like ďPoor Boy Blues,Ē and songs like that, would have never been written if we didnít have that influence. You know, as I walked around East Village last night, in New York, there was such a return to 70s and 80s rock, that itís only a matter of time before it floods everywhere. A band like The Strokes are a big example of that. There is a whole new wave of stuff coming around, so itís going to be interesting to see what comes around over the next couple of years. You know what? Weíre an island into ourselves. I donít care if somebody is like us, no more so that someone like Aerosmith does, weíve outgrown trends. Thatís not what weíre about.

Samuel: Well, I know bands that were out with you guys last year, like Quiet Riot, who had just played here a few months earlier, headlining at small clubs, like the one we have here called Cardiís, you know, like 600 people.

Rikki: We actually played there a few years ago.

Samuel: Really? Well, now youíre still packing in big amphitheatres and places like that.

Rikki: If Iím not wrong, that place has been around for a long time.

Samuel: It has.

Rikki: We did that on the early part of Look What the Cat Dragged In, before we ever toured with Ratt and we were on an independent. That is where we played. It was where I was with my first Texas girl and I remember it very fondly, thank you very much.

Both: (laughter)

Samuel: Thatís amazing that after all these years you can remember the smaller places. Which reminds me, do you believe in sleep? Do you ever take a rest from your many activities?

Rikki: You know what, I did used to believe in that. I didnít get much sleep last night. My life on the road is like a double life. Believe it or not, I get so much of hustle and bustle on the road, I go out and watch the other bands, on days off I go see local bands play wherever weíre at, I socialize a lot, but when I come home, I live on a five-acre ranch and I stay pretty much to myself. I have a studio out there, I record music, I paint, and I do a lot of airbrushing and pin striping. I do my websites and stuff. I donít really go out much when Iím at home, because I do so much while Iím out on the road. I try to be up as much as I can. It will probably age me in the long run, but I like to take life in. I like to do stuff. I was out in the East Village last night until three in the morning seeing bands and hanging around. I want to see whatís happening and the best time to do it is when Iím on tour.

Samuel: Well, I saw on the website where you are do the animalcruelty.com site and you do pin striping, airbrush. I saw you were diversified into so many different projects, where most musicians you talk to spend their days piddling away their songs rather than expanding. What got your into doing other arts beyond music?

Rikki: You know what, youíre not always playing music, no matter who you are. So if youíre not playing music, youíre at a mall, youíre watching TV, youíre pin striping or youíre knitting. I just choose to spend my spare time creating things. Iím a creative person, I like to create stuff, I like to be around creative people. No matter what it is, if someone has a focus that drives them, Iím very impressed by that; I think itís neat. I get influenced by stuff. Iím not just influenced by music. I met a girl last night who was a clothing designer. I went ĎHey this would be something cool to try one day, I have some pretty cool ideas.í At this point, this girl blows anything I can come up with away, but at some point, I may try that. Why not try stuff? Being one-dimensional is pretty much cutting yourself off. There are people out there who I think are really good at stuff and really creative, who never give themselves a chance to be expand on that. It doesnít take away from my music. I still live and breathe Poison and rock ní roll. I have since I was 12 years old. Iím certainly not taking away from it, Iíd just rather spend my time trying new things rather than going out to a bar every night.

Samuel: I see you do the advice column on Metal Sludge, what led to you doing that?

Rikki: That was really fun. Sludge was trying to come up with something after the tour diary ended. They said they really enjoyed having my stuff on there and didnít want to lose contact and they came up with an idea. They had this thing called ďDear Mom Nugent,Ē I said ĎYeah, sure, an advice column.í I had done a Dr. Judy show years ago and it may be good to do. Just for the hell of it, we did it. It turned out to be a lot of fun. If somebody asked me a question and didnít know the answer, I went to find out as much as could. I happen to have a couple of friends who are psychiatrists, believe it or not, and I went to them and asked them what theyíd recommend. Then I learned something and I was like ĎWow! This is pretty cool.í Then when we went on air with it on KNAC, where you had a co-host and a guest and people calling in, it was like you had this whole internet community trying to solve someoneís problem. That was one way to use the internet, a whole new way. Itís not like theyíre calling a professional, theyíre calling a guy who may be in their favorite band or something and anonymously calling in and asking ĎWhat would you guys in the rock community do about this? I donít feel right about going to a straight-laced psychiatrist, how would you guys handle it?í And so it was pretty cool. It wasnít like I have this great knowledge and ability to solve peopleís problems, I donít, but sometimes just talking to someone can help, so I was a friendly person in a tough community.

Samuel: I was amazed at the column since most things on Metal Sludge are poking fun at people or being pretty insensitive. I liked the fact that you came up with educated answers rather than slapstick answers. I was impressed that you took the time and effort to validly answer the questions.

Rikki: You know what? If someone wants to go to that site and read something slapstick, itís there, but you know what, there is a lot of insightful stuff on there. There is a little bit of truth in any humor, anyway. So, I just look at it this way, if I get a forum to help people, even if itís in an off-handed way, why not? Itís one way to make contact. People come there for a goof and realize there is something there. Itís not about Sludge, itís about connecting with people. Thatís what the internet is for.

Samuel: You have a lot of websites youíre involved in; do you do the design of those sites yourself?

Rikki: Everything I do. All the stuff is my own design.

Samuel: You do the animalcruelty.com page, what led you to get involved in the Animal Rights movement?

Rikki: Well, thatís a bit of a long story. To keep it simple, I kept running into different scenarios. Itís almost like I was meant to do this. I know that sounds corny, but I just kept running into different people and different scenarios, which led to be to get involved. I never like bullies, and to me when youíre bullying animals around, someone has to stand up for them. This happens to be something close to my heart. Other people find causes closer to them, we all have our little things in life we can help out with. This is mine. Iím comfortable with it, I like animals, I have a bunch of dogs, I love dogs. I saw a lot of injustice, found a forum to try to help out and I did it. Itís a lifetime commitment, thereís no means to an end. You have these little victories you can enjoy, but itís always time to move on and find something else you can fix the best you can.

Samuel: Do you ever bring any of the information out on the road with you for people to pick up?

Rikki: Weíve had people table at our shows, yes. Iím going to try and do that again this tour. The thing is, everyone in the band has their own thing. I try not to step on anyone elseís beliefs. Everyone in the band supports me, but I donít know if theyíre on the same page as I am. I have to work with these guys, so I donít force it down their throat. Sometimes the tabling helps, and sometimes it doesnít. It just depends on the scenario and the cause. There are so many different issues out there. You have to be careful that organizations you support donít have any hidden agendas, none of the ones I work with have hidden agendas, everything is right out front. I like simple causes, this is what we do, this is where the money goes. I wish everyone did that with every cause. Then there wouldnít be any of the problems we keep hearing about like money going to the wrong person. It sours people, no matter what it is, handicap kids or saving kittens. You know what? It all comes down to the same thing, I donít care what your cause is, whether youíre trying to help missing children or missing ferrets. Itís all based on a little bit of compassion and someone trying to go out there and make a difference. I just like to go out there and help people. Whatever is close to your heart, go out there and be involved. Spend a little time, it makes you feel good, it makes them feel good, it makes us part of a big global community. I know it sounds hippy-ish, but the fact of it is, there isnít nearly as much of that. We saw it on September 11th, that was as worthy of a cause as anything. Everybody did their part, it didnít matter if they had to rescue animals or if they had to rescue their brother, you saw people come together, it was a really cool thing. Thatís the message I try to get across more than anything, follow the things in your heart and go out and get involved.

Samuel: I know at the end of the show here last year, you guys had all the other bands on the tour come out and you did the KISS cover together, do you strive to keep the sense of unity on your tours as well?

Rikki: Absolutely. When I was a young rock fan or even now, when I saw a bunch of guys on the stage jamming together, who werenít in the same band but still sharing music and the spirit of rock ní roll and all that stuff, thatís awesome to me. Thatís what it is all about. I think that sometime the press and media can poise us where it looks like weíre all waiving a banner and asking people to stand behind it. What Iím asking people to do is to stand behind rock ní roll. I donít care if your choice is Linkin Park or Poison, just stand behind it. Of course I want Poison fans, donít get me wrong. Go out there, support the music, and support the arts. Live shows will never go away. This summer proves it. There are so many bands out on the road and the ticket sales are really good, not just for us, but for everyone out there. People are going, ĎItís great seeing videos, but there ainít nothing like a live show. Letís go have a beer, letís stand in the front row, letís raise some hell and have a good time.í Hopefully that will never die and I donít think it will.

Samuel: Well, anything youíd like to close with?

Rikki: The thing is, I know this sounds clichť, but the fact of the matter is that our fans are fantastic and theyíve supported us through thick and thin, theyíre the reason we can still go out and do what we do. Being in this band has really, seriously, been a dream come true for me. The good and the bad times have all be a part of it. Iím happy to be able to do this for a living and itís because of rock fans that Iím able to do it. Otherwise, there wouldnít be anyone out there, no tickets would sale, we wouldnít have a tour bus to travel around in, so weíd be down and out. Weíre out there making a living doing what we love. Itís not about the money either, though everyone likes to get compensated for that they do, donít get me wrong. As much of the rock star persona weíve thrown around over the years, it is really the music that drives us. I want people to know that. It is still about the music, touring and playing live and having fun with the fans. Thatís what keeps us doing it. At this point, we have made enough money that we do not have to do that anymore, but we do it because we love it.

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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