Rikki Rockett discusses Rockett Drum Works, the future of Poison, No Mercy Comics & Devil City Angels new record deal
Growing up, Poison was my favorite band. Still a HUGE fan of their music just not a fan of one of their members ego, media whoring and the fact he has turned the band in to an even bigger joke than what they were unfairly considered back in their 80’s heyday! Over the years, I’ve met Rikki Rockett numerous times and he is still very down-to-earth, friendly, humorous and accommodating as ever.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Rikki before the Devil City Angels played a gig in Wichita Kansas on September 17th. Unfortunately, we got stuck in a very noisy club and I had to send the digital audio file to an audio engineer friend of mine to cut out a lot of the background noise so I could get it transcribed but here it is! The delay made everything work out just fine as I can include the news of their new record deal with Derek Shulman’s Titan Records as Tracii broke the news on Facebook & since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, some of the interview ties in perfectly with a very worthwhile cause that Rockett Drum Works is a part of!
Rikki was gracious enough to discuss the state of Poison, his Rockett Drum Works company, his old comic book line and more importantly, his phenomenal new band, Devil City Angels & their brand new record deal.
Legendary Rock Interviews: I want to go ahead and ask this so we can get it out of the way and focus on more important things, so, what is the current status of Poison as there was talk that the band would be on the Def Leppard/KISS tour, bassist Bobby Dall even said during an interview at NAMM that the band would be on the road this summer, what happened? Any chance of a new Poison album or tour in 2015?
Rikki Rockett: No, it would have either been Def Leppard or Poison going out with Kiss. Quite honestly, Kiss decided to take Def Leppard. That is what happened! I don’t know about new music but there is a possibility of a tour. I think there were talks last week but that does not reflect what Bret was saying in the press to my knowledge but I was not in those talks. Let me just say this, I don’t know but it is not out of the question.
LRI: Back in the mid-90’s you had your own comic book company “No Mercy Comics”, is that permanently packed away in mothballs or do you see yourself dusting that off as a creative outlet in the future?
RR: It is funny you ask that because I was just at Matt Bush’s house when we were in Detroit after our gig got cancelled. He was the artist on Coven 13 which was the third book I put out. I went over to his house, he had a little party, he and his wife teach art college there. I said “Man, the last couple of years have been all about zombies, werewolves and vampires. It is time for witches! We have a whole other two issues in the can that we never published so we could pull those out and publish them. We’ve been talking about that. I’ve lost contact with the girls I used as models. LeeAnn Tweeden, I haven’t talked to in about a year but the other girls I’ve lost contact with. The characters are ours so it really wouldn’t matter. It would be possible to put something out like that again.
LRI: An artist friend of mine, Travis Chadwick of Sinners & Saints Tattoo Company here in Wichita does custom artwork besides tattooing and was wanting to know if you are still doing the custom artwork like on toilet seats that you were doing in the early 2000’s & the custom pinstriping?
RR: I do still pinstripe. I haven’t pinstriped in a while but I just got asked to do a project so I am going to do it. I haven’t airbrushed in a while. I don’t have a space because when I moved my shop, we don’t have the paint space that I had in my other shop. I’ve got a building but we haven’t done the interior part of that building yet to accommodate the painting. For airbrushing, you can just sit there and airbrush, I guess. Right now, it just makes sense to use an outside painter at the moment because they can do everything. I don’t want to run my paint jobs all over God’s creation. You know what I mean?
I like to do everything! If I am going to paint a kit I do the basecoat, the airbrushing, the clear. Sometimes I don’t do the clear but the rest of it I do all on my own. I’ll get back in to that eventually but pinstriping, I stick with that. In fact, I’ve been wanting to do it out here on the road but I didn’t bring any of my stuff with me. (Laughs)
LRI: Moving on, in 2007, you started Rockett Drum Works. What sets Rockett Drum Works apart from other drum manufacturers & how are things going with that endeavor? Who are some artists who use your products?
RR: Business has been good. We are in a slow part of the year because Summer is slow because evryone is out touring. We will start to see an increase in probably late October. I think the thing that sets us apart is we are truly a custom company. We are not trying to be Pearl, Tama or DW, you know. We are strictly a custom company, we are made to order. That is the idea. We use ALL American components, single point lugs, attention to detail, handmade and the whole nine yards. It is really a handmade company.
We don’t have a ton of people on our roster. We have Troy Patrick Farrell who we’ve had for a long time, Ken Bass, we have Athena who is Tommy Lee’s sister, we have April Samuels who is a Breast Cancer Survivor, she also runs the Breast Cancer Can Stick It Foundation and is the drummer for Metal Shop out of Dallas Texas. We are doing a line of snare drums to benefit her foundation.
LRI: That is very cool!
RR: Yeah! They are going to be pink aluminum with black hardware & we are going to split the run and will do black aluminum with pink hardware. It is going to be pretty cool and all for a great cause. We have several other people who are really good customers that we just hook up. If you go to the website you can see them. Steven Adler is kind of on the outskirts these days. I haven’t heard much from him as of late. When he needs something, he’ll come to me.
The thing with Rockett Drum Works is we don’t have back line all around the country in the major cities like a major drum company does. Since we are a custom company, like Troy [Patrick Farrell] plays a 28″ kick drum so if you have a backline in Chicago, chances are you are not going to have a 28″ kick drum for Troy. We are a custom company and these are custom players. They carry their own gear and make the sacrifice to carry their own stuff with them. Sometimes you go overseas and you can’t do that.
It is something I’d eventually like to do, have a line of drums that aren’t custom but I’d probably have to partner with somebody to do that. I’m not 100% sure how much I want to do that. I really like making custom drums so I don’t know if I really want to get in to the business of servicing people all over the world and that whole hussle. You have to hire a staff. It’s a different world. Honestly, for me, I travel all and I just ship my drums and it costs me a couple hundred bucks. When I backline stuff, it is a couple hundred bucks just to have the backline company bring them in, set the up and tune them anyways.
LRI: Might as well just keep in in-house as they say!
RR: Yeah! It’s really not a big deal!
LRI: You have history with each guy mainly through touring but most people may not realize that Tracii was in Poison back in late 1999 for just a brief time. He replaced C.C. who decided to focus on his Samantha 7 project after the successful 1999 Poison Reunion Tour which L.A. Guns opened for the band on. He took part in rehearsals and at the time it was reported that Tracii had been writing new material with the band. I’ve always wondered if the song “Power To The People” wasn’t written with Tracii? It just has his stank all over it.
RR: No! Actually, nothing we did got on that record. We were just sort of ironing things out for the first couple of days. The record company was really battling us that if we didn’t have C.C. then they didn’t want to do a record. Bob Ezrin was interested in producing us but he didn’t want to do it without C.C. Bob liked Tracii by the way, it was nothing personal but he just wanted it to be the original lineup.
LRI: You have joined forces with guitarist Tracii Guns (Guns N’ Roses/L.A. Guns), bassist Eric Brittingham (Cinderella/Naked Beggars) and vocalist/guitarist Brandon Gibbs to form Devil City Angels. How did this band come about?
RR: Tracii & I did the benefit tribute shows for Keith Moon & John Entwistle. Brian Tichy put it on. He also puts on the Bonzo Bash. We did two or three songs together where Tracii was the guitar player. Afterwards we were down in the green room and somebody went “Somebody needs to interview Guns & Rocketts!” We looked at each other and went “Hey, that is a pretty cool idea!” I said to Tracii that maybe we should get together and talk about that. He said he was busy this summer but we can talk about it. I got a call from him a couple days later and he said it turns out he wasn’t gonna go out this summer & he asked if I’d want to come by his studio and chat about it.
I went over & we started talking about the idea of putting something together. I told Tracii that I have to be real careful about what I do as I had never stepped outside of Poison & if I do, I want it to be a real band. I want it to be a real effort and I don’t want it to dissolve in a month. I don’t want it to be some little project. I really want to take my time with it & I want it to be great! So, we did absolutely the opposite of that! (Laughs) When we ended up getting Eric and Brandon, we were going to demo “All My People” & we just decided to mix it and put it out! It came out so good that we figured if we analyze it too much that we’re probably gonna fuck it up! (Laughs)
It was the same way we booked this tour. We pretty much booked this tour on Twitter and Facebook! We finally just got an agent involved because we were having a few problems with crossing the t’s and dotting i’s! We’re doe-eyed & we go “Hey, we want to go out & have a good time!” and some of these guys will take advantage of you. I’d forgot just how tough it could be in clubs so it is kind of good for me. Yeah, people will screw you in the clubs if you are not careful!
LRI: *cough* Detroit! *cough*
RR: (Laughs) Yeah! If you don’t have the money and the hotel room to pay your bus driver and crew then you are paying for it. You know what I mean? That’s not fair! We did it because we wanted to be a band. We wanted to come out & see what it’d feel like to play with each other and that’s the purpose of this!
LRI: Anything else new to report in the land of Rockett?
RR: Not really! I just want people to know that we’re not trying to re-invent the wheel or break attendance records. We are just out to gel as a band and have a good time. We noticed a difference right away. We had three days of rehearsal in Nashville before we set out on tour. It sounded one way in there & once we hit the stage, that song changed and that song changed, the way we went from that to that changed. We needed to do this to be a band. It’s just so funny, you have to go play live. You just can’t put guys together and hope it works!
LRI: What can fans expect from the live show as far as setlist goes?
RR: We are doing some Cinderella, some Poison and some L.A. Guns! The rest of the stuff is ours.
LRI: Are you doing all four of the Devil City Angels tunes?
RR: Yeah, we are doing like three songs from each of our bands and all four of our songs. I think it is the best part of the night! It is exciting and if the people listen to our stuff than they get excited as well. It is fun….it really is! I love playing the other stuff in the set but I’ve played the Poison stuff for a long time so to play some new songs is great!
LRI: Devil City Angels issued their debut single “All My People”. There are also three other tracks available for download on ReverbNation. How has the reaction been and what plans do the band have as far as an EP or a full-length album?
RR: A full album. We were just offered a deal with Titan Records which Derek Shulman of Frontiers Records Group runs. This will be his second imprint. He is signing new artists & not just the AC/DC’s and Def Leppard’s of the world. It is with EMI Worldwide so it is a real deal as far as the record business goes. It has great distribution.
There are other parts of the world where they still love records and CD’s. America is more download oriented but we can handle that too! So it looks like it will be a really cool journey. We will go back in, probably around the first of November and start writing more songs. We will be out with this till around the end of October. We will work close to the holidays but we are not going to work over the holidays.
It’ll be nice because the music business slows down around that time so we can just do our thing. It’ll be kind of like having a day job, take the kids to school then go write songs all day!
Official Devil City Angels Website
Devil City Angels Music Downloads
Official Rockett Drum Works Website
Official Breast Cancer Can Stick It! Foundation Website-