A Zest for Life
"To me, you're capturing a live moment. I don't like to create the whole thing in a studio, that's not my cup of tea.... I wanna go play live. It inspires me to make music, and then making music inspires me to go play live, so there’s this healthy circle."
Rikki Rockett (left, 2000)
and Rikki (the 80's, Poison)
August 22, 2020 by Abbe Davis
The new song by Devil City Angels comes on, “Testify,” and I immediately hear its appeal. It has a 90's Classic Rock vibe, all in-your-face with Brandon Gibbs' big vocal and Rikki’ Rockett, as always, solidly in that pocket (while mixing it up with backbeats and being playful). He has an enigmatic, exciting drum sound. Rikki plays drums like he can do it in his sleep; precise, interesting and laid back. I could listen to these guys all day. They’ve been around since 2015, and I especially love their other song, “All My People” because it is riffy, catchy, and the Chorus gets stuck in your head.
Next, I’m listening to Poison, and start reminiscing. I’ve always liked the classic songs from Poison like, “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” “UnSkinny Bop,” and other anthems of theirs. Brett Michaels had the looks, the band had great melodic lines, CC DeVille played choice guitar, and the songs grabbed you. Add in Bobby Dall on bass, and Rikki on kicking drums, (plus big blonde hair) and bam, people went wild. Poison was a successful sugar metal party band in the 80's - 90's , and they wound up selling more than 40 million records worldwide. They stood out as a positive anthem band during the New Wave/Punk Rock Era. Richie Kotzen added his great touch on guitar by 1991, replacing CC.
By 2015 Rikki and Tracii Guns (from LA Guns) formed hard rock band, Devil City Angels. The current members are now Rikki on drums, Brandon Gibbs on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Topher Nelson on bass, and Joel Kosche on lead guitar. 2015 was also the year that Rikki battled throat cancer. As you might expect with his fervor for life, he did immunotherapy and won the battle.
Make no mistake about it though, Poison is also still going strong and has tours lined up as soon as quarantine is over. Some people go inward during quarantine, yet nothing seems to slow Rikki Rockett down. In a few weeks he will feature a new limited edition eyeglass line with Transparent Sunglasses, that he himself designed. The shades will honor first responders nationally. (Note, Rikki was an EMT years ago in Harrisburg, as was his dad).
Rikki knows a lot about getting the most out of life because he's lived that way for a long time. These days he has YouTube vodcasts on various interests, including legend tripping. Whatever he goes after, he takes it to maximum velocity, and fans love jumping on board for the ride. In his vodcasts he's at the RV with his kids, it's late at night and they are having a blast, calling up hilarious/scary phone numbers. Some other vodcasts feature Rikki (alone) wandering off the path into “haunted,” “spooky” areas, while he narrates and builds the suspense.
Although Jiu Jitzu, drumming, and motorcycles have been his passion forever, he is also an enthusiast about cameras, drones and filmmaking. His zest for living attracts life, people, and interesting situations. I wouldn't be surprised if one day in a vodcast, we see him attract some "spirits," in how appealing it is to listen to him talk about his adventures. It's a gift to be that type of person. It was also a gift on this day, to share an hour with this legendary rock drummer. Let's go Rikki Tripping now, and get inside of his head:
AD: Where are you, Rikki?
RR: I am currently in the outer rim of Los Angeles. I’m sitting out here by myself on three acres. I like it that way.
AD: Excellent! I wanna tell you, I really love “Testify” and how you guys sound on it. What I like the most is how it isn’t too produced, and you guys keep it real, you know what I mean?
RR: Thank you so much. Joel (Joel Kosche, former guitarist with Collective Soul) engineered the entire package, and I went over to Fred Coury's (drummer from Cinderella) studio to cut the drums. I have a video on my YouTube channel, and I broke a drum head and neither one of us had a replacement. That was kind of funny. So we cut the track and Joel put it together.
AD: (laughing) Let’s go back in time now, and tell me about how your sister used to babysit you, and then banish you to your room with Beatles records. How old were you then?
RR: Maybe 10 or 11
AD: And you began drumming using Lincoln Logs, as you listened to those records. Which Beatles tunes did you like?
RR: The two 45 ‘s she gave me were, “Eight Days a Week,” and “Paperback Writer,” and the B sides of those. That is what I did. That was when I no longer wanted to be a race car driver. I wanted to drum.
AD: Then in following years, middle school, high school, how did you learn?
RR: My first record, Deep Purple Made in Japan, my friend had that record. Ian Pace, loved their drummer, never met him, but I used my allowance to buy that first record. I kept buying records, and I’d choose it by the cover and hope I’d like the record. Sometimes it would be a hit, and sometimes a mess (laughing)
AD: Who have you met as far as your drummer idols?
RR: Two of the biggest stars, not drummers, and this excludes Eddie Van Halen, etc. I met David Bowie, and I met Michael Jackson, both very nice guys.
AD: The icons of POP!? How did you get to meet David Bowie?
RR: I met him at a Stevie Ray Vaughan concert (two weeks before Stevie died).
RR: Yeah, I just kind of walked up and introduced myself to him, and he ordered drinks for us, and we talked for about fifteen minutes. Then I thought, “I’m going to overstay my welcome, or find out stuff that I don’t like, so I’m just going to walk away.”
AD: (laughing) Nice. That’s great. That’s a cool approach, to consider the artist. So how was it meeting Michael Jackson? How did that happen?
RR: Well, that was at a wedding reception, and he had security there. He told me that he loved the “Talk Dirty to Me” video, and that anytime it came on, he turned it up - because it looked like we were having so much fun. I thought, “This is pretty freakin’ cool that Michael Jackson likes “Talk Dirty to Me….If I could just get him to say that in an interview!” (laughing)
AD: That's great....Tell me, did you have a blast, how was it when you made that video?
RR: Ya know, we did that with complete reckless abandon.
RR: Previously, our pro video was "Cry Tough" and it didn’t do that well, and it was more methodical. Part of it was done at a live venue and it cost more money. “Talk Dirty to Me” had like hardly any budget, and I just remember what was painful about the other one was how we were constantly being reminded about being consistent. Looking the same way in every shot. So to throw it out the window, we deliberately went against that in “Talk Dirty to Me,” and if you watch it in the video, we changed clothing constantly. It was like we were deliberately throwing away the rules about being consistent.
AD: Which of the videos that Poison did, do you like the most?
RR: I think “Unskinny Bop” was a lot of fun to do. Yet as far as technically, “Stand,” because we had an awesome set design, and it was done thematically, and stuff like that.
AD: Looking back at your time with Poison, which albums have you been the proudest of?
RR: Probably Flesh & Blood, because on a personal level for myself, Bruce Fairbairn pushed us to do our best. I only ever did three takes at the most, which is how well-prepared we were to record that record. Bruce wanted the songs to feel fresh and they did. The drums were done quickly, but production took a bit of time. I just wanted to give an inspiring performance and that is what I feel is on that record.
AD: Now, going back to the 80’s, some things I’m fascinated about. Before you and Brett formed Poison, here is what I found out about you, correct me if I’m wrong about this. Prior to Poison, you had tons of different jobs. You were a hairdresser, a lifeguard, an EMT, and a suit salesman (all at one time)? (laughing)
RR: (laughing) Yeah.. Well…The way that kinda worked was, I dropped out of High School and became an overachiever, then, I went back to school. I make my mind up with things and go for it. It’s my M.O. So, when I left school, I went and washed dishes. It was not a great part of my life. Then, I went back to school and it’s a long story about haircutting. I fell into it. It involves pot.
AD: (LOL!) "The WEED made me do it, and WOMEN!"
RR: (laughing) Hold that thought! Wait til you hear this. My dad was an EMT so I wanted to try that. I went on some emergency calls and I thought, “I should do this.” Part of it was because during the Summer that I wasn’t in school or taking classes, I was a lifeguard. I wanted to learn how to do Advanced Life Saving with a junk of equipment. So I went into one of my dad’s lifeguard classes and I figured, “If I’m gonna go this far, I’m just gonna be an EMT.” Everything was separate back then and now it’s all together as one program. So I just did it. I felt like, “I don’t wanna go in the service, 'cause I wanna be here and play drums, but I wanna do something for the community.” So I volunteered on an ambulance. I even tried the Fire Department and went on one call and didn’t like it. I thought, “No, I think I want to be on an ambulance. I don’t wanna crawl around on an icy roof in December that’s on fire.” I was like, “After they fall, I’ll deal with that part of it.”
AD: (laughing) I hear ya. A little too risky, plus your hands! I imagine that was part of it too, right?
RR: Yes. Yet, as the Winter came in, I couldn’t be a lifeguard, so I went to a place at the mall that sold menswear, and I learned to sell suits. I was terrible at it. I don’t even know why they kept me around.
AD: What part was bad? Like, if the suit looked bad on a guy, you’d tell him it looked great even if it didn’t, or..?
RR: I just didn’t know the business, so they had me vacuuming the carpets and cleaning up, and I was good at that. Probably why I don’t like doing it now. Ha. So let’s get back to the hairdressing thing. My friend Joel came over one day, and I said, “Let’s buy some pot.” And he said, “Well, I have some money, but I gotta spend it on getting my haircut. My mom gave me the money to get my haircut.” I said, “No, no, no, we’re gonna buy pot with that money. I’ll cut your hair, I’m very good at it.” And he goes, “You are not!” And I said, “Yeah, I am, you have NO idea.”
AD: How did you know you were good?
RR: I didn't know what I was doing. Somehow I did it, and we bought some pot. The next day, this girl from his school said, “I don’t know who cut your hair, but will you do that for me? Don’t worry, I’ll give you ten bucks.” So I said, “OK, I’ll meet you tomorrow.” So I went and scheduled an appointment at a salon two hours earlier, sat there, and watched what they were doing. Also, after my haircut I sat and watched what they were doing. I told them, “I’m just waiting for my ride,” but someone who knew me called me out on it and said, “Don’t you live in the neighborhood?”
AD: (laughing)That’s hilarious!
RR: So, the next day I aced it on that girl, Velma. I thought, “I can do this, it’s easy money, and I’m around girls.” So I decided there wasn’t enough guys in it, and it is a welcoming community, and that’s why I did that.
AD: And then you get together with the band. The name originally was PARIS. Who boycotted the name PARIS?
RR: Well, we found out Bob Welch had a band named PARIS, so we found that that was not gonna work, and we wanted something with more of an edge. We'd gone through a slew of words like, “Pretty Poison,” and felt "Poison" had the best ring to it.
AD: When you guys first got together, did you click right away, or did you have to develop the sound?
RR: Well, we were a top 40 band and we’d do two sets of covers like, Judas Priest songs, and Alice Cooper, and we’d put our spin on stuff, that was the thing. You should have heard how we did “Jenny, Jenny!” We did it all Hard Rock. Then, by the third set we’d put our tunes in. Or, if we opened for a national level band, we’d do our own stuff. Eventually, we went to the West Coast, because it was about doing originals and not about Top 40. That was right up our alley.
AD: Interesting. Now, did you guys audition Slash? Did Poison audition Slash?
RR: People have it all confused. Yes, Slash was great, but we liked CC better for our band. We told him, but look how it all worked out. It made for two much better off bands.
AD: That’s cool. Did you in the beginning, ever feel that you’d make it big?
RR: We were pretty sneaky about throwing in our original music on gigs. And we grew up near Harrisburg, and there were tons of record stores. There was this circuit between Pittsburgh and Philly, and Harrisburg and Baltimore. There were all these independent record stores supporting the Punk Rock and New Wave movement back then. Since there wasn’t much Hard Rock in our area, we loved the do-it-yourself attitude, and we liked seeing how they were doing their flyers and their promotion. So we started to figure out that doing it that way was our best bet as an Alternative band. The mainstream was New Wave, like the Cars, and Blondie. We were not that. So we started to rent roller skating rinks, sold our own tickets, made our own flyers and shirts, made our own stage props, and we did everything on our own.
AD: Bands had to do that back then, since there was no internet.
RR: You had to have a box and a pencil at shows-so people could write their names on your mailing list. Then, you had to mail out gig flyers each month to everyone. Someone stole our list one night.
AD: Wow, that sucks!
RR: Yes, we had a PO box, and we’d go there, and we’d get letters…
AD: Mailed bras?
RR: (laughing) We also had a hotline, and people could call in and find out what was going on.
AD: Then you go over to the West Coast. Was that intimidating at all?
RR: Hair bands were fading out and we were our own scene. Nobody wanted to sign us cause they thought it was over for bands like us. They were out to sign extraordinarily heavy bands by then. That was what was being showcased everywhere. I mean, I’m talking about leather-wristed, that kind of stuff. We were more Van Halen/Aerosmith in style. Yet, we had a white collar work ethic, and so we handled it the way we did back East. We’d stand at the door, greet people, and then talk to them on their way out. We'd thank them and ask them to come see us again. I remember Eddie from the Troubadour, guy who ran it, said to me, “I've never had a band do that.” Then other bands began doing that, and some tried to be cool and keep drinking all night. Yet, we did it because to us, it was our job.
AD: Well, I think you’re saying how, if you show you care, it comes back full circle, right?
RR: Well, it wasn’t work to me. I was interacting with people, getting feedback, hanging out just to be in it, feeling it was just cool. CC used to say, “Come be part of the miracle!” (laughing)
AD: That’s hilarious! “Witness it, come forth!” That’s just great. So how is the drumming come along now? I know you are getting around in your RV, and in doing vodcasts. How is the drumming in quarantine?
RR: My drums are like fifteen yards away from me now, so if I open the door, I can see them. They're always a couple of steps away.
AD: How many hours a day are you playing?
RR: I haven’t been playing as much. My son is getting interested, but I don't wanna force it on him, ya know what I mean? Yeah, I gotta be honest, I have been so focused more on the YouTube videos I’m doing. Devil City Angels will be doing more, so that will change.
AD: What if COVID was over, what would you immediately have on your Music Schedule?
RR: I think we would go play immediately. I’ve only been in two bands really, and that's Poison and Devil City Angels. My whole thing is that the music is a soundtrack for a live show. That's really what it comes down to for me. A lot of people treat it as completely separate entities, but I've never really thought of it that way. To me, you're capturing a live moment. I don't like to create the whole thing in a studio. That's not my cup of tea. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a different art form.
AD: How do you get comfortable in a studio? You wanna be comfortable, yet there’s a certain energy that you’re feeding off of when people are watching you. How do you translate that into a studio setting?
RR: I think I’m capable of doing that, yet as far as being a Rock drummer, I like being with other people, that energy, the synergy with a group of people. There are other ways to make music that are fine, yet to me, playing in a live Rock band, I wanna go play live. It inspires me to make music, and then making music inspires me to go play live, so there’s this healthy circle.
AD: Zen way to put it. With Devil City Angels, what do you have in store? Live, online, or…?
RR: Actually we are brewing up some new stuff. I’m going to completely back step now. "Testify" we jammed live on, before, yet we did it separately. Not how I like to record, yet it was how we had to do it. We’re not going to do a whole album like that. As I just explained for fifteen minutes, about how I dislike that, ha. Unfortunately, things are on hold now for a while. We’d like to do an acoustic thing soon. We will probably do that.
AD: That would be nice and intimate. Acoustic is back. While we all miss shows, this is making people get more organic.
RR: Yah, I think there are some silver linings in some ways. I did a poll on my Facebook page a while ago. I asked, “Will this lockdown make people create happy music now, or angry music?” It has to have some kind of reaction, and the responses were a 50/50 split. People felt it was both, and it does depend on the artists doing the music, too. It’s a good thing to flourish, or be a one-man band, or figure it out.
AD: Let’s shift gears and talk about your battle with cancer. While people do survive cancer, as you have, I have some questions for you, personally. This hits home 'cause I lost my close friend to cancer a few months ago, and at age 31 I lost my dad to cancer. I need to ask you one thing. When you are in it, when you went through a year of the immunotherapy, what was your mindset month to month? What was in your head?
RR: I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose at that point, because the alternative was to lose my tongue in surgery. I always maintained that I’d get through it, I just didn’t know the level of morbidity that was going to be involved. If I’d continue to do Standard of Care, radiation, etc. I would have had to be strung along for a year with chemo. Then, after that, I would have had to wait a year, to then do more radiation. It’s a terrible road to go down. So, I got the offer to do immunotherapy, didn’t know much about it at that time, but I jumped on it. I have since learned a lot about it, obviously. It saved my life, it saved my tongue, my voice, all of that.
AD: It’s such a great story in how you survived it. I’m so glad that you found out in time, and that you were able to do the immunotherapy. That has saved many lives as a treatment. So what has changed, because you were healthy before this?
RR: I just watch it more. I was fairly healthy, I haven’t changed a whole lot. It is harder to eat, I do have some damage, I have to sit up straight to eat now, ha, like my parents taught me.
AD: (laughing) When you do that now, do you hear your parents saying that?
RR: LOL! Yah, yah. “You should have sat up more…see?”
AD: “Well, here we are.” (laughing)
RR: My salivary glands don’t work the same anymore.
AD: Are you able to taste things the same way at least?
RR: Oh yeah. Some things taste better now. I’m very lucky. Some things taste a bit different. Some things I like better now, and other things I used to like, I don’t like now. Breads are hard to swallow. I can pretty much eat anything I want, it just takes longer. I have to drink more liquid. I have to just manage things a little differently now, that’s all.
AD: Do you feel "youth is wasted on the young," cause we never had to think about that stuff when we were kids, right?
RR: Totally! You nailed it, yeah.
AD: You have so many hobbies. I’m fascinated, so let’s get into that. When did you first get your first motorcycle? When did that become another religion of yours, besides Music?
RR: I think I was like twelve.
AD: That young?
RR: Yeah, I got a Yamaha 60 minibike, and it was used but not abused, and I just rode the hell out of it. I had friends that had bigger bikes, or 80’s or 125’s, and they were faster than me, but I had that bike and I ran it into the ground.
AD: Did your family know, or were they against it?
RR: Yah, my family knew. My dad had a motorcycle, but my mom wasn’t thrilled about it. The first motorcycle I ever was a passenger on, was a neighbor's Bonneville; which is probably why I have such affection for vintage British motorcycles.
AD: That’s a nice bike!
RR: Yah, it’s Steve McQueen, right?
RR: I was thrilled and scared when I got on that. I didn’t have a bike until I moved to L.A. and made some money with our first record. That’s when I could afford a motorcycle. There was this period between age 14 and 22 where I wasn’t on two wheels. I rode other people’s motorcycles, yet once I was able to, I never was without a motorcycle or a scooter, or something with two wheels.
AD: Nice. So, are you gonna be okay when your daughter, Lucy, is picked up on a motorcycle one day?
RR: No! I mean...
AD: You don’t think so, eh? Come on, if it’s good for the goose, ya know… (laughing)
RR: (laughing) Yah, no. Lucy’s getting interested in, she can ride a bike really well, but I’m still not at the point where I want her riding on two wheels just yet.
AD: But when she is 15, she’s gonna wanna date, will that be alright?
RR: Oh, by next year this time, she WILL be riding a dirt bike.
AD: Ah..ha..So that’s what’s up. Alright, that’s cool.
RR: Yeah, Stu does, he rides almost every day. He’s a really good rider. We’ve ridden together. Lucy doesn’t pay attention so I won’t put her on two wheels right now. She needs something that is a little more stable.
AD: (laughing) Is she like, “Oh look....a bird!” (Crash) Is it like that?
RR: Well, we went out to Cal City for just a weekend and, there’s so much space out there. I was like, “Look if you wanna get on a bike and ride, as long as you wear your gear, I don’t care.” There’s nothing there to crash into except cacti, right? Yet, there were people there at another camp, and of course, Lucy’s not paying attention. She drives straight into their camper. I was like, “OK, you’re not quite ready to be on two wheels, or to be without daddy” (laughing)
AD: (laughing) Oh wow! No, she’ll get there. So you’re also into drones and cameras, right? Lemme ask it this way, what are you holding and shooting with right now?
RR: Well, I just got a Canon C200, I’m messing with that. Also, I love my Leica camera. I like so many cameras, I swear to God. I have this YouTube channel, concentrating on Urban Legends and scary stories.
AD: Oh, I know, I’m going there next about your Legend Tripping.
RR: Well, I rarely watch other people’s scary channels, cause I almost always watch camera channels. That’s what I watch all the time. I’m a gearhead. I don’t wanna review stuff, because I don’t like doing technical reviews and there are so many people very good at that. It’s like, I’m not gonna compete with that, there’s just no way. Some of these Youtubers are awesome at it, you know what I mean? So, I just tell people what I use and do user reviews at times. Most of my stuff is spooky stories.
AD: What is it that you like to shoot?
RR: I’ve never been drawn to the pretty picture thing. Once in a while, OK. Yet, I’ll notice more, a rusty area or spider webs on a house. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I just like the texture of that.
AD: So, you’re drawn to imperfections. Do you like that in people, too?
RR: Oh, yeah, we all have imperfections. To like people is to like imperfection, I think.
AD: I think so, too. It’s part of the package of everyone. So what got you into Legend Tripping?
RR: People mix up spirits with ghosts.
AD: Well, I have some ideas about this, and I had my near death experience, how do you see this? Do you believe in the spiritual?
RR: The short answer is, yes. I’m gonna sound like I’m sidestepping here, but I’m not. I believe that it can be explained with Physics. That doesn’t mean that it is less spiritual. It could actually make it far more interesting than we ever thought. I kind of believe in the String Theory, and how moments of events, that energy, can be caught up and repeated. It’s like dreams. We put all of these things together and we try to assemble peripheral things we see; the conscious stuff gets mixed together, and then we see rabbits driving cars. We try to piece it together. So I think the same thing happens with Physics. Our mind tries to piece it together and make sense of these echoes of the past. We try to assemble it in a way to understand it. I’m not sure what it is. I do believe that, for instance, I just did a Travel Channel thing about Amityville. I was asked if I believe that it is haunted. My answer was, "Yes. If it wasn’t haunted before, it’s haunted now, because of the collective energy of so many people believing it is haunted. There is no way that that place on earth doesn’t have a ridiculous amount of energy.
AD: So you believe in the Laws of Attraction then, is that what you’re saying?
AD: What about Quantum Physics, The Black Hole, things that Stephen Hawking talked about?
RR: Yes, I do believe in it. I believe we are on the brink of proving those theories. They are coming close to demonstrating The Ten Dimensions.
AD: Yes, proven research. Do you find that with Legend Tripping, it attracts odd people talking to you about this kind of thing or what?
RR: I get more discussions about The Girl Scout Murders in Oklahoma (an unsolved murder case that occurred in 1977). I’ve had more discussions about that than any other piece I’ve done. It is literally the most controversial thing I’ve done. It’s the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever done. I spoke to one of the mothers, and it’s just tragic in how she thinks about, it and I don’t blame her one bit. If I tell someone that a house is haunted, they will believe it, they are more prone to believe it. Yet, if I tell them a bench I just painted is still wet, they’re still gonna touch it (laughing).
AD: (laughing) Because it’s intriguing. You’ve gotten their attention. It’s wild how people are that way. I think to myself, "Everybody in my dream is actually me, cause I’m thinking it up." If I tell someone that, they are like, “What?”
RR: It’s true.
AD: I saw one episode of your Legend Tripping, where you trespass on some guys property. The guy got pissed off. Was that real, cause I was worried. I mean, you could get shot going into someone's yard. Do you get nervous?
RR: You can, and I’ve actually gotten in trouble, where the person emails my manager, “Keep your boy in check.”
AD: (LMAO) It coulda been worse. They could’ve passed some legislation against you. (laughing)
RR: You know, honestly, I try to be respectful of people’s property. When you get out a camera, people get weird and that’s why I tend to not take my cinema cameras to go do this. I try to bring gearless cameras with me. It’s not as intimidating in those scenarios.
AD: Plus someone won’t shoot at you with that.
RR: Look, we are at a place now where a phone intimidates people. It’s getting harder and harder. There are more No Trespassing signs than ever before. Like just in my neighborhood, places I was able to freely go before.
AD: Who is putting that up, the County, or...?
RR: I think private owners. They don’t want anyone encroaching on their land. Sometimes it is dirt bikes- when people are just tearing it up. I’ve noticed that the new thing now is, if you have a big piece of land that you don’t want people on, you can spend thousands of dollars to build a fence, and someone can still climb it. Yet, the new thing is to get a bunch of bees and make your own honey. So if someone gets on your land, they’ll be dealing with thousands of bees that they don’t wanna deal with.
AD: WOW, that’s so California! Grow things, good for the land. Funny.
RR: Some of the places I used to go to I can’t now, because they’re raising bees.
AD: So, do Jude and Lucy sleep well at night, with calling creepy numbers and all of this stuff, or does this all freak them out?
RR: Very little scares Jude. He’s tough as nails. Lucy, on the other hand, is a seven-year-old girl who gets scared and stuff. So, if I’m gonna put her on camera, I have to go through the whole thing way ahead of time, and she has to completely understand what we’re doing and what the story is. Otherwise, I won’t do it, and even then sometimes she’ll get scared, and then I’ll feel like a bad dad. A lot of times I’ll keep her out of it, if I feel like it’s too much for her. Having my kids doing this is fun, I just don’t wanna exploit them at all.
AD: (laughing) My kid is afraid of clowns because his twin sister showed him the Chuck E. doll and it freaked him out. I've tried everything to help him.
RR: Well, here’s the thing, Jude likes masks and the process of filmmaking. So he wants to be involved desperately. Yet, when he’s involved, Lucy wants to be involved, too, cause it’s her brother. So, then it puts me in this position where I don’t want to exclude her. I sweeten it as much as I can for Lucy. It’s a tough road to walk. I don’t love putting them in the videos always, only when it’s more about discovering something, like hiking. I won’t take them at night. We did that phone number thing, yet they had already heard the phone numbers beforehand.
AD: They looked like they were having a good time, you calling the numbers. They seemed to be having fun. Those are good memories, the RV, the whole thing. It’s great how you’re spending time with them.
RR: I love camping with the kids, even if we don’t go anywhere, we will camp out in the front yard on the weekends. It’s a good time to reconnect, no school, and we watch movies and eat popcorn and have fun.
AD: Tell me about the Brazilian Jiu Jitzu. Are you doing that, and how has it changed for you since you were ill?
RR: Well, a lot has changed since COVID. I couldn’t train for two months. Then, we figured out how to do it in a small bubble. There is literally a testing place right up the street from there, so all of our guys get tested every week. The guys who train Mondays and Wednesdays don’t train with the guys who train Tuesdays and Thursdays now. It’s a small group that we work in, we're consistently tested like a closed type of club. Nobody can come watch. We’re following the rules. It doesn’t feel the same, and you get into a class of ten. Twenty people is what I like, yet we can’t do that now. Ya kind of work with the same people and it feels incestuous right now, ha.
I love those guys, and some of my teammates I haven't seen, we're only texting. It just sucks and it has taken a toll. I’ve been doing this for twenty years, and it’s hard for me to understand myself without it, like with drums. It becomes a lifestyle.
AD: I hear you. Hopefully everyone can get back to a more normal setup sooner, rather than later. So, lemme ask you this, how many bikes do you have now?
RR: I have seven motorcycles (laughing)
AD: Wow, okay so I have a question for you then. Play along with me here, it is "the Exodus," and you can only pick ONE bike to ride out of the city with your family. Which bike are you on?
RR: Definitely my Ducati 1260 Enduro. That I can take on any terrain. I rode that hard for 12 hours a day in Utah, with another group of Ducati enthusiasts. I did things on that bike I didn’t think I was gonna be able to do on any bike. So, that’s definitely my Exodus bike.
AD: You’re not popping wheelies on that are ya?
RR: No, no, no, I’m catching air though (laughing)
AD: (laughing) OK, more.... You can only take ONE drumset on your sidecar, which one?
RR: Oh definitely my POISON drum kit, the DW kit. No question, it’s in my practice room right now.
AD: Any new inventions going on with drums now?
RR: Unfortunately, I had to stop production and doing that. New people came in, and I went over to Sabian, and have been with them now for about eight years. Chris, the guy who signed me to Sabian, he rides motorcycles.
AD: That’s cool, I love when common things come together like that.
RR: Yeah. I joke around with Chris a lot about it.
AD: You’ve had a lot of adventures, so what haven’t you done yet? Pick three things, what do you wanna do?
RR: I think with my YouTube channel, the goal is to prove to people that I could do a documentary, and I love horror films and documentaries. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to do one. I’ve done short films. I’d love to do "Creature from the Black Lagoon," yet, who would believe me? I have to prove to people that I can tell these stories. I also like to make up stories. I’d love to write and do short 15 minute stories.
AD: Well you’re in a great area for that.
RR: What ‘s cool is, the Arts. They all draw from the same place. Filmmaking, I could literally create my own world how I want it, film it, and then do the soundtrack. There’s a huge amount of artistic aspects, yet you need a team, or someone to share your vision to do it. Doing a soundtrack for my own stories would be another great thing to do.
AD: The right team helps.
RR: I don’t wanna limit the Genre to just Horror films. I am obsessed with people who are obsessed with things, like collections. I make my fiance' watch that with me a lot.
AD: Cool. Congratulations on your engagement.
RR: Well, I’m not gonna let this one get away, she’s from Tampa, FL.
AD: My state!
RR: Between the two of you, I’m gonna get set on fire!
AD: (laughing) Nah, I’m done grilling you soon, ha. What documentaries do you guys watch?
RR: Game of Thrones, Medieval stuff, I consume YouTube, and …
AD: In your opinion, some of the greatest documentaries ever are...?
RR: Dark documentaries. Not conspiracies, unless there is something really true behind it. I think people waste an awful lot of time on conspiracies. I’d use an old adage, but ya know, it wouldn’t be appropriate. Some truth is right in front of you. I mean, if it looks like…
AD: Yah, like a duck...love it. What do you want to tell me about in Music, for the year ahead for you?
RR: Well, I’m gonna just be honest about what I’m worried about. I wanna do Devil City Angels, yet when COVID is over, it’s gonna be time to do a POISON tour, which is great since it was postponed. I do, in my heart, think that we will be able to tour next year. I don’t wanna get too heavy into DCA and then have to be replaced, or they move onto something else. We’re kind of using Devil City Angels as our fun thing that we like doing. So, when you hear anything we put out, it’s for the love of doing it at this point. None of us have to do it, yet it’s what we all want to be doing.
AD: It sounds great. I’m looking forward to hearing more of what you guys put out!
RR: I am, too! (laughing)
AD: That’s funny. Hey, thank you so much, it’s been great hanging out with you.
RR: Right on. Hopefully we’ll get to see you next year.
AD: I would love that. If you tour with Poison next year, I’d love to go see you guys- if you head South, or if we go West. Looking forward to more of your DCA songs. I’m wishing you the best of everything. Enjoy!
RR: Take care.
ABBE DAVIS, Tru Rock Revival Editor
Singer/ Songwriter with Sordid Fable
Abbe has served as editor with various Fortune 500 companies since the 90's. She is the singer/songwriter of Hard Rock band, Sordid Fable. When she isn't working with TRR Mag (co- MC of the Tru Rock Show), she's writing music, or scriptwriting for fun; having done some standup. Abbe's goal has always been to support Rock music. Her newest love is in finding and promoting bands through Bandivious.com. Sordid Fable is currently in the studio creating a four song EP.