If you hear a lot of noise and see some strange looking people walking around the EnergySolutions Arena next week, Poison drummer Rikki Rockett says not to worry, it's probably just the stage crew for his band preparing for the group's annual summer tour.
Rockett, singer and reality TV star Bret Michaels, guitarist CC DeVille and bass player/Utah resident Bobby Dall are launching their tour from Salt Lake City and will be spending about a week getting the stage ready and doing dress rehearsals at the arena.
"It's the perfect kind of set up for us to do our dress rehearsals. It's a blessing really. And it's not that far from L.A.," Rockett told the Deseret News during a recent phone interview from his Southern California home.
Despite the critics, Poison is one of those rare hair metal-glam bands from the '80s that are still able to play arenas more than 20 years after the release of their debut album, "Look What the Cat Dragged In."
Rockett has been a busy man of late. In preparing for the tour, Rockett, who founded Rockett Drum Works Inc., a company that makes custom drum kits, has been working on something special for his solo during the tour. He's calling his kit "Sputnik 1."
"I'm going to be working on my drum kit right until the very day before we leave. I kind of have to out-do myself every year as the president of the drum company," he said with a laugh. "I'm also doing a second little kit and trying to figure out how to incorporate it into the show. I've got something up my sleeve, but I don't want to give away too much right now."
On the day he talked to the Deseret News, Rockett was also having a carportcar port built at his house. But the garage isn't for his 1971 Chevy Nova or 1927 Ford, but for his 1964 tractor.
Rockett is in good spirits, something that might not have been said a couple of months ago. In March, he was arrested on a rape warrant out of Mississippi. He was arrested in front of his fiancee just as he stepped off an international flight at LAX. Two months later, Rockett was exonerated of all charges after it was determined he wasn't in Mississippi when the alleged attack occurred.
"It was one of the worst things I've been through," Rockett said.
Rockett knew he was innocent but admits he began to worry the longer the case dragged on and he wasn't cleared.
"When you get into six weeks and it's not over, you worry," he said. "This just gave everybody that never liked me or my band to just really go after us. It was extremely embarrassing."
Rockett spent some time during his arrest and after reading books on false arrests, and in some cases people convicted and sent to prison on false allegations.
"Once something like this is in motion, people like this don't want to back out because they don't want to look stupid," he learned. "I was lucky in the sense I had enough money I could hire a great attorney."
What Rockett couldn't understand was why he was arrested at the airport, even though authorities knew Mississippi would not extradite him for that charge. He said he could have just as easily worked out a surrender through his attorney.
"I knew this whole thing was weird from the get-go," he said.
Also disappointing to Rockett was some of the media coverage of his arrest, which he said treated the incident almost like a joke. Although Rockett was cleared, the victim may have actually been attacked by someone else pretending to be him.
Now, Rockett is looking at a possible civil suit, noting that because of his legal battles, "I'm spending half my summer touring to pay for my legal bills."
Rockett is also in the process of making a couple of documentaries, including one on false arrests.
Both Michaels and DeVille have made marks on the reality TV world. Rockett, a known animal-rights advocate and vegan, said he wouldn't mind doing reality TV if it were the right topic.
"I like more serious topics, I like to feel I made a difference somehow. I feel like I've done my share of entertainment with Poison. I'm not completely closed off to mindless entertainment, but I don't really seek that our really. If they asked me to be on the Surreal Life I don't think I'd do it," he said.
Also on the legal front, Poison recently filed a lawsuit against Capitol Records, EMI Music claiming the band shortchanged on royalties.
What: Poison, Dokken
Where: EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $29.50-$49.50