Bret Michaels Band's Pete Evick
By Jay Oakley
Pete, thanks so much for taking some time to sit down with me.
Thank you, buddy.
You're back here in Annapolis at Rams Head On Stage with the Bret Michaels Band. How's your touring schedule been going so far?
We've been out pretty solid now for three years. There's been no Poison tour for the last four years, hopefully there's one this year, the fans would love to have that. But, we don't stop, man. We got out and go right up to Christmas, then we leave the day after Christmas and go out until New Years, take a week off in January and head straight out. It's just been nonstop for three years.
Something I've noticed with the Bret Michaels Band that I've always thought was pretty cool is you guys are able to play everywhere. I've seen you on big stages at festivals to smaller intimate places like this. Do you have a preference between the two? Not necessarily because one's better then the other but environmentally-wise do you have a preference?
There's such cool things about each thing. A place like Rams Head On Stage, this intimate thing where you can just reach right out and touch the fans and watching Bret's connection to those people like that is great. I always like the sound in these venues. The sound in the smaller venues reminds me of me growing up playing the clubs and just dreaming about what the big stage would be like. But, you work really hard to sound good in these smaller rooms and when I'm here, in the smaller rooms, it reminds me of that. But, there's nothing like the giant arenas and playing for twenty, thirty, forty thousand people and we've done crowds as big as a hundred twenty-five thousand. That's an explainable thing, it's what you dream of. So, that's amazing and I've been in Bret's band for twelve years and Bret's celebrating thirty-one years of Poison's career right now. Poison has never done a club, Poison's been an arena band so he gets a kick out of coming and doing these intimate things and reaching the fans in a different way. But, the solo band has done just as much as Poison's done in the arenas because we play so much more then Poison. This year, we headlined several festivals and did several shows that had Ratt and Warrant and Dokken on it and the big outdoor theaters and stuff like that but I like both of them. Anyone that knows me knows that all I've ever done is play guitar, I'm very fortunate to be a guitar player and everyday is a gift to me. I'm just grateful I get to play my guitar wherever I get to play it everyday.
How is it getting to play overseas? Especially in the places that you hear about in the news and for the military?
The stuff we did overseas while the war was going on, the United States military made us feel incredibly safe but the respect that we got from the soldiers for coming over there to perform for them was probably the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me in my life and I'm glad you asked that. Not a day goes by that that experience doesn't enter my mind. My father was military, Bret's father was military but yet me and Bret chose other paths. I can't speak for Bret but I know there's a part of me that has always had maybe a little guilt that I didn't go into the military. I'm a huge military supporter, a huge supporter of our troops so that I was finally able to give just a little something back made me feel better but seeing what those guys do and the family and the bond I finally was able to, kind of, understand the brotherhood that happens in the military. I got to see that first hand and the way they are fighting for each others lives everyday. They're fighting to keep each other alive and that experience was, without a doubt, life changing to me and I'm grateful I got to do that.
Here's a "what if" question for you. If everything gets going for the Poison 30th anniversary tour, do you potentially have any plans for what you would do with that time? Or is it a matter of waiting for it to happen?
[Laughs] I don't make any plans because you never know and Bret is a machine. If he doesn't do Poison we'll, obviously, be out there playing so until he plays that first show with Poison and I know it's happening, I have no plans yet. [Laughs]
You're to a certain degree a local, you live down in Virginia.
Born and raised in Manassas, Virginia. I played all of the clubs in Virginia and Maryland for several years. There was an agency in the Baltimore area called Starleigh Entertainment that booked me for several years all the way from Baltimore and Bel Air and all the surrounding areas, all the way out to Ocean City. I used to spend all kinds of time out on the eastern shore, I played every stop out on Route 50 on my way to the beach, I played them all for years and years and years and years. Those are some incredible memories of my life too.
Also, down in Virginia, I wanted to ask you about your candle shop, Shining Sol. I think it's really, really rad so please talk about it.
[Laughs] Interesting that you know about that, you do your research and I appreciate that. The candle shop came up in 2012. Again, when we play with Bret we play nonstop, I've been in the band for twelve years and sometimes we are out for nine solid months at a time without even going home and in 2012, that was one of those years, solid nine months out on the road and I came home and I'd been through a divorce and a lot of life changing things were happening. I'd never had a hobby in my entire life, I'd never done anything but play guitar, nothing else and I was looking for quiet because my life has been loud. All I'd ever done is be a rock and roll guitar player at extreme volumes and I found myself sitting at my house just in the dark, in the quiet, night after night.
I spent a lot of time at Bret's ranch in Arizona which is where one of our studios is that we make a lot of music and in Arizona, they all have these beautiful fireplaces but they don't light fires in them because the air is to dry and there's threats of wildfires so they put candles in the fireplaces and I always thought it looks cool. It looks very cool and it reminds me of the old Police video "Wrapped Around Your Finger." So, when I came home to Virginia, like I said I was going through a divorce and I remodeled my whole house because the wife was gone so I was going to change everything. [Laughs] So, I had this custom built, stone, fake fireplace built. It was actually an entertainment center to put my TV on and a storage thing to put my kids video games in and different things but it looks like a fireplace and I was going to burn candles in it. So, I went to Yankee Candle and they had a candle that was supposed to smell like a fireplace. I always loved the smell of a real wood burning fire and I lit the candle, it smelt right but it didn't smell enough. It didn't fill my room so I went to the candle store the next day, bought two more and I lit three a night. So, I would sit there in the dark, just lighting these candles every night and just, kind of, stare at my little fireplace and it was really peaceful and I started going, "I could probably make a better version of that. I've never had a hobby in my life. Let me see if I can make that candle. It's quiet, something I can do that's quiet, no sound."
I spent a few months figuring it out and once I figured it out I learned so much about the candle industry and there was some interesting things. The candle industry is a 2.4 billion dollar a year business with basically a word of mouth industry. You don't see TV commercials, you don't see ads and other stuff and in the music business from day one we are marketing machines. We wake up and we're selling ourselves and I thought, "Let me apply everything that I ever learned from Kiss, the marketing machine that Kiss is." I'm a huge Kiss fan so I thought, "Let me apply everything I ever learned in rock and roll to a huge industry that doesn't know any of that." The other part of that was my children. I wanted to teach them some kind of entrepreneurial skills, let them see me start a business because the world's changing so fast. I have so many friends of mine that laughed at me because when I was a kid I was the dreamer that was going to be a rock and roll star and the irony of that is most of my friends of my generation went to college to learn to do these jobs and whatever their career paths were going to be and then the IT thing hit and the world changed and half of my friend's jobs they spent half of their life preparing for don't even exist anymore and I kept thinking, "What if that happens to my kids?" It started as a fun little hobby to try to teach them some entrepreneurial skills and see what I could do in an industry that didn't have a lot of marketing I thought and it became something.
Where did you choose the name from?
I spent weeks trying to find the right name. Ironically, in 1998, my band Some Odd Reason was signed to a record label that was called Sol 3 Records which was out of New York City. There was a Baltimore band named Godhead that was signed to that record label and another Baltimore/Virginia band called Scrub that was signed to that label, there was, kind, of, a scene happening but the label was from New York City but they really had interest in the Maryland/Virginia area. They were a huge part of my life and I like to always bring it back to the people who helped me and the guys who owned that company gave me a career so I wanted to sure the word Sol and I kept trying to think of something that'd be positive. I went through all these different words and I was in a hotel room in a blizzard in North Dakota all by myself, pacing the room at like 3 o'clock at night and into my head Shining Sol. I texted a few people asking what they thought and they thought it was great.
You mentioned your kids. How many kids do you have?
I have two. I have a fourteen year old and a ten year old.
Besides the candle company, you are about a year and a half into your book release.
Yeah, yeah. The book is probably my personal pride and joy. I'm not the best speller in the world, if you ever watch my Facebook posts it's awful so to have written a book is cool but, of course, you have editors and stuff like that but I have a lot to say. I think that when anyone in a band says they're going to write a book everyone thinks about The Dirt from Mötley Crüe and it's just been done. I think when you're someone like me who's not a star on my own, I'm just well represented because of the company that I keep with Bret Michaels, I think a lot of people were hoping that I would give the dirt on Bret. There is no dirt on Bret. There's no dirt. He's what you see and the book, to me, was more about how a kid from Virginia didn't move to LA, didn't move to New York and didn't follow the trends. I just took my life lessons and applied them to the person I became and how I got to do what I get to do today. In my eyes, I'm the luckiest guy on the planet, I tell Bret everyday. Poison was one of my favorite bands. I don't play in this because it's a paycheck. The first song I ever played in a high school talent show was "Cry Tough" from Poison and I've been offered to play all kinds of different things in my life musically and I've always said no because I dance to the beat of my own drummer, I do things my way but to get to perform with Bret who is one of my all-time favorite front men in the world and one of my favorite bands. I have a picture from my high school talent show with my mom wearing a Poison shirt, they were a huge part of my life and so to have this opportunity to help carry those songs on, that's what this is to me. But, a lot of people because I'm not that typical LA or New York guitar player, I don't look like that, I don't act like that, a lot of people are like, "How did this happen to you?"
The book's called The Moments That Make Us and it's about the things that happened in my childhood that inspired me to be the individual that I am today and how I didn't fake it. I took the bad things that happened to me in my life and turned them positive, found inspiration in them and also how I can pass that along to my children. So, that's what the books about and it's very exciting. I want to write the second one so bad but I just haven't had the time because we've been on tour for so, so long. But, there will be a second one. There's a pride to me because I like to be inspirational, I want to make a difference, I want to make people's lives better, I want to make the world a better place and I think that the words in that book are the closest thing I've come to doing that yet.
Absolutely. Did you know Bret or get to meet him at any point during the time that C.C. (DeVille) was gone and Richie (Kotzen) joined or when Blues (Saraceno) was with Poison?
So, in 1991-92, when they announced that C.C. had left the band I found the numbers and contact to audition for Poison. I didn't make, I got a nice letter saying that the tape was nice and that my promo pack that I sent was great but they were going to use this guy named Richie Kotzen. Richie's a bad motherfucker, man. I get it and when I heard Native Tongue, I couldn't have done that, that's an incredible record. So, I knew the people in the Poison camp, the management and stuff like that and then years later Bret goes out on a solo tour and I made some calls and we get to be the opening band for the first east coast leg of that tour. Then the next year goes by and I make the calls and we get to do this again and I got to be friends with the guys in his band and the guitar player was not going to come back the third year. Something happened and he was going to go off and he asked if I'd be interested in taking the shot. I didn't want to leave my band, my band was doing great as far as I was concerned, my band Evick. We were playing on tour but I felt I needed to say yes and experience this. I'd gotten to know Bret, he was a great guy, wonderful guy that treated us great and then one day Bret called and said, "I have a little radio gig that I need to do in Detroit and instead of flying my whole band from LA do you guys just want to meet us up there?" and I said, "Yeah, we'll go!" But, a little radio gig to him and a little radio gig to me means two different things. Little radio gig to me means going into the studio with my acoustic guitar, this was twenty thousand people. So, we did the gig and it wasn't great but me and Bret talked about it and he said, "Do you want to try it again next week?" Next week was Memorial Day weekend in Nashville opening up for Lynyrd Skynyrd in front of thirty-three thousand people. We do that, we played right, Bret gave me the thumbs up right there on stage, we high fived, twelve years later I'm in the band.
Pete, thank you so much.
Yeah, thank you.