Suffice to say, Rikki Rockett is not your ordinary rock 'n'
roll drummer. He looks different -- he's a sort of chameleon,
always changing -- and often with his band Poison, taking
'glam' to it's absolute limits. But more importantly, what he
says is different -- the guy lives for animal rights, always
putting it on the agenda, and even creating his own animal
rights websites! In fact, he calls himself the
His band, Poison, launched at us full-bore in 1984 with
their debut album "Look What the Cat Dragged In" and set the
rock world talking with their catchy heavy-metal/glam pop.
They've put out a number of albums over the years, and are
probably best known for their hit single "Unskinny Bop". They
are still packing out theatres all over the place.
Rikki was kind enough to make some time in his busy
schedule to answer some questions, and, as you'll read,
there's much more to this guy than whacking drums!
Interview by June Bird, April 2000.
Hi Rikki -- my first question:
are you a vegetarian or a vegan?
I'm nearly a vegan ... about 95%
... meaning I'm not perfect!
So what do you find hard about being
Just really knowing what's in certain foods is
important, and travelling can be tough especially in some
countries. However, I don't really look at it as an
inconvenience. Not to sound wacky, but I think going vegan is
a gift of enlightenment.
No that doesn't sound wacky at all -- I'm
definitely with you there! So at what age did you go vego and
what spurred you forward?
It was only 8 years ago. I was fighting against
animal abuse and one day I simply realised that the mass
slaughter of animals for food is one of the worst forms of
abuse in our world today. We get upset when we hear about the
guy down the street with his dog chained up outside on a short
leash in all kinds of weather but we overlook the abuse in the
Were there any significant events while growing up that
really shaped your compassion towards animals?
Yes, I was a hunter and on my first day I didn't get a buck,
so I decided I wanted to shoot something. I shot an innocent
bird out of a tree. It fell to the ground and I watched it take
it's last breath two feet from me. I killed for no reason
whatsoever. That moment has haunted me ever since. That day I
made a commitment to do everything I could to help the innocent
lives of animals. I still feel sick that I did that every time I
think about it. I try to use the experience as empowerment. What
it really was was a jerk-off kid who was bored. The idea of
hunting and the relationship between it and the disregard for
life is a very real concept.
What about your friends -- are any of them vego?
I have lots of vegetarian friends. My girlfriend
Malina is a great inspiration to me and always has been since
I met her.
Would you plan to try and raise your children as
I don't have any children, but when and if I do,
I'll raise them vegan until they're old enough to make their
Do you find most people are understanding of
It's mixed bag really. I don't take shit from
people who aren't, yet I don't shove my opinions down their
throats either. I just tell them the truth.
Do you have any animal companions?
Yes, collectively Malina and I have 15
What are some of your favourite things to munch
I love vegan Chinese food and I love Italian
What about wearing leather or wool etc?
I really don't wear any. I have a leather jacket
that I've had for 15 years that I can't seem to let go of, but
I hardly ever wear it.
What do you think about circuses, rodeos and
All the above make shadows of the animals they
once were or could have been. The very concept is abuse to
Above pics clockwise from top left: Rikki salutes the fans;
Poison in full 'glam' mode (Rikki on the left); Rikki in action.
Do you know any other vegetarian celebs?
Yes I know people like Tippy Hedren, (Melanie
Griffiths' famous mother) but I'm out to convert as many
people as I can!
So Rikki -- how do you feel since you went
At 38 I look better than I did at 30 I
Righto -- this is your opportunity -- what would
you like to tell your fans about going vegan and about your
passion for animal rights.
I grew up on a meat and potatoes diet. It's
tough to make the decision when you're raised that way.
However, it is so nice to lay down at night and know that no
animals have died for you or because of you.
What do you want to say about Ted Nugent* who seems to be
everything you're not?
He actually isn't everything I'm not. He's a patriotic
rocker who asserts his beliefs. However, his animal politics
totally eclipses all that. I don't hate Ted, I hate his
beliefs, which makes me dislike him in general. I try to take
the attention away from Ted himself when I'm asked about him.
The animal issues are way bigger than both of us and he
doesn't deserve the press he gets from it. The hunter as an
environmentalist is a myth.
* Editorial Note: For those not familiar with Ted Nugent,
he's an american rock legend. He also organises and
participates in the killings of bears and other animals for
'sport'. (As reported by PETA many years ago, he also got out
of army service by defecating in his pants. Seems he's not so
brave when the other side can shoot back.)
What's the stupidest thing you've heard from a
That man was meant to eat meat!
Your stance seems to be very brave as the heavy
metal/hard rock world doesn't seem to have many
vegetarians/vegans on the scene! So what do 'they' think about
you whipping up animal rights issues?!
I've had several people say, "Ahh, so you're
politically correct now, huh?" Yeah, I wish animal rights were
politically correct, maybe we would get more press for Gawd's
I do feel like a loner out there sometimes. But it's nice
when I meet other activists on the road. I have an immediate
bond with them. The toughest part is getting people to
understand the real point of animal rights. It's become a
blanket term for too many people and it's used any way the
person sees fit. Positive or negative. Synonymous with
terrorist or with animal welfare, or anything in between. The
first thing I have to always do is set people straight on what
it really means. To me, it means to alleviate the unnecessary
suffering of animals from the hands of humans.
Life is indeed rough for all living things on earth, that
does not give us free reign to make it worse!
What pisses me off more than anything is someone telling me
to get in touch with my spirituality as they chew a chunk of
steak. What's more is the notion that Poison exploits women
and a reckless lifestyle. I am not responsible for anyone
being responsible or not. Human beings have the right to
choose. Choose to fight, kill, help, heal, exploit themselves,
hurt or evolve. One thing remains constant... animals are more
often than not, victims of our decisions.
Being a rock drummer is a fairly full-on career.
Have you found any difference in your stamina and recovery
time after playing since becoming a vegan?
It is a full career, trust me! I have found more
energy both in drumming and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (submission
wrestling) which I have been doing for about 4 1/2
What sort of things are you doing in your life
at the moment?
Tons! We (Poison), just finished the mixes on the
new record called "Power To The People". It's Five new songs
and 10 Live tracks from last years tour. We are now our own
official record company for this new one. CMI (Cyanide Music
Inc.) so, we do everything. I am the graphic artist of the
band so I am doing the record covers, etc.
I am also doing a record for Cleopatra records called Rikki
Rockett's "Glitter For Your Soul". 11 Tracks of 70's Glitter
songs with tons of special guests. Poison then goes on the
road starting in June for the summer 2000 Power To The People
tour. I also do websites. I specialise in Flash animation for
Will Poison be touring 'Down Under'?
All I can say is that I certainly hope so. I
love it there. I was born in the USA so I have always been
happy in the US, but I've always said that if I couldn't live
here, I'd live there.
Thanks very much for the interview Rikki, but do
you have anything else you want to say about animal
Don't base your beliefs on anything but what you truly feel
in your heart. I happen to believe that when people really
reach down inside themselves, they'll see that killing animals
for food is not ethical or necessary. It's this idea that
gives me hope in humanity.