Just as his myriad health problems didn't stop him from releasing a new album ("Custom Built") and winning "Celebrity Apprentice" last year, Bret Michaels isn't letting heart surgery slow him down this year, either.
The veteran rocker will be on the road this year, including a summer jaunt with Mötley Crüe and the New York Dolls, celebrating his band Poison's 25th anniversary. He'll also tour on his own, release a new solo album in May as well as a new Poison compilation, host a cruise in November and continue work on his autobiography, "Roses & Thorns."
"I feel absolutely great, man," Michaels, who underwent surgery in January to repair a hole in his heart, tells Billboard.com. "I'm up, I'm walking, I'm exercising. Considering how much my body's been through since last April, I feel pretty damn good. I feel lucky. It just wasn't my time."
It is time, however, for new Michaels' music. Coming on the heels of "Custom Built" is "Get Your Rock On," which he says is full of "a lot of really straight-up, in-your-face, well-produced, contemporary just good rock songs. It mixes a little bit of the classic elements with some new sounds." Featuring all originals, Michaels says his sixth solo album hits harder than its predecessors.
"With the other albums I did, I always put a little bit of Americana and contemporary country into the music," he explains, "influences and stuff from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Mellencamp and Garth Brooks mixed in with my Aerosmith and AC/DC. This one is primarily straight-up rock songs, which I think people will like. I've written a lot of good stuff over the last few years that I think are just good rock songs. I feel really strong about it."
As the new album comes out, Michaels is looking forward to "making a strange kind of history" by touring both on his own and with Poison. His solo dates begin Mar. 19 in Arizona, including some shows with actor Kevin Costner and his band Modern West. Poison, meanwhile, gets under way on May 25 in Biloxi, Miss., before joining the Crüe tour June 7 in Dallas. Poison is also planning to release "A Double Dose of Poison," which Michaels says will feature "greatest hits...and a lot of the B-sides and different stuff on there. It's basically commemorative of the 25th anniversary and sort of like a CD program of the songs we'll be doing" on tour.
No new Poison music is planned yet, but Michaels notes that he and bandmates C.C. DeVille, Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dall are "closer this year than we've been in years. We've all been on the phone, talking about the songs we're gonna play and the stuff we started out having fun doing. It's a good feeling. I think it's going to be a kick-ass summer."
He's also looking forward to being on the road with Mötley Crüe, even though there have been some harsh words exchanged over the years, and even recently, between the two camps. "I know Mötley Crüe made some derogatory statements early on when I mentioned us doing this (tour) together," says Michaels, who tipped the tour last summer. "But I've spoken with Nikki (Sixx) several times on the phone now, and really, the truth of the matter is that rock fans spoke up and said what a great tour this will be, to see those bands with that kind of energy and stage shows. So I want to go out this summer, regardless of what's been said and what's been done...Really, it means nothing to me. What matters is I go out and have fun with my band on our 25th anniversary. That's all."
Amidst all this, Michaels -- who's also planning to release a vocal warm-up CD for aspiring singers -- is continuing to work on the oft-delayed autobiography, "Roses & Thorns." But, he notes, "every time I turn around, I've got a new chapter to add. Just the medical condition alone is worth the last half of the book. I promise I'm going to get you bits and pieces to read. I'm just gonna give you stuff -- 'Read this!' Really, it'll get out some day, but so much happens to me, and how do you leave any of it out?"