Totally True Memoirs of a Metal Producer: Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In
It was 1986, and I was sitting on a nude beach in Hawaii enjoying Mai Tais and top-notch Colombian blow when Billy Hein from Enigma Records called me on my Motorola 8000X.
“Tommy,” he said, “we just signed this hot new band. The girls love ’em. I need you to come back to L.A. and produce their album.”
“No can do, baby,” I replied. “Daddy is mucho mucho relaxed.”
Then Billy reminded me he had some unsavory photos of me at David Lee Roth’s 1983 Thanksgiving dinner doing something with a turkey I’d rather not get into. Anyway, I had to cut my vacay short and hop on a plane back to the mainland.
When I arrived at the studio, I found Joan Rivers and three groupies from the Strip waiting for me. Except it soon became apparent that it wasn’t Joan Rivers and three groupies, but the actual members of the band, which made more sense. Their names were Bret, CC, and the other two.
I told the kids to play me their tunes. They played one about shtupping at the drive-in. I quickly realized two things: the band was terrible, and the CC kid was definitely holding.
I told him if he didn’t bring enough for everybody he couldn’t have any either. Thirty seconds later were doing rails off his hot-pink B.C. Rich. When they played the song again, I was able to truthfully tell them that I thought they sounded much better this time. I told them to go home and get some sleep and come back tomorrow and make sure to bring more powder.
Except only the drummer came back the next day. At first I was furious because I thought the band had ignored my instructions. Then the drummer held up a gram of yayo and I realized they’d followed the important part of my directions to the letter. So I wasn’t so mad anymore.
We hit the slopes and then recorded all of his drum parts before lunch.
The next day the bassist came in. He seemed to think he was the funniest person ever born. He wasn’t, but he did have a big bag of nose candy so I listened to him tell his stupid jokes for five minutes before we started recording. We finished an hour later.
The next day it was CC’s turn. He preferred his bump in the form of crack, which wasn’t my favorite but wasn’t my least-favorite, either. I took one hit, he took five, and then we recorded all of his guitar parts in fifteen minutes. They actually had be slowed down a little for use on the album. Anyway no sooner did I say “Good job sport” than he bolted from the studio, leaving a CC-shaped hole in the wall behind him.
Last was Bret. Like a lot of singers, he was actually really insecure; he was worried that he was losing his hair. As we did our morning speedball, I told him not to worry about and taught him this trick about using a bandana to hide the fact that you’re wearing a hair piece. He thanked me profusely. It ended up taking the whole day to record his vocals, but that was only because he could only stay on key if he stood perfectly still and took breaks in-between every part.
We’d finished early so I took the rest of the recording budget and checked into Betty Ford for a couple of weeks to get my shit back together. But it was my tenth visit, which meant it was free, so I actually got pocket that extra moolah and use it later to buy cocaine.
A few months later the album came out and everyone said they hated it. But it sold four million copies, so a lot of people were lying.