In his work as a solo artist, Bret Michaels’ right-hand man is guitarist Pete Evick, a multitalented musician who, in addition to playing guitar in the Bret Michaels Band, has also served as a co-songwriter, producer, mixer and musical director for the group. On the rare occasion he finds himself with some free time, the guitarist also pursues his own projects, which include studio work for a variety of artists as well as recording and performing with his long running band, Evick.
Recently, Evick took a few minutes from his always busy schedule to chat with Guitar World about the newest Bret Michaels Band song, “Get Your Ride On,” which is currently being used as the opening song to the new season of Monster Energy AMA Supercross on SPEED TV, and features guest guitar spots from Def Leppard’s Phil Collen and My Darkest Days’ Sal Costa. Evick also discussed how he came to play with Michaels, and what he and the band have on tap for the future.
You’ve been playing with Bret for eight years. How did you get the gig with him?
PETE EVICK: That’s a bit of a long story. I’m from Manassas, Virginia, and Bret’s also from the east coast, only two hours from where I grew up. So when I was a kid I knew who he was and would occasionally see Paris [the original lineup of Poison] play the bars. Back in 1992, when C.C. [DeVille] left Poison, I did everything I could to get in that band. Needless to say, Ritchie Kotzen got the gig, though I like to believe it’s because I was only 17 and on the east coast, not because the guy was amazing and blew me away! When I finally heard the Native Tongue album I remember going, “Hmmmm, maybe I couldn’t have done that!” But I always found ways to keep in touch with the Poison camp.
Then around 2003 Bret went out on a solo tour for his Songs of Life album, and he was kind enough to let my band, Evick, open on a lot of the tour. We also opened for him again on his next tour. Eventually an opportunity came up to play guitar in his band, and his musical director Steve Frangadakis got me the gig. But what happened was, a last minute show came up and Bret decided that rather than fly me to L.A. to break me in with his band, it made more sense to have me and my band back him. So we learned the songs and headed out to what Bret called a “little radio gig.” Well, his idea and my idea of a “little gig” must be different, because suddenly I found myself in front of 10,000 people! After the gig I was really down on myself about how I played—I learned that day why Bret was a star and I wasn’t yet. I figured I’d ruined my rep and that was the end of it, but Bret called me and said, “I’ve seen your band, and I know what you can do. Let’s try it again—we’re playing a sold-out Memorial Day weekend gig with Lynyrd Skynyrd for 30,000 people.” No pressure, huh? But we killed it. Bret walked up to me after the show and said, “That’s the Petie I’m lookin’ for!” And here we are going on a decade. And I have to say, that guy has a sense of loyalty like no other. He may be the best frontman in rock and roll, and he could also teach you a bit about being human.
Bret keeps the band on a pretty busy schedule. How many shows would you say you do each year?
We do 180 to 220 gigs a year. Then he does Poison as well. The guy doesn’t stop. We were on the road just weeks after his brain hemorrhage, even after everyone told him not to do it.
How did the opportunity to do “Get Your Ride On” for AMA Supercross come about?
Bret is an avid motocross fan—he has a motocross track in his backyard, and even as far back as Poison’s “I Won’t Forget You” video you can see him riding his motorcycle. Last year he initiated the Rock Hard, Ride Hard award for Supercross, and with anything Bret does he gets involved 200 percent, so it was a natural progression to do more this year. The guys from Supercross heard the track and thought it was a no-brainer for the theme song. And I gotta tell you, it sounds good being played in those big arenas during their events!
How did Phil Collen and Sal Costa become involved in the song?
With Sal, we were touring in Canada last Halloween and My Darkest Days were on the bill with us. We were all blown away by them. I remember sitting in the dressing room with Bret and he said, “Wow, who are those guys?” Next thing you know, their song “Porn Star Dancing” takes off and they’re the hot rock band on the scene. We kept in touch with the guys and Sal came out on the Poison tour and jammed with them a few times. So when we were doing this song I called him up and said, “Hey, check out this track and throw some guitar on it if you want. A few hours later he sent me back some killer fills and lead stuff, I flew it in to the mix and that was that. He played a few licks that I couldn’t imagine the song not having now. Then with Phil, he and Bret have been buddies a long time. I’m not sure how it happened but Bret said to me, “Call Phil—he’s waiting on you to send him the tracks.” Next thing you know I’m mixing Phil Collen’s guitar, the guy who played on Pyromania and Hysteria, two of the most well-produced albums in rock history.
Who plays the solo on the song?
On the version that’s out there it’s Phil doing the lead. I believe when we put the whole album out, we’ll have a bonus track with my original solo.
What gear did you use on the track?
Guitar wise, I used my Dean Soltero and Bret used his Dean Z—Bret is actually playing throughout the song, basically everything but the lead and what I call texture parts. And that’s him killing it at the beginning. I don’t know what guitars the other guys used, though I know Phil’s tracks were recorded with GTR from Waves. Otherwise, I’m a big tech guy, so I use emulators and plug-ins, and I also used AmpliTube 3—the Orange amp model. We recorded the song at the studio on Bret’s ranch, and also flew in some vocals that were done at my house on the east coast, which is also where I mixed it. Sal and Phil did their parts in their home studios.
In addition to playing with Bret, you lead your own band, Evick. What’s on the horizon for you guys?
We recently released our third EP, Reflections, and on rare off time from the BMB [Bret Michaels Band] we’ll tour in support of it. We’re also releasing a new single this week called “Big Rock Guitars.” It’s a song I wrote almost ten years ago, the day I heard that Sammy Hagar rejoined Van Halen, because I’m a huge VH fan and was so excited about that. In celebration of the return of Van Halen once again, I’ve decided to finally officially release it. As far as the future of Evick, it’s just a wave I ride when I can. It’s my baby, and I’m very passionate about the music I write, but the Bret Michaels thing is my world now. It’s a full time gig and then some to keep up with him.
You’ve also established yourself as a producer in your own right. What artists have you worked with in a production capacity?Bret keeps me real busy, but in recent years I’ve received a gold award for my work with Paramore and a Platinum award for Shinedown. Most of that was editing work. But I’ve been at it for many years. When the grunge scene hit [Bret Michaels Band and Evick drummer] Chuck Fanslau and I opened a studio in the D.C. area. I’ve worked with everyone from Raven to Godhead, and early on I got to work with Steve Whiteman of Kix. I did some mixes for my good buddy Steve Brown on the new Trixter record, and worked with a killer up-and-coming band out of New Jersey called Toxin. Through Bret I also got to work with Miley Cyrus, sit beside the legendary Don Was, and have made a record with the co-founder of Sire Records, Richard Gottehrer. What’s coming up for the Bret Michaels Band?Currently we have a new record called Get Your Rock On coming out, and we’re also working on an acoustic Americana album. And we start the tour back up again in two weeks. We just keep going. Bret has many business ventures coming this year and you will see a lot of amazing things from us. But for right now it’s all about “Get Your Ride On,” which I think is a killer track. So check it out!