Local cover band Shot of Poison, which covers — you guessed it — Poison, is one of the many contestants in E!’s new “Clash of the Cover Bands,” which debuts on Oct. 13 at 9:30 p.m. The reality competition show is hosted by Stephen “tWitch” Boss and produced by Jimmy Fallon with celebrity judges Adam Lambert, Ester Dean, and Cape Cod native Meghan Trainor.
Bands go head-to-head dressed up as some of their (and your) favorite artists, from Jennifer Lopez to Ozzy Osbourne. Cover bands of the same genre will compete for cash prizes of $10,000. At the end of the season, contestants have the chance to win a full prize of $25,000 and an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
Shot of Poison, which formed in December 2017 with ties from Waltham to Worcester and Salem, N.H., draws parallels in everything from wardrobe to stage presence to sound. Instead of mirroring Poison during the band’s ‘80s heyday, Shot of Poison specifically emulates the 35th anniversary of the band, resembling the members and their shows as they are in present day.
Band members Frank Pupillo, Bruce Bennett, Ken Gilman, and Adam Boc focus on three aspects of preparation for their Poison tribute: to sound the way they do, look the way they do, and pull off the same stage show. Their stage names are slight alterations of the original members’ names: Pupillo as Fret Michaels (for Bret Michaels), Bennett as B.B. Seville (for C.C. DeVille), Gilman as Kenny Rockkit (for Rikki Rockett), and Boc as Bobby Dollface (for Bobby Dall).
“Getting the music just like it is on the records, as close to it as you can, is what people really want to hear,” Boc told the Globe via Zoom interview. “They don’t want to hear you reinterpret the songs. They want to sing along and they want to hear it like it is.”
The band fine-tuned their act to deliver an immersive Poison experience, from having a stage announcer, to playing the same opening song from Poison’s tour setlist for every performance, to mimicking the CO2 jet effects that launch the show. Pupillo straightens his hair and puts in blue contact lenses to look like Bret Michaels, even covering up his original tattoos and replacing them with those of the famous singer.
SOP does add its own charm, too, with crowd interaction and some setlist tweaks. During “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” the bandmates have their own “rose ceremony” and hand out roses to audience members. During “Something to Believe In,” SOP likes to pay tribute to the country’s veterans, including frontman Pupillo.
“We put a lot of work into this. I can’t tell you how many hours, individually and collectively, we put in at the beginning of this, Adam probably the most with all the editing in video and social media work,” Bennett said. “As a band, we did a lot of rehearsing, a lot of studying our parts on our own, getting together, planning, and agreeing on [wanting to be] big.”
Though the members of SOP said they will unfortunately not be performing Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me,” they’re still excited for viewers to see what they can do.
Riana Buchman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.