Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick livens up the party with new music, tours
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Nearly 50 years after their formation and 45 years since their debut album, the members of Cheap Trick have come to a realization.
“We’re too dumb to quit, and we’re too grounded in what we do,” guitarist and co-founder Rick Nielsen says over the phone. “We’re a basic rock ‘n’ roll band, that’s all. And people still like it.
The band will be in Greater Cleveland on Tuesday, July 19, opening for Rod Stewart at the Blossom Music Center.
Nielsen and company – frontman Robin Zander and bassist Tom Petersson, with Nielsen’s son Daxx on drums while original skinman Bun E. Carlos is an inactive member due to internal disagreements – have certainly amassed a track record. to support this. Cheap Trick has released 20 studio albums and sold over 20 million records worldwide. He performed more than 5,000 concerts, and in 2016 the band’s unwavering dedication landed him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
By the way, that was 14 years after Cheap Trick became eligible. But Nielsen has no axes to grind.
“It’s like you’re more believable, I guess – if that’s the right word for a rock band, believable,” says the 73-year-old guitarist, who still resides near Cheap’s birthplace. Trick in Rockford, Illinois. “We could go out and play 300 shows a year and people see you and say, ‘So Rick, what’s up?’ and you’re like, ‘Eh…same old ‘same old’.’
“But when the Hall of Fame was announced, everyone was really excited. The Hall of Fame is something that a lot of people can relate to, whether they understand what you’re doing or not. is always exciting. Unless they decide to take the award back, I’m in it for life.
Nielsen’s life in music started early. Both of her parents were opera singers; his father also conducted choirs and symphonies and recorded over 40 albums. “When I was a kid, I used to see my mother walking around with Viking horns and it seemed normal to me,” Nielsen says now. The family also owned a music store in Rockford, and Nielsen learned to play drums, guitar, and keyboards while forming bands such as the Phaetons, Grim Reapers, and Fuze. He briefly replaced Todd Rundgren at Nazz before Cheap Trick formed in Illinois.
Despite critical acclaim, the band’s career got off to a slow start and didn’t explode until Japanese audiences’ enthusiasm was captured on 1978’s triple-platinum 1978 “Cheap Trick at Budokan”. The ensuing ‘Dream Police’ went platinum the following year, while career has been up and down since, with occasional hits – power ballad ‘The Flame’ was a No. 1 surprise in 1987 – but very little downtime.
“We never try to be something we’re not,” says Nielsen, who has also recorded with the Yardbirds, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Motley Crue, Foo Fighters, Alice Cooper and others. Nielsen and Carlos also recorded material for John Lennon’s comeback album, “Double Fantasy”, which was not used on the initial release. OLne, “I’m Losing You”, then appeared in “John Lennon Anthology” in 1998.
“There’s no 10-minute songs and there’s no ‘Okay, we gotta do this kind of solo’,” Nielsen says. “We didn’t try to be anything other than who we are. We didn’t try to fit in with anything. We just played our version of what we love to do.
Cheap Trick did it again last year with “In Another World,” their sixth album with producer Julian Raymond and featuring The Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones on a cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth.” “We’ve always made albums,” Nielsen notes. “We didn’t just consider doing singles and stuff and hoping, throwing them on the wall and hoping for the best. So we’re making songs. They stand on their own and you put them together and it’s a nice combination.
This, he adds, is an ongoing process – and always in the hope that Cheap Trick will have something else to release sooner rather than later.
“I have so many songs lying around,” says Nielsen, “most of them aren’t finished because there’s never been a big roar for a Cheap Trick album. And then when we’re ask to do it, it’s like, ‘Yeah, holy cow!’ and we are starting to work very hard and we are all working on it together.
“If the songs have a thread of goodness or freshness in them, it’s worth pursuing. It’s always exciting. At this point, that’s probably never going to change.
Cheap Trick performs with Rod Stewart at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday July 19 at the Blossom Music Center, 1145 W Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls. Tickets are available at livenation.com.