The Latest from Cheap Trick.

CTbike-loIn 1974, four men from Rockford, Illinois got together to play music inspired by artists across the Atlantic like the Move, the Beatles, etc. If you asked those young men if they would still be writing and recording thirty-five years later, my bet is that the answer would have been a strange look and a shrug…not a definitive answer. Who knows, their young guitarist may have had a master plan that did indeed include recording and touring into his 60’s.

I had the privilege to talk to this guitarist, Rick Nielsen, founder of Cheap Trick last week. What leads me to believe that the band’s longevity might have been planned, was the enthusiasm still evident in Mr. Nielsen when talk turned to playing music. As our conversation progressed past the usual “tell me about your new album” stuff, the secret to the band’s success became evident to me after thirty years as a fan- this guy actually loves to play.

CH:  You are about to get very busy next week. You have a new cd, a big summer Tour and a song on a major movie soundtrack – all releasing or starting on the 23rd.

RN: Yeah, we’ve got a lot of stuff going on. It’s always a nice thing to do and have.

CH: I wanted to talk to you about The Latest, your new cd which is being released exclusively through your website and on June 23. The album has something for all of your fans. Great songwriting and performances. Even if you had the luxury of not being compared to your previous work, this album would stand on its on…

RN: Yeah, we don’t sound like we’ve been… It doesn’t sound like it is our 28th album, or whatever it is. HaHa…The music is kind of , its kind of grown up in a way. But then again we have songs like “Sick Man of Europe,” which sound like we haven’t progressed one iota, but that’s a good thing.

CH: That song is definitely up there with your best rockers. You mention that the music is grown up… the album ends with , to me, one of your best ballds ever- the very grown up “Smile”

RN: Yeah, “Smile.” When Robin hits those notes ( Rick sings the word smile here)- Woah!  It gives you goosebumps.

CH: Another song , I wanted to ask about was the song “Closer, the ballad of Burt and Linda.” Was that inspired by the couple featured in the documentary, “Crazy Love?”

RN: I think that name was brought up, and I think it was inspired by, well… Yeah. HAHA. I don’t know. “Closer” was the title, and then somebody wrote it on one of the rough mixes we were doing and it just stuck ever since. I think maybe somebody was reading about that couple and… Well you are asking the question and I have a great answer- “Huh..” HAHA

CH: Well you’ll be ready next time…

RN: I’ll still be “Huh… what” You are the second person to ask me that and my answer for them was, “Huh, what.” HAHA We just started doing interviews for the new record, I think maybe you are only the second one that has it and has heard it and I haven’t got some stock crummy answer yet…I just have my rough crummy answer.

CH: HAHA Well, it is a nice moody piece- very melodic…

RN: Yeah – the harmony is cool in there and the guitar part (hums guitar line.) I’ve always liked melody more than, “geez let’s see how many notes I can throw in, in twenty seconds.”  I’d never win that battle anyhow, so having a melody is something I’ve always liked.

CH: I think that is true for this whole record. Take a song like, “Everybody knows.” That song has a great twisting melody line that just wraps throughout the entire tune- not really stopping to put in a big chorus…

RN: Yeah, it just keeps going… it reminds me of Procol Harum’s  “Repent Walpurgis” You don’t know what the lyrics mean, but you still listen to it.

CH: You also have a song on the new Transformer’s movie soundtrack (Transformer’s Theme). How did that come about?

RN: The guy that we worked with, on The Latest, name is Julian Raymond. He lives in Hollywood and somebody from Paramount called him and before I knew it we were, on a day off, recording, and the president of Paramount came in with his kid-the kid said it was good. It was like one of those things- we weren’t in when it started but they were looking for something and Cheap Tirck, I guess, sometimes fills the bill.

CH: As I mentioned- you have a busy schedule ahead. Last week you made another big announcement. Cheap Trick will be doing a ten night stand at the Las Vegas Hilton playing the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper in it’s entirety.

RN: They actually wanted us for, I think, almost a year or something like that HAHA, and we just didn’t have the time. We are going straight from the Def Leppard/Poison tour  right to Vegas to rehearse to play those shows.

CH: You have done the show several times, with special guests at each. Any special guests in Las Vegas?

RN: Yeah, I am sure we will definitely. But that is TBA, or rather TBD, to be determined, haha. There are so many people that… We did the thing, Music For Hangovers, a four night stand in Chicago, and we had people from Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Supersuckers,..We had all these bands fighting with each other to get paid $250 to open for us. HAHA.

At this point the conversation changed to a discussion about playing music….Mr. Nielsen discussed learning the songs from the Sgt Pepper shows, and how much he loved learning and playing. For five minutes, I was able to talk guitars with a childhood hero of mine, and to end the conversation- perhaps my favorite quote of all time:
RN: Alright Clay, go away HAHAA

Cheap Trick’s new album “The Latest” is available now exclusively from or The band plays in the Carolina’s on August 7 and 8. The Sgt Pepper shows take place at the Las Vegas Hilton –September 13- 23, and the Transformer’s soundtrack releases this week…. Whew.


About stratoclay
father, husband, musician, employee, writer... in that order

One Response to The Latest from Cheap Trick.

  1. stratoclay says:

    this is the unedited version of the article that ran in last week’s YES! weekly. Just wanted to give it the closure that I submitted it with.


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