It is with great excitement and anticipation that Cheap Trick will be making their way back to Australia to tour with the Under The Southern Stars festival that also includes Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, Rose Tattoo and Electric Mary. Not only that the band will be touring their new album In Another World which is packed full of great songs including The Summer Looks Good On You, Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll and Light Up The Fire to name a few. As a big fan it was an absolute privilege to be able to speak to the legendary Robin Zander about their Australian tour and new album In Another World.
When I heard that Cheap Trick had been added to Under The Southern Stars I reckon I could have done a couple of cartwheels.
You and me both! It is very nice to say that we are coming to Australia.
Even a couple of months ago did you think that touring outside of the United States would be even remotely possible?
No, I have no idea to be honest. We had some tours that were set up at home and they had to be postponed until next year. One was with Rod Stewart and the other with ZZ Top. This came about only just recently actually and we are all very excited because we haven’t played in a whole year.
Touring is no doubt the life blood for Cheap Trick how have you adjusted to not being able to tour?
I could say it sucks but I’m not going to! Being home isn’t so bad, I got to visit my friends that I haven’t seen in forty five years but you know, it’s simple, this is what we do for a living, of course I miss it very much. It is a double edged sword because I like being home with my family to.
There is plenty of love for Cheap Trick in Australia, it must be a huge buzz to be able to keep coming back?
Oh yeah! The last time we were there was with Billy Idol. We have got a new record coming out in April which was recorded a year and a half ago. It was supposed to be released this time last year and of course in March COVID hit real bad and we had to postpone the release of the record. We’re excited about being able to play some new tunes for everybody and what better place to start playing them than in Australia.
Have you got plans on how you will pass your time in quarantine when you arrive?
That part I have no idea what they will do with us! They might take us to the zoo and lock us up! I was hoping one of your friends over there would put us on one of their yachts. We could just sit out there and fish for a while. I remember when the Dream Police came out and we were there for a listening party. One of the CBS record reps had a ship and put us on it for the listening party, there was all kinds of booze and horderves and stuff like that. Our road crew had some weed on them and the guy hired some fake police to pull up on a boat with sirens blazing and scared the crap out of everyone. The road crew were throwing their pot in to the water to get rid of it, it was hilarious. We have had lots of good times there.
Are you looking forward to playing Under The Southern Stars with Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and Rose Tattoo?
Yeah, it will be pretty good. I know the guys from Stone Temple Pilots from a long time ago. Bush have not ever seen them live. I’m excited to see these other groups and get up and play ourselves.
Nineteen studio albums! Does the process of making a new album get any easier being a well seasoned campaigner?
I think it is twenty! The seasoning has worked, whatever seasoning that was used on us has seemed to have worked. We’re just a rock band from a small town that never had any visions of grandeur but after perseverance it happened to us. Since then we have had a lot of ups and downs but we’ve never stopped and kept forcing our music down everyone’s throats.
How did you get through those ups and downs as you mentioned?
We come from a work ethic type of town where we enjoy the work even if we weren’t popular. We would still go out and play. I think we’ve never forgotten where we came from, we’ve been in a position with no money in our pockets and still enjoyed doing what we are doing. We’ve been in a position with lots of money in our pocket and still enjoyed in the same way. Money comes and goes, success comes and goes but we just keep going and enjoy what we do. It is like musical super glue.
Did the ideas for In Another World kept coming thick and fast? Was it hard finding space for all these awesome songs?
That’s usually the truth, most of our records there’s usually twenty to thirty songs written and then you pick the best of that. It boils down to ten or twelve songs, there’s always stuff left over. I remember Surrender, Dream Police and I Want You To Want Me were basically written for the first album and none of them made the album. We put three records out in ’77 through ’78 and none of them made it over the top forty. So we went and did a live album. Suddenly we were kings of the block. We just kept going…
Did the songs change much from the original demos?
They always change, we demo them up ourselves and sometimes it is just an idea, or just a lyric, or an instrumental and we go in the studio and just work it out. We all have a lot of ideas and input in to every song that we do. We want the song to be the best that we can make it. Four people with ideas is definitely a lot better than just one guy.
Is it too early to have favourite songs off the album?
I’m interested to see what everyone’s favourites are but I like the rock songs on the album. I think they are all really good. I love that Sgt. Peppery kind of song that is on there, I love some of the down and out lyrics like The Party which I think is strong, I don’t have one favourite yet but I will when we start playing them live which will end up probably being the one that is easiest to play.
Are there plans to keep releasing albums?
I don’t see a reason why we would stop, there’s three song writers in the band. Having Rick Nielson who is a genius writer and Tom who is another genius, I’m surrounded by geniuses. It is easy for me just to get up there and sing.
Is there any teasers for the Australian tour set list? Will it be a bit random from night to night?
You’ll always hear something from the new album and each set will be different. We always play the three or four main songs that everyone knows such as Dream Police, Surrender, I Want You To Want Me and some of the other songs will be On Top Of The World, songs that were popular in Australia like If You Want My Love. We’ll mix it up and it will be a little bit different every show. There will always be one or two songs from the new record.
Any favourite places you like to go to in Adelaide?
We always like to be down by the water, I think it is Glenelg, there was always something going on there. We know The Angels well and they would always lead us in the wrong direction. I mean that in a fond way. After touring with AC/DC in the seventies we got to know some of your musicians over there quite well and they would always tell us the best places to go. And about that yacht, I appreciate you offering your yacht to host us!!!
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Cheap Trick with Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, Rose Tattoo and Electric Mary at Under The Southern Stars on the following dates…