Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Cheap Trick needs precious little in the way of an introduction. Roaring out of Rockford in the early '70s, the band's stayed on a remarkably consistent career path for decades, hewing close to a muscular framework of guitar-driven  glam riffs and sturdy, pop-based song craft. Anthems like "I Want You To Want Me" and "Surrender" bridged arena rock bombast with power-pop melodicism, hard rock heft with a nearly punk intensity. The band's latest, Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello, is its first in seven years, but the 11 songs featured show little wear on the band's singular style. Even if drummer Ben E. Carlos is missed -- Daxx Nielsen mans the drums for the quartet these days -- songs like the over-the-top "Long Time No See Ya" and "Heart on the Line" are meaty and exuberant.

Chatty and quick with a Midwestern self-deprecating dig, Rick Nielsen spent some time with AD on the phone to discuss the new record, playing with John Lennon, and recording with the late George Martin. Below, edited excerpts from our conversation.

Aquarium Drunkard:  Congrats on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Have you guys been working on something cool for the ceremonies?

Rick Nielsen: Uh, no. [Laughs] I don’t think so. We’re a little new to it, so…

AD: Well, everyone’s new to it. You only get inducted the once.

Rick Nielsen: Well yeah. If we screw it up, it was the best we could do, and if we do good, it’s a fluke.

AD: Let’s talk about something you might have some more thoughts about, your new record, Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello.

Rick Nielsen: It was a lot of fun to make. We made it over a year and a half. [We did] about seven songs in L.A., and we went back and did eight more, and then we did eight songs in Nashville, and did seven more [in L.A.] It was kind of fun. Not everything sounds the same. Sometimes in the studio you get tunnel vision, but [this one felt] a bit fresher.

AD:  Cheap Trick spends a lot of time on the road. Compared to a lot of other bands who’ve been around as long as you, you tour an awful lot.

Rick Nielsen: I tell people if we waited around for a hit to go on tour, we’d never tour. I see other groups saying, “We’ve got this big tour lined up, we’re doing 60 shows.” I say, “60 shows? [Laughs] That’s just getting warmed up.”

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