As Cheap Trick prepare to fly in for three-date visit to the UK this month, guitarist Rick Nielsen reveals to Classic Rock that the Chicago band are already preparing what will be their third album in the space of a little over a year and a half. The quartet’s previous two records, Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello and the just-issued We’re All Alright!, came 14 months apart, although before those, fans had waited the better part of a decade since the band’s last release, 2009’s The Latest.
Nielsen attributes this new flurry of activity not to some twilight years creative spurt, but to the influence of a record label – Nashville-based Big Machine – that he says cares about what the band do.
“Although Big Machine is basically a country label, Scott Borchetta [owner] is a fan of our music, and he knows we’re still an active band,” Rick explains. “In fact we have one more track to go and the next album, a Christmas record, will be done. It will be a mix of our own material and covers by the Ramones, one by Roy Wood, one from Chuck Berry and another by Slade.”
A Christmas song by Slade? Hmm… we wonder which?
“Ha ha, we like to keep people guessing,” Nielsen says, laughing.
The guitarist is such an Anglophile that he spends every alternate Thanksgiving in London with his old friend Dave Clark, formerly the drummer and leader of the pop group the Dave Clark Five in the 60s, and Nielsen is excited to be returning to Britain in a professional capacity.
Will we be hearing anything from the new record, We’re All Alright!, at the upcoming dates?
“Oh, I don’t know,” he shrugs jovially. “Do you want to make up the set-list for me?”
Since Cheap Trick last spoke to Classic Rock in April 2016 they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Some artists speak proudly of their own induction experience, while others, such as, Steve Miller are much less complimentary.
“Oh, I loved it,” Nielsen exclaims. “I said back then that if Ritchie Blackmore and Peter Cetera [a founder member of Chicago] didn’t want to play with their bands [both sat out of the ceremony with Deep Purple and Chicago respectively] they were welcome to come and play with ours.
“To me the whole thing was very cool,” he adds. “It was an honour to be nominated and a bigger one still to be invited in. C’mon, we’re four guys from Rockford, Illinois, but our influences come from all over the world. We’ve played with a lot of great people and we’re still making records. The truth is that we’re just too dumb to quit.”
The last of Cheap Trick’s UK dates is in Bristol on June 29