StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-114970364227371.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jonathan Hicks’, ‘Rick Nielsen speaks at a private release party for Cheap Tricks latest CD, Rockford, at Paragon On State June 5. ‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-114970368827411.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jonathan Hicks’, ‘Cheap Trick members (from left) Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos speak at a June 5 party at Paragon On State.’);
Editors note: The following is part two of a two-part interview with Cheap Tricks Rick Nielsen. Part one, Rick Nielsen talks about not going Hollywood, new album, appeared on page A1 of the May 31-June 6, 2006, issue. Cheap Tricks new album, Rockford, hit record stores yesterday, June 6.
Love them or hate them, Cheap Trick have given name recognition of our city to a global audience with yesterdays (June 6) release of Rockford. Of course, Trick fanatics will argue theyve been doing that since the mid-1970s. And theyre right. The black and white checkerboard pattern has become symbolic of Rockford in virtually every place but Rockford.
But guitarist Rick Nielsen doesnt let that get him down. The charismatic rocker concludes his chat with The Rock River Times, lending insight about the newly released album as well as why home really is where the heart is.
Jonathan Hicks, The Rock River Times (TRRT): Do you have a favorite track on Rockford?
RN: No, because to each his own. There are reasons why I like every track. I suppose I could number them from one to 12, but Cheap Trick has always tried to make good albums. Once in a while, we make some better than others, but from the first song to the last, you can put it in on a repeat function, and it just kind of flows.
TRRT: What impact did Linda Perry have on the album?
RN: We wrote a couple of songs with her. Its fun working with creative, fun people, and shes creative and fun. Shes an engineer, producer, songwriter, singershe can do it all.
TRRT: Whats the story behind Welcome to the World?
RN: My son Miles had a baby girl. If I say granddaughter, then that sounds too old, so I say shes my sons daughter. She calls me grumpy, for good reason. And the day she was born, it exhilarated me and I wanted to write a song. You think of little babies being born, you think of little lullabies. I dont write lullabies. I was excited, so I said, Welcome to the world, its a better place now that youre here. It wasnt written for her, but it was inspired by her and the events of that day. But if you didnt know that, its just a fun rock song.
TRRT: I wrote a review for the album not too terribly long ago. In it, I refer to two different types of fans, one of which are those who still like to spin their Fuse album, the other of which are some of the younger ones that got into you guys through That 70s Song. Can both types of fans enjoy the new album?
RN: You dont have to be a fan at all to enjoy the albumyou can become a fan. We make good albums, I think. And were still excited about playing. I see bands that werent excited when they made their first record. Weve always tried to make good records. Sometimes you fail, and sometimes you do better than you expected. But I think both fans will like it, and, hopefully, well make new fans, too.
TRRT: In a recent interview that you did, the writer referred to Cheap Trick as one of the most successful and influential power pop outfits of their generation, which implies your generation has come and gone. But youre still here. Why do you think Cheap Trick is still relevant to the current music scene?
RN: Weve always played from the heart, no matter how shallow that heart may be. We werent trying to do symphonies or do something that was above us or that we didnt understand. The influences that we had and how weve interpreted them is what we are. All the stuff we liked, we liked for the right reasonsbecause it was cool. That stuff is still cool. And I wish a lot of them were still around. Youre 25, and youve got to go back and research this junk. Its not like youre hearing our stuff or anybodys stuff on the radio that you probably listen to. Thats the same thing when I was growing up in Rockford. I subscribed to Melody Maker from England. I got it airmailed. I was probably the only person in the United States that got it airmailed, because I wanted to know what was going on this week in London. And I used to read the stuff and some of the writers that they had there, you could tell what the band was like. Not like today. A lot of magazines say, These guys stink and the guy looks like . All (writers) are doing is trying to be creative, fun and sarcastic. You cant really tell too much about the music with a lot of the writers. But back then, you could. If I listen to old Jimi Hendrix records, they still sound great. Some of its a little dated, of course, but its still cool stuff.
TRRT: Youve spent your entire life calling Rockford home. I grew up here surrounded by kids that had nothing better to do than talk about getting out of this town. You could live anywhere you want. Why have you stayed here?
RN: Ive gone everywhere and the majority of my friends and family are here. I couldve made a move. Ive lived in Philadelphia, Europesome years I spend more time in California than I do here. But I always come back. In Chicago magazine, an article just came out where I said (that) if you can make it in Rockford, you can make it anywhere. This is as tough a town as any place in the world, and the fact that I dont really earn my living hereI dont really stay because of that. I stay because there are good people here and plenty to do. If its too boring for you, you can always go to Chicago. I know people who never leave this town that hate it. And I know people that never leave this town that love it. There are great people, and there are jerks here, too. With Cheap Trick, the people either love you or hate you, one of the two. Im never going to change anybodys feelings about it. I cant please my family, let alone the rest of the world (laughing).
Cheap Tricks latest effort, Rockford, is in stores now. For more information, or to sample album tracks, visit www.cheaptrick.com.
From the June 7-13, 2006, issue