Editor’s note: The following originally appeared on the Legendary Rock Interviews website at http://www.legendaryrockinterviews.com/. The interview was conducted by a husband-and-wife team, and is presented here with the byline of M.J. Parks. The authors granted The Rock River Times permission to reprint the interview.
By M.J. Parks
We are massive fans of our hometown boys, Cheap Trick. It’s well known we mention them in pretty much every interview we do, regardless of whether the situation even calls for it.
The guys themselves don’t really do a whole lot of interviews, and while we’ve met them a bunch of times, it’s never been with tape rolling.
This is a great interview with Rick Nielsen’s lovely daughter, Scarlett, who, as a model, is not only as hot as a ’70s Robin Zander pin-up, but equally as nice and interesting.
We thank her not only for her time, but for giving us just a little peek behind the family curtain of our beloved baseball cap-wearing songster!
Q: Thanks for doing this, Scarlett! Did you get enough sun and enjoy your summer?
A: Summer was great, but it always goes by WAY too fast. I wish the hours in a day were endless and the sun was always out. I can never get enough sun!
Q: You’re back in good, old Rockford, Ill., but you went to college out West. What was it like living out there, and what made you wanna come back?
A: To be completely honest, I had an apartment in Los Angeles and went out there for two weeks and realized I just couldn’t stand being so far away from my family. I have six nieces and nephews, the oldest is 7, and the thought of missing parts of them growing up was just something I couldn’t live with. So, I came home. I still go there to visit and love it, though.
Q: You have lots of great photos and have done photo modeling, runway work and hung out at fashion week … is that something you find fun, or is it a actually a lot more work than most people think?
A: Well, thank you. I suppose it’s like anything in life — if you love what you’re doing, then it never seems like work. I love it. I could model all day, every day! I grew up wanting to be Cindy Crawford. Traveling, on the other hand, is exhausting. It seems like it would be the best part of the job, but it has to be the worst. Not to mention I have a fear of flying!
Q: You, of course, have a famous dad, but your beautiful mom must have also had a profound effect on you growing up and your career aspirations. How important was your mom in your life and what is something about her that would probably surprise a lot of people who don’t know her that well?
A: My mom is the rock in my family. My parents have been married 40 years. That’s pretty much unheard of in the music business and in our day and age, period. My dad always says that my mom is a saint. She is the best mother/woman I know. My mom stayed home and raised my brothers and I while my dad was touring. She did everything she could to make sure we were happy. She is our biggest supporter. People probably would be surprised to know that every Thursday for the last seven years, my mom has driven an hour away and babysat my brother Miles’ little girls. She is the best grandma, too!
Q: We interviewed Miles a while back, and it’s obvious that music is really the most important thing in his life and has been, even when he was younger. He grew up in the house with all of the gear, and grandpa and grandma even were surrounded by musical equipment. Is there a part of you that is interested in that or was ever interested in that?
A: I love music. It’s in my blood to have an interest in it. I took singing lessons for a few years and loved it. But, am I able to play any musical instruments? Not at all (laughs). I wish I had tried harder to learn an instrument because I think it’s an awesome thing to know. I am still around it all the time. Between my brothers and my dad, someone is always humming or tapping to a beat. I’ve heard someone say that when people sing, it means they’re happy, so I suppose the Nielsens are some pretty happy people.
Q: Timeline word association. Off the top of your head, what comes to mind when you think of the following years:
A: 1988 — The year I was born
1993 — I was 5, and it was the first year I went to Japan with Cheap Trick.
1999 — Nothing comes to mind! (laughs) That must have been one of my unmemorable years …
2005 — Junior year of high school. The last time I went to Japan with Cheap Trick.
2008 — I had my first legal drink!
2010 — I grew up a lot that year
Q: Old-fashioned word association …
A: Coronado Theatre — The crown jewel of Rockford, besides Cheap Trick. My dad has a checkerboard seat there!
Rock Valley College — I’m on the eight-year plan there.
Shogun Restaurant — Love their salad dressing. I’m obsessed!
Tom Petersson — One of the funniest men I know.
Magic Waters Waterpark — My brother Miles’ wife. When I was 4, my mom and I were there and saw her life-guarding. My mom told my brother about her, and he went there and asked her out. So, really, he owes me for meeting his wife.
California — Happiness
Your brother and current Cheap Trick drummer Daxx Nielsen — Daxxer. He has the best heart. He is probably one of the only people I know that would do anything to not hurt someone. He is genuine.
Boylan Catholic High School Uniforms — I loved them.
Budokan — Made Cheap Trick the band it is today.
Holland Zander — So sweet and extremely talented.
Q: What is the craziest thing you have ever been asked by someone who doesn’t know you but obviously wants to?
A: (Laughs) OK, where do I start? People always ask me how much money my parents have. I always get stunned by that question. Do people think I actually know that answer? And if I did, that’s a rather personal thing to ask someone. People will ask me if I have dated this celebrity or that celebrity. Or even ask if my dad sleeps in his hat or showers in it.
Q: A lot of your photos are really great. Have you ever thought of reversing roles and shooting photography yourself?
A: I am a horrible photographer! Maybe it’s just the camera I use, but I doubt it! I just don’t think that photography is my calling in life (laughs).
Q: You are super hot and work out, obviously. Is that the first thing you do every day? Give us all an idea of Scarlett Nielsen’s typical daily schedule from morning coffee to nightly snooze.
A: Thank you! I cannot function in the morning without Starbucks. I’m addicted! So are my mom and brothers! So, first thing is I get up and get Starbucks. Most people would probably be surprised to know that I help my boyfriend raise his 4-year-old daughter. Four days after he and I started dating, her mother passed away. So, for a little over a year now, she has been a HUGE part of my day. After Starbucks, I get her up and dressed and ready for preschool. After I drop her off, I will usually go to the gym. It is just easiest that way! I also bought a house a few months ago, so I do things around the house until I get her from daycare! Then, it’s dinner and play time. Once she is asleep at night, my boyfriend and I watch shows we have recorded. Reality TV is definitely my guilty pleasure. Then, it is on to the next day!
Q: Does your dad’s energy amaze you since they are still at it after all these years? The band still sounds as good or better than they did when you were born.
A: That is just my dad. He never seems tired. He has more energy than I do most of the time. But sometimes I do think he could use a little break. Not because of his age or anything, but because he works so hard, and everyone, no matter what age, needs a break once in a while. I don’t think he would have it any other way, though. He really does love what he does. He loves to play guitar and do shows. The band is great. My brother Daxx is doing a great job as their touring drummer. So, when I go see the shows now, I’m like a proud parent with him. I get so proud and defensive of him when he is playing. He brings a great energy to the band and is a great drummer. People always ask if I actually like my dad’s music or if I am tired of it, but I really do love it. I will never get tired of hearing “I Want You to Want Me,” ever.
Q: It sounds funny, but we’re sure it happened to your older brothers. Growing up in school, how did you deal with people bugging you about meeting your dad or his friends, or even expecting you to act a certain way based on your family?
A: It never bothered me when people asked me to meet my dad. I never really realized that Cheap Trick was really popular. It still doesn’t seem like it to me. I grew up in Rockford, Ill.! It was a normal childhood, just like everyone else’s, except every once in a while I would go hang out with Steven Tyler or Tommy Lee. Those were just my dad’s friends. I didn’t know any different. Now, when people meet me, they are usually surprised by me. Just the other day, someone came up to me and said they were surprised how nice I was. They said based on how I looked and what they knew about me, they thought I was going to be rude and self-absorbed. But I was not raised that way. I was raised to know that I am no better and no worse than anyone else.
Q: OK, torture’s over … until next time. Before we go, is there anything at all you wanna plug or say, or anyone at all that you wanna thank personally?
A: Hmm … well, I would like to say thank you to everyone for reading this. Also, please check out the new WXRX 2012 calendar and look for my picture on one of the months. Thanks again!
From the Nov. 2-8, 2011, issue