Cheap Trick guitarist-lyricist Rick Neilsen talks about tour here

GREENSBURG – Rick Neilsen never goes far from a guitar.

In fact, the six-string Cheap Trick picked up and strummed a 1965 Dwight Coronet – TV yellow color – halfway through a phone interview this month touting the classic rock band’s latest tour.

“I take 25 guitars with me on tour,” said Nielsen, a small percentage of his extensive collection.

Most unique is this five-necked guitar beast which he will certainly release at some point during the Cheap Trick concert on November 9 at the Palace Theater in Greensburg.

“It’s very heavy,” Nielsen said of this five-handled ax.

Known for his exuberant facial gestures on stage as he grinds the greatness of the guitar, Nielsen kept his answers precise and colorful in a 15-minute interview. His phone number is listed in Rockford, Illinois, the hometown of Cheap Trick (April 1 is officially designated Cheap Trick Day in Illinois.)

The rock band that brought us the 70s classics “Surrender”, “Dream Police” and “I Want You to Want Me” have also teamed up with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. Fans of the 2016 Cheap Trick-Heart-Joan Jett show at the Pavilion at Star Lake in Washington County will recall that Cheap Trick brought Peduto to the stage.

“He’s a Cheap Trick fan. He’s welcome back on stage with us,” Nielsen said. “Is he still on duty?” “

Uh … lame duck fashion, yes.

“Well he better be there for our show,” Nielsen said.

Cheap Trick’s recent setlists date back to the band’s 1977 rookie album and their “He’s a Whore”.

“I say this is a song dedicated to my wife,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen, the band’s main lyricist, has always said that “He’s a Whore” has multiple meanings and includes professionals in the music industry who will do anything for money. At concerts, singer Robin Zander will sing “I’m a Whore”, which Nielsen follows with a “He’ll Do Anything For The Money”.

Not that there is anything wrong with collecting paychecks on your hard earned work, like in the royalties Cheap Trick collects when song clips get TV time.

“Last Sunday they played” I Want You to Want Me “during the Tampa Bay game, then the next night, Monday Night Football, they played” Light Up The Fire “, so that’s one of our older hits and our latest songs. —the nights back, which is pretty cool, ”Nielsen said.


“That ’70s Show” also helped band members’ bank accounts. The theme song for Fox’s hit sitcom is Cheap Trick which picks up Big Star’s 1972 track “In The Street”, deeply punctuated with lyrics “We’re all right”, from the 1978 Cheap Trick single “Surrender”. .

Cheap Trick will rock the Palace Theater in Greensburg.

Did Neilsen ever imagine he would play a major role in one of the last big themes in television?

“No, because I wrote this in my own apartment to nobody but myself,” he said. “I could never have known. Like a lot of songs, you don’t know who’s going to buy it.”

A 1978 live album, “Cheap Trick At Budokan”, ignited the band’s enduring fame. Nielsen hits the most powerful of power chords on the cover of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” album.

“It brings back a lot of good memories to me,” he said. “Although it’s only three chords, so it’s pretty easy.”

Before being known in the United States, Japanese audiences – including those at the Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo, where the live album was recorded – cherished Cheap Trick for its energetic mix of hard rock and power. pop.

“We toured there with Queen and Kiss in 1977, and the Japanese press was at all of our shows and they loved us,” Nielsen said. “Usually they laugh at the first group. But then they asked me to write about the tour with these guys, so I did, and then all of a sudden we started getting our own mail. We also had a hit (“Clock Strikes 10”) in Japan. They were the smartest people because they recognized how good we were. Then it really started in ’78 with “Bodokan” We went from clubs of 18 to 180 to sold-out arenas with over 10,000 people. ”

“Surrender” followed the album live, becoming the band’s first single to hit the charts in America. Revered today as a ’70s anthem, “Surrender” tells the story of a young man surprised to find his parents late at night rolling joints and throwing his Kiss records.

Nielsen explains his lyrical inspiration for “Surrender”:

“Because everyone thinks their parents are weird in one way or another,” Neilsen said. “Maybe downright weird, or insanely weird, or hippie weird. You ask anyone, ‘Hey can I meet your parents? No! So the lyrics sort of come from that, and what’s the thing. stranger than you can imagine your parents doing back then compared to you? I mean what parents thought Kiss was a good idea when they started? None of them. “

Plus, for Cheap Trick, the mention Kiss was a way of thanking the legendary painted-face band for taking them on the road.

Cheap Trick continued its momentum with 1979’s “Dream Police” with a title song also destined to become a classic. With Big Brother-inspired lyrics about being spied on and secretly listened to, “Dream Police” could be more relevant than ever.

“Of course with all the shenanigans going on and the people trying to control you,” Nielsen said. “So and now.”

Cheap Trick, also starring bassist Tom Petersson and former drummer Bun E. Carlos, spent nine years between hits, climbing all the way to the top with “The Flame,” Billboard’s No.1 1988 mighty ballad. written by English songwriters Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham.

Nielsen didn’t like the band’s label pushing them to hire outside songwriters.

“Yeah, by the time it was sent to us I knew it was a good song, but it took a lot of work to get there,” Nielsen said. “We had been presented 10 other songs in the same vein, so I was fed up with everything we were offered. But we did a great job on it.”

Like the lasting love lyrics of “The Flame”, Cheap Trick continues and releases a 20th studio album, “In Another World”, last spring.

The last cover of the Cheap Trick album.

The band’s first new track since the 2017 double whammy of “We’re All Alright!” and “Christmas Christmas” debuted at No. 1 on the Rock Chart, and spawned the singles “Light Up The Fire” and “Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll” featuring the hooks, crunch and playful lyrics that Cheap Trick always delivers.

Inducted into the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cheap Trick shows no signs of slowing down as interest remains in their sound that spans decades. The band has moved on to the second generation, with the drums now being handled by Nielsen’s son, Daxx.

“We’re like the biggest garage band and cult band in America,” Nielsen said. “We don’t match a certain era.”

Scott Tady is the local entertainment reporter for The Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He is easy to reach at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @scottady

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