Sharper than ever, the veterans of Cheap Trick release an exciting new album, In Another World, oscillating between incandescent rock and majestic pop. Interview with Robin Zander, singer and alter ego of the eccentric guitar hero Rick Nielsen. Freaky… but chic!
In rock, as in many other fields, some things never change, and it is increasingly important to rejoice in that. Take “The Summer Looks Good on You,” the first track from Cheap Trick’s new album, In Another World : from the outset, we find the unique signature of the gang from Rockford, Illinois, these catchy pop melodies and these super-guitar riffs which have forged their reputation. But also the harmonic daring hidden at the turn of a Slade chorus, these atypical tonal changes and these swirling orchestral rises that we often forget to mention when we talk about the coolest cult group on the planet.
The singer-guitarist-songwriter Robin Zander does not hate that we evoke this ambitious aspect of Cheap Trick’s music, sometimes obscured by hits as indestructible as “I Want You to Want Me”, “Surrender”, “Southern Girls”, “Dream Police” or even “Stop This Game” – to name just a few.
It’s 10 a.m. in Florida and, from his opulent villa in Safety Harbor, Zander tells us he appreciates the 27 degrees that accompany the start of each of his days. Long blond hair and a straw hat on his head, he takes the time to live while waiting to be able to go back on the road with his acolytes, the brilliant guitarist and composer Rick Nielsenand the bassist Tom Petersson… because “Cheap Trick has always been a touring band, you know”does he not fail to remind WECBbefore starting this conversation around the album, the long-term career of his group and the inevitable reminiscences of the past.
“There is real competition between us, we like writing songs, we like being on stage. »
All nostalgia aside, In Another World contains the same energy as your great classics like In Color, Heaven Tonight, Dream Police Or All Shook Up…but with even more powerful sound. How have you managed to preserve this “magic touch” for more than forty years?
ROBIN ZANDER : Oh my God ! It’s true that we’ve been together for forty-five years, no, forty-seven! All I can tell you is that we are still as inspired as in the early days because we are lucky to have three songwriters in the group. There is real emulation between us, we like writing songs, we like being on stage. And, of course, we are happy that this album, which we finished over a year ago and whose release was delayed due to Covid, is finally seeing the light of day…
The fact that Rick’s parents were both opera singers – his father also conducted symphony orchestras and recorded numerous records – had an influence on his musical education and his rather flamboyant conception of music. his Cheap Trick. This added, of course, to your tenor voice…
Good question. It’s true that we both had musical parents. Rick often went to his father’s concerts (in the family’s private plane, which he sometimes flew himself, editor’s note) and mine played keyboards and was also a singer. Rick’s father owned a music store in Rockford – Ralph Nielsen Music City – and that’s where I bought my first real instrument. We come from a small town where everyone had to meet each other. I knew the band’s first singer and drummer Bun E. Carlos (officially left in 2013, editor’s note) before Cheap Trick even existed. For my part, I was lucky to have an excellent music teacher, Mrs Petersson. I never realized I had a voice until I met her. She was the one who convinced me that I could really sing.
The song “So It Goes” is a nostalgic ballad with a very sixties flavor, very Beatles too, of which you hold the secret…
This is interesting, because this piece is actually very old. After high school I moved to Scotland, where I worked for a bit as part of a duo. I tried to get a recording contract at AIR Studios in London (owned by George Martin, editor’s note). I played them a few songs and basically they told me to go home (laughs)… And that’s what my partner Brian Beebe and I did… I wrote the guitar part from “So It Goes” there, even though I didn’t have a melody yet. I carried it within me for many years before finally finishing it for this album.
Find the entire interview in our latest paper issue (RS131), still available digitally and from your newsagents.
In Another World, Cheap Trick’s new album, available to listen to everywhere. Buy/Listen