If you’ve ever wondered whether or not bands and artists touring through our fair city of Moncton ever have any recollection of having played here, or if it’s just another faceless spot on their itinerary, you need not wonder anymore.
The city has indeed left an impression on many, including Tom Petersson, the bass player in power pop legends Cheap Trick, who excitedly makes a point of sharing his memories of the Hub City:
“We were on tour with Kiss and played in Moncton in 1977,” Petersson declares. “I seem to recall there being a really great steak house there at the time.”
While the name of said steak house escapes him, Petersson can be forgiven for the temporary memory lapse. Not only was the show and steak house in question almost 40 years ago, he undoubtedly has a lot on his mind otherwise.
In addition to the recent release of the band’s phenomenal new album Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello, Cheap Trick was one of just six acts celebrating their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame late last week.
Now that the smoke has cleared and Petersson has had a few days to reflect on one of the band’s most prestigious achievements to date, he is still very much in awe at the whole event.
“It’s still a bit of a blur, to be honest with you. It was like a souped-up version of Spinal Tap in some ways, but truly, it’s just such a big honour for us, and more specifically, our fans. One of the best parts of the entire evening was seeing people we knew, many of whom had gone greatly out of their way, lend their support to the band. We are now in the company of so many of our heroes, it’s something that I don’t think any of us could have ever dreamed of happening.”
Petersson shares having that dream finally realized is a tad bit bittersweet, noting that he wishes his father was still alive to see both him the band celebrated in such grand fashion.
“I think that he would have appreciated seeing us ascend to the hall of fame,” he offers. “I don’t believe that any of our parents really understood the music that we loved when we started. They certainly didn’t approve of a lot of rock and roll at first. To them, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones went against everything that people thought a band should be, but they saw that we loved it, which inspired them to go out and buy us our first instruments. That support was paramount. None of us could have known we would end up making a career out of being a ‘professional musician.’ We might as well have become professional gamblers; I bet the odds would have been better!”
What is perhaps most inspiring about Cheap Trick’s newest record is the fact that, despite having made music for more than 40 years together, Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello more than capably captures the vital youthful energy and spirit of their first three records – Cheap Trick, In Color, and Heaven Tonight.
While most groups opt to tone things down as they get older, Cheap Trick are, thankfully, still playing as if their lives depend on it.
Petersson credits Bang… producer Julian Raymond, who previously worked with the band on their 2009 effort The Latest as well as 2006’s Rockford, as being the spark lighting the fuse on the group’s creative process.
“Julian is one of those guys that seems to know more about us than we know about ourselves,” Petersson says, laughing. “We just always do what we do, and then he comes in, sorts it out and helps us improve on what we are giving him. It’s hard to find a great producer that you get along with, but Julian is just perfect for us. Where most producers will suggest toning the raucous stuff down, he’s the one encouraging us to make it even more raucous.”
Not only has Cheap Trick proven their continued relevance with Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello, the album also marks a return to the world of major record labels for the first time since their 1994 release Woke Up With A Monster. The group aligned with influential label Big Machine Records, which also happens to serve as the label home to pop queen Taylor Swift and country superstar Tim McGraw, among others.
Although seven years passed between the release of the group’s previous record and Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello, Petersson suggests fans will be hearing more new music from the band sooner, rather than later.
“We already have another album largely completed. When we went into the making of this last record, we had nearly 30 songs ready, meaning we still had upwards of 20 that we considered to be completely viable for another release. Naturally, we are going to continue writing to be certain that we are putting our best foot forward, but it is an exciting time for sure,” he says.
As Cheap Trick looks forward to the summer, the band will be undertaking a series of shows all over the U.S. before joining forces with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Heart for a 31-date trek dubbed the “Rock Hall Three For All.” The tour name is a playful nod to each group’s status of being Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.
Although their upcoming tour is unfortunately short on Canadian dates as of press time, Petersson shares the group can’t wait to return for performances north of the 49th parallel.
“We’ve always had a soft spot for Canada,” Petersson says. “Aside from Japan, Canada was one of the first countries in the world to really embrace and understand us. It’s astounding to look at how many great artists your country has given the world, which I believe is a testament to the way that Canada supports the arts. You’re a lucky bunch.”
Cheap Trick’s latest album Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello is available now.