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Interview:
Blondie and Cheap Trick both eyeing new music
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Blondie and Cheap Trick hail from different locales in the mid-’70s rock scene — the former out of New York’s famed punk rock haven CBGBs and the latter from the all-American heartland of Rockford, Ill. But there’s much common ground as they play some shows together this summer.

“I went and saw (Cheap Trick) play at Max’s Kansas City when they were doing their first album (in 1977),” Blondie drummer Clem Burke says, “and I used to go see them whenever they played in New York. And about five years ago we did a charity thing for Boys Town in Boston that we both played at.”

And Burke, 55, notes that Cheap Tricks members “are kind of (angry) that they’re not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” while Blondie was inducted in 2006. “I think it was right when we got in, and they were kind of teasing us about it. They should be in, too, but that’s a whole other story.”

The summer dates, meanwhile, come as both bands are eyeballing new material — albeit in different stages of development.

Blondie has a new album, “Panic of Girls” — its first in seven years — ready to go, with releases expected in Australia this fall and in the U.S. and Europe in 2011. Blondie has been previewing several of the new songs, including “What I Heard,” “The End” and “Mother,” during its summer tour dates and Burke says the group has “been getting a great reception with the new material ... even though it’s kind of difficult for people, hearing new material for the first time at a show. But we’ve been doing really well with it.”

This year also marks the 30th anniversary for Blondie’s most popular album, “Autoamerican” and its hits “The Tide is High” and “Rapture.” The group isn’t doing anything special to commemorate the landmark, but Burke says it remains proud of the record.

“The thing that everybody always talks about is when we delivered it, the record company told us it had no hits on it,” he recalls. “They were confused. And then it had ‘The Tide is High’ and ‘Rapture,’ which were big hits around the world. It’s probably my favorite album. It’s very eclectic. It was a groundbreaking record in a lot of ways, and we still love playing those songs.”

Cheap Trick, meanwhile, has released new music more recently; “The Latest” came out last year, with some copies even on 8-track tape as a joke. But bassist Tom Petersson says the group hopes to follow it up sooner rather than later.

“We were just in Los Angeles and came up with 10 ideas that we’re working on that are very strong contenders” with Julien Raymond, who produced “The Latest,” Petersson says. “That’s how it works now. We just do it as it happens, when opportunities come up, just putting together ideas. And once you get 10 or 12 strong things, it’s like, ‘Wow, we have the record!’ ”

Because of that system, however, Petersson says it’s hard to know if original drummer Bun E. Carlos, who has retired from the road, will be part of the next album or if those chores will fall to guitarist Rick Nielsen’s son Daxx, who’s been filling in.

“We do the majority of our recording as we’re working on the road,” Petersson says. “We go into a studio here or there or do something at sound checks ... It’s kind of like, if you’re in the room you’re on the record, that kind of thing. It’s not like the old days when we would take out a certain amount of time, six weeks or eight weeks, and go out to L.A. and do a record.

“Now we just do it as we’re going along ... and (Daxx) is a great, great player, a great musician. He’s heard our stuff since he was a little kid, a baby. He probably knows the material better than we do.”



Blondie and Cheap Trick perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $45 and $25 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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