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Romantics ready to ring in 2011

of the Oakland Press

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When it comes to New Year’s Eve in their home town of Detroit, The Romantics are on a five-year plan.

The group, which burst out of the Motor City with the hit “What I Like About You” in 1980, opened for the J. Geils Band’s millennium show at the Palace of Auburn Hills. It ushered in 2005 on a bill with Was (Not Was) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. And it will be part of this year’s 2011-welcoming revelry Friday, Dec. 31, in the streets of Royal Oak, though the Gin Blossoms will be on stage for the new year’s countdown.

“We did have our questions when they approached us with this one,” frontman Wally Palmar, the only Romantic who still lives in the metro Detroit area, says with a laugh. “It happened to be when we were going through that freezing stretch in (early December), and we were thinking, ‘Will people still be there at midnight? What are the chances? Why don’t we do that earlier slot ...’ ”

Nevertheless, Palmar expects the free, family-oriented and alcohol-free event to be a bash well worth playing.

“It seemed like a good thing to do,” he says, “like a fun thing to do for us. The bottom line is we get a chance to throw our own party, so what could be bad about that?”

Palmar and his mates — Portland, Ore.-based Mike Skill, Miami and Los Angeles denizen Coz Canler and drummer Brad Elvis, who calls Chicago home — are hoping 2011 will also be a busy year for The Romantics, especially in the recording studio.

The group’s most recent album, the hard-rocking “61/49,” itself The Romantics’ first new album in 18 years, came out in 2003, and Palmar says the band feels well overdue for new music.

“It’s being put together now; we have to go and record it and get it finished up,” says Palmar, 57, who confesses to “mucking up” plans to work on the set in 2010 for being Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, an experience he says, not surprisingly, he “wouldn’t have traded for the world.”

But, he adds, “We need a new (album) for our own good, so people don’t think we’re just coming out and playing shows and this and that. We got a fairly decent response to (‘61/49’), so it’s ... time.”

Palmar says that The Romantics have “accumulated songs and ideas” that each of the members have and hope to start reviewing it while all four band members are in Detroit to rehearse for the New Year’s Eve show. Interestingly, the group members continue to trade cassettes rather than use Internet files to expedite their creative process.

“We all have (computer) set-ups,” Palmar says, “but I think we still feel more comfortable doing it the old-fashioned way right now. If it’s a solo project or something where you can just pass things around and all that, maybe (the Internet) works, but if it’s a band thing, I think it’s kind of different. It’s a little harder ’cause we’re not all living together, but it still feels like the right way to do it.”

There will be one fresh Romantics title in 2011, however — a 15-track “Playlist” compilation that Palmar is pleased “goes a little bit deeper than just a typical 10 songs,” including songs from less-successful albums such as 1981’s “Strictly Personal” and 1985’s “Rhythm Romance.”

“They didn’t ask about anything, but they obviously didn’t just dig through another compilation and take the same songs and just put ‘em in a different order,” Palmar says. “They did a good job with this. The songs go back to back with each other and fit together really well. It’s a little better than we’re used to, which makes me happy.”

The Romantics perform Friday, Dec. 31, at Rockin’ The Eve, Washington Avenue at Sixth Street, Royal Oak. DJ Brian Gillespie starts spinning at 8 p.m., followed by The Wall Clocks at 8:30, the Romantics at 10 p.m. and the Gin Blossoms at 11 p.m. A 1,000-pound ball sporting 288 lights will drop at midnight. Admission is free. Visit www.RockinTheEve.com for more details

Web Site: www.rockintheeve.com

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