REO Speedwagon returns to the metro area this weekend for an Arts, Beats & Eats show after a late June stop with the Midwest Rock 'N' Roll Express tour -- which got a little exciting when U.S. Secret Service agents questioned tour partner Ted Nugent after some of his remarks about President Barack Obama at this year's NRA convention in St. Louis.
"Ted's got a way of drawing attention to himself," REO frontman Kevin Cronin recalls with a laugh. "We've got some friends who are secret service agents. We tried to get them to take the pressure off Ted, but...I had mixed feelings about it. Whether you disagree or agree with Ted's politics or his pint of view, you've got to respect the fact he doesn't just talked the talk. He walks the walk as well.
"He definitely (angered) me a few times during the tour. But he's Ted, y'know? He's a great guitar player, an iconic rock 'n' roll figure. If you're going to work with him, you take the whole package. You find common ground and work from there. I thought it was a really good tour, really fun."
Right now Cronin, 60, says REO is "just having fun" in what he calls "the home stretch of the touring season for the band." What's next may please fans, however, as the group has been working up new material possibly for the group's first new album since "Find Your Way Home" in 2007.
But, Cronin cautions, don't hold your breath.
"We've got a couple things on the burner now that everyone's excited about," he says. "But, y'know, it's just really hard to get much acceptance on new music because people are so attached to our old stuff. It's a strange thing because everybody wants to know what we're doing next and if we're working on new songs.
"But when we put out a record of new songs no one wants to hear them! They want to hear 'Ridin' the Storm Out' again. That's the battle, really."
REO Speedwagon performs at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 on the Michigan Lottery National Stage at Arts, Beats & Eats in Royal Oak. Admission is $3. Visit www.artsbeatseats.com.
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