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Interview:
Cheap Trick has no plans to "Surrender" to father time
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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After more than 40 years and 16 studio albums, the members of Cheap Trick have a clear vision of where their band fits in the rock 'n' roll spectrum.

"We're a working band," bassist Tom Petersson, who co-founded the group during 1974 in Rockville, Ill., says by phone. "We're not the kind of group that will take two, three years off to go make an album or something. If we have two or three weeks off, it's a miracle. We work all the time -- not no-stop, certainly, but we're back and forth a lot and we do all sorts of different shows.

"It's like having a small business. We honestly have to keep going to survive, and that's what pushes us forward. It's our livelihood. And we like it. It's fun, so we wouldn't want to stop even if we could."

Cheap Trick has had moments of great success, of course -- most notably during the late 70s, when its live album "Cheat Trick at Budokan" and 1979's "Dream Police" were both out of the box smashes. Nevertheless, Petersson notes, "We've never been huge monsters of the stadium or anything like that. We've been lucky. We've had a level of success and people know who we are. So we can work."

This year Cheap Trick has already toured with Peter Frampton (including a stop at the DTE Energy Music Theatre) and has a new album -- its first since 2009's "The Latest" -- ready to go for release in 2016. Petersson, 65, describes it as "vintage Cheap Trick" and says the group is also "halfway to another record already," with a determined mission to remain prolific in the coming years.

"The thing is we're going to keep going," he says. "We want to record a record every year and just keep them coming out, like in the old days when everybody had a record out every six months, us included. We're writing all the time, so what good is it if those (songs) don't come out."

Petersson is also focused on a meaningful endeavor outside of the band. Inspired by his eight-year-old son Liam's autism, he and his wife Alison have launched Rock Your Speech, a program that uses simple songs to help autistic children develop speech skills. Petersson has recorded an album's worth of the songs already (a sample can be heard at www.RockYourSpeech.com) and is working with PledgeMusic.com to fund its release.

"It's a way to do therapy without a therapist there," Petersson explains. "We're getting such great feedback from therapists and parents of kids who are thankful somebody is speaking out so they feel like they're not alone. It's a scary thing for people; there's talk about the cure and that's all well and good, but what do you do day to day? That's what people need to hear about.

"I'm in a position where I can put myself out there and say, 'This is happening to us, too, and this is what we're doing.' And hopefully that helps."

Cheap Trick

8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4

Michigan Lottery National Stage at Arts, Beats & Eats, downtown Royal Oak.

Admission is $5 after 5 p.m.

Visit www.artsbeatseats.com.

Web Site: www.artsbeatseats.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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