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Interview:
Updated: Rock Hall inductions put Heart, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett on the road together
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Heart, Cheap Trick and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts have shared myriad concert bills since all three began touring during the 70s.

But each of the veteran acts’ recent inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame provided a hook for this summer’s Rock Hall Three For All tour, a triple-bill that kicks off Thursday, July 14, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre and has more than 30 dates booked into September.

Heart’s Ann Wilson says the tour name and concept came into place after the three groups were already lining up for the trek. “I think the three together was such a natural for the people putting this tour together,” Wilson says by phone from her tour bus. “We all know each other and like each other, so it’s cool.

“And the Hall of Fame hook is something that was sort of put on the tour after the fact. If one or both or all three of us had never been inducted, it would still be the same. But if people are on the fence and they go, ‘Well, all three bands are in the Rock Hall...,’ if that’s going to make them come to the thing, it’s worthwhile.”

Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen expects a night of “male AND female testosterone,” acknowledging the hard-rocking approach of his tourmates. But he’s also confident the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts for fans trooping out to the shows.

“Y’know, it’s all good bands, bands that have stood the test of time,” says Nielsen, 67, whose band was inducted in April and will be going on first each night, with Heart closing the shows. “We’re all still making records, too, and that’s almost unheard of.”

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the three groups’ Rock Hall experiences, and what they’ve led to.

• HEART

Inducted 2013

What It Means To Them; “The Rock Hall to musicians is something that is kind of like going into a museum,” explains Wilson, 66, who co-founded Heart with her sister, guitarist Nancy Wilson, during 1973 in Seattle. “So you sort of accept the induction with gratitude, and it’s flattering to be recognized by your peers or by the rock intelligentsia, whatever it is.

“But really, it’s just about going to work and just loving the music. So we’re not all going, ‘Hey, we’re Rock and Roll Hall Famers!’”

What’s Happened Since: Heart has never stopped working, and the three years since it’s Rock Hall entrance has seen the group release two live DVDs as well as a new studio album, “Beautiful Broken,” that came out July 8. The latter includes new recordings of seven “deep cuts” from Heart’s catalog -- including the title track, which features Metallica’s James Hetfield -- as well as three new compositions.

“It was sort of like closure on those songs because when they were originally done we probably weren’t in our right minds very well,” Wilson says with a laugh. “I know I was doing a lot of partying in those days. So I don’t think the original versions had my own self on them, so it was great for me to go back and re-address them. And the other (new) songs that came up I thin made the album a real album rather than just a re-record.”

• CHEAP TRICK

Inducted 2016.

What It Means To Them: “It’s like an acknowledgement, proof of work or something,” Nielsen says of the Rock Hall honor. The April 8 ceremony in Brooklyn allowed Cheap Trick, which was inducted by Kid Rock, to reunite with exiled drummer Bun E. Carlos, who’s still considered part of the band even though he doesn’t record and tour with it anymore, and the quartet also hosted the show-closing jam featuring members from the other inducted acts.

“It’s like you’re more credible, I guess -- if that’s the right word you want for a rock band, credible,” Nielsen adds. “We could go out and play 300 shows a year and people see you and go, ‘So Rick, what’s now?’ But when the Hall of Fame was announced everybody got real excited. The Hall of Fame, it’s something that a lot of people can understand whether they understand what you’re doing. It’s still exciting; Unless they decided to take the award back, I’m in it for life.”

What Happened Next: A week before the ceremony the Illinois-formed Cheap Trick released “Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello,” its first new album in seven years. The set was already in progress when the Rock Hall induction was announced back in December, with an April 1 release date already on the books. Nevertheless Nielsen feels like the 11-song set -- which includes a guest appearance by MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer on the track “Do You Believe Me?” -- has all the sonic hallmarks that got Cheap Trick into the Hall.

“We never try to be something we’re not,” Nielsen explains. “There’s no 10-minute songs and there’s no, ‘All right, we’ve got to do this kind of solo.’ We’re a basic rock ‘n’ roll band. that’s it.

“Nobody was clamoring to have a brand new Cheap Trick record, but we did it on our own dime and recorded over 30 tracks. We weren’t even thinking we were gonna get signed (to a record label deal). A lot of things kind of worked out together at the same time.”

• JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS

Inducted 2015

What It Meant To Her: “I’ll tell ya, it’s a roiling pot of emotions,” Jett (nee Larkin), 57, says of her induction. “I’m amazed. I’m happy. I’m honored. I’m flabbergasted. It feels surreal. I just think about all the musicians in the history of music that have been out there making records, touring. That I get chosen in this elite group of musicians is pretty incredible. You don’t think about those things; You just go out there and do your job. If something like those accolades get put onto you, then it’s an extra bonus. I think it’s a gift, and I don’t think you can sort of expect it.”

What’s Happened Since: Jett -- who was part of Nirvana’s Rock Hall induction in 2014 -- has toured with the Who during the past couple of years and played as part of Foo Fighters 20th anniversary show last July in Washington, D.C. Her last album, “Unvarnished,” was released in 2013 and was her first in seven years, and while Jett hopes the next one won’t take as long to come out, she doesn’t feel a need to hurry, either.

“We play live a lot, and that’s really what I like doing best,” she says. “I still like to write songs and have new material, and I’m sure we’ll do some recording soon, but we stay pretty busy and it’s not always easy to do.”

Rock Hall Three For The Hall featuring Heart, Cheap Trick and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14.

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

Tickets are $30.50-$115.50 pavilion, $24 lawn with an $80 lawn four-pack.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.


Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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