Raise your hand if you spent part of your wayward youth rocking with Cheap Trick in the mid-’70s at Chicagoland rock halls like Haymakers, B’Ginnings and Hammond Civic Center.
The success of Rockford, Illinois’ favorite sons ignited the entire power-pop movement in Chicago that gave rise to Pezband, Off Broadway, Shoes, The Kind and Kevin Lee & The Heartbeat — regional rock groups that all enjoyed 15 minutes of national fame.
The Tricksters are the only ones who never faded away and are still filling arenas. Well into their 50s, Trick continue touring the globe and average between 150 and 200 live concerts each year.
“We just did two months with Aerosmith,” said guitarist Rick Nielsen, who is as famous for his ball cap and multi-necked guitars as he is for the hook-heavy songs Cheap Trick has taken up the charts. “Even when we were out with Aerosmith we had some days off and on some of those we were out doing some of our own shows. We just love to play.
“We hear some bands say they’re tired because they just finished their tour after 40 days on the road. We’re just getting started after 40 days."
While Cheap Trick continues to tour and impact fans and other bands, original drummer Bun E. Carlos has been on hiatus for more than a year. Carlos was absent when Nielsen, vocalist Robin Zander and bassist Tom Petersson took up temporary residence in Las Vegas last year doing nightly casino shows.
Keeping the beat for these many months on such trademark Trick tunes as “I Want You To Want Me,” “Surrender,” “Dream Police,” “California Man” and their traditional opener, “Hello There,” is the guitarist’s son, Daxx Nielsen.
“Bun is always going to be a member of Cheap Trick,” Nielsen said. “But Daxx is our touring drummer.”
Carlos rocked the 2009 sessions for the band’s 16th studio album, “The Latest,” and Nielsen assured he would be there pounding the skins when it comes time to record the next Trick album.
Because their fans still love hearing new tunes from the Rockford wonders, Trick averages a new album about every three years. When asked if a new album was in the works, Nielsen hinted of plans, but instead noted at least one new song would be released even sooner.
“We have a Christmas song coming out later this year, but not something traditional. No ‘Little Drummer Boy’ from us,” he laughed. “It’s tied to an album that features a lot of other artists along with us.”
While the group does include newer songs mixed in with all the old favorites, Nielsen said they know what their audience comes to hear. “We don’t play so many new songs that people start yawning or leaving to use the bathroom more than normal,” he laughed. “We know they want to hear the hits and give them what they want.”