In concert

Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen: We’re a rock band

Akerlund / The Washington Post

Surrender to the sounds of Cheap Trick on Saturday night at Magic City Casino. The band — which formed in Illinois 40 years ago (yes) — is ready to rock out the stage and perform such never-die songs as I Want You to Want Me, Dream Police, and The Flame.

The People Page spoke to lead guitarist Rick Nielsen before the show:

Your stuff isn’t exactly cookie-cutter. Can you describe your writing process?

Everything you write or do, you don’t want everything to be the same or rehash or whatever, but we still want to keep the wholeness of what we do intact. We never tried to go electronic; we never tried to go all keyboard. We stayed true to what we’re doing.

Are you surprised by how popular you guys still are?

Of course not! [Laughing.] No, I think we’re a good band. We’re of the time where we actually used to play three to four sets a night. I mean, this was years and years ago, but it honed our skills. We never had to depend on an extra this or an extra that. I’d hate to try and compete in today’s world, because none of us can dance, we don’t have any background singers, we don’t use auto-tune. It’s a rock band. We don’t have just one song, we have, I don’t know how many records we have out, but like 300 songs.

Do you record live, like everyone playing at the same time, or do you record drum tracks, bass, guitar?

We do it both. Sometimes everyone’s there, sometimes not. But for the most part the best way to do it is with everyone there. And then if I do my part, and get through the thing, I can go back and work on it. That’s what we’ve always done. But as far as actual playing, the initial basic track we try to always do live.

Is there a song you enjoy playing live more than others?

No matter what we do, we only do songs 3 ½ to 5 minutes long, so even if you don’t like it, you get through it.

Was there any song you wrote that, as you were writing it, and you were like, oh yeah, this is working? You just knew?

There were a bunch of them. We had a song called “Tonight It’s You.” We had everything except the chorus, and we worked on it and worked on it. All of a sudden I was ticking one day, and I just came up with the chorus, just standing there, and I was like “yeah, that’ll tie everything together.” I wrote a few others.

Working on new music?

We’re working on an album to be recorded next year. We’ve already got stuff in the can. It’ll be good.

Tickets: 888-56-MAGIC;

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