Robin Zander Talks Not Playing RNC, Not Playing with AC/DC

By Brian Ives

Earlier this week, Radio.com caught up with Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander at Live Nation’s “National Concert Day” event to discuss the band’s upcoming summer tour with Heart and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, as well as their brand new album, Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello!

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So, you guys are touring with Heart and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts this summer. Will you guys jam together? 

We might… backstage! It it happens, fine! They all know they’re always welcome to come and play with us.

You released your latest album, Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello! a week before you were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the album is on Big Machine, a country music label. 

We were surprised that they called us up. Scott Borchetta is a rock and roll fan, he’s a Cheap Trick fan. He’s really had the vision of bringing back some things that were missing [in rock and roll], I guess, and we were part of that vision. And thank God, because at our age, you don’t expect to get signed by a major label, country or otherwise.

Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson played with Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden earlier this week. Why weren’t there? 

I was in Florida, I had some family stuff, or I’d have been there too.

Do you still go to concerts for fun? 

If there’s somebody I want to check out, I try to make a point to see them. Even on the road, on a day off, I’ll look around for new music to check out. Just like you!

A while ago, you mentioned that you’d be interested in filling in as AC/DC’s frontman. Are you curious to hear what they sound like with Axl

Uh, yeah, I’m curious, because I’ve known AC/DC for so long, but I wouldn’t have done it if Brian was opposed to it. Brian’s my neighbor, he’s a friend of mine. But the thing is, I love the music, I love what they do, and if they were hard pressed, I would probably do it, but I would certainly pass it by him first, and if he was opposed to it, nah, I wouldn’t do it.

As a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, now you get to vote for future inductees. Who do you think needs to get in who has been overlooked? 

The Cars! Yes! Those are two that were nominated this year. There’s a whole slew of people who probably deserve it more than we do. The thing about it is, after 40-plus years of playing, the first five years that we were eligible, we were thinking “Yeah, we might get in!” Then, ten years go by. And then fifteen years go by, and you’re like, “F— those guys! They don’t know what they’re talking about anyway!” And then, it happens! And everything’s forgiven!

I hardly remember any of the speech I made. But I remember saying something like, “Well, we’ve never won anything before. Except for 40 gold and platinum albums!”

When Rush got in, Neal Peart said, “We’ve been saying for a long time that this isn’t a big deal. Turns out. it kind of is!”

It’s true, and it’s more a big deal for the fans of the band than anyone else. They stick up for the bands that they love, and they sit around and debate whether the bands are deserving or not, and when it does happen for their favorite band, it’s great.

Have you gotten any blowback from the thing you said about not playing the Republican National Convention? 

The thing is, we had an idea, I don’t know if you heard this or not…

You turned down a lot of money! 

It was $100,000! We considered it, but we said we’d have to make guitars with swastikas to make it make sense.

That’d be potentially offensive to a political party…

Well, they wouldn’t do it!

You’d would have been on Fox News five minutes after that story hit the web. 

I know! We try and stay away from politics. We’d rather talk about going out and having a good time, and looking at girls.

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