Talk to Rick Nielsen on the phone and you’d never say you were talking to a famous musician.
He has a contagious laugh that he’s going to bring to the Exploits Valley Salmon Festival this summer, with a band he’s been happy to play with for almost four decades.
And he promises Cheap Trick will deliver fans their favourites at Centennial Field on July 14.
Exactly a month before they hit the stage for the biggest concert in Central Newfoundland, Cheap Trick’s lead guitarist took the time to call the Advertiser from Las Vegas.
“How fun is that?” he asked of the Salmon Festival concert. “This is going to be fun. We’re excited. This looks like it’s going to be good.”
Cheap Trick has four decades of almost continuous touring.
“Ridiculous,” Nielsen said, adding they have been pretty much all over the world
“a number of times.”
However, he admitted, Cheap Trick has never been to Grand Falls-Windsor
“I gotta get a map to get there though,” he joked while looking at the Salmon Festival website, and noticing Camp Rock is a tents only site. “Tents only, Camp Rock, how about that. Steven (Tyler) and I are probably going to have a tent together. I haven’t been camping in Newfoundland lately.”
When asked his thoughts on playing a smaller venue, and telling him more than 20,000 people crowded Centennial Field last year, his response to the number was “that’s great.”
“That’s a good size, that’s huge. I live outside of Chicago. I’m used to driving long distances to go see stuff through the years. We’ve played festivals out in the middle or here, and the middle of there and it’s going to be good.”
Cheap Trick had a show in Los Vegas Thursday night, and they were heading to
Minneapolis the following day to meet up with Aerosmith to begin the Global Warming Tour, which will eventually lead them to Grand Falls-Windsor.
“It’s going to be good,” Nielsen said. “I was just in Los Angeles, we just saw those guys (Aerosmith). We did a show together down in Arkansas. But I had just been in a studio, Steven (Tyler) and Joe (Perry) called me because we were staying in the same hotel and I went over and I got to hear some of their new music and that was fun.”
Nielsen also went to American Idol after Tyler asked him to, he said.
“We have known each other for a long time,” Nielsen said. “I tell those guys the truth, like ‘gee, oh boy, I kind of wish I heard a big more of this,’ or ‘this sounds perfect.’ They like my opinion, at least, I think they do.
“We’ve just been friends for a long time. When Joe had his special birthday party, we were the choice for his birthday party.”
Nielsen said they flew Cheap Trick from Florida to Boston to play.
“Steven and Joe wrote the set for us and it was fun. We’ve known each other for a long time. It’s friendly competition.”
Perry told the Advertiser in an earlier interview that one of the reasons he is looking forward to this summer’s tour is getting to share the stage with Cheap Trick, a respect which Nielsen said is mutual.
“We jump out there every night and try to do a good job,” Nielsen said. “We don’t take it easy on them, and they don’t take it easy on us.”
Nielsen said they are looking forward to playing Grand Falls-Windsor.
“It’s going to be good,” he said. “That’s a long ways away. Canada has always been a great place for us. Our records have done so well in Canada compared to a lot of places. Canadians, they like our stuff, and I appreciate that. The only thing that’s rough now is that the American dollar is worse that then Canadian dollar, so it’s like I don’t get to have as much fun in Canada anymore.”
Though he admitted the set has yet to be written, they aim to please.
“It will be what you want to hear and some things you will want to hear again,” he said.
Cheap Trick formed in 1973, and is possibly one of the most covered bands of all time, so concertgoers shouldn’t have too much trouble singing along to whatever they play.
With more than 5,000 performances, 20 million records sold, 40 gold and platinum recording awards, 29 movie soundtracks, Nielsen joked his favourite song to perform is good night because then they are done, when in all honestly, it seems, he just likes to perform – anything.
“I like some stuff that’s new that people enjoy because they haven’t hear it before,” Nielsen said. “Nobody likes to start playing a song and everybody runs to the bathroom. Old hits are fun if they are played with vim and vigor and we have plenty of that.”