After many delayed starts, the Under The Southern Stars concert series is about to commence the first national live festival tour since the pandemic started in 2020. The SCENEzine team was invited to a press conference featuring all the bands and caught up with Robin Zander, frontman of Cheap Trick.

SCENEzine

Welcome back to Australia; after three years of trying to make this tour happen, what does it feel like to be here?

Robin Zander

Coming back to Australia feels wonderful; we have been coming here for the longest time and have always enjoyed ourselves. And thank God we had Vegas to warm. It takes a while to warm up after a long break physically, especially when you’ve been around as long as us – we’re not spring chickens anymore.

SCENEzine

Is there anything you love to do when you first land in Australia, like hugging a Koala or eating a meat pie?

Robin Zander 

Oh, yeah! I like to go down to Frankies Pizza. I have been going down for years. I love that place; you rock up, and everyone is there having a good time.

SCENEzine

You mentioned before this isn’t your first visit Down Under; you have been coming down here for a while now, but if I can ask you to cast your mind back to that first tour, how wild was it?

Robin Zander 

Oh, it was wild! We were coming off Budokan, and we had a record out called Dream Police, and it was in the top ten here in Australia, and we were very excited. So the record company put us on a boat out in the Harbour to have a big party, and the promoter had arranged for a police boat to pull up alongside us, but all the guys had started to throw their pot overboard, only to find out it was just a ruse (laughs) it was wild man.

SCENEzine

Another World is your 20th album recently out; congratulations on that. Putting it out must have felt surreal?

Robin Zander

It did; it felt very surreal and incredible. We thought we had some terrific songs that were great and all wrote together. What’s funny about it to me is that it was written before the pandemic – but lyrically it sort of explains what’s going on. I wrote most of the lyrics on the record, and to me, it was about politics in America more than anything else. So the reason Give Me Some Truth is on there is for that very reason. I think the best songs in this world are the songs that mean a lot in every decade, to the audience, they stand the test of time.

SCENEzine

Your vocals on this album blow us away; they are so strong. So what’s your secret to keeping your voice in great shape?

Robin Zander

Thank you, the secret is I’ve been listening to Jimmy Barnes all my life (laughs). Those types of heroes keep your chops up.

SCENEzine– Wow, I had no idea Jimmy Barnes had such acclaim internationally. 

Robin Zander: Well, you have your Jimmy Barnes; we have our Bob Seger.

SCENEzine

A huge crowd favourite and absolute favourite track of mine is The Flame. I must have heard it one million times; you must have performed it ten million times. It is the sort of track that reaches out and touches you. What is the feeling you get each time you perform it live?

Robin Zander 

It is one of those songs that last the test of time, plus I think it’s the only song of ours that is played at weddings and funerals. So I am glad it has such meaning to those that hear it.

SCENEzine

Cheap Trick was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. How did that feel, and what is the legacy you think Cheap Trick leaves on rock music or punk music?

Robin Zander

We consider ourselves a rock band; back in the days of early to mid-seventies, they hadn’t dived us up so drastically – not like today. There were no alternative bands, and there wasn’t a punk band till the late seventies, and that was when it started to get divided up, and the press began to call us to power-pop.

I think that is all subcategories of rock, and the rest is the labels making stuff up. Radio back then played everything, and you called to listen to Frank Zappa, next blues, next what ever the DJ wanted to play…but now whoever owns the company is telling them “this is what you are going to play; the bottom line is money”.

SCENEzine– Did you feel that the bottom line before wasn’t money; it was creativity?

Robin Zander– Yes, I do. We were indeed in it for creativity, and that’s why I love the seventies for that reason.

SCENEzine- Do you feel that has added to your longevity as a band?

Robin Zander– I believe so, and I’m not bragging – well; actually, I am bragging we are a diverse group. We are not so linear that you can pigeon us into one category; we can perform tracks like Auf Wiedersehen next to The Flame. 

SCENEzine

I love a cover song when done right, and Steel Panther covered She’s Tight by Cheap Trick, and you were in the film clip. How was that?

Robin Zander

Those guys are the vaudeville of rock, which I thought was funny about them, and they are pretty popular, especially in Europe. And when I heard they were going to do a cover of Cheap Trick, I thought, “how dare you?” – and so I am going to get myself in there.

SCENEzine– They aren’t the only band that does a Cheap Trick cover. I love the Anti-Flag cover of Surrender.

Robin Zander: Oh yeah! That is very good and creative. I liked it.

SCENEzine

We at SCENEzine have been fortunate enough to see Cheap Trick perform with Poison and Pop Evil in Las Vegas back in 2018. How was that show?

Robin Zander

Oh man, how good are Pop Evil?

SCENEzine: So good I enjoyed every second of that show, from the first band to the last – one of my all-time favourite concerts. You mentioned earlier you tour Vegas a fair bit. Do shows just come across different there?

Robin Zander: We do play Vegas a lot, and we sort of played it too much…

SCENEzine: Can’t have anything but a good time in Vegas though

Robin Zander: Boom Tish! No, it’s that we played the Sergeant Pepper’s Show there five nights in a row and it sort of burned me out; you are playing someone else music – and not just that; it’s the legacy of that album, the band that made it you know. 

SCENEzine

You are here now for the Under The Southern Stars Concert series, and your tour mates include Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I feel as though there is a generational gap.

Robin Zander

Oh man, they are like our younger brothers.

SCENEzine: Previous I spoke to Dean from Stone Temple Pilots; he said Cheap Trick is one of the reasons he plays rock ‘n’ roll.

Robin Zander:  There is a great camaraderie there between us and STP; we have toured with them and been up and down the rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster with them; we babysat their singer till he passed away; you know we have been there together, and in that, you get close to people.

SCENEzine

What do you want the Australian fans to know about your latest record and the upcoming shows?

Robin Zander

When we make a record, we make it for ourselves, and enjoy it for ourselves. But when we go out and play – that’s for you, it is for everyone in the audience and in that way, it becomes entertainment. So we try and give the best show we possibly can and being in Australia, we know you guys can be our toughest critics, so we know we have to be on our toes. And with everyone cooped up for so long, people want to come out and have a good time, which I hope to see here.

Interview by Chad Heard

www.underthesouthernstars.com.au

***All previously purchased tickets are valid for 2022 see website for details.***

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