Transcript: Transcript Tom Petersson’s Groove: Cheap Trick Tales

Welcome to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye. Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of A Breath of Fresh Air, a show that gives some of the biggest names in music from the 60s, 70s and 80s a chance to tell their own stories in their own voices. This week, my guest is the founder of a popular group that still tours the world endlessly.


In the 70s, a string of their songs put Rockford, Illinois, on the rock and roll map. They are, of course, Cheap Trick. Tom Peterson joins me today to tell us about his personal evolution, as well as the story of Cheap Trick.


I started off by asking him if he always knew that music was going to be his thing. Well, no, I didn’t think music would be. My family wasn’t really into that kind of thing.


We didn’t listen to sit around listening to music all the time like a lot of people do. It’s just one of those things. I was, you know, turned 14 years old in 1964.


And we, you know, the British invasion happened. The Beatles came and the Rolling Stones and the Kinks and the who and, you know, the rest is history. You really got me going.


You got me so I don’t know what I’m doing. You really got me now. You got me so I can’t sleep at night.


Yeah, you really got me now. You got me so I don’t know what I’m doing. Oh, yeah, you really got me now.


You got me so I can’t sleep at night. You really got me. You really got me.


You really got me. We really just started playing in bands then just for fun as a hobby. So it’s really basically like a hobby that’s gone fairly well.


So you collect collecting coins that were successful at it. Yeah, right. Except a little more groovy.


And the girls liked boys who played instruments much better than those who collected coins. Right. I don’t know, but I probably I suspect being a girl of that era for sure.


So tell me how Fuse progressed into Cheap Trick. Why the name change? Well, at that time, when we started, when Rick and I started playing together, it was 1968. And he and I went to London together in 68.


And then in 69, we started the band. We had another group was another band. It was sort of like a British blues group called Toast and Jam.


And he used to come and see us play. He had a band called the Grim Reapers and we joined them. We’re very successful in that in the local area.


And we got an opening slot for Terry Reid in Chicago. And I left down, I would always call you my head. You would always laugh and say, remember when we used to play.


Bang, bang, you shot me down. Bang, bang, bang, oh, baby, you shot me down. It was his first date of the American tour.


So all the record executives from New York flew to Chicago to see Terry. And we were on the bill and they loved us. And we got signed.


We got a record deal right off the bat. It was like, wow, there’s nothing to this business. It’s easy.


We found out that was not the case. We did one record. It didn’t come out the way we wanted it to.


And 10 years later, we got another record deal with the same label just by coincidence. Got a record deal in 69. And by 70, we lost the record deal.


And scrounging around until we got another one years later. How did that feel for you? Initial excitement, I can imagine. And then complete disappointment.


Well, yeah, you know, we were teenagers. In fact, two of the guys were still in high school. You know, it’s funny.


We were offered this deal with Epic Records and we were all excited. And right after that, we opened up for the Mothers of Invention. And Frank Zappa loved our group.


And he goes, I’m starting this label. I’m starting Straight Records and Bizarre Records. I’m going to have all the straight kind of groups on Bizarre and vice versa.


And it was a crazy guy. They’re coming to take me away, ha ha. Where life is beautiful all the time.


And I’ll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats. And they’re coming to take me away, ha ha. His name was Jerry Samuels.


Singer, songwriter, record producer and talent agent. Jerry used to work under the pseudonym of Napoleon 14. We just thought that was the greatest thing.


Like, oh my God, Frank Zappa wants to sign us to his label. We were in heaven. And our manager goes, what are you guys, crazy? No, we’re going with Epic Records.


The big label. We didn’t want to go with it. So we should have gone with Frank, but we didn’t.


And the record label just did not know what to do with us. And the record didn’t come out very good. And we just got into a dispute with our manager and whatever.


It was a giant mess. So you found yourselves a little lost again after that? Well, we were just back in the same boat. We weren’t really lost.


It took us by surprise, too, to get this record deal. It took everybody by surprise. And it just didn’t work out.


How did you know Rick in the first place? Well, we went to high school together. He was really in a competing band. And his father owned a music store.


He had the best music store in this little town we grew up in, Rockford, Illinois. And he carried Vox amps and Gretsch guitars and stuff, which nobody had that sort of stuff, really. It’s because of his son, Rick, saying, hey, you’ve got to get with it here.


At that time, all the musicians and jazz guys and guitar teachers, they just thought that kind of music was just pure bullshit. They’d teach you scales and whatever. The adults just did not get that kind of music.


So we all kind of knew each other from being in another band. There was just bands playing all the time. There was Battle of the Bands.


Everybody was in a group. It was great. So you didn’t have to be the star quarterback or whatever, the football player or whatever, their soccer player.


We were in bands. So we didn’t care. That was our life.


Tom, you started out playing electric guitar, but you soon switched it up to bass. Why was that? Jimmy Hendrix. He inspired me to quit playing the guitar.


I didn’t feel like competing with Jimmy Hendrix. Everybody was starting to get really good. Everybody was like, whoa, what is going on? So when Jimmy came out, everybody was in shock.


And I thought, you know, I’m a rhythm guitar player. I can see the writing on the wall. I think I’m going to switch to bass.


I may have a better shot at this. So that’s what happened. So thank you, Jimmy.


And you sure did have a good shot at it. You became really good at it. And in fact, you started playing the 12-string bass guitar.


When did you conceive and develop that? Was that at the beginning? It was before Rick and Bunny and I were in a group called Sick Man of Europe. That was in Philadelphia we were living. We were friends with these guys at a music store outside of Chicago.


And it was Paul Hamer who started Hamer Guitars. It was Paul Hamer and Joel Danzig. We were talking to them.


And they said, yeah, we’re going to start our own making guitars. You know, like they used to, like the 50s, Les Pauls, and Explorers, and all that stuff. And we’re like, OK, great.


Well, I had this idea for a bass. And I told them about it. And they ended up doing it.


They didn’t want to at first. But I talked them into it. And when they finished it, at that point, by 1977 it was, five years later, they got it together.


And they delivered my first bass to a show we were playing with, opening for Kiss. And I never stopped. That was it.


And they go, wow, that was a good idea. They just thought, you’re not going to like this. But I did.


And that was it. So from that point on, that’s all I played live. Have you seen her face? She’s got a face that could stop a clock.


And with that face, I sure won’t stop to look her in the eyes. But her money’s green, like tea if someone’s a tea. But she’s still so close to my reach.


If I call up, I call it out. Anytime at all. Anytime at all.


Anytime at all. There’s money back by my side. A cheeky loan was the only way to go.


And so I show my face. And I can’t even fake a smile. But I’ve left it inside of a while.


This little girl, she’s a joke. She’s a joke. She’s a joke.


Anytime at all. Anytime at all. Anytime at all.


Anytime at all. Look at the things that I write. I’m not a guitarist, and I don’t know much about guitars.


What’s the benefit of a 12-string bass guitar? Well, we’ve got a small group, four people, basically. And it’s kind of like the Who. Robin plays guitar.


We wanted a really big orchestrated sound. And I thought that would be a good way to get it. Whatever I play on that, it sounds like there’s two other people playing along with me.


So whatever it is, it sounds like it meant to be. Like, oh, they’re all playing the same thing. It must have meant to do that.


No, that was a mistake. But anyway, it was really just to get a big orchestrated sound. So I guess my style really isn’t as really classic bass player stuff.


Because really when I started as a teenager, I wasn’t playing bass, so I didn’t learn bass parts. I loved Townsend and Jeff Beck and, of course, George and the whole British crowd. And then when Jimmy came around, it was like everybody, uh-oh, what is going on? So everybody wanted to be in a three-piece band.


And I thought, well, there’s no frigging way I’m going to be able to cut the mustard. So I switched to bass, and here I am. Is that 12-string named after you? Thomas, you mean? You invented it, did you? Yeah.


I invented it, but yeah, that’s the—no. I’ve been—at first, Hamer made my instruments for me. And I’ve had since then several mainly boutique companies through the years.


And about 10 years ago, I got involved with Gretsch Guitars. So Gretsch now makes all my 12-strings. But it’s not called the Tom Peterson 12-string.


Yeah, that is, yes. It’s a custom order. You’d have to order it from their custom shop.


So, yes, it is a Tom Peterson 12-string. But a lot of people now are making those things. It’s really just a variation of a guitar, an eight-string bass.


It just seemed like an idea that would work. I tried all sorts of things playing guitar and using an octave pedal, which I thought it would be really cool to have a 12-string guitar. I loved Hard Day’s Night type.


It was 12-strings were my big thing. I loved 12-string electrics. And I thought, if I could play a 12-string as a bass, that would be awesome.


You’d have this great 12-string cymbal. It would sound like a combination of Townsend and a bass player. It’s kind of a combination of a bass and a rhythm and orchestrated parts.


Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Don’t go away, I’m a leader. Can’t go to sleep at home tonight. It’s an invention.


Yep, I guess so. I’m stuck with it now. Now I can’t turn back.


Anything else would sound second-class, wouldn’t it, now? That’s correct. But anything else would be lighter weight. But I’m used to it.


It’s been nearly 50 years, so I should be used to it by now. So, Tom, how did Fuse morph into Cheap Trick? You and Rick founded that band in 1974, right? To Cheap Trick, yeah, well, when we moved to Philadelphia, Fuse morphed into the Nas, sort of Todd Rundgren’s group. When Todd left his band, Rick met him in London and said, Hey, what are those other guys doing, your lead singer and your drummer? And he goes, I don’t know, here’s the singer’s number.


So we got a hold of those two guys. Tom Mooney was the drummer, and Stooky was the lead singer of the Nas. So then we were in a combination of the Nas and Grim Reapers.


We kind of used both names for that group. And that fell apart about 1971, and I moved to Europe. I just left the town we were living in, and I moved to Germany, and was just living in Amsterdam and just running around Europe for about a year, and Rick came over to visit me.


And at that point, Stooky, the singer of Nas, had moved back to Philadelphia, and he was about to get a record deal, but he needed a band. So he asked if we would come to Philadelphia and be in his band. So Rick and I and Bunny hooked up, and I came back from Germany, moved to Philadelphia.


So Rick, Bunny, and I and Stooky were in a band called Sick Man of Europe. That fell apart, and Rick and Bunny went back to Illinois and started Cheap Trick, and then we ended up getting Robin in the band by 1974. Then we knew we had something.


How’d you get the name Cheap Trick? Well, Rick always said that the band went around and used different names all the time because we were not very popular in nightclubs because we didn’t play the greatest hits. We weren’t a cover band. We did all sorts of crazy stuff and our own material, and most people did not want to hear about that, so we weren’t really that popular.


But they soon would be, back in a sec with more.

This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kay. It’s a beautiful day. Bands like Green Day, Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses and Pearl Jam are just a few of the bands that have been inspired by the group that came to be known as Cheap Trick.


But I still don’t get how they got the name. While we were in Philadelphia, Rick and I went to see Slade. The group Slade.


And we loved Slade. And they came out and they had glitter in their teeth and whatever, their whole thing. It was comical.


We thought they were hilarious. And I turned to Rick and I said, God, these guys are using every Cheap Trick in the book. He goes, hey, that’d be a cool band name.


So teamwork, I guess. I didn’t come up with the band name. I just happened to say that.


And he just said, yeah. And he happened onto it. Well, then they ended up using it and we were Cheap Trick from that point on.


And what was the direction that you’d all agreed that Cheap Trick would take? We just do songs, material we like. It was probably a lot more prog rock than people realize. We liked Mahavishnu Orchestra and, you know, that kind of stuff.


And, you know, really kind of crazy King Crimson and the British Invasion stuff, too. So it’s a combination of that. And at that point, the British Invasion stuff from 64 by 1969, it was a little passé.


It was kind of silly, you know, people weren’t out there in suits and ties and stuff. It was, you know, it’s changed. So it was kind of old hat.


But those influences were still there. We still love the Kinks and the Stones and the Who and the Beatles and all that. And it’s a combination of prog rock, really.


And then we realized, well, we’re playing in clubs, but people don’t want to really hear prog rock. And, you know, if they’re coming to a bar to come have a party. So we weren’t playing hits, but we would play songs that you could dance to.


So we would do, you know, the Kinks and Slade and T-Rex and sensational Alex Harvey and David Bowie and our own material, too. I love you. I just like the things you do.


Oh, you change the things you do. You just put me down when you’re out and out. I love you.


No, I’m not. I’m quick. I love you.


I just like the things you do. Oh, you change the things you do. Because I love you by Slade.


That was our first single. We were sort of this alternative bar band. No other groups were doing that because you couldn’t make any money doing it, us included.


If you covered the top 40, you had to do disco songs and ABBA or whatever was at that time in the 70s. And we weren’t doing that. But we eventually built an audience because of it.


So finally, when right before we got a record deal, we were doing all original material and, you know, really cool covers of different groups. But it was all club dance, kind of friendly. And it says, wow, you guys are so lucky you get to do all your own stuff.


It’s like, well, we didn’t do top 40. So we, you know, we weren’t looked at like that. So we were like this oddball group that came out of nowhere.


And that’s how it happened. Name a couple of the songs that you would have played in those days that were your favorites. We did, you know, Bowie stuff, you know, whatever was on his first record.


I don’t remember, you know, Spiders from Mars. In fact, when Bowie came on his first tour to the US, when he came to Philadelphia, we were all working the same restaurant, Rick and Bunny and I. And I was a waiter and I was his personal waiter upstairs in a private party. David Bowie and the Spiders.


That was me. Was he nice to you? Yes, he was very nice. He didn’t have to be and he was really very nice.


That would have been an amazing experience if he was one of your musical heroes anyway. Well, at that time, in 72, David Bowie was like, it was so shocking to people. We just thought it was fantastic.


You know, like, oh, my God, this guy is the coolest. And, you know, it’s great. We did songs, you know, by Manfred Mann and the Animals and I don’t know, anything that we thought was cool and that you could kind of dance to.


You know, and of course, it was a nonstop free bird, free bird, you know, but there you go. Otherwise, we’d be playing disco songs, which we did not do. We did have a song that was written.


One of our originals was a song called Disco Paradise. We did it a total disco style as a joke. And it instantly became our most popular song live.


And we said, forget this song. So we never did it again. But you make a love and drink a rum.


You play the music on the drum. You direct it just for fun. Disco Paradise.


You play to the kill of a sting. You play and you play and you sing. You play to the kill of a sting.


Disco Paradise. Got a fever when it is the dawning. Gonna make it to the top in the morning.


And all you think is that lots of money. Disco Paradise. And so the man, he got you.


Disco Paradise. It’s funny how I think some of the worst material are the most popular songs. Like Chuck Berry, My Ding-a-Lang.


It was probably his biggest hit of all things. Or Johnny Cash, A Boy Named Sue. Like Johnny Cash is my hero, but A Boy Named Sue, not so much.


I hear you. So, you got your first record deal in 1976, and your debut album came out that year, which started to build this whole cult following for you. In fact, you built on the first three albums hugely, didn’t you? Yes.


Yeah, we recorded the first record in New York City at Record Plant in 1976, and we finished it on the summer, and it didn’t come out until 77. We thought it would come right out, like, no, no, no. So, 77, and it didn’t have any success.


Did another record, second album, in color, same thing. It was a little more successful, but no success. At that time, there was a boom in record sales, so there was groups like Boston and Foreigner and all that type of stuff, Peter Frampton, 10, 20 million albums, we’re talking 50,000 albums.


It sounds all right now, but 50,000, it was like a joke. And we were just not successful. And the third album came out, and it was, no, not successful.


And the record label would always say the same thing, well, the next one’s the one. The next one’s the one, yeah, sure. So we went to Japan, and we just accidentally recorded a live album, it was for a TV show, and they decided that, hey, that record we did for the TV show, can we just put that out as a Japanese-only release? Sure.


And for some reason, it caught on worldwide, and the label was like, wait a minute, maybe we should release this thing everywhere, and not only in Japan. They’re like, yeah, good thinking, okay. I think it was something crazy, like, it sold like 300,000 imports, which those things cost like three times more than any regular album, and our record label said, hey, wait a minute, maybe we should release this.


So that’s what happened. So it was just an accident. She told me, yes, she told me, I need girls like you.


She also told me, stay away, you’ll never know what you’ll catch. Just the other day, I heard a soldier’s firing on some Indonesian junk that’s going round. Mommy’s all right, daddy’s all right, they just seem a little weird.


Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself away. They couldn’t do enough with you. No, they couldn’t, I guess.


But it was funny, because when we did that first tour in Japan in 78, it was just pandemonium. And we were playing bards and stuff, and we were opening for The King, we were opening for Kiss, we were opening for Queen, so we were doing some cool—and the reason the Japanese latched onto us, we were on tour with Kiss, and Kiss was so huge, and so was Queen, but Kiss was a full tour, so all the Japanese press would come to all the Kiss shows and see us. And then suddenly, we’re getting all this fan mail from Japan.


And we’re not selling any records. It’s like, what the heck is going on here? And they loved our first, second, and third albums. And we had all these hit singles in Japan and nowhere else.


So we ended up going to Japan, we get there, and it’s completely crazy. We’re about to do our first show at Budokan, and the promoter goes, hey, where’s I Want You to Want Me? That’s not on the set list. We go, well, we don’t do that anymore.


It wasn’t successful. They go, well, it was here, it was number one. We’re like, oh, OK.


We played it a million times. Sure, we’ll throw it back in the set. There you go.


Our biggest hit. We weren’t even playing it. It went from there.


Then that record took off. It became a record. They released it internationally, and the rest is history.


Right. That was your breakthrough back into the U.S.? Everywhere, yes. That worked out in that way.


That was good. The only bad thing about it was, so we had this record live at Budokan. We were promoting it, of course.


The records have lunch parties and dinner parties and whatever. They were all Japanese themed. That’s all well and good if you’re in Japan, but at that point in time, nobody knew anything about sushi and this kind of thing.


We’re in all these places that knew nothing about Japanese food, having Japanese themed dinners. We get there in the morning, we’re hungover. We’re like, oh, you’ve got to be there at noon.


They’re like, oh, man. You come there, like, oh, here’s your food. Green fur balls and raw fish.


It’s like, oh, man. Nobody was—it’s like, why couldn’t we have done this at record in Italy or something? Then we got into the Japanese food ourselves. The rest of the world caught up.


But at first, if you’re in Bettendorf, Iowa, they weren’t real big on Japanese cuisine. But sorry, you have to have a Japanese themed party. Wow.


That’s hilarious. So you became the peanut boys for Japan. Yeah.


It’s fine. And Japanese culture. Yeah.


It was very different then than it is now going over there. It really was like landing on another planet. It’s crazy.


We had a great time. I love you. I want you.


I need you. I need you to know. I love you.


I need you to know. I want you to show. Is it true that you guys toured relentlessly? Something like 200 shows a year trying to promote the albums and the hits.


You just kept moving forward the whole time? Yes. Well, when we were signed, up to that point, before we got a record deal, we were doing about… We’d go in the clubs and play six nights a week, four or five sets a night in bars. We got a record deal and we started going out.


We were averaging 290 one-nighters a year and doing two albums every year. So two albums a year and 290 dates a year. It was ridiculous.


And then Japan hit, so all of a sudden we were just overwhelmed. Yeah. People booking management, what do they care? They’re not having to do that, so we’re the ones doing all the running around.


So that’s what we had worked for, but that was rough. Was the pressure put on you by the record company to keep pushing new albums out and continue doing all of those shows? Well, not so much the record company, of course, but we weren’t dealing with them directly. It was more your manager and the booking agency.


They’re the ones making out on it. So I think if the booking agency and the managers had to travel around with us everywhere we went, we’d have a much easier schedule, but that was not the case. Yeah.


Yeah, they’ll do that. We’d be recording in L.A. and then, oh, on Sunday, we’ve got a one-night… We’d have to play in Miami, then come back and fly overnight, and then come back and go in the studio Monday morning, stuff like that. It was crazy.


You broke my heart And I went apart And I receive My tears by burn And I receive Another one of your Goodbye Although I’ll cry My tears by burn But I’m not feeling very sorry for them. Cheap Trick might have been working round the clock, but they were facing hysteria similar to Beatlemania. They were also about to crack a big on their home soil.


This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kay. It’s a beautiful day. When Cheap Trick came home to America in 1979, they released their fourth album, Dream Police, and experienced their first successes in their homeland as the album climbed to number six in the charts and went platinum.


As they continued to tour, the band won over fans everywhere, although Tom says the hits weren’t exactly that. They weren’t hits. Dream Police was not a hit.


People think that those, I Want You to Want Me was, but from the live record. But those other songs, like Surrender was not a hit, Dream Police was not a hit. They were radio hits, like rock radio, but they weren’t top 40 kind of hits at all.


You know, now looking back, oh, those were big hits. Well, not really. I mean, Ain’t That a Shame was a hit for us.


You know, that Fats Domino song from the live record. Surrender, I Want You to Want Me was big. I think that got to number two or something.


But besides that, you know, then Dream Police came out, and then, you know, those songs, they just got airplay, kind of like Led Zeppelin or something. They didn’t have a real popular top 40 hit. The Dream Police, they have inside my head The Dream Police, they come to me in my head The Dream Police, they’re coming to America Oh, no You know the job is cheap And those who I don’t think are polite That’s what they’re looking for me to break Suffice to say, you were in the money, and you were in demand.


We were in demand, yes. In the money, I don’t know about that part, but we were in demand, definitely. So, if that were the case, why leave the band in 1980? Well, it’s a combination of things, and I think it was just too much.


We were just so burned out, and it was just never-ending. The album sales at that point were slipping. Like I said, all these different groups were selling 10 million albums.


You know, we’ve got Dream Police. Yeah, it did fine, you know, 1.2 million, but it was like nothing compared to, you know, the big successful acts. In fact, when Budokan went gold, which is 500,000 records in the U.S., Epic Records was like, oh, we’re going to put out these big full-page ads on Billboard.


We said, no, no, no, it’s an embarrassment. 500,000 records, you know, it’s like a gold record. It’s like a consolation prize.


Everybody’s selling millions, and so we never got to that point. It’s not even close, really, honestly. Were you scratching your heads, wondering why not? You know, we didn’t know what we were doing.


No, not really. We really made records for our own enjoyment and did songs that we liked. We weren’t trying to be anything specific, you know, like, oh, I wonder what the people want to hear.


We didn’t know what they wanted. We just did what we wanted to hear, and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since, whether the records sell or not. And now, you know, records don’t sell at all, but we still make albums.


Tell me about the George Martin-produced All Shook Up. Yeah, that was the last album I did, I think, in 1980, until I came back in 87. It was great working with George and Jeff Amrick, the engineer.


It’s fantastic. More and more I’m thinking about love Love and all I’m thinking of Some people do and some people don’t Some people will and some people won’t My baby knows my baby knows I’m thinking about More and more I’m thinking about The more I think, the worse it gets Those guys were so good. At just getting sounds.


I said to Jeff Amrick one time, don’t you get tired of people asking you about The Beatles just nonstop? Of course, us included. We try not to, but still, what happened? He goes, no, I never get tired of it because it means so much to people. And he’s right.


You go to lunch somewhere with Jeff Amrick and people wouldn’t necessarily recognize him, but if you knew who that was, I mean, I saw grown men start crying. Oh my God, I might as well have been sitting there with George Harrison. Well, maybe that’d be a little better.


The same would apply to people saying, don’t you get sick of playing? I want you to want me. Well, no, not really. You know, people want to hear that stuff and that’s what we do.


And I think we’re one of the very few acts that changes up our set every night. I mean, we do different stuff. We add in all sorts of stuff, new songs and just obscure things.


And we don’t see anybody doing that. Almost every act that we work with does the same show every night, exactly the same, never change. And that would be, drive us crazy.


So do you change it up for your own amusement or for the audience? Yes. If you’re a diehard fan, those people are mostly sick of the hits. They’ve heard them too much.


It’s like, oh, here we go, Stairway to Heaven again, Hill 3 Bird or whatever it might be. It’s like you’ve heard it so many times, they want to hear obscure stuff. And people that are just maybe seeing it for the first time or don’t follow you or whatever, they want to hear, oh, I want to hear the hits.


So you’ve got two kind of warring factions in the audience. So you can’t win. So we just do whatever we think.


As long as you guys are having a good time, the audience will too. Well, yeah, that’s true. At least as long as it looks like we’re having a good time, right? That’s what counts.


Why did you come back to the band in 88? Well, I ran into those guys. I was living in New York City then. And those guys came to New York.


They were at a party for a bass player for Duran Duran. And I came to the same party and I saw Rick and I kind of stumbled and I spilled a beer all over him. I didn’t do it on purpose.


But anyway, then we realized, hey, maybe we should get back together and do a side project. I said, yeah, okay. So I went back to Chicago and just did a rehearsal with them.


And the minute I started playing, we all kind of looked at each other like, okay, forget this side project thing. Let’s just, you’re back in the band. All right, that was it.


And then we recorded this record, Lap of Luxury. And the record label at that point then had all new, they had always changed. So it was a new president and new everything there.


And they were all excited that I had come back. It was just a great time. Well, the streets are all crowded.


Lots of people around. And there’s music playing but I can’t hear a sound. Just the sound of the rain falling silently down.


Living, living, living since you put me down. Yeah, life goes on around me every day. But it might as well be happening miles away.


It’s like a ghost town without your love. Like a ghost town without your love. Like a ghost town baby can’t you see it’s a ghost town until you come back to me.


Until you come back to me. And you’ve been there ever since. That’s right.


And still having fun. Looking like we’re having fun. And still making good music.


Still making, definitely making music. Yeah. The direction changed a little bit more recently? No.


Still same. Doing what you like to do, calling the shots. That’s right.


You know, we’re always going oh wow, that sounds like the sensational Alex Harvey band. Cool. You know, we’re not trying to emulate Beyonce or whoever.


We never were doing that following what was happening. Whatever people want to hear, we don’t know. If we knew, maybe we might do it.


But if we do something that we personally like, then, you know, you kind of can’t lose. At least you’re not embarrassed when it’s not successful. Yeah, fair enough.


You’re doing something you hate and it doesn’t succeed. Oh boy. Of that incredible back catalog that you do have, Tom Peterson, which would you say is your all-time favorite song? Favorite song? Oh, I would say Heaven Tonight.


Wow. It’s just this nice, moody, heavy song. I love it.


I never get tired of that. We don’t do it every night or anything, but we do it occasionally and I think it’s great. There’s a limit You will overshow What you’ve done Time runs out Time ran out Break it down Ooh Would you like to go to heaven tonight? Would you like to go to heaven tonight? Ooh, yeah Ooh, yeah Would you like to go to heaven tonight? Would you like to go Tom, have you still got Rocky’s Speech, your foundation to promote awareness and understanding for Autism Spectrum Disorder? It’s not a proper, well yes, we’ve got the record Rocky’s Speech is out on, we did that really for our son who was at that time six years old and he wasn’t speaking at all.


So we did this record to see how that would work and he really latched on to it and it really we thought, okay, we’ll put out a proper record and people can download it on Apple Music or whatever. So we haven’t done anything really since then, but it was just all songs that we thought a little kid could understand the lyrics, really simple lyrics and he now is fully verbal. Amazing.


Good to hear. Yeah. So that works.


So that record Rocky’s Speech, it turned out we did a couple of conventions and things and what really impressed us was the people that were in speech therapy, not for Autism necessarily, but for everything like, you know, people can have a stroke or they have an accident and they have to learn how to walk or whatever and they don’t have any friggin’ music. It’s all, the wheels on the bus go round and round and you’re like, yeah, okay, it wasn’t the music. Yeah, how about we have something that’s maybe a little heavier than that? So that was our idea.


That’s what that was for. Ooh, ooh, baby, you’re so cold. Ooh, ooh, baby, you’re so cold.


Ooh, ooh, like the ocean. Ooh, ooh, baby, you’re so cold. Ooh, ooh, ooh, baby, you’re so cold.


Ooh, ooh, ooh. Finally, Tom Peterson, I know that you’re a really serious guitar collector, that you used to use a vintage Gibson Thunderbird as your main stage instrument for many years until a girlfriend threw it out of a hotel window during an argument and then you changed it up. Is that a true story? No.


No. I hope not because when I had that bass, which I don’t have anymore, it was the only instrument I had. So if somebody threw it out the window, I would have been.


That would not have worked out so well. But is it true that you’re a serious guitar collector? I love guitars and basses. So I like things that are really oddball.


I like all sorts of things. That’s kind of a hobby. I don’t have a collection.


A lot of people have, oh, they have every color of every strat and every year and all that. That’s not it. I more go for oddball, Italian guitars and just all sorts of crazy stuff.


So you describe yourself as a bit of an oddball. You describe the band as having kind of oddball, eclectic taste. Yeah.


It all fits together like that, right? I guess so. You’re not exhausted these days with all the traveling and touring you’re doing? Yes, of course. What do you mean I’m not exhausted? I’m sitting at home right now, so I’m fine.


Yes, I have to leave tomorrow morning if it’s not good. So the rock and roll lifestyle is perhaps not quite as glamorous as people think? It’s not glamorous at all. No, it’s no.


It’s hard work. Yeah, and what isn’t? You’re trying to make a living and balance it. It’s different because when you start out, you’re obviously young and you don’t have a family.


You can sleep on people’s couches. Who cares? You’re kind of crazy. But when you get a little older, you have other responsibilities.


So everything’s completely different. But you wouldn’t trade it in for anything else, right? Well, it depends on what that is. Let’s hear some offers.


Yes, I probably would. Let me think. But I haven’t heard of anything that would make me want to trade it in.


I would trade it in, sure. What were you thinking? Yeah, I don’t know. Let me think about it and I’ll come back to you.


Tom, I better let you go. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. It’s just been fabulous.


Continued success to you. I’m looking forward to it. Bye.


He doesn’t need my wishes for continued success. Cheap Trick have never been so popular. Thanks for your company today.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the show. I’m looking forward to being back with you again same time next week. Take care of yourself in the meantime, won’t you? And do have fun.

Bye now. It’s a beautiful day. You’ve been listening to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Tang.

Beautiful day. Oh, baby, any day that you’re gone away. It’s a beautiful day.