Interview with Bun E Carlos, Reno - 6 August 2005
We're in Reno Nevada, self-proclaimed "Biggest little city in the world", and Cheap Trick are in town to play two nights at the Silver Legacy Casino. It's early afternoon on Saturday 6th, with the first nights show having taken place last night. I'm sitting with Bun E in the front row of the venue, empty now apart from a couple of techs up on stage making adjustments, and with the occasional soft drum beat as Matt (Bun's tech) tests the drumset. With my 50th unofficial Cheap Trick newsletter coming up in the next few weeks, Carla and Bun had kindly agreed to allow me a short interview, so here we are, shortly before Bun goes on stage to do his own drumcheck.
As many people will know, I'm not a writer or journalist, I'm a just a long-time fan. So what follows isn't nicely packaged up in an article like Rolling Stone or other publications would do! Instead, it's probably more of a conversation rather than an interview, but I hope it brings readers more up to date with the latest on the new album, remasters and a few other things in the mind of our favourite drummer. So, questions at the ready, tape recorder on, and here goes
(KG: Kim Gisborne ; BC - Bun E Carlos ; extra KG comments in italics)
KG: Thank you for your time Bun, I really appreciate this
BC: We'll see! <laughs>
KG: What is the latest on the new album? I'd guess release sometime in 2006?
BC: We're still working on it, still tracking the release will be in 2006, we're hoping earlier than later
KG: Song titles? Some months ago Rick had mentioned "Give It Away", "Gazoonheit", "Two Pickets to Titsburgh" and "Arabesque" . are there other titles that you can give?
BC: "Give It Away" is one that's on the list, it's getting fixed up. The other three you named aren't. There's seventeen or eighteen of them but I don't really have the titles. Half the time they get changed.
KG: You have the upcoming dates with Alice Cooper - is it true that you'll each play a "full set" and then a short set together at each show?
BC: I've heard some of these dates we're doing a 60 (minute) now, some we're doing a 70 so no, we're not doing a full set. And I think at some of the towns there's a little get-together at the end of the night but not all the towns. That thing is still up in the air.
KG: Have you played much with Alice? I recall you did a few songs together in New York in Sept 2004 but before that? Have your paths crossed much? Have you toured with Alice before?
BC: We did a couple of gigs with Alice we did that one in New York last Fall for that Rock'n'Roll thing, we did "Eighteen" with him. We've never toured with him, we've just done a Summerfest show with him once or Milwaukee date, and a couple of things back in the 90's.
KG: Ah, I wasn't sure, I know he turned up at a couple of shows in LA
BC: Rick and Tom I know saw him back in the old days, back in Chicago in the late 60's
KG: What plans do you have after the month of shows with Alice? More touring?
BC: We should be done in the studio by then, so we'll be doing more dates. We're just kind of winding down on the album tracks. There's just some vocals and guitar being done.
KG: You're here in Reno playing two nights at the Silver Legacy - but you've played a couple of other two-nighters recently, in Niagara Falls and Long Beach. What was behind the idea? Was it the venues wanting two nights, or Cheap Trick offering two different shows?
BC: The venues want two nights. I think here, this night went on sale first and then last night went on sale later is what I heard from somebody.
KG: I know there's been two or three places Long Beach and then Niagara Falls
BC: We'd do a week in some places if they wanted us to! It's easier than packing everything up and travelling. This is their idea, not ours.
KG: How do you find the two night things when you don't have to get out straight away? Do you find it boring to have to sit in a hotel room for an extra day or kill time?
BC: I can sit in a hotel room or I can sit in an airport or sit somewhere else, it isn't much different. At least I get to sleep late! It ain't bad.
KG: We've been lucky enough to see you in the UK/Europe each year from 2001-2004, but you haven't made it this year. Do you think you'll be able to make it over before the next CD is released?
BC: We won't make it over before the next CD is released, because the reason we'd go over would be to promote the CD
KG: I thought that but I thought I'd ask
BC: Europe is always kind of a shaky proposition. It all depends on whatever label we're using
KG: What newer bands have you seen or been impressed by lately? Anyone from Live8 for example? Killers? Kaiser Chiefs?
BC: Well, nothing on Live8 was too new. The Killers, I just heard a couple of things by them. Jeez, what's new that I like? I just heard a couple things this week but I don't have the titles, they're sitting at home plus I haven't been writing them down. No answer for that!
KG: You and Rick joined Velvet Revolver on stage in Rockford earlier this year to perform "Surrender". How did you feel about them wanting to cover that song?
BC: Their version was fine except when they go to the "away" part at the end, the C F C G part. They don't do the chord changes which I thought was kinda weird. It was the b-side of their second single so it wasn't out on its own or anything. They do a good job of it.
KG: How did that work at Rockford, cos I didn't see that show
BC: We said "Hello" before the show and they said "Come on, let's do this" and its like "Nah, we're just gonna watch the show". "Come on, you gotta get up and play", so I'm like "OK" so we rehearsed it in their guitar tuning room before the show. We just ran through it once, the arrangement. (But on stage ) We all blew the ending, someone blew the ending anyway! I remember Scott the singer turned around and in the end gives me a "Its over, do the ending" and I'm like "Nah, its not here yet" so we ended up doing a Cheap Trick ending or something! He was the only guy that seemed to panic, all the other guys in the band didn't care. That was a lot of fun, Duff's a big fan.
KG: Remasters - Dream Police, All Shook Up and Next Position Please are all due out late 2005. Have you been involved in the remastering, and what bonus tracks will be on them? I recall the "Found All the Parts" tracks were some of them.
BC: Yeah, we remastered 'em Bonus tracks, lets see All Shook Up, the bonus tracks will be the Found All the Parts EP cos there are no extra tracks. No tape exists from that, it all got blown away in that hurricane in Montserrat. Next Position Please, there's gonna be the two songs that got taken off (to make way) for "You Say Jump" and "Dancing the Night Away". And there's gonna be the two bonus tracks that were on the cassette. So there'll be a total of sixteen songs on there. There'll be the original twelve plus two plus two. Plus, there was never a real sequence for it. We had a sequence and we switched two songs around and then they (Sony) switched the sequence round for the cassette, so what we did was well, I kinda made an executive decision (for the remaster) I took "You Say Jump" and "Dancing the Night Away" and made 'em tracks 15 and 16. And then we re-sequenced the first 14 to put the four in that weren't on the original release the two that were on the cassette and the two that were pulled. So that's re-sequenced a little bit but not a whole lot different. Dream Police what's on there? There's a rough mix of "Dream Police" that doesn't have the strings on it
KG: Was that one played at one of the Trickfests? On one of the tapes you put together for that? We may have heard that one
BC: I dunno, there were a couple of tunes "It Must Be Love" and a different version of "House is Rockin" but they're not gonna be on there because we didn't have good copies of them, all we had was on cassette. There's a couple of other things but nothing too exciting, it's mostly just the remastering of the thing. Oh live tracks, that's what's on there. There's a couple of tracks on there from the LA Forum, the New Years date we did in 1979 with Jai Winding (keyboards). So there's "House is Rockin" which goes into "Goodnight" which was one of the encores. And there's a live version of "Way of the World" And knowing the usual Sony, they won't come out until the new album comes out. They'll piggy back it so it'll be at the same time, hopefully first quarter next year.
KG: I think you'd said that further "Bun E's Bootleg" CD's were planned for. Do you have any news on what might be next available and when?
BC: We've got a couple sitting and ready to go, but they're just kinda waiting till some day further down the line. What do we have? The Detroit 78 and that Chicago 77. The Detroit was a complete show and the Chicago one was a radio show. So they're all ready to go they're just not going yet. And I haven't put any together for after that yet 'cos we didn't know what's going on with them
KG: Its a lot of work for you to do anyway, to pull out the stuff
BC: Its just sitting around finding stuff, you know, how much do you want to find or how picky you want to get.
KG: What do you regard as your best drumming on an album or song? And what is the best drumming you've ever seen (or heard) by another drummer?
BC: My best drumming on an album or song? Heck, I dunno Kim <deadpan> I love 'em all. "Invaders of the Heart", that's a good one 'cos there's no clinkers in there y'know?
KG: One day it'll be played live, right? <asked jokingly>
BC: One day ! <laughs>
KG: What's the best drumming you've heard by anyone else?
BC: I got a Buddy Rich compilation from all the Tonight shows in America. Who's ever going to be better than that? Or seeing Keith Moon or seeing Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience) or seeing your favourite drummer? All those guys are hot stuff. Who's that guy from Styx? Todd Sucherman. He did a clinic at the drum show in May and he's like Wow! The guy can play faster with one hand than most guys can play with two hands. Depends on what you're talking about. I saw some old guy play last summer at some hotel bar. Some jazz band, he was about 80 and everyone else was about 80 too! It was a 3 or 4 piece and that was neat. For 80 years old that was the best guy I'd ever seen.
KG: You've met a lot of other artists during your musical career. Who was the biggest thrill for you to meet?
BC: Biggest thrill for me to meet? Well, John Lennon was neat Jeff Beck and Ginger Baker too. I remember meeting other people and it wasn't such a thrill you meet a hero and it's like "I really loved that thing you did" and they say "Ah, that sucked". That happened with Paul Rodgers and it happened with, rest his soul, who's the guy from Traffic? Jim Capaldi. I met him once. Ray Davies was a bit of an arsehole when we met him. And Be Bop Deluxe too. So you meet some of these guys and there ya go You know, I'm sure we're on some people's lists too "I met Bun E, what a prick!"
KG: In the bands long and chequered career, are there any major things that, in hindsight, you might have done differently?
BC: Any major things? <laughs> Oh yeah! I would have bought Microsoft when I was about 10! Or Starbucks. What would I do different? A lot of things, but can't do 'em so who cares
KG: That's all the stuff I had to ask
BC: Well, congratulations on number 50!
KG: I appreciate your giving up 10-15 minutes to do this, thanks for your time
BC: No problem... <getting up> I'm going to go make some noise
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