TUNED UP READY TO ROLL…..The NEW CARS are once again set to “Shake it Up”
and hit the tour circuit with the “Road Rage Winter Tour”, this weekend
in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The revamped line-up includes original member’s
ELLIOT EASTON and keyboardist GREG HAWKES. Also joining in on the new inCARnation
of the influential new wave rock band are drummer PRAIRIE PRINCE (The Tubes),
bassist KASIM SULTON (Utopia, Meatloaf), and last but most certainly not
least the ingenious musical mechanic TODD RUNDGREN, who will be taking
the wheel on vocals.
The NEW CARS are ready to say “Hello Again” as they look to regain the
momentum built up earlier this summer as they embarked on their first tour
in seventeen years. Ironically the summer leg of the tour was sidetracked
after only a few dynamite shows when guitarist ELLIOT EASTON sustained
an injury in a traffic accident. The southpaw ax man severely broke his
left clavicle when the tour bus swerved to avoid another vehicle. Since
then the caution flag has been lifted and EASTON and crew are refueled
and ready to “Let the Good Times Roll” following the summer detour.
NIGHT-LIFE made the Rock and Roll roady to Cleveland in June as we had
the chance to take the NEW CARS out for a test “Drive”, we were immediately
sold. From the start of the show it was apparent that this tour was no
joyride. It was a thrill to witness a group of elite musicians restore
some of music’s vintage songs after such a long layoff. Guitarists EASTON
and RUNDGREN are a lethal tandem of stage, their superb musicianship makes
this band barely street legal. HAWKES keyboard wizardry and soaring backing
harmonies kept the show “Moving in Stereo”. The rhythm section of SULTON
and PRINCE boost the show into overdrive putting the pedal to the metal.
Bassist KASIM SULTON also deserves kudos for taking on the daunting task
of steering the NEW CARS through an impassioned version of “Drive”; a CARS
classic from the 1984 album “Heartbeat City”. That song was driven to the
top of the charts by the late great BENJAMIN ORR who succumbed to pancreatic
cancer in 2000.
While EASTON was up on the blocks recovering from his injury a few of his
new band mates where toiling away in hell. TODD RUNDGREN was on the other
side of the glass teaming up with MEATLOAF to help produce “Bat Out of
Hell III, while bassist SULTON supplied the thunder on the hard hitting
album which hit the streets on Halloween.
NIGHT-LIFE had the pleasure to speak with the southpaw guitar slinger ELLIOT
EASTON while the NEW CARS where putting the finishing touches on rehearsals
for the “Winter Road Rage Tour”. Due to scheduling conflicts the NEW CARS
had to cancel some of the early part of the tour which unfortunately included
the University of Buffalo gig. The good news is you can still pick up a
copy of the NEW CARS: It’s Alive disc which was released earlier this year.
The live show includes many of the CARS mega hits along with three brand
new songs written by the re-vamped line-up including the summer hit “Not
R.CAT- Thanks so much for taking some time for us here in Buffalo, it was
really a disappointment to hear that the early part of the tour had to
be cancelled including the date here.
E.E.- It’s a pleasure, thank you. No on is more disappointed then we are
about the cancellations. It would have been a homecoming of sorts for me
as I’m quite familiar with the Western New York area. I spent my first
year of college at Brockport University and really enjoyed my time there.
The guys and I were just talking about our visit to Buffalo as we watched
the storm coverage on the national news a few weeks ago. We hope
to make it up sometime down the road.
R.CAT- When I had the opportunity to see the NEW CARS over the summer I
could see the happiness and passion within the band on stage. It was evident
that there was a yearning to take the classic songs out for a spin once
again especially with yourself and GREG.
E.E.- I think that’s exactly right. The material is like brand new to us,
it’s fresh and more importantly we are having fun playing it again. I’m
glad that the passion we feel translates on stage, that’s an emotion that
shouldn’t be manufactured under any circumstances. What’s even more of
a bonus for us in the band is we also get to play material from TODD RUNDGREN’S
amazing body of work.
R.CAT- Speaking of the often in demand performer TODD RUNDGREN; how did
the multi-faceted musician end up joining in on the project?
E.E.- It started out with us trying to put the original CARS surviving
members back together. After a short time it was apparent that RIC OCASEK
and DAVID ROBINSON didn’t have any interest in the rigors of the road again.
Putting that behind us GREG HAWKES and I decided we still wanted to move
forward and take these songs out on the road again. It wasn’t just for
us as musicians but also for our longtime loyal fans, and who knows maybe
a whole new generation of fans might even hop on for the ride. As
we discussed the many different scenarios TODD’S name kept coming up. We
had worked with him on several occasions, he had produced albums that I
had played on in the past, not to mention that the CARS had toured
with UTOPIA throughout the seventies and eighties, so needless to say his
remarkable reputation had preceded him. I gave him a ring and to my delight
he was very interested, telling me he had heard we were looking for a vocalist
and was hoping to get the call. We got together informally to jam and it
sounded amazing from the get go. So here we are ready to roll out
R.CAT- On the new disc “It’s Alive” the NEW CARS not only polished up the
classic gems, the disc also contains three brand new songs. Was the new
material something that was planned or did they just happen organically
during jam sessions and rehearsals?
E.E. –Really it was kind of both. No one their right mind would ask someone
of RUNDGREN’S caliber as a creative force to join a band without the hope
that some new material would come out of it. We are approaching this as
if we are a brand new band, it just so happens that we have an incredible
amount of great music in the trunk to take along for the ride. The group
concept is what this is all about, bands make music and that is what we
hope to accomplish with this union of talented musicians. We’d love to
pick up the bands legacy were it left off and build on it.
R.CAT- What can fans expect on the “Winter Road Rage Tour”? Will the shows
and set lists vary from this past summer?
E.E.- Yeah they will as a matter of fact. Since we won’t be going out with
BLONDIE on this leg it will afford us a longer set as well as enjoying
the intimacy of the smaller venues. Those factors alone will allow us the
freedom to open it up a bit more. And you just never know what can happen
when TODD RUNDGREN is in the driver’s seat of any live show.
NIGHT-LIFE would like to thank ELLIOT EASTON for his valuable time as well
as Darren Babar from BWR Public Relations for putting this together. Western
New Yorkers looking to get out of Dodge during the cold winter months can
check out the bands website @ www.thenewcars.com
for upcoming tour dates, including several shows out West in December.
Also check out TODD RUNDGREN’S very cool interactive website @ www.tr-i.com,
which was designed and maintained by RUNDGREN himself.