.

New Wave Heroes the Cars Roar Back on Reunion Record

Ric Ocasek and crew cut their first disc in decades, 'Move Like This'

February 16, 2011 11:10 AM ET
New Wave Heroes the Cars Roar Back on Reunion Record
Photograph by Mark Seliger for RollingStone.com

'This is not a reunion — it's more like a conjunction." That is how singer-guitarist-songwriter Ric Ocasek of the Cars describes Move Like This, the New Wave band's first studio album in 24 years. "I never thought I'd make another Cars record," he claims, citing "the past, personalities and Ben's passing away" — the death in 2000 of bassist-singer Benjamin Orr.

Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 'The Cars' by The Cars

But a year ago, Ocasek — a producer and periodic solo artist — found himself with new songs, "a lot of which I liked," he says. "It dawned on me: 'What if I called the guys? They'll do the best job, because they already know the whole thing.'"

This article appears in the March 3, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive February 18.

To be released on May 10th by Hear Music, Move Like This was recorded last year in Los Angeles and upstate New York by the entire surviving band: Ocasek, drummer David Robinson, guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboard player Greg Hawkes. Gareth "Jacknife" Lee, who has worked with U2 and R.E.M., produced five tracks; the band did the rest. Lee and Hawkes split the bass duties. Ocasek, who left the vocal spotlight to Orr's rich tenor on hits like 1978's "Just What I Needed" and the 1984 ballad "Drive," sang all 10 songs.

"I was aware that on half of the new songs, Ben would have done better than I did," Ocasek concedes. "But we never wanted anybody from the outside." Orr was actually present, in spirit, at many sessions: Hawkes played one of his old basses, now owned by Robinson. "Ben would have been there if he had been alive," Hawkes says. "That's the only way we could think about it."

Read David Fricke's Blog 'Alternate Take'

In all other ways, new songs such as "Hits Me," "Free" and "Blue Tip" are a total recall of the precise swagger, art-rock minimalism and chrome-gleam pop on the Top Five LPs Candy-O (1979), Panorama (1980) and Heartbeat City (1984). "We were there for the songs," Ocasek says of the Cars' original hit streak. "This album carries that through."

Hawkes admits he was "fairly surprised" when Ocasek called him about a new record. After the Cars broke up in 1988 over personal tensions and fading success, Ocasek refused to consider a reunion. "I held out," he notes, "for 23 years." He reluctantly gave his blessing when Hawkes and Easton toured in 2005 as the New Cars, with dire results. But Ocasek insists "the only thing that got it together again was these songs.

The Hottest Live Photos of the Week

"I wouldn't mind doing more records," Ocasek adds, although he is leery of touring. "This is not 'We're back, and you're gonna hear the hits.'" Rumors of Coachella or Lollapalooza gigs this year are, so far, just that. "It might be fun to do a couple of shows," Ocasek says. And he's ready to do his best when it's time to sing "Drive." "People would just say, 'He doesn't sing it as good as Ben, but what the fuck — he's the guy who wrote it.'"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com