Cheap Trick are all set to celebrate their history at tonight’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, where the Illinois power-pop legends will take the stage to play a few of their classic songs. If all goes as planned, the performance will feature a reunion with drummer Bun E. Carlos — who hasn’t toured with the group since 2010 — but the nostalgia trip ends there. Cheap Trick, sans Carlos, hit the road April 10th in support of their new album; Carlos, meanwhile, is set to release his first solo LP, the guest-studded Greetings From Bunezuela!, this summer. Below you can stream the first single, “Do Something Real,” written and sung by Guided by Voices mastermind Robert Pollard.
Carlos’ friendship with the famously prolific indie-rock songwriter dates back to 1999, when Cheap Trick opened for Guided by Voices at several East Coast shows. “Cheap Trick and Guided By Voices have toured together,” Carlos told Rolling Stone. “I’ve played cowbell with GBV four shows in a row, and I DJ’d at GBV gigs in Chicago a couple of times.”
Like all the tracks on Greetings From Bunezuela!, “Do Something Real” is a remake of a previously recorded song, and the drummer knows Pollard’s vast catalog well enough that he chose to revive a relative obscurity: The catchy, hard-driving cut originally appeared on Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department, Pollard’s 1999 album with multi-instrumentalist Doug Gillard. “I’m an average GBV fan with about 200–300 of their songs in my collection,” Carlos says. “I had about 15 GBV songs I thought about covering, and ‘Do Something Real’ kept coming back to me. … I could have done an entire album with Robert Pollard alone.”
Pollard is clearly flattered to have been tapped for the project. “It was a pleasure,” he told Rolling Stone of working with Carlos. “Secondly, it was an honor. To me, it’s like working with Ringo Starr. That’s how important Bun E. Carlos’s work with Cheap Trick is to me. It’s like I’ve been included in to rock royalty.”
The rest of the album features a revolving cast of frontmen, an intriguing assortment that includes Wilco bassist John Stirratt, Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner, roots-rock luminary Alejandro Escovedo and original Cheap Trick vocalist Randy “Xeno” Hogan, among others. “I pretty much own the catalog of every singer featured on the album,” Carlos says, “and I’ve recorded or toured with every singer on the album.”
Some of the guests, such as Pollard and Escovedo, sing their own previously recorded songs on Bunezuela!; others, like the brothers of Hanson and Eleventh Dream Day’s Rick Rizzo, reinterpret vintage tracks by the Who, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Them, and others.
According to Carlos, the concept for the record has been in the works for decades. “I talked about a covers album since 1978,” he says. “After 35 years, I’m finally making this record.” Accordingly, he took an old-school approach: “I made the album like people made records in my childhood. I cut two tracks at a time.”
Greetings From Bunezuela! will be out June 24th. You can view the preliminary list of tracks and guest vocalists below.
1. “Do Something Real” — Robert Pollard (Robert Pollard solo)
2. “Him or Me” — featuring Hanson (Paul Revere and the Raiders)
3. “Armenia in the Sky” — John Stirratt (The Who)
4. “I Love You No More” — Alex Dezen (The Blackstones)
5. “Tell Me” — Alejandro Escovedo (The Rolling Stones)
6. “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” — Dave Pirner (Bob Dylan)
7. “Let the Mystery Be” — Xeno (Iris DeMent)
8. “Idea” — Robert Pollard (The Bee Gees)
9. “Le Cactus” — Nicholas Tremulis (Jacque DuTronc)
10. “I Can Only Give You Everything” — Rick Rizzo (Them)
11. “Slow Down” — Alejandro Escovedo (Alejandro Escovedo)
12. “Count on Me” — Xeno (Fra Lippo Lippi)
13. “I Don’t Mind” — Alex Dezen (Alex Dezen)