When the Cars reunited in 2010 to cut their new album Move Like This they could have easily stayed on the road for a solid two years supporting it. They have more hits than just about any other band of their era and since they'd been completely inactive since splitting in 1988, the demand to see them was enormous. But the band only agreed to 11 theater shows in May of 2011 and a spot on the Lollapalooza stage that August. "It was a mostly a promotional tour," Cars drummer David Robinson told Rolling Stone late last year. "We weren't ready to gear up for big tours."
The blame for that lies squarely on frontman Ric Ocasek. He never enjoyed touring in the band's heyday and in the aftermath he started a highly successful career as a producer, working with everyone from Weezer to Guided By Voices and No Doubt. "I've always been more of a songwriter than a performer," he recently told Rolling Stone. "I produce and I love the studio. I've always not so much liked touring."
Complicating factors was the absence of Cars bassist Benjamin Orr, who died in 2000. Ocasek took over vocals on songs Orr originally sang like "Moving in Stereo" and "Just What I Needed" (they wisely never attempted "Drive") and his bass parts were covered by keyboardist Greg Hawkes. But to Ric, it never felt completely right. "I really miss Ben as part of the thing," he told Rolling Stone. "As much as I want it to be the Cars and I love everyone so much in the Cars, without him it just feels different. It feels different."
Here's video of the group playing "You're All I've Got Tonight" at Lollapalooza. It's their most recent show to date, but the band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April and they're planning on performing. "I could go out there and try and be esoteric and play obscure songs from the records, but I think they'll want to hear something they know," Ocasek said. "Off the top of my head I can imagine 'Just What I Needed' and 'Drive' or something. That's what people would expect."
Ocasek is writing new songs he could possibly envisions as a Cars record, he also feels that the Hall of Fame could be the final time the group plays. "I kind of started playing here and I could stop playing here," he said. "This could be the bookends. One guy on a guitar playing bad songs and then I'm in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 45 years later."