Under the Southern Stars - CHEAP TRICK'S TOM PETERSSON - INTERVIEW WITH BRISBANE COURIER MAIL
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CHEAP TRICK'S TOM PETERSSON - INTERVIEW WITH BRISBANE COURIER MAIL

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Mar 03

There is a reason Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famers Cheap Trick are one of the hardest-working seasoned rock bands in the USA and are ready to play anywhere at any time – no date is sacred.

The band’s bass guitarist Tom Petersson, who invented the 12-string bass guitar, says they have no blackout dates, “not even for births”, so their calendar is open for any time or place.

And that includes Australia, with the Flame hitmakers later this month co-headlining the Under the Southern Stars tour alongside Bush and Stone Temple Pilots.

The opening show is at Maitland Showgrounds (March 11) with the Queensland gigs at Kings Beach, Caloundra (March 25), Southport Sharks (March 26) and Riverstage, Brisbane (March 27), which also draws the curtain on the tour.

The band arrive in Australia straight from a Las Vegas residency and then return to the US before heading to Canada where they team up with ZZ Top.

“I just look at the schedule and go, ‘we’re going to Australia, fine’ and that’s my involvement in it,” Petersson said.

Over the next five months, their schedule takes in about 60 shows including more than two dozen supporting Scottish legend Rod Stewart throughout the US before their own tour of the UK.

And even though Petersson, 71, lead singer Robin Zander, 69, and effervescent guitarist Rick Nielsen 73, are on the road as much as they are at home these days, they travel only as a band.

With the exception, that is, of Nielsen’s son Daxx who has been the band’s drummer since 2010 and Zander’s son Robin, aka RTZ, who plays backing guitar.

“No, they (their families) are not crazy, they do not want to come with us,” Petersson said with a huge smile.

“They’ll go to places they want to go, but they don’t travel around, it’s not cost-effective either.

“This is our job, and we do this to make a living.

“Maybe if we were the Rolling Stones, we could take everyone with us ‘on my private jet’, but we are not in that situation.”

For Petersson, being healthy means more than owning a private jet after a random check-up uncovered a congenital heart condition that could have ended his life at any time.

He had two heart valves instead of three, and had surgery at the same time Cheap Trick was scheduled to tour Australia a year ago for the UTSS tour before it was postponed.

“We were scheduled to come to Australia right at that time when I had to go in for surgery,” he said.

“It was a random scan. The doctor says ‘you know, you might as well get a full scan because it’s included’… otherwise no, they would not have seen that (heart condition).

“I didn’t have any symptoms … I felt fine. I would have just probably dropped dead, you know, unexpectedly.”

Formed in 1973, Cheap Trick had a string of hits in Australia across the 1970s and 1980s, including The Flame which topped the charts in 1988.

It’s a tune Aussie fans can expect to hear during the band’s one-hour set, along with some of their classics such as Dream Police and If You Want My Love and a couple of tunes from their new album In Another World.

“The diehard fans don’t want to hear the hits, and the reverse is true,” Petersson said.

“We just basically do songs that we want to hear except, you know, the few hits that we should play.”

Under the Southern Stars, Kings Beach Amphitheatre March 25, Southport Sharks March 26, Riverstage Brisbane March 27, tickets through Ticketmaster