Cars guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes have drafted Todd Rundgren to front a new version of the band, appropriately dubbed the New Cars.
Confirming long-standing speculation, Cars guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes have drafted Todd Rundgren to front a new version of the band, appropriately dubbed the New Cars. The lineup is rounded out by singer/bassist Kasim Sulton and Tubes drummer Prairie Prince. Original Cars vocalist Ric Ocasek is not involved in the new endeavor; original bassist/vocalist Ben Orr passed away in 2000.
"When Ric made it clear to us that he really no longer wished to tour, and Greg and I wanted to do this thing, we sort of cast about for who we could get to be in the band. Who would be a great frontman and a great writer?" Easton tells Billboard.com. "I sort of came up with a very short list, and Todd was at the top of it. To my very pleasant surprise, he was receptive to the idea. It's just a great fit. It sounds terrific. He's a lot of fun to play with."
The newly formed quintet debuted in front of an invite-only audience in January in Burbank, Calif. Several tracks from that show will be released May 9 on the album "It's Alive" via Eleven Seven Music. The set also features three new tracks penned by Easton, Hawkes and Rundgren, "Not Tonight," "Warm," and "More." A European release will follow shortly thereafter.
"We have played, but they're not shows in the sense that it was a venue where somebody could buy a ticket," explains Rundgren. "We had to come up with some sort of recorded product, and it was always the intent to come up with a live album. It just was also the intent to have played live before we did that [laughs]. So we had an invited audience on a soundstage, and we played three nights. We tried to make it as much of a gig as possible, but reality-wise, it was the first three shows we ever played."
As for the new tracks, Rundgren says "they were the final product of a process of various combinations of us getting together and trying to write songs -- including alone, in twos and sometimes all of us together. Just trying to figure out what we wanted to play, and how we could update the sound and not lose original Cars fans."
The New Cars will hit the road with Blondie beginning May 12 in Robinsonville, Miss. "The hopes are after that to do Europe and beyond that, Australia, Asia and New Zealand, and then come back, and do another swing of the States," Easton says. Fans who purchase tickets via VH1Classic.com or Ticketmaster.com will receive free five-song download bundles from eMusic.com of tracks from "It's Alive" plus unreleased live Blondie recordings and the band's new cover of Roxy Music's "More Than This."
Easton insists there is no ill will between Ocasek and the New Cars. "I have been in contact with [Ocasek]," he says. "I read in some press thing that Ric did where he said he just wanted to see Greg and I be happy. I thought that was a very nice thing to say, and I wish him the same."
Here is the track list for "It's Alive":
"Just What I Needed"
"You Might Think"
"Best Friend's Girl"
"I Saw The Light"
"You're All I've Got Tonight"
"Moving In Stereo"
"Shake It Up"
"Bye Bye Love"
"Open My Eyes"
"Good Times Roll"
"Not Tonight" (new studio recording)
"Warm" (new studio recording)
"More" (new studio recording)
Here are the New Cars/Blondie tour dates:
May 12: Robinsonville, Miss. (Grand Casino)
May 13: Grand Prairie, Texas (Nokia Theatre)
May 17: Phoenix (Dodge Theatre)
May 19: Las Vegas (Aladdin Theatre)
May 20: Universal City, Calif. (Gibson Amphitheatre)
May 23: Alpine, Calif. (Viejas Casino)
May 25: Saratoga, Calif. (Mountain Winery)
May 26: Reno, Nev. (Events Center)
May 27: Kelseyville, Calif. (Konocti Field)
May 30: Englewood, Colo. (Coors Amphitheatre)
June 3: Highland Park, Ill. (Ravinia Pavilion)
June 4: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (Blossom Music Center)
June 6: Vienna, Va. (Wolf Trap)
June 7: Boston (Bank of America Pavilion)
June 9: Wantagh, N.Y. (Jones Beach)
June 10: Holmdel, N.J. (PNC Bank Arts Center)
June 13: Orlando, Fla. (Hard Rock Live)
June 14: Clearwater, Fla. (Ruth Eckerd Hall)
June 15: Hollywood, Fla. (Seminole Hard Rock Hotel)
June 17: Atlanta (Chastain Park Amphitheatre)
June 18: Charleston, S.C. (Oyster Shell)
June 21: Toronto (Molson Amphitheatre)
June 23: Montreal (Bell Centre)
June 24: Atlantic City, N.J. (Borgata)
June 25: Uncasville, Conn. (Mohegan Sun)
June 30: Clarkston, Mich. (DTE Energy Music Theatre)
July 1: Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (Saratoga Springs PAC)