When Bun E. Carlos was making a guest list for his new solo album, Greetings From Bunezuela!, Taylor Hanson was a no-brainer. After all, the two were part of the Tinted Windows power pop all-star group in 2009 with Fountains of Wayne‘s Adam Schlesinger and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha.
The exiled Cheap Trick drummer did not expect to get the whole of Hanson, including brothers Isaac and Zac, for his cover of Paul Revere & the Raiders‘ “Him Or Me” (premiering below), however — but he’s not at all complaining.
“Whenever I would mentally discuss this [solo] record with myself, I would be like, ‘Well, I gotta get Taylor on a couple [of songs],” Carlos tells Billboard. “At the last minute, it was probably in March, I hadn’t reached out yet because I thought he had a full menu. Then an opportunity arose; I was in Chicago and I cut the backing track and it sounded real good and I was like, ‘I’ve got to get Taylor to do this.’ So I got ahold of the Hansons and sent it to Taylor, and it came back with all three brothers on it, and it sounds great.”
Greetings From Bunezuela! comes out June 24 featuring covers of songs by the Who, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Bee Gees, Them and others recorded with Carlos’ all-star Candy Golde as well as his reunited high school band, the Pageans. Guest vocalists include Soul Asylum‘s Dave Pirner, Robert Pollard, Alejandro Escovedo, Wilco and Candy Golde’s John Stirratt and more, some singing their own songs as well as the covers. Carlos had the concept in mind for a number of years, but finally hunkered down on the project after Cheap Trick’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was announced in December.
“I didn’t actually get rolling ’til January, so it was kind of a last-minute thing,” Carlos recalls. “Every time I got a track from somebody, either by email or in the studio to record with the band, it was a great moment for me just to be sitting there, listening to these guys doing this stuff. I would thinking, ‘I could’ve done the whole record with this guy’ or ‘I could’ve done the whole record with these guys.’ Every singer just delivered more than I expected. It was a very good experience for me.”
Carlos is working to put together at least one show featuring all or most of his collaborators from the album. He also predicts that Bunezuela! could be a going conceptual concern. “I could do two or three more albums with the list [of songs] I have sitting out in my practice room right now,” says Carlos, who’s had recent conversations about a second Tinted Windows album, too. “There were a lot of guys I didn’t call ’cause I didn’t have the budget for it and it was so last minute. There’s other guys I got ahold of who couldn’t do this one but would probably do another. So, yeah, I could do more of these in a skinny minute. That would be a lot of fun.”
Greetings From Bunezuela! is Carlos’ personal afterglow to Cheap Trick’s Rock Hall induction, which found him playing live with the band for one night after reaching an agreement — and lawsuits which have since been settled — that keeps him an official member of the band but not participating in touring or recording. “We were the one band with the original guys up there that weren’t killing each other,” Carlos notes, referring to personnel issues that plagued the inductions of Deep Purple and Chicago. “Everything was real cordial when we came together. It’s a pleasure to play in Cheap Trick. The four of us really sound good on stage and we play great together, and I think you can tell that. We didn’t even rehearse for [the ceremony]; we just got up and did a sound check and did the gig.”
Nevertheless, there were enough residual issues that Carlos was moved to write a lengthy Facebook post to his bandmates following the ceremony asking for a certain amount of decorum moving forward. “When backs are turned I’m sure other things are said. It’s in the Cheap Trick tradition if you’re the guy not in the room you’re the guy who gets nailed,” Carlos explains. “People came up to me the day of the Hall of Fame and said, ‘Did you hear what those guys called you on Howard Stern yesterday?’ and ‘Did you see what they’re calling you in Rolling Stone?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, but this is Hall of Fame day so we’re being nice today,’ and when we were in the same room together everyone was real nice. Nothing new there; We’ve known each other for 50 years, so sometimes it’s like a bunch of old hens, y’know?”