“She’s already out buying a dress, buying a black something,” Nielsen tells Billboard. But he’s not planning to don a tux for the April 8 induction ceremony in Brooklyn. “I think what I wear [onstage] is my kind of tux. I’ll stick to that.” Nielsen is, however, happy with the way Cheap Trick is positioned within the Rock Hall’s class of 2016, which also includes Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller and N.W.A.
“If you go alphabetically, we’re No. 1,” he notes. “So thank you very much.”
Cheap Trick, of course, is a group Rock Hall critics have long pointed to as a band that should have been inducted long ago. The quartet has been eligible since 2002 but wasn’t nominated until this year’s ballot — a fact that isn’t lost on the band.
“It’s kind of like baseball players and that hall of fame; if they wait too long, people forget about the players from the past,” Nielsen says. “So the fact that we could’ve gotten in or nominated years ago and we weren’t forgotten, and to come up this year and now to make it, that’s pretty great. I mean, we’re just four guys from Rockford, Ill. It’s not like we were destined for this or that. We’ve always kind of gone out and been us; we didn’t try to be anything but what we are. We didn’t try to fit into anything. We just played our version of what we liked to do, so it’s like, ‘Wow, we’re gonna be inducted into the thing.'”
Cheap Trick’s original lineup — Nielsen. frontman Robin Zander, bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Bun E. Carlos — will be inducted in Brooklyn, and the ceremony may bring Carlos back to the band for the first time in five years. Carlos remains a member but, by agreement, no longer plays live with Cheap Trick (Nielsen’s son Daxx replaced him in 2010), but Nielsen says he’s open to having the drummer rejoin for the induction.
“If he’s there, great,” Nielsen says. “Bun E.’s definitely a big part of our history, for sure. Daxx is gonna be there, but if Bun E.’s there, great.” Nielsen adds that Cheap Trick was actually signed to Epic Records on a night the band was using two drummers after Carlos broke one of his arms in a fall. Nielsen is also looking forward to meeting N.W.A at the ceremony — and has an ulterior motive for that. “It’d be nice to have a 2016 version of Cheap Trick/N.W.A. like Aerosmith did [with Run-DMC],” he says. “I’ve got to put my thinking cap on about that. If nothing else, maybe I’ll get some Dr. Dre headphones or something.”
Cheap Trick may well have new music to release in time for the Rock Hall induction. The group plans to release two albums from more than 30 songs it’s recorded in Los Angeles and Nashville, with the first — Cheap Trick’s first set of new material since 2009 — due out in the spring.