The 1970's power pop band Cheap Trick has balanced the thin line between writing influential, catchy rock-pop songs and being a parody-worthy example of the heights that rock and roll's silliness can reach during their forty year career. The Foo Fighters, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, and Pearl Jam among many others have all cited Cheap Trick as an influence. The band's members have serious chops, an enviable collection of vintage instruments, and tour constantly, but their cartoonish act is not meant to be taken seriously. Their rise to fame from a sold-out tour of Japan was mimicked in This Is Spinal Tap. So what are we to think of Cheap Trick? And what are they doing now?
Cheap Trick had its well-chronicled humble beginnings in Rockford, Illinois, a hometown that has heroized the band to the extent that April 1 has been declared Cheap Trick Day. Their first three albums recorded in the 1970's did not sell very well when they first came out, but became the group's classics after the 1979 release of the live album Cheap Trick at Budokan. On that record, the band played for a rabid Japanese crowd that gained comparisons to Beatlemania and the live version of 'I Want You to Want Me' became a huge hit in the U.S.
Once the records Cheap Trick, In Color, and Heaven Tonight were re-evaluated, the band gained a reputation for the ability to craft bombastic and catchy pop songs. Those records are the ones that made the group influential to a later generation of rock musicians with a soft spot for good pop music.
The band is still highly active forty years later. Cheap Trick is currently opening for Boston, playing small arenas across the U.S. throughout the summer. They continue to be known for a relentless touring schedule that sees them playing at least 200 shows a year, and the current summer tour has a feeling of bringing the group full-circle, as they also opened for Boston at the beginning of their career back in the mid-1970's.