Cheap Trick original members Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson sit down with Dan Rather for an all-new episode of The Big Interview—airing Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 8pE/5pP. During the conversation, the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees talk about their early success, signature hits and why after 45 years together, they’re still touring and making new music.
In this exclusive first look, Zander, Nielsen and Petersson discuss their surprising early popularity in Japan, before breaking out in the United States.
“We started getting fan mail from Japan,” said Nielsen, “because of the Japanese press talking about us at a Queen show…. Normally they wouldn’t mention the opening act.”
“In Japan, they have these comic books,” Zander continued, “and they’re thick ones and Queen and KISS were always in there. And all of a sudden, we were in there as like their young brothers. So that helped promote us in Japan before ‘[Cheap Trick at] Budokan’ even came out.”
“They kind of like that quirky cartoon character thing going on,” said Petersson, “which Queen has, which KISS certainly has. We were like cartoon characters. None of the other audiences, our record company in the states and stuff, they thought ‘boy this is too weird.’ But the Japanese, they got a kick out of it. That’s how they learned English. They listened to records over and over and learned how to pronounce English words. It’s kind of demented nursery rhymes.”
“Not everyone in rock during that time was in these comic books,” said Zander, “It had a lot to do with the caricatures of ourselves, but the music had to be there too.”
The Big Interview airs every Wednesday at 8pE/5pP, only on AXS TV, as host Dan Rather joins a roster of iconic entertainers for candid conversations, providing a unique glimpse into their personal lives, defining moments and incredible careers.