While Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes tour as the New Cars with Todd Rundgren on lead vocals, Cars founder Ric Ocasek has spent his time making the ultimate home movie.
Digging through years of privately shot video, Ocasek has put together The Cars Unlocked - The Live Performances, a DVD full of live music and behind-the-scenes footage.
"I thought it would be interesting for people to see," the reclusive Ocasek says from his New York home. "We weren't too vocal about a lot of stuff, which was intentional on my part, because I wanted to preserve some mystery."
The Cars Unlocked has that, with lots of home footage mixed with feeds taken off the big-screen system at certain concerts.
There were no overdubs, with all live music. "I didn't have much choice. I didn't have any 24-track tapes to mix from," Ocasek says.
It's a tribute to the original band, with drummer David Robinson and the late Benjamin Orr, who co-founded the band with Ocasek, well-represented.
AND THEY'RE OFF!
• On the first album's signature guitar sound: "I only had one amp and one guitar. I think Elliott had one guitar and one amp. The other thing was, Roy Baker was a really great engineer. The first album was an album we did in 12 days and barely had time to learn anything. It was just very quick. I'm sure he close-miked, but I know he set mikes in the room as well. He was very into ambient sound."
• "David (Robinson) did all the (Cars album) covers. He did collages for them that were re-photographed. This was way before PhotoShop where you'd have to do things by hand. In the beginning, I remember talking about wearing black and white onstage because it was easy to find. People started noticing, so we kept doing that, then brought red in to the picture. It was all part of a visual thing."
• "Some tours were long, especially the first two, maybe eight months out of the year, Europe included. Then tours started to get a little more reasonable mentally. They were around four months long. That was mostly for sanity reasons, at least for me personally. I had to write the albums, too, so I had to have some time. The first two were really great fun. But then it became a little redundant."
STEP AWAY FROM THE CARS!
• Approve of the New Cars? Disapprove? "It's somewhere in the middle." But honestly, wouldn't you have liked to tour? "I have this reputation for not liking to tour, and I can't say I do love it. I certainly didn't want to do a reunion tour. There were different factors why I didn't want to do that. I don't feel like I need to be revived. I've got things to do."
• "If I'm not producing, I'm writing albums, and if I'm not doing that, I'm doing artwork or something. I think some people were born to perform. Some people are better performers than they are songwriters or musicians. Once I saw the world and once I understood the reaction that was always going to be there, it was not as gratifying for me anymore."
WHY? WHY? WHY?
• "I've been doing this (DVD) project for a few years now, off and on. I wanted it to be there because I work with a lot of new bands and they'd say: 'I've never even seen The Cars. I love your music, but I wasn't born yet. I wish I could have seen it.' I always had that in the back of my mind - what about people who have never seen The Cars?"
• "I always use a Les Paul SG. The one I primarily use is from 1962. I bought it on the road once. The first guitar I ever had was an SG, and I had it painted and it had pinstripes on it. That's the one I used on the first album, the whole album. That was before I changed guitars. That would be the one I would grab if there was a fire."
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