The irony of releasing a DVD of the Cars in concert isn't lost on singer-guitarist Ric Ocasek, who led the new-wave rock 'n' roll band. The group didn't exactly go down in history as a dynamic live act.
"We weren't doing back flips," Ocasek said. "A lot of people said we were cold and distant, which was perfect -- exactly what I wanted us to be.
"I respected bands like Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground. They put the music out there without a lot of fanfare onstage or a lot of nonsense talk. I wanted to stay away from saying things to the audience, because then it becomes an exercise in showmanship.
"I was more anti-show. Some people loved it, and some people hated it. But I was comfortable with it."
A new DVD, "The Cars Unlocked," captures Ocasek, singer-bassist Ben Orr, guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson working their way up the rock food chain, from playing clubs in the 1970s to headlining arenas in the 1980s.
"I work with a lot of new bands, and they always say to me, I wasn't born when the Cars played,' " the soft-spoken Ocasek said during a recent phone interview from his home in New York City.
After the Cars broke up in 1988, Ocasek went on to work as a producer for Weezer and No Doubt, among others.
"I didn't think there was anything out there to represent what the Cars were like over the years, except the Musikladen' DVD [featuring a 1979 appearance by the band on German television], which I've never been a great fan of," said Ocasek, 57. "After going in the basement and going through these tapes, I decided to put together something we could release as a DVD."
The video features live renditions of "My Best Friend's Girl," "Shake It Up," "You Might Think" and other Cars hits, along with behind-the-scenes shenanigans. Some footage is grainy, adding a certain punk quality. The package includes a 14-track CD, too, with songs from the DVD.