Can you imagine Cheap Trick without Bun E Carlos?
Of course you can’t. He is an intricate part of the band, not only in terms of the way be plays, but he is ingrained into the vision of the band.
Bun E Carlos is like Kramer in that episode of Seinfeld where he appears in court as a favor for Newman, voicing his (fake) dreams of wanting to be a banker. Carlos never ended up as a banker. He never blurted out “Yo Yo Ma!” under oath. And he never changed out of his banker clothes before walking on stage with the rest of Cheap Trick.
So how did an announcement that Bun E Carlos would not be a touring member of Cheap Trick slip under the radar and only get a brief explanation on their official website?
And suspicious. I saw him on the 101 playing the skins for a band featuring James Iha on guitar, one of the Hanson kids on guitar vocals, and some other dude who I later learned is part of Fountains of Wayne. The band is called Tinted Windows, and they obviously toured the country, eliminating the idea that Carlos simply didn’t want to tour any more.
Maybe he’s sick?
Well, their website suggests that everyone in the band is “healthy.”
Cheap Trick got away with replacing the dreamy Tom Petersson on bass with John Brandt back in the early 80’s. That was a little tricky, as Petersson not only had the looks; he had those wild-ass 8 and 12 string bass guitars that sounded weird.
Brandt may have been passable, but I’m still glad that I saw the band when Petersson was still with ‘em (he’s since rejoined).
But Bun E?
You almost have to end the band when he calls it a day. Or change the name.
On In Color, you saw the two lookers mounting their motorcycles on the cover. Flip it over, you saw the two nerdy guys mounting Vespa scooters.
You’re not going to get me to believe that some dude with a full set of hair and who’s under the age of 50 is the drummer of Cheap Trick.
Two strange things about Bun E Carlos:
The first is how he actually looks his age now. When I saw him back in ’81, he was thirty but he looked like he was fifty. Now that he’s approaching 60, he actually looks like he’s in his fifties.
Another thing: he used to smoke like a fiend. The show that I saw had him playing and smoking at the same time. To me, that was more impressive than his playing (more on that later). He had a pair of fans right by his kit which kept him cool and kept the smoke out of his eyes. On later tours, I heard that the fans were replaced with actual working air conditioners. No shit: even when the gig was outdoors, they ran extension cords to fuel the window units.
A drummer friend of mine used to lament how a man as unflashy as Bun E Carlos would warrant any press whatsoever. He didn’t understand that Cheap Trick didn’t need flash-it was already built into those hooks-and that Carlos keeps time like a motherfucker. Could you hear “Voices” or “I Want You To Want Me” or even that piece of shit “The Flame” drummed any other way than how Bun E Carlos played it?
With someone so vital an element to a band’s image, the news of this should have been bigger story than it seems to be.
In other news according to a recent Billboard article (one that mentions nothing about the Carlos news), Cheap Trick is contemplating doing Dream Police in its entirety in a live setting (yay!), is about ready to release that much booted Steve Albini recording of In Color (which is way better than the original version, IMO), and that Bun E. Carlos has the biggest cock in the band.
Ok, that last part was made up.