How did the band decide which tracks would be produced by Jacknife Lee and which would be self-produced?
We didn’t really separate them. We went out to L.A. to work with him on two different trips. And I think we just sort of offered him whatever songs he wanted to work on. As a matter of fact, one maybe two songs, we had almost completed and then he wanted to do them so we revamped them and we did them slightly differently with him.
Which tracks were those?
“Blue Tip” was one of them and “Free” was definitely one of them.
Was there any pressure to create songs that consciously were in your mind a “Cars song”? Or did it come naturally?
We don’t think about that ever. We never thought of it that way. These could have all been folk songs. It just would have been whatever Rick brought to us and how we interpreted when we play it.
I had a chance to listen to the album and I am really thrilled with it. It’s exciting to see how every conceivable way you guys haven’t missed a beat and carried on like there was like just a couple of years time between the last two albums. I did come into it with a certain amount of skepticism, but I was really excited with the result.
Well, thanks. You know, I think it would have been stupid if we just did a record that sounded like our older stuff. I think I was listening to the radio when I heard The Killers, I forget what song it was, and then they played our song, “Sad Song” and it was basically the same. Sonically, they were the same. The sounds of the instruments were pretty similar. I think if you didn’t know who The Cars were, you never would have known that they weren’t a new group that just came out.
I agree. It’s a fresh album; it has a timeless feel. Are there any experiences in the studio during this album’s recording that stand out in your mind?
We did it really quickly. Even though we spread it out over a year, I think if you combine all the time, we went out to L.A. for two trips. All combined it might have been five or six weeks. Then we worked in upstate New York, maybe like six times together, a few days each time. I’m just surprised how easy it was and how smoothly it went. But the technology stuff was also an eye-opener for me cause, you know, I have just been completely out of it. The first time we worked in L.A., I walked into the studio and the control room looked the same like a usual room but there were three guys with laptops on tray tables, poised to make the record. It was almost funny. New alien, technology.
You guys are doing a 10-day North American tour starting at the album’s release. Is there any chance that there will be more dates in the future?
I don’t really know. I think we are sort of trying to get it done in the early part of the summer. Right now, we don’t have any more plans.
Rick’s known for not being much of a fan of touring. What about yourself?
I used to like it, you know in the 80’s. Now, not so much. I guess that’s the best way to put it. I have other stuff to do. I run my art gallery. It’s a lot of work. Thirty years later, I look at it differently. It’s still fun, but the work part and traveling part is a lot different.
Which of the new tracks speaks to you the most personally?
None in particular. You know, I sort of like the stuff with the pounding quarter notes, like the dance stuff. I like all of it.
Are those the ones that are the most fun to play?
Yeah, we got a track that’s all electronic. One of the ballads is all electronic. I always like doing stuff that way too.
So you were using electronic drums then?
Yeah, but more electronic sounds. I’m also taking on the tour an all electronic drum set, which I have never done. I have taken acoustic drum sets with triggers and pads and things and samples, but never up to the level of all electronic drums.
Are you taking both regular drums and electronic drums on the tour or is it all electronic drums?
Oh wow… I have one final question. I guess you sort of hinted to it earlier, but do you feel that The Cars are like back as a presence and that maybe there will be more new music in the future?
I think sort of the atmosphere of what’s going on now would lead to doing more stuff. I mean, we’ve even talked about it. It was such a pleasant experience that I think if we get a chance to we will definitely do some more work.