What do you get when you combine members of the original Cars, The Tubes & Utopia?
Just what YOU needed, THE NEW CARS!
- Souls & Sounds.com catches up with The Cars original guitarist, Elliot Easton, to talk about the recent Reunion of the legendary New Wave rockers!

After years of trying to reunite legendary “new wave” band The Cars, original members Elliot Easton (lead guitar, vocals) and Greg Hawkes (keyboards) were finally successful. The band, renamed The New Cars, is touring and even in the studio, recording new songs sure to appease both diehard fans who knew them back in their heyday, and new ones who may be both curious and excited to hear the new tunes they are churning out.

The band, minus lead singer Ric Ocasek, drummer David Robinson and bassist Benjamin Orr, who passed away from cancer, finally realized their vision for a reunion by bringing accomplished musicians on board in the form of Utopia frontman Todd Rundgren, Utopia bassist Kasim Sulton and former drummer for the Tubes, Prairie Prince.

Having released the very first New Cars album last year, the band is currently on tour and will be rolling into Chukchansi Resort and Casino on June 29. A live record, the album showcases three new recordings by the new band and the old original Cars favorites.

The Cars met success immediately in the late 70s/80s with popular radio hits such as “Just What I Needed”, “Shake It Up” and “Touch and Go.” Their debut self-titled album, The Cars, hit number three on the Billboard Pop album chart in 1978 followed by numerous hits that kept the band in the Top 20 from the start.

Now, old fans can see the New Cars perform their favorite hits and new songs after 17 years since their last tour.

With the addition of Rundgren, Sulton and Prince, the band is ready to foster their chemistry in the studio and on stage. The new line up will have Todd Rundgren and Elliot Easton on vocals and guitar, Greg Hawkes on keyboards, Kasim Sulton on bass and vocals and Prairie Prince on drums. Souls and Sounds caught up with Easton for a bit bright and early on a Monday morning, where he talked about the recording process, and the satisfaction of finally reuniting.

S&S: Did you feel pressure to cater to possible expectations brought on by old Cars fans to create music similar to the original band?

Easton: Not really, it’s not an effort to create music with a certain kind of thread running through it, it’s just us playing, that’s just how we sound. There’s some new people playing and there’s new chemistry, but it just comes out the way it sounds.

S&S: Was there any kind of philosophy that you took into the studio in recording new songs?

Easton: There wasn’t really any kind of philosophy, we just try and make as good music as we can, it’s not something to be intellectualized. Every record is a snapshot of that moment in time and that record reflects that.

S&S: What was the process like creating new songs with the new members?

Easton: Mainly it began with Todd, listening to song ideas, kicking around and adding to each other’s songs, and hammering it out in the studio to see how it comes out. We just go in and try to be creative and hopefully it gels, it’s like a film where you get a good director and good actors and it might totally sink or it might just be magic, it’s like that, you just hope for those magical moments. There was no special approach to make it quote unquote “Cars-y”, when Greg and I play we just play, when you start thinking too much you kill it anyway so we just try to do whatever we’re feeling.

S&S: What do you like about reuniting the band and being in it?

Easton: It’s been a long time since Greg and I played songs and we’re having a good time doing it. I like seeing people’s faces in the audience when we play an old Cars song and they remember it or it’s been a long time since they’ve seen the band live or heard the songs, so I get a big kick out of seeing that. It’s a shared experience, an exchange of energy. You get feedback from people and it makes me happy to see it.

S&S: Is there any particular thing that drew you to the project?

Easton: It was suggested to us that it might be a good time to bring back the band, I don’t know if it’s because 80s bands are popular right now, but there are a lot of bands that are influenced by the Cars and we thought it may be accepted if we did it. That wasn’t our only motivation, we’ve been trying for years to do this thing but couldn’t get all the original members to agree to it, and they didn’t want to do it, that’s fine, all the power to them, so we just thought we’d try to get new guys on board and see what happens.

S&S: Do you plan to keep putting out more albums?

Easton: We hope to. We definitely hope to make new music and tour and all that good stuff.

The New Cars will be playing at Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino in Coarsegold on June 29. Tickets are $34/$45 and can be bought at Ticketmaster.com. Visit chukchansigold.com for more information.


*Photo used courtesy of the William Morris Agency