Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Romantics bringing high energy show to Elgin next month


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

"What I Like About You" - the signature song of Detroit band The Romantics - sounds as fresh as it did when it was released in 1980.

The Romantics will perform on July 3 at Festival Park in Elgin as part of the Grand Victoria Casino Summer Concert Series. Festival Park is located adjacent to Grand Victoria Casino.

Loverboy and Rick Springfield also are on the bill. The show starts at 7 p.m., and tickets range from $30 to $75, available at Grand Victoria Casino's website at www.grandvictoriacasino.com.

I had the chance to talk to Mike Skill, original lead guitarist for The Romantics, about the upcoming show.

Q - I know that you guys will be a performing a lot of this summer with Rick Springfield this year. Do you think you are a good fit together?

Yeah. We came down from the Detroit side of new wave and rock 'n' roll, and the whole English punk thing.

We had that whole Detroit attitude and Detroit energy. Rick Springfield is a little more Top 40, and our tunes became Top 40. That was the changing face of radio, I think.



And he was an actor on a TV show for a while. He's actually a good rock 'n' roller. 

It's just different than what we do. There's a little bit different flavor in each of us. It works well. There's a lot of good songs that people know.

Q - And its seems like that would be a show that would be pretty energetic. You guys all bring your own energy.

A lot of people think we're just going to stand there and play pop music. That's not it at all.

It's real high energy, Detroit style attack.

Q - So will you be playing a mix of old and new songs at the Elgin show?

That's right. We will be playing mainly from the first and second record, and then some new songs we have recorded.

We do a version of Eric Burdon's "We Gotta To Get Out Of This Place" that's really good.

Q - And of course you have a new album coming out this summer, "Up From The Rubble." When is that set to be released?

We've been releasing bits and pieces of it. So far, three songs have come out off it. Earlier in the year, a song called "Coming Back Home" came out. And we just put out two cover tunes from it.

We put our spin on some cover tunes and revved them up. And we threw some originals in there. I'm hoping to get it out by July.

Q - There seems like there might be a story behind the album's name.

It kind of refers to pulling songs out of a pile, you know, a bunch of stuff laying out. Or you can also tie it to Detroit coming back from its hardships.

And it also refers to a band that keeps going. 

Q - It's your first album since 2003's "61/49." What made you want to release something now?

The time was right to do something, and it fell into place. That's pretty much it.

The tour is happening, so we wanted to put something out. 

Q - I understand that Detroit band MC5 influenced the band and you guys ended up opening for the New MC5 on Valentine's in 1977. What was that experience like?

That was the very first show we ever did. We got really noticed because we were all over the stage. We had a lot of attitude and energy, short songs, and straight ahead rock 'n' roll.

We kind of took the torch. Radio stations were asking about us, promoters were asking about us. 



That next week, we had a record coming out, and we opened up for Mink DeVille at the same club. We weren't trying to be MC5 or The Stooges, it was the attitude and energy, and using it in the next generation way.

We followed our hearts, and we're still doing it.

Q - Why do you think your song "What I Like About You" is so timeless?

We wanted to get back to the basics. It stood out because it was short, straight ahead, and it rocked.

It stood out - the attitude and the video for it. And it was picked up in commercials and movies, and it keeps going.



It's something that we didn't hype. It just happened. It was very organic.

It has a life of its own. It's kind of everybody's song now - not just ours. 

Q - Are there any artists today that you appreciate what they are doing?

Of course, The Black Keys are the new pop and the Gore Gore Girls out of Detroit are doing some good stuff, along with a young band out of Portland, Oregon - Summer Cannibals.

Q - Are you seeing a younger generation of fans? Are parents bringing their kids to your shows?

Yeah, that happens. We are getting rock 'n' roll families, people who were into us into the '80s and stuff and they're coming and they also bring their kids.

Or just kids are showing up. It's really wide open. Your have punk rockers who are grown up now and showing their kids their Fear records.