The press conference starts with the New Cars logo (insert image here) on the pull down screen. Upon entering we see about 50 seats with representative names taped to the chairs. It was assigned seating but as close as 9:50 a.m., the seats are not all filled. Empty seats such as Hustler, LA Weekly, Tabloid City, & Rock City News to name a few, are empty, but they start to fill as the time gets closer to the 10:00 a.m. hour.
At the press table, the promoter name tags are in order from left to right: Hits, Ticketmaster, Emusic.com, William Morris Agency, 10th Street Entertainment, VH1 Classics, House Of Blues, Rolling Stones.
At 9:55 a.m. the promo video teaser we've all been seeing on the internet flashes on the screen! Then the old cars tune "Drive" starts playing in it's entirety over the speakers, and I suddenly realize it's Kasim on lead vocal. Brilliant.
Roy Trakin, Senior Editor of Hits Magazine (honoring and hosting this press conference) starts the show saying we are having a very historic event this morning. Talks about the New Cars CD and the track songs and that we have top gun promoters with us today.
Roy then introduces Jeff Varner, the General Manager from 10th Street Entertainment. Jeff states a few comments: Having Todd involved as well as Prairie and Kasim has helped make this a super group. They are striving for doing something different and unique and speaks of their pioneer efforts from the past.
Eric Sherman from VH1 Classics is next and tells us that their involvement is demonstrating multi-platform. Tour spots on the station, promoting both the New Cars and Blondie, with interviews of a Blondie special as well. They are also pursuing wireless platforms so VH1 Classics can be viewed from anywhere.
Suddenly the VH1 Video splashes on the screen with "Not Tonight" and is played in its entirety. You won't be disappointed in Todd's performance in this video!
The next promoter to speak is Alex Hodges, the Executive VP of House Of Blues Concerts: Alex commented that when he was informed about the New cars he said 'it's about time'. People want to see this music live and he feels that this package with Blondie is a fantastic package. When they got a glimpse back in January in Burbank, CA they all thought it was fantastic. People go away from live shows with memories and a great feeling - the live experience is totally unique.
Brad Goodman from William Morris Agency tells us they were responsible for bringing Todd into the mix. The bottom line for WMA is that's it's about the songs, the music and the live experience. The concept was sold when they heard the live CD -- there's pent up demand for The Cars music and coupling with Blondie, it just puts it over the top. WMA felt the timing was right to re-establish this band. The band hasn't toured in 17 years - with 6 "top 10" singles and returning with new hits fans will again be able to experience this band in concert, as a live experience
David Packman from Emusic.com lets us know that this site is the number one online site for downloads of independent bands (and the number two site for music downloads after iTunes). He recognizes that TR has been instrumental and a pioneer in the digital music landscape. Emusic is very happy to be involved in this project and comments that this is the first time music downloads will be offered in conjunction with concert ticket sales.
Ticketmaster is up next and Vito Iaia (pronounced Yah-Yah) wants us to know that if you buy tickets from them, they will throw in a New Cars membership and a digital music album (10 songs from Blondie and the New Cars) to download from Emusic. You will get a membership and song downloads with each ticket purchase - for example, buying 4 tickets means 4 memberships and 4 digital albums. This concept allows the concertgoer to sample the music before the live show. This tour is standing out because it is the first time TM is assisting in enabling the delivery of digital music to the ticket consumer. They are excited to call this a one-stop shop.
Next up is David Wild, contributing editor from Rolling Stone. He (painfully) admits he has no financial stake in the New Cars but is endorsing this new group with much praise and then proceeds to tell us that his first concert was the Cars. He then tells us his third concert was Utopia. He's embarrassed to say he felt this would never work and because he didn't have the idea himself, it's very easy to be cynical since he is an aging rock critic. When he received a sample of the reformation, he was stunned at how well it works -- that these new parts soup up the Cars and make it really remarkable. He also comments on the charisma that will be added to this group with Todd, Kasim and Prarie on board.
Roy Trakin breaks in to tell us that as we speak, tickets are now on sale, pre-sale that is, on Ticketmaster and VH1.com (note: we've heard you don't need a pre-sale code to buy these tickets).
Questions start to emerge from the press but from where I am sitting, I can't here anyone. Only a few had a microphone brought to them. The ones who didn't, just shouted out from their seat too quickly before Roy could get over to them with the mic. Those were the questions I couldn't hear, but I could clearly hear the answers. Here are just a few:
Q: Why do you think so many bands are reuniting?
A: Every fan remembers their first show and their last show. The impression of the live performance contributes to the phenomenon of recreated bands.
Q: What can we expect ticket prices to be?
A: Don't have info here, and prices will vary with venues, but you can expect tickets to run $50-75.
Q: Will Todd be singing any of his songs?
A: Yes, he will be playing two or three of his own songs.
Q: Are there any plans for a tour in Australia?
A: Nothing's out of the question. The tour will start in North America.
There are more questions, but I couldn't hear them. It's now 10:40 and the industry speakers leave the table. The New Cars nametags are being arranged on the table as the band enters the room. Photographers run to the corner (stage left) to take pictures as the band approaches the table. They are then asked by Roy Trakin to step to the other side of the table (stage right) so the press on that side could also get shots. They oblige. Then they take their seats.
They sit in order from left to right: Prairie Prince, Elliot Easton, Todd (OH), Greg Hawkes, and Kasim Sulton.
The questions start once they take their seats but once again, from where I'm sitting, I cannot hear the press questions unless they have a microphone brought to them. Here's a few I caught:
Q: Are you guys loving each other up there?
A: Todd replies: "Can't you feel it?"
The next question asked why the remaining two original band members (David and Rick) did not reunite with them and Elliot replies that they weren't interested in participating and Rick's least favorite thing is performing. However they did say that both Rick and David have been supportive.
Q: For Todd: Who initially contacted you and what was your first response?
A: Todd answers: The first Car that I talked to was Elliot. Although I was aware of the fact that there was a rumored reunion of the Cars, I certainly had no idea that I'd be a part of it originally. But when Elliot approached me and the realities of what the line up was going to be I was intrigued by the idea, and we took several necessary steps to find out whether it was viable, including playing together, go figure, and nothing went wrong during the course of that so here we are. It's evolved more or less naturally at least in terms of the internal dynamic of the band. We are familiar with each others work from years of listening to each other and from playing on stage with each other. There was nothing particularly strange about the idea, it was all in the execution.
Q: With the new lineup do you think you can be as popular or more than the original Cars and do you think as the New Cars, you obviously have an older fan base, do you think you win over a younger fan base as well?
A: Greg answers: It's been brought to our attention again and again how many current bands have been influenced by our music and I find that very encouraging. As far as the bigger band than the original I don't think that's really upper most in our minds, the point of it really is to create something new it, and this is a starting point but we have some very creative people in the band, and a great songwriter in his own right is Todd, and there'd be no point to have somebody like Todd in the band if all we were going to do for the rest of our careers is just rehash the hits. The whole point of it is it's a new band and a new line up with new influences brought into the music, and we'd like to think this is our band, our version of it in the 21st century.
Q: And do you think there will be a younger fan base as well?
A: Greg replies again: Well it will be nice wouldn't it? There's nothing calculated about it. Hopefully they'll hear our music and relate to it. Perhaps by listening to some of the bands their listening to and hearing some strains of our music they might be encouraged to do some archeological and see where some of that came from.
Greg answers another question about the band's new name. He says the point of calling it a variation on the name is to avoid any misleading, any confusion as to the fact that this is a new band with some new personnel. Todd chimes in... "and we had lots and lots of alternatives to choose from as well....including the Hybrid Cars, CarTopia, Funny Cars, Nazz Car, Reincarnation...." Lots of audience laughs....
It's 10:50 a.m. and the band leaves the table so they can get ready to perform for us. While we are waiting, Roy Trakin announces that he has a surprise for us. Suddenly on the big screen emerges Debbie Harry from Blondie for a live feed to answer questions that s asking. She talks about being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and how exciting that is. She also mentions how difficult it's been with her prior band mates suing her and how unpleasant that has been. She also tells us that this will be the last tour for the band. They weren't expecting to tour again after their last tour in December, but when they were approached to double bill with the New Cars she couldn't pass up such a great opportunity. After this tour, Blondie and her mates will continue to do music but in their own entities and evolve into new adventures. She mentions that a solo career for her is very real possibility, though she doesn't discount the possibility that Blondie (the band) may do some recording in the future as well.
In addition to the press, a number of lucky winners of radio station promotions were also present at the House of Blues for this press conference and premiere New Cars performance. Around me were a number of Todd fans, including Monica Eakin and Johnny Kuhar - lucky 106.5 radio station winners who were flown in from Cleveland, Ohio! Here are some TR fan comments:
I'm really excited to see this performance!
I didn't know what to expect and thought it was all pretty cool to see Todd perform in another light! !
Great that he's back out [on tour] again! !
The performance was awesome - I might become a New Cars fan! !
They rocked! !
So there you have it - the tour dates are up, presale tickets are available now, general tickets available on Saturday.
See you at the shows!