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The Cars get a tune-up

Two original members enlisted Todd Rundgren to fill Ric Ocasek's role
/ Source: The Associated Press

What would the Cars be without all its original members, including the most famous one?

Well, the New Cars.

The Cars, one of the most influential and best-selling bands of the New Wave era, have regrouped, but without lead singer/songwriter Ric Ocasek, drummer David Robinson and bassist Benjamin Orr, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2000. So, they only kind of regrouped.

Now, original members Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes enlisted singer Todd Rundgren to fill Ocasek’s role and will hit the road this summer on a double bill with Blondie. Easton recently talked about the New Cars.

AP: When did you decide to regroup?

Easton: We initially tried to do it with the remaining original members. It became apparent that Ric and Dave didn’t wish to be involved. Ric has never really enjoyed touring, in my view. And so when it became apparent that they weren’t going to do it, Greg and I did want to do it and Todd’s name came up. We all got together back in November.

AP: Why the New Cars and not just call yourselves something different?

Easton: Greg and I basically gave our youth to making this music popular and have a right to not have to start all over again from scratch with a different name. We are playing the Cars music and we had a lot to do with creating the sound. We have a right to call it the Cars — it is the Cars only in 2006.

AP: What if they decide they want to come back — do you just say goodbye to Todd?

Easton: I don’t think that will happen.

AP: Do you think you’ll pick up any new fans or rely on old fans?

Easton: I’ve read interviews with new bands and they’ll name-check us as an influence — the Strokes, Vines, Jet and some other bands. I would think that perhaps some younger people who are fans of those bands might actually enjoy the Cars and say this is really cool.

AP: What do you miss most about the heyday?

Easton: Creating new music. I loved being in the studio, in that sort of laboratory situation, where you have a batch of songs that the world hasn’t heard. And then you unleash it.

AP: Anything you miss that’s nonmusical?

Easton: I always loved visiting new places and traveling. I like shopping in strange places and sampling different food.

AP: What sort of strange food?

Easton: I remember having fried alligator tails in Louisiana; that was a first for me. We went to England to make [our] first record and none of us had really traveled. Talk about food — being in London — Indian food. I think I took one bite and drank a pitcher of water.

AP: What are some things you can’t tour without?

Easton: A laptop, big pile of DVDs and lots of reading material.

AP: What’s your backstage-diva request?

Easton: Seedless grapes and raw almonds.