Asia bringing ’80s sound to Arcada
In a new TV commercial for Chili’s, a group of former roommates are arguing whether or not the band Asia was the greatest supergroup of the ’80s.
You can judge for yourself when the original lineup of Asia performs Nov. 2 at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets start at $39, available at www.oshows.com.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Asia drummer Carl Palmer, also a founding member of the band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, about the band’s latest activities.
Eric Schelkopf: You guys are coming to town with your new album, “XXX,” and it’s been getting a lot of good reviews. People are saying that it’s a return to form. In sitting down to make the album, did you guys try to recapture the spirit of your debut album?
Carl Palmer: No, not really. It’s just the way it turned out. It’s very nice that people are saying that, but no, we didn’t consciously sit down to do that.
ES: What were your goals?
CP: Our goal is always to try to get a hit if we can so it’s played on radio. That’s always the goal.
And obviously, one can try to push the music further and further, but at the end of the day, everyone’s after a hit.
ES: You’re pretty proud of the new album?
CP: Yeah, I’m proud of it. Asia just trucks along, and does what it does.
Unfortunately, this music isn’t at the front of everybody’s mind at the moment. It’s hard to get time on the radio. But I’m proud of Asia, that’s for sure.
ES: Of course, this is the band’s 30th anniversary, and the original lineup reunited in 2006. Was it just the right time for the original lineup to reunite?
CP: We got back together again just to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary, and it just grew from there.
ES: You had previously said that Asia had tried to create a sound collectively rather than as individuals. Do you think the group has been able to achieve that throughout the years?
CP: We’re still trying. Who knows? You always think you’ve achieved something.
Whether or not we’ve met the end goal, I’m not too sure yet. Technology has helped us, and the band sounds better today than yesterday.
ES: Asia’s 1982 debut album sold millions of copies worldwide. Does it surprise you how much success it had?
CP: Yeah. You don’t know it’s going to happen, so it’s a surprise.
It happened. It was the right time, the right album, the right place and the right technology.
MTV also just started. There’s a host of reasons why the album did so well.
ES: Of course, you also have been a member of the band Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Which experience has been better?
CP: I don’t consider one better than the other. They’re different experiences, really.
And the time and industry is completely different. The ’70s were one thing, and the ’80s were completely different when Asia started.
So, I view them as completely two different projects, and treat them that way.
ES: Greg Lake performed at the Arcada earlier this year, and I had the chance to interview him. Any chance for another Emerson, Lake and Palmer reunion?
CP: Not from my part. I left the band in 2010, after the High Voltage Festival.
I wouldn’t be interested in any other reunions.
ES: The group is featured in a new Chili’s TV campaign revolving around former roommates arguing if Asia was the greatest supergroup of the ’80s. But I also remember that Steve Carrell’s character in the movie “The 40 Year Old Virgin” had a Asia poster in his house. Is it great that the band is part of these cultural references?
CP: All of that stuff is good. It’s not negative at all. Those are positive things.
ES: You had a heart operation in 2008. Has that slowed you down at all?
CP: I had what they call a stent put in. It’s a very tiny metal tube which is put inside one of the arteries.
I don’t even know I’ve got it, to tell you the truth. To me, it’s not really affected my lifestyle in any way.
ES: The music business has changed a lot since you’ve been in it. Is it harder or easier for a band to make it these days?
CP: With the economy the way it is, there’s no way it could be easier. There’s more out there to use, such as the Internet and recording at home. The equipment you can buy is so sophisticated.
Unfortunately, there are lots of bands and stars of music and lots of people touring, and people download now instead of buying a whole album, so your complete musical message never gets across to anyone.
They just take what they want, and it’s a little bit of fast-food music, in a way.
The times are different, and you just have to go with what’s out there. And that’s the only way you can deal with it, to be honest.