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"This next Skinterview... is the first Skinterview... of our new editorial work week... "

Rick Nielsen's bow-tied, baseball-hatted, cardigan-clad image, matched with his virtuoso lead-guitar fireworks and obsessive passion for the instrument he plays, comprise a cornerstone component in the rock-and-roll juggernaut known as Cheap Trick.

The Rockford, Illinois, quartet debuted in 1977, the same year that punk broke big, with a self-titled album that combined power-pop and party-metal with Beatles-esque beauty and rumbling Midwestern barn-burners.

From there, the Cheap Trick legend exploded into classics such as In Color, Heaven Tonight, Dream Police, and the monstrous, utterly mind-roasting Live at Budokan.

Cheap Trick continued to top the charts throughout the '80s and have become only more beloved as multiple generations grow up listening to their one-of-a-kind good-time music.

Trick's esteemed axe-man, Rick Nielsen, put down one of his eight-necked guitars long enough to confab with MrSkin.com about some of his favorite things.

Before we start, I want to tell you that my Associate Editor has a '70s Cheap Trick mirror in her bathroom, so you're the first thing she sees every morning.

Well, just tell her to draw some extra lines in the face so it'll look like I do now! Seriously, that's great.

So what's the latest in Cheap Trick land?

We're leaving for a tour in a few days. As usual. We played about 175 dates last year.

Do you still enjoying hitting the road?

Yes! It's still fun. I love to play. It's hard to get excited about the traveling, but the shows make it worth the trouble. The airlines were essentially The Greyhound Bus of the Sky before 9/11, and since then... forget it!

Your rock palace/pizza restaurant Piece is a big favorite of ours here at MrSkin.com. It's right in Wicker Park, our neighborhood. How's that going?

Piece is great. It's something I really like being involved with, and apparently I do it well. So it's like playing music that way. I'm glad.

One thing I've read about but never heard you comment on was the idea that Rock 'n' Roll High School was developed as "The Cheap Trick Movie." What's the story with that?

That's true! It was going to be "The Cheap Trick Movie," but apparently the studio wanted us to sit around for two weeks for no money. We heard about it, but we didn't know that it was a for-sure thing until after the movie came out with the Ramones in it. Our management passed without completely letting us know.

Do you regret not making the movie?

No, I have no regrets. I've done other stuff like appearing on That '70s Show. And they know what they're getting. You want a bad actor? Hire me! Acting requires discipline, and my brain has no tolerance for that.

Speaking of thespians, who are your favorite sexy actresses?

Well, since this is MrSkin.com, I'm assuming these would be bare actresses, right?

Not necessarily, but that's how we like them.

Okay, I've always thought Tanya Roberts (Picture: ) was gorgeous. I remember an episode of Charlie's Angels when she came out of the water in a wet shirt and I thought, "That water must be cold!"

Years later, I met Tanya on That '70s Show, and I didn't know it was her. Since the band was on tour throughout the '70s, I didn't get to see any television.

On the plus side, though, a lot of great actresses came to see us play live.

Like who?

Susan Saint James (Picture: ), who's from Rockford. She brought Daryl Hannah (Picture: ) to one of our shows, and actually to my house once!

Lacey Underall from Caddyshack--Cindy Morgan (Picture: ). She was the weather girl on channel 23 in Rockford. She's come to see us and she's great.

Jeri Ryan (Picture: ) always comes to see us. And I've known both Heather Locklear (Picture: ) and Pamela Anderson (Picture: ) through Tommy Lee. They're both really nice. And beautiful! Wow!

Persis Khambatta was a friend of mine, too.

Do you remember the first movie nude scene you ever saw?

I think it must have been in Blowup (Picture: - ). That was pretty intense. I actually went to the movie to see Jeff Beck play guitar in it. So that nudity was a nice surprise.

As a kid, the Hercules movies always had scantily clad women in them. They'd wear flowing togas, although mostly you just got to see lots of back.

The only other thing we had back then was nudist camp magazines, and even they had all the naughty bits erased. It was weird!

Nudity for the sake of nudity [pause]... is all right! I like nudity.

Are there any contemporary actresses you'd like to see perform nude scenes?

All of them!

Well, maybe not Roseanne. Or Rosie. But definitely the girls on Desperate Housewives.

Any type of scene in particular that you'd like to see them act out?

If they could read my mind while I was looking at them... well, then they wouldn't have to ask!

images courtesy of CheapTrick.com

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