The Little River Band will mark its seventh performance in the area this weekend at the Sulphur Heritage Days Festival. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, May 25, 2012 10:23 PM
Guys won’t admit they like the Little River Band.
Wayne Nelson, the group’s longtime lead singer and bassist, knows this — and has come to terms with it.
“Guys are too cool to listen to Little River Band,” he told the American Press in a Wednesday phone interview. “They think we’re too soft for them; they can’t relate. But, put a boat in a guy’s hand and he will be talking us about ‘Cool Change’ in a heartbeat.”
Girls — and guys — can check out the band’s appeal at the Sulphur Heritage Festival at 8 p.m. tonight. The performance marks the seventh time the band has played in Southwest Louisiana since the 1980s — the last time was at 2009’s Sulphur Heritage Festival.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, LRB was a musical force to be reckoned with. The band scored eight Top 10 singles in five years, including “Reminiscing” (1978), “Lonesome Loser (1979), “Lady” (1979), “Cool Change” (1979), “Take It Easy on Me” (1981) and “Night Owls” (1982). Overall, the band has sold 30 million records worldwide and has had 13 Top 40 hits in the U.S., according to LRB’s website, littleriverband.com.
“We were on a roll,” Nelson said. “We were the first band to have a hit single in the U.S. six years in a row. We toured the world. Our music was being played everywhere. We were in a spot where we could almost do no wrong.”
Little River Band, which started out in Australia in 1976, has gone through several personnel changes over the years. The current line-up is Nelson, Greg Hind, Chris Marion, Rich Herring and Mel Watts.
Nelson, who sang lead on “Take It Easy on Me” and “The Night Owls,” has been with the band since 1980. He left for a short period — from 1996-1999 — because of “a lot of personal reasons.”
“The people in the band at the time didn’t want to do new material. (We spent) 25 years of running around the country doing the same show and the same songs. We needed to do new material. Life is too short,” he said.
Nelson joined a San Diego band, but in 1999, the band called him and asked him to come back — and record some new songs.
They have been doing so ever since, Nelson said.
“In 12 years, we have done seven records. That’s what we wanted to do,” Nelson said. “We are musicians; we have a history and there is no reason we shouldn’t make music as part of that history. We have to keep it going.”
In fact, Nelson said, he and the band are now in the studio working on their next new CD. Nelson hopes for a worldwide release in time for Christmas.
“It’s loaded with vocals and loaded with guitar harmonies,” he said. “The record label wants ... to try to get us back on the radio again. More power to them. We are all about it.”
Nelson said he is tickled about the role the band has in pop culture. For instance, in the Will Ferrell movie, “The Other Guys,” Ferrell’s character is obsessed with the band and especially the song “Reminiscing.”
“That’s the third or fourth LRB reference Ferrell has made (in his work),” Nelson said.
Just recently, the ABC show “The Middle” featured some of its characters being mocked for going to an LRB concert.
“There’s a love-hate thing going on. ‘You went to see LRB? Why do that?’ But everyone knows the songs,” he said.
At tonight’s concert, expect all of the classic LRB hits — with a twist.
They’ve updated some of their classics by adding solos and changing up the beginnings. But, they haven’t changed them so much that the fans will not recognize or enjoy the songs.
“Our music is etched in people’s memories, and we have an obligation to hit that memory. We keep making the show more and more personal and enhancing what the memories are about. It’s all about music and all about the memories,” Nelson said. “But we always look for ways to bring something new to the stage. We’re having a lot of fun exploring new ways to deliver the songs — still recognizable and powerful, but with new twists."