The band Chicago needs no introduction. One of the most popular and successful bands of all time, they’ve sold over 100 million records and boast 47 gold and platinum awards to their name. Their horn-driven sound is a signature across many different pop styles, and still resonates with audiences around the world.
Once the contemporary of acts like The Beatles, The Doors, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, perhaps the most impressive thing about this Windy City music group is their longevity. While those musical legends all flamed out decades ago, Chicago has continued on in the face of changing tastes, shifting lineups, and personal tragedies.
With many band members at the age where most people are thinking about moving to Florida and playing golf, Chicago instead hit the studio. Nearly 50 years after cutting their debut album, the band is poised to put out their 36th, titled “NOW” CHICAGO XXXVI - set for release in July.
Unlike other groups of 1960’s vintage, who are happy to do occasional high-priced reunion sets and call it a day, Chicago is still making vital, current tunes. Spearheaded by Lee Loughnane, remaining founding members Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, and Walt Parazaider have embraced all the latest technologies in the recording of “NOW”.
Following in the same groundbreaking spirit that characterized their previous output, the band utilized mobile recording techniques while maintaining a grueling tour schedule. They created a customized, enhanced recording system dubbed, “The Rig” that allowed for recording on the bus, in the hotel, backstage, or in a conference room. Even during rehearsals with Robin Thicke for a performance at the recent Grammy awards, the band continued work on their new material.
Chicago trumpeter Lee Loughnane believes the band is driven to record.
“As long as we have a steady flow of electricity, there are no excuses,” he says. “We can write and record year round.”
Even distance couldn’t stop the music. When producers and musicians were not in the same physical location, Chicago utilized a custom web portal. Band members were able to collaborate and ultimately synchronize their contributions on The Rig. “NOW” Chicago XXXVI is a truly international production, recorded during a world tour.
To help promote their new album and tour, Chicago is releasing a limited edition sneak preview CD package from now until June 3. They’re also holding a special memorabilia drawing, in which fans who enter have the chance to win a platinum record or a musical instrument used onstage during vintage performances.
The band’s tour is ongoing, and runs through the summer. The line-up includes original band members Robert Lamm on keyboards and vocals, Lee Loughnane on trumpet and vocals, James Pankow on trombone, and Walt Parazaider on woodwinds. It also features Jason Scheff on bass and vocals, Tris Imboden on drums, Keith Howland on guitar and vocals, Lou Pardini on keyboards and vocals, and Walfredo Reyes, Jr. on percussion.
Advance clips from the new album are available at the band’s website. Several songs have already been debuted in live performance.
Original member James Pankow, who penned some of the band's biggest hits, sums up the project nicely, “To think that 47 years later, people - young people especially, but all ages - are actually still discovering Chicago's music is amazing. People have become fed up with all of the robotic programmed junk. They come to our shows to hear and witness the real thing - gifted veteran musicians with serious chops - no smoke and mirrors or lip-syncing. Wow, what a concept!"