You can't always judge a veteran rock band by its name. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, whose hits include "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," "Not Fragile" and "Taking Care of Business," is on a seemingly permanent hiatus.
Meanwhile, its co-lead singers from its mid-'70s peak –– guitarist Randy Bachman, and bassist Fred Turner –– reunited in 2010 after a nearly two-decade break, and are now touring again.
But for legal reasons they can't use the BTO name, so they're on the road as Bachman & Turner.
"Our joke is we're too old to be 'Overdrive' any more –– we're on cruise control," says Bachman, who performs 9 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at Resorts Casino Resort in Atlantic City.
Bachman talks why it made sense to reunite with Turner some decades after they last performed together and his wish that someone like Judge Judy could sort out the mess with the BTO name.
Q: What prompted you getting back together with Fred Turner?
A: For the last year 10 years, both Fred Turner and I would get faxes from a guy named Ingolf who owns and runs the Sweden Rock Festival: "I don't want anyone but you and Fred Turner –– I want BTO music."
I was busy touring with the reunited The Guess Who and Bachman-Cummings (with The Guess Who lead singer Burton Cumming). I was working on a solo album –– it had guests like Neil Young and Paul Rodgers (of Bad Company fame). I thought it would be neat to send Fred Turner a song. We got together and went to the Sweden Rock Festival –– there were 38,000 to 40,000 people. We were stunned. We played the London High Voltage Festival - there were 25,000 people. We were amazed that people would come from all over to see us. We got more offers, and we keep going.
Q: Did you and Fred have any personal issues to work out?
A: Fred and I always got along. In BTO, Fred and I were the older guys and my brother (Robbie Bachman), who was the drummer, was 10 years younger.
The division was two married guys who didn't mess around on the road, and the other guys who would go out and party. That was the basic social division. Fred and I were more like brothers than myself and my brother.
I already had a band going. All Fred had to do was show up. I said, let's try, "Let It Ride." It was as easy as riding a bike again.
Q: Why did you decide to put out a new album together right away?
A: I wanted to show we still write. When you're a songwriter, you write every single day. The radio is not what it used to be, at least not for us the way it was in the Doobie Brothers era. There's still a market there, but more money is made from touring - not from making records.
Q: BTO over the years has kept the lawyers busy, with lots of fighting over its name and other issues. Why do you think it's played out that way?
A: There were a lot of weird circumstances. Somebody who shouldn't end up with the rights to the name ends up with the rights. I think there should be a Judge Judy of rock 'n' roll somewhere, who says, "You're a schmuck, you don't deserve the name." There are so many bands out there that don't have original guys in them. Mostly people want to hear the lead singer and the lead guitarist –– that gives you the lead voice of the songs.
Q: What was it like to be part of the very fertile period in rock that spawned The Guess Who, BTO and so many staples of classic rock radio?
A: That was like the golden era of pop and rock becoming heavier, and country music coming in and creating this whole wide genre of rock 'n' roll.
Half the reason the music still sounds good and is still so durable is because of the old tubes and harmonics (in the recording studio). The sound wouldn't be possible in the digital era. Plus we were copying the great songwriters –– Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and Little Richard –– and the blues format. Out comes this incredible body of music that people still love today. Even young kids love it –– it's more melodic and more fun, compared to the crap you get today.