Ides of March come to play at NCC
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media May 12, 2011 12:10PM
Jim Peterik of The Ides of March. The band will play Friday night at the Last Fling in Naperville. | SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE PHOTO
‘Ides of March’
♦ 8 p.m. May 21
♦ Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville
♦ Tickets, $25-$35
♦ (630) 637-7469
Updated: August 25, 2011 12:33AM
While they aren’t in the “Guinness Book of World Records” — yet — you would be hard-pressed to find a band that has been together with its original members longer than the Ides of March.
The Ides of March formed in Berwyn in 1965, with Jim Peterik on lead vocal and lead guitar; Larry Millas on vocals, guitar and bass; Bob Bergland on bass, vocals and sax; and Mike Borch on drums and vocals. In 1969, the band added friends Chuck Soumar on trumpet, percussion and vocals; and John Larson on trumpet and vocals.
The band burst onto the national scene in 1970 with the million-selling single “Vehicle,” which reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts. They will perform May 21 in North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall.
As students at Morton West High School studying “Julius Caesar,” the Ides of March found its name and developed a strong local following playing teen clubs and sock hops. In 1973, after 15 singles and four albums, the Ides took a break.
Jim Peterik achieved platinum success as co-founder, songwriter and keyboardist with the band Survivor, co-writing all the band’s hits, including the anthem “Eye of the Tiger.”
In 1990, the band reunited for Berwyn’s Summerfaire. The event drew 25,000 fans and convinced the Ides to keep rocking.
Last September, the band returned to its roots when the city of Berwyn dedicated the stretch of Home Street in front their alma mater, J. Sterling Morton West High School, to the band. It is now The Ides of March Way.
“That is very cool. How many bands get a street? We were thrilled. It was a high point of our career in many ways,” Peterik said. “It really came full circle to where we started, in Berwyn. We had our first hit record in 1966 … and suddenly the cheerleaders were talking to us. They never talked to us before.
“We had a big ceremony at the high school auditorium where we used to play. It was such a great, great moment.”
The band’s original members are literally lifelong friends — Larry Millas’s and Bob Berglund’s mothers coincidentally shared a hospital room when they were born.
“It’s a cool thing. It really is a family,” Peterik said. “I would be hanging out with these guys even if we weren’t playing. We go back to Cub Scouts. I’ve known Larry since third grade.”
Peterik’s first gig was with Berglund. As Scouts, they played for the PTA.
“That was the first time I performed in public and I got a taste for that and I liked it.”
Last August, the band released its first album of all-new material since 1973 called “Still 19.” Through the years, they put out various re-treads of the hits, he said, but this is the first album of all-new songs.
“We know we’re going to sell more albums if we put ‘Vehicle’ on there, it’s just the way it is. So we did a vintage remake,” Peterik said. “The song ‘Still 19’ is my favorite track, not that it’s the most commercial or the most accessible, but it’s the deepest and really tells the story of Ides of March.
“We had two Greenbrier Corvair vans that would break down about every 20 miles. We saw a lot of countryside on the side of the road. It’s a great story and we put it all on this song.”
“Soul to Soul” is perhaps the standout cut in terms of commercialism, he said, but he is “very fond” of “I Think I’ll Keep Rocking.”
“A lot of times we’ll open with that or ‘Live Life,’” he said. “I wrote that with Johnny Van Zant, lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s really about grabbing the moment.”
The song “Come Dancing” was inspired by the movie “The American President.” Peterik and his wife were re-watching the film and he found the scene where Annette Bening was dancing with Michael Douglas, to be “so romantic, so poignant,” that he knew he knew he had to write a song about it.
“That gets a lot of people’s attention — something in the DNA of the song,” he said. “I found the notes and heard myself saying, ‘come dancing.’ It has a real special meaning for me. We recorded it with the Ides; it’s a big popular live number.”
Speaking of dancing, Peterik’s personal dance card is filled these days. In fact, on the day the Ides of March play in Naperville, Peterik will perform at a benefit for Autism Speaks at Soldier Field in the morning.
“We’ll do a half-hour, of course climaxing with ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ which is kind of going to be the anthem for the event,” he said. “It’s not the kind of thing that’s going to wear me out. I don’t think I’d ever do two shows that are as taxing as an Ides of March show, which is 90 minutes or two hours of nonstop rock ‘n’ roll.”
He’ll run a music camp in New Lenox this summer, and he recently performed at a flood relief concert in Nashville.
“I love good causes, and combine that with my passion for performing, and I stay busy,” he said.
“As long as I keep the balance. There’s got to be those oases of time to spend with the family. As long as I have those couple of days in a row every couple weeks where I’m doing nothing but appreciating my home, my wife, my son Colin; that recharges my battery.”
The Ides of March still perform 35 to 45 shows a year at fairs, festivals, casinos and some corporate events.
Audiences at North Central College can expect a fun, loud rock show full of the songs you will recognize, he said.
“It’s a fun band. We’re so happy to be doing what we love. The music is culled from mostly my catalog of things I’ve written,” he said. “Obviously, the hits for Ides of March — of course ‘Vehicle,’ ‘L.A. Goodbye,’ ‘He Wouldn’t Listen’ — but also songs I wrote or co-wrote for Survivor. We have a dynamite version of ‘The Search is Over.’ We always add the Ides of March sound to everything we do. ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is huge moment of show, it’s really dramatic version with the brass doing the guitar stabs. That’s exciting. Then we do songs I wrote with .38 Special (like) ‘Hold on Loosely,’ ‘Rocking into the Night,’ and ‘Caught up in You.’”
Some of the songs are hopefully hits to come, he said, like songs on the new record.
“It’s a combination of the hits and the potential hits,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to North Central College. It’s our favorite type of venue. It’s the perfect size for our show. We’re really looking forward to the 21st.”