Chris Isaak was rambling along a “proposed road” in a bus with no air conditioning somewhere in Texas.
“When we miss a bump, we circle back around and catch it,” he wrote in an email interview to preview his show at Casino del Sol’s AVA on Tuesday.
A few things we learned about Isaak, the 55-year-old singer who got the world’s attention with that roll on the beach with supermodel Helena Christensen in the 1991 video for “Wicked Game”:
• He adores his band: “I have had the same band for about 25 years and we never really stop playing. ... All I have to do is stand in the middle and sing! I love playing live with these guys.”
• He’s a freak for our heat: “I have a lot of good memories (of Arizona) and, oddly, I love the heat!”
• He still loves making music: “I think I’m really, really lucky to have such a fun job. I have done other things — put on roofing, driven delivery, worked in restaurants, was a doorman — and when I think about the places I get to go and that I get to sing for a living, man, I love what I do.”
Here’s the rest of our email interview with Isaak, who is making his first Tucson appearance since he did a holiday show at the AVA in 2004.
You’re back on the road for a world tour. How does it feel to be out there?
“I have been having a ball out on the road! ... We don’t just show up late and run down a list of songs. We put on a show. We have stage clothes that Liberace would have turned down as too garish. I have a 20-foot tall inflatable pin-up girl on stage, a piano that catches fire and smokes, and I even break out a 35-pound mirrored suit for the show. ... We sing pretty ballads. We do rock ’n’ roll, but we make sure we have fun doing it.”
Any plans to head back in for a new studio album?
“I grew up listening to my dad’s records — Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, (Roy) Orbison, Johnny Cash and Elvis. I’ve been singing those songs all my life, and a few months ago I took the band to Memphis and recorded an album of all those classic rock ’n’ roll tunes and a few new songs of my own. I think we are going to call the album ‘Beyond the Sun’ and try to get it out in September.”
Congrats on your 26 years in music. Have you achieved what you set out to achieve?
“I have achieved some of the things I started out trying to do. I have done films and TV shows and toured just about any place a bus or a plane can take you. But the thing that I feel proudest about is that I have a great band and a great live show. They sing. They play. They put on a show. They are really damn good guys.”
What do you still want to accomplish?
“I still think we have lots of records to make and shows to do. I love making rock ’n’ roll records. I wouldn’t mind doing something with just a guitar and voice or piano and voice. I love Hawaiian music and would love to do a record of some of my favorites.”
Are you the same artist today as you were in the late 1980s when you started?
“Funny, but when I think about how I felt about making music when I started and how I feel now, I’m still the same.”
Finally, this is a question from all those ladies who can’t forget that image of you rolling around in the sand with Helena Christensen: Do you still have the six-pack abs? (Just had to ask.)
“Ya know, I don’t ever recall having a six pack. Even when I was boxing and had to shed weight, I don’t think I ever saw any kind of underwear model six pack. I don’t really think anybody looked at me in that video anyway. Guys and girls were all looking at Helena! Between surfing when I’m off and running around on stage when I’m on tour, I try to keep in shape.”
• What: Chris Isaak
• When: 8 p.m. Tuesday.
• Where: Casino del Sol’s AVA, 5655 W. Valencia Road.
• Tickets: $25-$65 through tickets.solcasinos.com
• Et cetera: Isaak heads to Flagstaff next Thursday for a show at the The Amphitheatre at Fort Tuthill; and to Phoenix for a show at Celebrity Theatre on Friday.