The Sensations

A conversation with Holland Zander and Dana Buck
by Teri Barr
March 2016

Holland Zander and Dana Buck

Holland Zander and Dana Buck

Every musician must have thoughts about their dream line-up. But for The Sensations – a couple of 70’s rockers with some success, partnered with the daughter of a 70’s rocker with a lot of success – their own group is a dream come true. “We have saved the best for now,” bass player Dana Buck says, while laughing. “52 years in this business, and I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. But I credit so much of it to Holland, our lead singer.”

Holland—is Holland Zander – daugher of Cheap Trick’s lead singer, Robin Zander. But the ties between the two bands, who are all family or friends, have been forged over many years. “Rick Pemberton is our lead guitarist, but played in a band years ago with my Dad, Brian Beebe, and Bun E. Carlos in Wisconsin Dells,” Holland Zander says. “Dad and Brian then locked it in as a duo for three summers. And our drummer, Kurt Wiesend, was Bun E.‘s (Cheap Trick’s drummer) drum tech for a few tours. Crazy small world, and even crazier stories!”

Holland relies on those stories because she wasn’t even born for most of it. But the apple—and talent – doesn’t fall far from the tree. She’s now been on stage with a mic in her own hands, since the late 90’s. Holland says she’s had fun, and a little success with other bands, but calls the guys in The Sensations, “Truly incredible musicians.” 

As a long-time musician, Dana Buck has had his own brushes with success. “I was with bands based in the Midwest, Las Vegas, San Francisco, but then started a band called Gulliver in L.A. with my brother. We were discovered and signed by Columbia Records, and managed by Elliot Roberts who also managed Neil Young,” Dana says. “We had one album hit, and while recording our follow up, were dropped by the label. But one of our songs was eventually recorded by Alice Cooper, and another, “Southern Cross,” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash.” A successful tour opening for REO Speedwagon, wasn’t enough to keep Gulliver alive, and the band faded away. Dana was out of the spotlight for the next ten years. But like Holland, music is in his blood. He has his own stories going back to Grandparents, and Great-Grandparents as performers. One relative was even in Roy Roger’s Grammy Hall of Fame band, The Sons of the Pioneers. Dana jumped back in to the Rockford music scene in 1992, and it’s the same people he’s continued to play with in The Sensations.

Well, minus-one. Holland joined when The Sensations singer before her, decided to call it quits. The band was doing ok, and having fun. Holland was looking for a band. The rest, as they say,

is history. The fun continues, and the band is still doing ok, but its members are also trying not to take it all too seriously which means few originals, and less than a dozen shows a month. But they are still musicians, so they try to challenge themselves with the songs they choose. “What I love about this band, we do songs that not a lot of other cover bands of this similar genre typically try to do, like “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin,” Holland says. “And we really cover a crazy range of songs, from Sonny and Cher, to Cheap Trick. Yes, imagine that. We are doing some Cheap Trick songs!”

Holland recently joined her Dad, and younger brother, on stage during one of the “A Night with Robin Zander” shows at Monk’s in Wisconsin Dells. It was the first-time all three performed a unique version of the Cheap Trick classic, “Surrender,” together. It brought the audience to its feet, and the pride on her Dad’s face was evident.

It’s also when the questions began about having The Sensations play their own show in the Dells. It seems to bring this entire musical story, full circle. “I honestly can’t wait,” Holland says. “I am so excited! Every show we play, we just want to connect with everyone and have a good time. But this is really going to be something special.” 

The show, on March 19, is also special because of the timing. Three weeks later on April 8, Robin Zander and Cheap Trick will be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, something Holland says has been a long time coming for them. “They were eligible so many years ago. And when I called my Dad to say congrats, I’m proud of you, he laughed a little bit,” Holland says. “But I told him I am so proud of you. You worked your asses off and deserve this recognition.” Holland isn’t able to go, but Dana will be there, and not too many rows back from the stage. He’s full of pride to be able to support the line-up of friends in Cheap Trick, as they’re honored for their past success. But Dana is just as proud of his own dream group, because its accomplishments, may still be ahead.

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