Elvis Costello, who visits the Dodge Theatre on Wednesday, has flirted with classical, country and jazz throughout his 25-year career.
But whenever Costello wants to rock out, he relies on the steady rhythm of drummer Pete Thomas.
Since 1977, Thomas has kept time for Costello, usually as a part of his acclaimed back-up band, the Attractions, which features organist Steve Nieve and bassist Bruce Thomas (no relation).
During a recent phone call from Holland, Pete Thomas speaks of the famous group.
"The Attractions is a great rock band, there's no doubt about it," he says with a hint of pride. "I'd like to think we're partly responsible for Elvis' success, but I'm probably overstating our importance.
"Remember, we didn't play on Allison or Watching the Detectives (on Costello's first album). Elvis is quite capable of making great records without the Attractions."
Good thing, because on this year's album, When I Was Cruel, as well as the tour, Costello's back-up band is not the Attractions. Although Nieve is still around, Bruce Thomas is not, and the new band has been dubbed the Imposters.
"Bruce hasn't left the Attractions," Pete Thomas says, "there are just problems between him and Elvis, so we've got a new bass player (Davey Faragher, who moonlights with Thomas in a Los Angeles bar band) and a new name for the band this time."
Despite the fact that Costello hadn't made a rock album in nearly seven years, Thomas says he had no trouble returning to the role that made him famous:
"After 25 years working with Elvis, I've really gotten a sense of what he wants. I can read it in his body language. He wants everything done quickly. After two or three takes, the freshness is lost, so he tries to capture the songs quickly."
Although Thomas hopes the Attractions will work together again, he is enjoying being part of the Imposters and is looking forward to starting a new musical legacy.
"We're just trying to get to the end of the tour right now," he says. "If we're still having fun at the end, we're going to go back into the studio next year."