Interviews

Chris Slade : the interview [february 2011 for H2AC-DC.COM]


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- When did you start playing drums ? Has this always been a dream for you ? How did you get hooked on this instrument ?

The drums chose me, you can want to be anything you like but if you HAVE to be what you are, drummer/artist/singer/plumber you WILL be and yes, it was and has been a dream

- Which bands had a major influence on you in your early years ? - Stones or Beatles ?

I was a member of The Beatles fan club right from the very beginning (Love Me do).

- Who and why are your favorite drummers ?

Buddy Rich was my first influence he had a crisper sound than the other drummers around at the time and was FAST. Then later, jazz drummer Tony Williams who played with Miles Davis when he was 16 years old. John Bonham is in there too.

- Your first experience as a pro was with Tom Jones' band? What memories do you keep from that period ?

It’s impossible to encapsulate those experiences in a few words, that’s why I’m writing a book to share with everybody, it may turn into three books. When I started with Tom Jones he wasn’t even called Tom Jones, we were Tommy Scott and the Senators, he became Tom Jones when we moved to London from Wales and we were a rock n Roll band, leather jackets and jeans, and then Tom went more cabaret and I went with him to Las Vegas and onward for seven years through the 60’s.

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- You collaborated with Manfred Mann's Earth Band and then played many different styles of music: pop, R&B, jazz-rock fusion, progressive rock and even world-music. You can really play everything, but Rock seems like getting your vote, are we right ?

I’m very proud and lucky to be able to play all those different styles but I think I’m a bit too loud not to be a rock drummer basically, although I do enjoy some Light and shade in music, in other words, dynamics.

- In 1980, you played with Uriah Heep for the conquest album. Is this can be called your first "hard-rock" experience ?

Manfred Mann’s Earthband in the 70’s was a pretty hard, loud band but Heep was The LOUDEST. I didn’t play any louder in Heep than in Earthband but I suppose there were less dynamics in Heep.

- In the middle of the 80s, you joined The Firm with Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers, two RNR legends. How did you get involved in that project ?

Jimmy called me at home, which was a huge shock and they ended up waiting for 9 months or so while I finished touring with David Gilmour.

- How did you feel playing the Drums with Jimmy Page while you surely knew how important was John Bonham to him when he was leading Led Zeppelin ?

John Bonham’s death was a huge blow to Jimmy both personally and professionally. Bonham was an amazing player, I know how amazing because I’ve just been learning 2/3 hours of Zeppelin music for a short tour of Japan with new band Vonzep, (I’ve just got back a week ago, a day before the earthquake and terrible tsunami). It was an honour to be asked by Pagey, because I was the first drummer he asked after John died.

- How did you get in touch with AC/DC ?

They got in touch with me after they saw me play with Gary Moore in 1989 and that gave me the chance to audition along with about 100 top players. I was number 101. They called me to say I got the gig before I got home from the audition, which was a big shock as I didn’t think I’d done well at all.

- Were you an AC/DC fan at that time? Had you already seen them live ?

Never saw them live but I had bought the Highway to Hell album when it came out and played it over and over.

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- Where and when did you audition? Do you remember which songs you performed ?

In the Brighton area in Southern England. We played a few, I remember Back in Black, Rock your Heart Out from the Razors Edge, I had to learn that on the spot and that wasn’t easy.

- What were your first feelings about the band ?

They seemed very down to earth guys and they’ve proved that they are still.

- The Razor's Edge tour and its huge shows.. Big stage, big lights, what were your feelings when you sat behind your kit for the first concert of the tour ?

Well, I’d been used to big gigs with Earthband and The Firm and Gilmour, all my life really, I played Madison Square Gardens in the mid-sixties with Tom Jones. I’m never nervous unless I’m unsure of the material I’m playing. I remember Cliff looking at me strangely just before that first gig and saying, “you’re too cool man”.

- Do you keep particular memories from Donington and Moscow ?chris_2.jpg

Now….the Monsters of Rock tour was a blast, they were all big festivals of course but Moscow was the BIGGEST, ever, 1,000,000 people, one million people at one concert, that was amazing and a record I think. I’m very proud of Live at Donington, The quality of the filming and the show is magnificent even if I say so myself. I was just working in Moscow about three weeks ago and everybody was asking me about it, 20 years later.

- According to rumors, Cliff Williams missed some of the gigs on this tour and was replaced by Paul Cregg. Do you confirm this? What was the reason for Cliff's absence ?

I don’t know where these stories start. Cliff was there from start to finish, I think I would have noticed if somebody else was playing bass, I hope so anyway !!!

- Speaking about personalities and musicians, how would you describe Malcolm, Angus, Cliff and Brian ?

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As I said before they are very down to earth guys and it was an honour and a privilege to play with them.

- During the "The Razor's Edge "recording sessions, did you get complete "carte blanche" from Malcolm & Angus or did they lead you into a specific style ?

I knew it had to be kept simple and straight-forward but their brother George, who was producing at the time, made sure, by telling me to keep it that way, which I did of course.

- Warming up and rehearsing with AC/DC, what kind of music except AC/DC songs were you guys playing together ?

None..

- Did you have your word on the setlist during the Razor's Edge tour ? chris.jpg

Nooooo, Angus and Mal make all the decisions like that. I asked them once why we didn’t play “Touch too much” (one of my favourites) and Mal said, “We gotta leave something out”.

- Speaking about technics, what is, according to you, the main difference between Phil Rudd's style and yours ?

Well, I know a lot of people will disagree but our basic styles are not that far apart when it comes down to ‘meat and potatoes’, four to the floor. We’ve both got lazy backbeats (what the Americans call, ‘in the pocket’), and that’s what the brothers want. Now if I’m playing a prog rock gig like Asia or even Zeppelin stuff you’ve got to be able to fly around the kit a bit when nessecary but even Bonham had that laid back feel to his snare.

- What is the song you liked to perform most live with AC/DC ?

“Hell ain’t a bad place to be”, or “Sin City” but to be honest they’re all amazing. To be able to play “Let there be Rock” or “Those about to Rock” for twenty minutes at a time is a real punch in the mouth and even though you’re exhausted after them it’s a feeling of satisfaction that you’ve got to the end with no mishaps. I’ve also had a blast playing “Riff Raff” with my band “Steel Circle” over the past couple of months on tour in Europe and Scandinavia.

- Where does the idea of the overhead and side toms you added to your drum kit on the Big Gun video and kept during the The Razor's Edge tour? Had you ever played with such a drum set-up ?

They were full sized 22”inch bass drums. I had overdubbed a bass drum on the front of ‘Thunderstruck’ (one of the few overdubs allowed) and I wondered what I was going to do live to get that huge sound, so when we were setting up for the Thunderstruck Video I asked (drumtech) Dick Jones to set me up two bass drums at shoulder height. Well, he looked at me as if I had two Bald heads not one, but said OK boss, and did it. It was completely a spontaneous decision and I love things like that.

- What is the main difference between AC/DC and the other bands you played in ?

There is no let up in the intensity with AC/DC, it’s BAM BAM BAM.

- You took part of the first sessions of Ballbreaker, can you please tell us a bit more about this ?

I had been doing the demos for that album in London with Angus and Mal for a few months when I got a call from Mal saying that it was nothing that I had or hadn’t done, but they were going to try Phil out………I resigned on the spot even though Mal said that they would keep me on too. My attitude was, and is, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. You can’t argue with the original guy coming back though, can you ?

- We heard this shock made you quit drumming for several years, is that true ?

Yes, that’s true. I didn’t even touch a stick for three straight years and I went to Art college and learned to draw and sculpt, which I still love.

- How would you explain the fact that Phil Rudd, in his whole career, only played two songs live he didn't recorded (Thunderstruck and Who made Who) ?

They were monster hits worldwide so it’s almost compulsory to play them.

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- Can you please tell us more about this picture ? The three AC/DC drummers all together ! Was this organized ? by who ? What did you guys tell to each others?(Pictures of you, Phil Rudd and Simon Wright on the Black Ice Tour)

I organized it! I was backstage at the show and met up with Simon and realized that we were all there (L.A. Forum) at the same time. I thought it would be nice for Dick Jones to be there in the picture as he had been drum-tech to all three of us, (he’s been with AC/DC for about 30 years, the only person). I shouted to Phil, “Oi Phil get over here”, and he did. It got hijacked (photographed) by some people and immediately got put up on the web which is a great shame because it was supposed to be a private moment. I haven’t even got a copy myself without that writing across it, which shows how selfish some people can be, especially as it was me that set it up. I have a copy with Dick in, which myself and Simon have signed for him….so far. If anyone has a clear copy can they please send it to http://www.chrisslade.com

- What did you think about the band when you saw them live during the Black Ice Tour ?

I’ve seen them many times over the past 15 years, in fact I saw Cliff at The NAMM Show in California in January this year (2011) and the band about 4 times last year. They are always very friendly towards me and that’s nice. I thought the show was spectacular.

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- What are your current projects? You are working on Michael Schenker's new album, aren't you ?

Yes, Chris Glen and myself (the original and current bass-player for MSG) played a couple of tracks on the new Schenker album in Switzerland just a few weeks ago. We were touring Europe with Steel Circle and had a day off so we were able to fit it in around our busy touring schedule Ha Ha! I think we’re going to be working live with Michael in June too. I’ve got quite a few projects on the go, I really love to tour and play and I want to do that as much as possible. In California I write songs with friends who a married couple, Jason and Janea Ebbs, our project is called Ecotonic and we already have a couple of songs in some movies. There’s also a working band called Monsters of Classic Rock and another one called The Rock Bastards.

There’s an original band called MIWA who is a heavy metal Japanese Lady Singer, you wouldn’t believe that voice would come out of that tiny lady. Miwa (the Band) also has a song in a movie about to come out. I’ve been in Russia this year working with a great AC/DC tribute band called Easy-Dizzy and I’m going back again in a few weeks to play AC/DC and ZEPPELIN music. As I said earlier my newest project is with a Japanese based Band called Vonzep and we do a lot of Zeppelin but also play original songs, we’re just about to record an original album, (we have already recorded a three song E.P.) which has sold really well considering no publicity.

The band members consist of two guys from California Band Led Zepagain and a brilliant Japanese guitarist. All this and I’ve also been touring with Steel Circle in The States and Europe and Scandinavia over the last few years and people wonder why I don’t answer my emails immediately, Ha !

- Do you have any particular message for highwaytoacdc.com and its members ?

Naw, just keep listening to the greatest Rock band around.

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