COLLECTED SLADE INTERVIEWS -
With grateful acknowledgement to Mickey Parker, Chris Selby and others who have
unearthed them for this site.
1970 - 1986 | 1987 - 1999 | 2000 to 2011 | 2012 - 2017 | 2018
Don Powell was interviewed on 9th January 1987 by Dave Kemp and Jenny Gamble for what was the magazine
of the Slade International Fan Club, 'Percy'.
We managed to interview Don Powell at his flat in London, just after Slade had finished recording the new album.
We asked Don if he could give us an update on how the work is coming along.
"We finished the album yesterday, actually. We spent yesterday piecing it together and sorting out the running order.
We know exactly which tracks will be on the album - all of which is new material. The new single 'Still the same' is
also on it as well. The title of the album is 'You boyz make big noize'. When we were recording with Roy Thomas
Baker in Wessex studios, the tea lady there made the comment 'You boys make big noise' and I think we've sort
of kept it from then. I don't know when the album is coming out yet as we are still deciding on the cover design. RCA
will probably wait to see how the single does. The album has taken us a long time to record, especially the tracks that
John [Punter] and Roy produced. we spent the first two days with Roy just trying to get the drum sound as he wanted it.
He had forty odd mikes over my kit, and it sounded like thunder in the studios. The album is more of a sing-a-long one,
as opposed to a heavy metal album. On most of the album it is Nod singing, though on one track Jim sings the first part
with Nod joining in later.
We next moved on to talking about the new house that Don and Joan bought recently in East Sussex. We learned
that Don has spent the last few months redecorating it.
"Yeah. We've done some decorating. There's a conservatory part which we've decorated and cleaned up a bit. Joan
is an antiques dealer, so we've bought a number of antiques for the new place. The guy we bought the house from
is building another house next door. At the moment he is living in a caravan at the bottom of his garden. Joan and
I feel a bit embarrassed about this, as we are away from the house quite a lot, working. We sometimes see his kids
faces at the window of the caravan, and that makes us feel a bit guilty about the way we've redecorated what used
to be their bedrooms. One room had pictures of cars on the wallpaper, which we have now painted over in white.
We feel tempted to offer the use of the house to them when we're not there."
The conversation next moved to the fact that Don has started driving again and has recently bought himself
a new Ford Orion.
"The first time I started driving again was when I went up to Bradford to Joan's parents for a long weekend buying
antiques. We had planned to look around the Yorkshire Dales, so I hired a car, and whilst nobody was around, I
started driving again. I hadn't reckoned on some heavy snow up there though. I managed to have another prang
up on the motorway going up to Bradford just recently. It was in some icy conditions again, and I skidded into the
bloke in front of me on the slow lane of the M1."
"I had a bad experience in Nottingham, not so long ago in a hired car. I pulled into a self-service station and filled
up, and then suddenly realised I'd put diesel into it. The guy in the kiosk watched me do it. I had to try to drive it with
the wrong fuel in it to another station to get it drained off. When we got there there were half a dozen cars who had
done exactly the same thing at the same station."
Don and Joan also do some recording together, and recently put some music forward for the theme to the recent
TV series 'Executive Stress'.
"Yeah we did, but that didn't come off as Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who are a bigger name than us, got it
instead. It was George Layton who actually wrote the series. He used to go to school with Joan in Bradford. we went
out to dinner with him one evening and he mentioned the new series and asked us to write the theme tune for it.
Sadly though, the Producer had already commissioned Andrew Lloyd Webber, so he got the job."
In the Jun - Aug (1986) issue of the mag, we mentioned that Don had done a solo recording of the 1961 hit single
'Let there be drums'. We asked Don what the present state of play is with this recording.
"Well, what we have now done is to change it around a bit. Joan and myself have written a new melody, and we've
called it 'Amnesia'. That's not finished yet - we've still got some more things to do. What with moving house and the
new Slade recording coming along, we've had to shelve it for a while. Hopefully we can get back to finishing this
recording off soon, now the new Slade album is completed.
As Don is now getting more involved with writing again, he has had to find some new studios for recording his
"Yeah, that's right. the demo we did for George Layton was recorded at Jona Lewie's house - you remember the
guy who did 'Stop the cavalry'? Well, he's got a 48 track studio within his house. It was totally relaxed there and a
lot of fun. I've also been up to Birmingham to help Dave with some of his solo work."
As many of you probably know, Don's wife, Joan Komlosey, is a rock journalist. We were interested to learn
that she once had the pleasure of reviewing a Slade concert at the London Marquee in 1980.
"Yeah she did, and she really slagged us off. I later did another interview with her for the World Service, and the
other members of the band couldn't believe it - especially when I started going out with her. I've never held it
against Joan, though she never lets me forget that she got a nosebleed at The Marquee that night! Talking about
The Marquee, I remember they had to totally shut off Wardour Street, so that we could get our lorry down there."
It now seems a long time since Slade were playing the clubs, so we asked Don if he misses that scene now.
"There is a certain kind of atmosphere that the small clubs have got, which is missing in a big arena. I remember
having great fun in the clubs when we first came back from America. When we returned to playing the larger shows
in 1981, we found that was better than the clubs from the point of view that you can put on a much better show with
lights and a stage setting. In the clubs we really couldn't do anything like that. It was only those at the front who could
see us properly."
Some of you have written in with some questions about the kit that Don uses on stage and in the studios. Don
told us a little bit more.
"Well, I use exactly the same kit in the studios as I do on stage, which is the chrome coloured Ludwig kit. The
bass drum is 26" and the tom toms are 14" 16" 18" and 20". I use 15" hi-hats, 18" china cymbal, 16" crash and
20" ride cymbals. The skins I use are Reno oilskins, which I use both onstage and in the studios. Also in the
studios, I use what is called a Linn drum. This is a machine which allows me to program in drum patterns by
pressing a load of buttons. Some bands are even able to use a Linn drum as part of their stage presentation,
but if you program a drum pattern into a Linn drum, you have to play to that. If you go out of time, it becomes
very obvious to the audience, whereas when I use the Ludwig kit, I can usually change the speed I'm playing
slightly to rescue the situation. As we are a rock band, I don't think we could sensibly use it on stage."
Questions for Don Powell:
Do you practice drumming when you are not on tour or recording?
"No, I never practice when I'm not on tour. I couldn't have the drums in the flat. I have never practiced at home."
Do you enjoy making videos and do you think a bad video can kill a song?
"It can be boring. You get there early in the morning and you spend all day doing it. It seems like such a long
day for nothing really. At the end of it there is only two and a half or three and a half minutes of film, . . just. . . the
duration of the single. It was the same with the 'Flame' movie. It only took about eight weeks which is not a lot in
terms of making movies, nut it seemed like forever to us. We were up at 5.30 in the morning and we worked all
through the day. It was about 8 - 10 hours a day for about 2 - 3 minutes on screen."
"Some months ago a certain record had a lot of radio play, but as soon as the video was shown on TV it completely
killed the record. The record took a dive because of the awful video, but I can't remember who it was. I think videos
do help really. There are so many these days."
"The basic ideas for Slade videos come from within the band. We have the basic idea and then it is given to the video
company and they come up with a story and pass it to us to see if we agree to it. We do have quite a say."
Do you think that records demoed by Slade and not released my be released on a compilation album in the future?
"I doubt it. We tend to use everything that we demo. The reason that we started demoing was because we started
using producers. It was for them to listen to so that they would know the songs before coming to the studios with us.
When we did it ourselves, we used to go straight into the studios and do it. Demos are really only for producers to
listen to. We do have quite a few complete recordings that have not been included on the latest album."
Where do you keep your gold and silver discs?
"I keep all my gold and silver discs in the TV room. They are hanging on the wall."
Don had another appointment to attend, so at this point, we had to draw the interview to a close.
Dave Hill was interviewed on 27.3.87 at Music Works studio by Trevor Slaughter and Nomis. This interview
was first printed in the April - June 1987 issue of Percy.
We interviewed Dave Hill on 27th March 1987 at Music Works Recording Studios, where Slade were recording
a new song - potentially a future single. We'll come to that later, but to begin with, we discussed the last single
'Still the same' and the possible reasons why it didn't get higher in the UK charts.
"Yeah, 'Still the same' is basically being regarded as a flop in terms of what was expected of it. I think the record
company were mostly disappointed as it was them rather than the group who chose it. It was always up for a single
though, right from the demo stage. We have a situation at Radio One at the moment where they now run this playlist.
There have also been a few changes in the people who run the programmes. We brought this record out, not in the
usual Christmas period, which on the face of it seemed to me to be a feasible idea as an attempt to get away from
the 'Slade only exist at Christmas time' situation."
"On listening to opinion though, it seems to have been regarded as another 'My oh my' type song, which perhaps should have come out at Christmas. Everyone can say what they like now, and if it was a hit, they'll all be saying
what a great idea it was. When 'My oh my' was released, it was just as slow to take off, but as soon as we got the
radio play, it rocketed. 'Still the same' did virtually the same as 'My oh my' chart-wise in its first few weeks, but at the
point where 'My oh my' picked up radio play, 'Still the same' was dropped completely, especially by Radio One."
Over the past year or so, Slade have probably appeared to many of you as though they have no common objective
anymore. It has been nearly three and a half years since Slade played live in the UK and nearly four and a half years
since they played Hammersmith and Birmingham Odeon. Rumours have been flying around the press that they
are about to split, and as there was over a year's gap between the release of 'Miracles' and 'Still the same', many
of the public probably believed these rumours. We asked Dave if he could explain how things have changed over
the last year, and the band's hopes for the future.
"Fans might be feeling a little left out and a bit disappointed, but they've got to understand that 21 years now IS a long
time to stay together as a group. We are a little older and we are still trying. I think that deep-seatedly within the group,
every one of us would play live, but what we are searching for is a way to take us to another stage of success, and it's a
hard route that we're trying. We're trying not to go out and do the Odeons and the regular gigs, getting the violin out and
doing exactly the same as we did before. We want to go out and look a bit different and try something, but the point when
we want to go out is when our current musical success will make the public ready and waiting."
"We don't just want to go out and have people say we did a tour just to say we're around. Although the fans will be there
and love it, the public at large will have an attitude of 'let's go and see how old Slade is, cos they're good for a laugh'. To
try and put ourselves in a better category, I would like to see us up at the NEC and sell it out. So that we're not just doing
the rounds for the rounds sake, we want to show our fans that we're not simply trying to stay together. We haven't reached
the market that Dire Straits have captured and they've never been as exciting as us. If you think about us, we really ought
to be in that level, shouldn't we?"
"We could announce a tour now, but caution tells us that we'd do better to announce one on the back of a hit. We haven't
called it a day on the touring and if luck would have it, we could be touring after this LP."
We moved on to the next album and the next single. We asked Dave if he could update us on the present position
"Well, the album was supposed to be released towards the end of April, but in view of the fact that 'Still the same' wasn't
a hit, RCA may wait a little longer until the next single peaks before releasing the album. As you know, Roy Thomas
Baker has produced two songs, 'Love is like a rock' and 'That's what friends are for'. 'That's what friends are for' looks
to be the next single, mainly because there's a certain person at RCA who is going wally over it. We are, however doing
a new song here now which is a sort of 'rock rap' thing with a Beastie Boys feel to it. This track is provisionally called
'You boyz make big noize'."
We asked Dave if he could talk us through the songs on the album to give us an idea of what we might expect
and what some of the songs are about:
LOVE IS LIKE A ROCK : "This track, which Roy Thomas Baker produced, is a cover of an American song which
Jim thought sounded a bit like us in its original format. Jim suggested that it would fit in nicely to the current mould
of Bon Jovi / Europe. Roy also liked the song, so we got him to produce it. It's got an up-tempo American feel to it."
THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR : "Another track produced by Roy Thomas Baker. This is a 'scarf waver' type of
number, which now looks fairly definite for the next single."
STILL THE SAME : "The last single, which in my view deserved to go a lot higher in the charts than it did."
FOOLS GO CRAZY : "This song is a very up-tempo rocker, which sounds very 'Slade'. I think this one is going to be
liked by the fans."
SHE'S HEAVY : "This song is all about a big fat heavy bird who's got a heart of gold. A humorous track, though not
about anyone in particular. The production is pretty heavy as well."
WE WON'T GIVE IN : "This was thought by many people to be a good one for a single when it came out last year
on the film soundtrack. [Knights and Emeralds] The film company wanted it out as a single, but RCA, who owned
the rights said no. This is the last track on side one."
WON'T YOU ROCK WITH ME : "A good sounding track to open side two. The verses remind me a bit of a Genesis
song from a few years ago called 'Mama'. The chorus is much more like us though. The song is laid back while
OOH LA LA IN L.A. : "This is my favourite track on the album. There is something about the chorus on this one,
which to me would make it a hit if it was released as a single. It is a very different sort of song for Slade. the lyric
is very autobiographical - about the time we spent in Los Angeles a few years ago. One verse is about Don (George
in the lyric) being pissed all the time. There is mention of the Marquee, which refers to 'The Sunset Marquee', where
a lot of bands stay. there are trees in its garden with fairy lights hanging from them. There is a verse about 'Barney's
Beanery', where we used to play pool all the time. This song was in fact written originally for the 'Rogue's Gallery'
album and is based on the last time we were in L.A, promoting 'Run runaway."
ME AND THE BOYS : "This is a laid back heavy song with a lot of chant in it."
SING SHOUT : "A very up-tempo song with a live party feel to it."
THE ROARING SILENCE : "This song wasn't originally going to go on the album, but it was put on instead of 'Don't
talk to me about love' because it sounded so good.
IT'S HARD HAVING FUN NOWADAYS : "Another laid back heavy song and the last track on side two. we started this
song with Roy Thomas Baker, but in the end itwas taking too long and cost a lot, so we got Jim to finish it off."
You will remember last time we interviewed Dave, he had been working on a solo album and had also put forward
four demos for the new Slade album. We asked Dave whether this had progressed any further?
"Well, I've got a girl singer called Jenny Darren, but I've also got someone else interested in covering one of my
songs - Sinnita, who recently got into the charts with 'So Macho' and also starred with David Essex in the 'Mutiny'
musical. I don't know for definite about this yet, though, but she's definitely interested."
"The four demos I did with Nod have been put on ice for the time being. There was a track called 'Love is said',
a ballad called 'Wild nights', a ZZ TOP sounding one called 'My motor's burning again' and another one which
sounds a bit like 'Born to be wild'. As for my solo album, I've been so intermingled with what Slade have been
doing that I'm still in the process of recording it."
Since we last interviewed Dave, many of you will have noticed that Dave has now shaved off his beard. Dave
told us some more about this . . .
"Yeah, it wasn't long after that last interview I did with you that I shaved it off. I think it was my wife again who suggested
it. I hadn't seen the other band members for a while, and they didn't even notice. Nod thought I'd had my hair cut or
something. He couldn't quite suss out what it was."
We wondered what Dave thinks of the idea of Chas Chandler coming back to produce one or two tracks - for old times
"Well you'd better ask Jim about that! The only real problem in my view about Chas producing a few Slade songs is
that I feel that he may have lost a lot of ground on the production side over recent years. I think he did want to do another
one with us a few years ago, but that was lost by the by . . . "
We asked Dave about where he getting his stage clothes from these days and we learned that he doesn't go to any
specific shop anymore . . .
"I usually wander around Kensington and the usual High Street type of outlets. Ever since punk came in, I've been
able to pick up most of my stage clothes off the peg. I think that is what most other artists do these days as well."
QUESTIONS FOR DAVE HILL :
WHERE DID YOU GET THE GANGSTERS GEAR FROM THAT WAS USED IN THE MYSZTERIOUS MISZTER JONES VIDEO?
"We hired it for the occasion. It was all organised by Philip Davey."
AS JIM AND DON HAVE INVOLVED THEIR WIVES ON THEIR SOLO PROJECTS, HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF
"No, I haven't really, though she did fancy playing the tambourine once! I'll tell you what, she's a lot more attractive
than some of the girls who have offered their services for my recordings!"
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE SINGLE SO FAR, AND WHY?
"Although I didn't like 'My oh my' when I first heard it, by the time I started playing on it and promoting it, I discovered
a certain magic and hidden power in it. I would say 'My oh my' is my favourite to date."
AS THIS IS THE 25th ANNIVERSARY OF THE READING ROCK FESTIVAL, WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SLADE PLAY
READING AGAIN THIS YEAR TO FOLLOW UP THEIR 1980 TRIUMPH?
"Well, I think it would probably be a mistake to try to return to trodden ground to try to rekindle past success. We would
probably end up being compared by the press to [us in] 1980. Because of the situation on the live front we haven't really
considered any festivals this year."
HAVE SLADE THOUGHT OF WRITING ANY ORCHESTRAL ARRANGEMENTS TO GO AROUND ANY OF THEIR SONGS IN
THE WAY THAT DEEP PURPLE OR QUEEN HAVE?
"I think that this idea would probably work quite well on some of our ballads. In fact, James Last did a few orchestral
arrangements to some of our songs, which sounded very arty."
NODDY HOLDER INTERVIEW (24.6.87) FROM PERCY
Trevor Slaughter and Jenny Gamble manage to track Noddy Holder down in a bar?
We managed to track down Noddy Holder on 24.6.87 at the Crest Hotel, Walsall. Evidently, Nod had spent the
previous two days at Bob Lamb's studios in Birmingham, helping Dave Hill with some vocals on one of his
songs. With the latest Slade album released throughout Europe and a release date for the USA soon to follow,
we asked Nod what sort of a reaction he'd had from the media.
"Well, we've had some good reviews and a couple of so-so reviews. The reviews we've had in the press have
been on the whole very favourable. We've had good feedback from Europe as well, particularly Germany and
Scandinavia. It's not coming out in the States until July or August, but CBS certainly like it. CBS are going to
put out 'Ooh la la in LA' as the first single out there. In Germany at the moment, 'Ooh la la' is at no 2 on the radio
play list and 'Still the same' is at no 4, so things certainly seem to be going well over there."
Nod explained to us that in the UK, RCA don't want to bring another Slade single out in the foreseeable future.
This doesn't mean that there won't be another Slade single in the UK for a long time as Slade were making
arrangements to independently release the track 'You boyz make big noize' on a new label called 'Perseverance
"Well, the situation here is that, although all the members of Slade really like this new song and want to see it
released as the next single, RCA don't want to release it themselves. They have, however, given us the option
to release it independently on our own label, with RCA distributing it. Our deal is not up yet at RCA, they've just
agreed to let us release this one single on our own. CBS really like the song as well, so it looks like the American
version of the album will include this song as the title track. The song is an up-tempo rock thing in the 'Beastie Boys'
sort of ilk. The B-side will probably be an instrumental version of the same song. There will also be a 12" extended
version. At the moment there are several different versions of this song with different lyrics, so we've got to try to decide
on which one(s) we are going to use."
In the UK at the moment, Slade seem to be having some difficulty in getting their records play listed by Radio One,
which subsequently affects their airplay in certain other European countries. We learned from Nod, however, that
in the USA the promotion of a record works in an entirely different way . . .
"You basically have pluggers, the same as you do here, but their national charts are not based just on sales. For example, you can have a number 1 in America that's not selling as well as the number 5. What they do is amalgamate
the sales with the amount of airplay it receives on the primary radio stations on a sort of points basis. The record doesn't
have to sell very well, but if it picks up a lot of radio play, it will chart. Within each state, each radio station is rated A, B
or C depending on the number of people who listen to it. The A rated stations are the primary stations which pick up
the points that count towards the chart placing. Unless you are a big act out there like Madonna, who will go straight
onto the primary stations, progress in the States is very slow. In the States at the moment, our records will only be
played in certain areas - the 'rock' areas. We'll get more play in the East or the middle of the country because it is
more rock orientated. The West coast is more laid back music. Having said that though, with 'My oh my' and 'Run
runaway' it was the West coast that was really pushing us."
Many of you will have noticed over the years that a number of bands who use to support Slade on their concerts
have now gone on to be big names in their own right. Examples include Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, Suzi Quatro, Joan
Jett, Nick Van Eede (The Cutting Crew), Billy Bragg and U2. We asked Nod how he feels about this now.
"Yeah. Nearly all the support bands we had on tours went on to make it. Some of them had it easier than others. For
example, Nick Van Eede took 6 or 7 years to break through. He even went out to Canada for two or three years and
got a few minor hits out there. U2 supported us for one gig at the lyceum in 1980 and they weren't even scheduled to
play. A band called The Pirates should have played that gig, but when they couldn't, U2 were booked in literally off the streets."
Many of you have written in to us enquiring about where to obtain a compilation video of Slade's promotional films
and TV appearances. Slade are in fact looking into the possibility of this, and Nod explained the sort of difficulties
they are encountering.
"If we track down all the videos, we hope to release a compilation video at some point in the future. Polydor have
supposedly got a lot of film of us, but it is a mystery at the moment who they actually belong to. Everything we have
done since 'We'll bring the house down' is with RCA, and we know that is fairly easily available to us. I personally
have got copies of the videos for 'Let's call it quits' and 'Nobody's fool' on the original Phillips cassettes, though
I don't have the means of playing them anymore as that type of video has now become obsolete. With regard to
the Top of the Pops film, we have been told that the only one that is available is 'Coz I luv you', as apparently a lot
of the archive stuff was stolen several years ago. Supersonic have also got quite a lot of stuff on us. In view of the
difficulty in obtaining the earlier material, we will probably release a video of everything since 'We'll bring the house
down' first, and then do the Polydor stuff when we can obtain sufficient material. as we have been together as a band
for so long, there would be far too much film to cram onto one video anyway."
With there being quite a few different Slade records out this year, we got Nod to tell us about the sort of
promotion he has been involved with for those records.
"From about March 'til about two or three weeks ago, I have been doing radios and interviews solid. There have
been loads of Slade specials in different parts of the country. We also did a couple of TV's for the 'Still the same' single.
Just recently, there has been a General Election in the UK. We asked Nod whether this is something that
he takes much of an interest in.
"Well actually, when this year's General Election was on, I was away on holiday in Bournemouth. For the first
time, I stayed up all night to watch the results coming in. I never actually voted before, as I think that they all tell a
load of lies. I haven't really got any political point of view, though like most people, if I was under a legal obligation
to vote, I'd vote for whoever would appear to do the best for me personally. I remember seeing Labour's final political
broadcast, with all the classical music behind Kinnock. He did a superb 'spirit of England' type of speech, and the
whole thing was done like a promotional pop video. As a piece of promotional film it was brilliant- if you believed it!"[Nod is apparently now known to be a Tory / Conservative party voter] From a promotional point of view it was just
like promoting a record. The best thing I remember about election night though was 'Spitting Image'."
We next moved on to what Nod does to occupy himself when he isn't working on his music.
"I haven't got any real hobbies, but I do like to read a lot. I read a lot of biographies. I like watching the soaps on
TV as well as videos of the big movies. My favourite TV show at the moment is 'Moonlighting'. That is one programme
I will not miss. I used to like Dallas when that was on - that was a good comedy, that was! Eastenders is alright and
I quite like watching Coronation Street. The one I can't stand is The Colbys!"
We asked Nod what his musical tastes are at the moment.
"I like lots of different things. Of the new artistes, my current favourite is Prince. I also like Huey Lewis."
Most of you will be familiar with seeing Nod up on stage as a performer, but we also learned that Nod will also
go and see bands live as part of the audience. We asked Nod of he could tell us of some of the bands he has
seen live over the last twelve months or so.
"I've seen Queen, Status Quo, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Marillion. I haven't seen Prince or Stevie Wonder
yet, but I would very much like to. I do go to see a lot of acts in clubs. There is a band around here that I used
to go and see a lot called the Trevor Burton Band whose bass player used to be with The Move. I go and see
The Steve Gibbons Band and Stevie Marriott - all in clubs because you get a better atmosphere. I got up on
stage and sang with The Redbeards From Texas not so long ago at the Birmingham Odeon."
At this point, we brought the interview to a close, having interviewed nod fro over four hours - the longest
interview we have ever done with a member of Slade. There were miles and miles of tape to sort through
and it was difficult for us to decode upon which parts to use in this issue.
QUESTIONS TO NODDY HOLDER ANSWERED IN THE PERCY MAG THAT MONTH:
How do you feel about the idea of recording a new studio version of 'Born to be wild' and releasing it as a single?
"No we would not do that, it's going back on the past again."
What are your favourite Slade single and album?
My favourite single is 'Far far away', I have always liked that one. In fact I heard 'Run runaway' on the radio the
other day and it really knocked me out. My favourite Slade album would be 'Nobody's fools'. That is the only one
I can really sit down at home and listen to from start to finish."
Do you have a complete collection of all Slade records?
"No, I've never been one for actually having a total collection. I've got most of them. I certainly think I have a
copy of every album, but I don't know of I've got every version of every single."
From the piano and vocal demo of 'My oh my' the lyrics have been changed on the finished article. Is this
a common occurrence?
"No, not usually. The record ends up the same as the demo. But sometimes it gets changed. 'My oh my' got
changed because John Punter didn't like on verse in it, so we put a new verse in. I in fact like the original demo
If the next Slade Convention could be organised for when the band had no other recording commitments,
would they all make the effort to attend themselves?
"Yes they would, definitely."
What sort of amplifiers do you use in the studio, and what sort of strings do you use on your guitar?
"Amplifiers . . . We use HiWatts and a lot of the guitars are direct injection into the board. They plug into what is
called a 'Rockman', which is a little box - it is not actually an amplifier. In the studio we use the same sort of
equipment as we do on stage on smaller versions. We all use different guitar strings, but mainly Rotosound
and Ernie Ball."
When you first started to sing, did anyone ever tell you that you could not sing?
"Oh yeah, everybody. I mean all the band's parents used to say you'll never get anywhere with that singer, he
just shouts all the time! I have always sung right from when I was a kid. I used to sing in Working Mens Clubs
when I was about six."
JIM LEA gave an interview on 30.9.87 at The Dover Castle, in London to Trevor Slaughter, Jenny Gamble
and Dave Kemp. This interview was originally printed in the Oct - Dec 1987 issue of Percy.
We met Jim on 30.9.87 at a pub in London called 'The Dover Castle', which is situated directly behind wha
t used to be Portland Studios. It was the pub the band always used to use when they recorded at Portland,
though sadly the studios closed down last year. We caught Jim in one of his philosophical moods and found
ourselves talking about many subjects that have very little to do with Slade - some of which is reproduced in the
To start with, we talked about the situation in America at the moment. In the last magazine we heard that Slade
were going to be flying to the States to record a video for 'Ooh la la in L.A.'
"Well, when you are dealing with record companies, it all comes down to money, power strokes and the way they
think a record is going to go. CBS deliberately held back on doing the video because, although they could see it
picking up a few heavyweight stations, they wanted to wait to see if it picked up any more. It actually did pick up one
or two more, but then suddenly tailed off, so the video idea was scrapped. It got to the stage when there was this
small matter of many tens of thousands of pounds and who was going to pay? It is a bit different in the States in
that the record companies are totally ruled by the business affairs people, whereas over here the A&R men run things."
In August, Slade appeared live on the Saturday morning show 'Get Fresh', and performed the songs 'Ooh la la
in LA' and 'You boyz make big noize'. Jim told me a bit more about this TV, the filming of which took place in
"It is actually a bit difficult to mime to material, having never played it on stage before. To start off with, we had all
forgotten how 'Ooh la la in L.A.' went. You may have noticed Nod in one of the guitar breaks coming over to me as
he was running up and down the frets of his guitar. There was an expression on his face as if to say 'I don't know what
the f**k I'm doing!!' I enjoyed doing that TV and others like it, because there's no aggravation."
On the very night we were interviewing Jim, Radio One were playing the top 100 singles of the last 20 years to
celebrate 20 years of the station. Evidently, 'Merry Xmas Everybody' featured somewhere in the top 30 singles.
"Actually the Beeb phoned us up today and asked if we'd play live for them on the radio. Of course we had to turn
the offer down as we are totally unrehearsed, having not played live on stage for so long."
There has been a rumour going about recently that Slade were offered a live slot at this year's Reading festival.
We asked Jim to comment on this.
"I haven't heard anything about it being offered this year, but in 1986 we were offered a headlining slot. Unfortunately,
we had to turn it down because of Nod's problems at the time, not to mention our recording commitments. It is a bit
difficult for us to play live at the moment because the build up would be so huge that it would be totally out of proportion
to anything that could be achieved by it. We have been offered a number of one-off festival type situations over recent
years that we have had to turn down for various reasons."
Jim informed us that he has recently made a production reel of some of the recordings that he has produced
over the years.
"Yes, that's right. I put one of the Girlschool tracks on it and and it sounded completely dated by today's standards.
When I listened to 'You boyz make big noize', which is the last thing I did, I thought 'this really stands up, I can put
this on and be proud of it'. At the moment I am negotiating a production job with a girl who sounds very similar to Vicki
Leandros. She's Israeli, but she looks and sounds very Greek. If it comes off, it won't be just one track I'll be producing,
but a whole album. It would be a completely new experience for me and a great challenge."
In the early seventies, Slade were far more successful than many artists like David Bowie, Roxy Music, Rod
Stewart, etc, and yet now, despite the fact that none of them have had many hit singles recently, they all seem
to be on a higher level now than Slade are. We asked Jim why he thinks that this has happened.
"I think that in the early seventies we were treated as a sort of fancy dress show. All of these big names, including
Slade, have used pop as a vehicle to their success. That was the way The Beatles originally made it, and also in the
late seventies, the way the Sex Pistols made it. The thing about us was that we lacked the political statement, or
perhaps the unknown bit. There was nothing about us that was mysterious and the whole image was very accessible
. With Bryan Ferry and David Bowie, there was always that mystique which seemed to give them media credibility."
At the time we interviewed Jim, the 'You boyz make big noize' single had failed to break into the UK charts and
the album had effectively flopped world-wide. We asked Jim what Slade's plan is at the moment, and what their
attitude will be for the future.
"Well, there isn't a plan at the moment. I want to release 'We won't give in' as a single this Christmas. I feel that it is
a good idea, because whichever way you look at it, we have the wind blowing behind us at that time of year. Last
Christmas we were offered five TV shows and we hadn't even got anything out. Unfortunately, at the moment, nobody
else seems to share my point of view over this and would rather keep Slade away from Christmas this year."
"There is a sort of wound-licking process going on internally within the band, which is understandable. We have
spent the past two years recording and then promoting the new album, but haven't seen any reward for our efforts
in terms of chart success. Once we have gone through that phase, and got our confidence back again, we'll doubtless
get back to all looking towards the next project, be it an album or live work, or whatever."
Before Jim started playing bass guitar, he used to play with The Staffordshire Youth Orchestra, playing a lot of
classical music. We learned from Jim that since the advent of CD's, Jim has got back into listening to classical
"Yes. I'm really into Elgar in a big way. It's great to put on a classical CD when you're at home with company.
Everybody remarks about it, and you can occasionally find out interesting things by accident. For example,
I have always liked the theme music from 'The Onedin Line' and I found out that it was originally taken from
Tchaikovsky's 'Romeo and Juliet'. My favourite at the moment is 'The New World' by Anton Dvorak. Actually
on the cassette in my car at the moment is Elgar's 'Pomp and Circumstance number one' I listen to it when I
go down the pub and blast out 'Land of hope and glory'. What a great piece of music that is! I am totally intrigued
by the complexity of the production and writing that must have gone into these classical pieces."
Over the past year or so, Jim has been looking objectively at the situation the band are in at the moment,
especially with regard to the touring problem.
"The other year we met up with Quo and found that they were going through the same sort of patch that we are
now, with certain members not wanting to tour anymore. As you know it is mainly Nod who has been having
problems, which he has now hopefully resolved, but I think that it goes beyond that. People can be prone to
become totally opposed to what they were formerly. I think that as a band, for example, we are going through
a phase which has resulted in us doing no live work, and the four of us not having any common ground of late.
I don't think that it is just Nod, but all four of us have got something deeper at play. The Who, for example, hit this
phase and were never able to come out of it. With us though . . . I don't think any of us would want not to be in the band.
We finally moved onto what it is about Slade that has made them so successful as a live act in the early seventies,
and why they will always be remembered and respected for their stage reputation.
"I remember about six months ago, reading about Simply Red, who have produced some great records recently.
I read this review of one of their live gigs, and after two numbers the excitement had died down and it was crap
. In the main, that's what groups used to be like in the sixties, and then they started to get a bit more intelligent
and began to learn how to make things work. Like Nod with his personality, who eventually became 'the master'.
I remember us playing in a club in America in 1984 when we were promoting 'Run Runaway'. It was a tiny club,
probably no bigger than the pub we are in today, and suddenly the power went off! It was such a humiliating
situation, coupled with the fact that we were playing terribly - the sound was dire, and yet Nod was great, and
he handled the whole thing. I literally had to hide behind him. He really is the master of stagecraft."
At this point we concluded the interview, which we all enjoyed immensely. It was interesting to speak to Jim without
being pushed for time as we normally are. . . .
DON POWELL INTERVIEW with Paul Lythe, FEBRUARY 10th 1988
Originally printed in the Jan - March 1988 issue of PERCY.
Don and his wife Joan graciously invited me into their home in London to talk about how things are going at the
moment. The band have yet to decide their plan of action for the rest of the year. So before finding out what he
has been doing with himself, I first asked Don what he thought went wrong chart-wise with the last two singles
'You boyz' and 'We won't give in'.
Do you really think it is the lack of airplay?
"I really don't know why we have problems like that. We just seen to get the token plays, but the records tend not to
bite and get dropped. Obviously we are disappointed and will have to decide what we are going to do next. At the
moment, no-one in the UK seems to want to know. We never seem to get any recognition for anything we do. Even
rock encyclopaedias about the 70's never mention us and the BBC have virtually ignored us in their 'Rock and roll
"It just doesn't seem fair because Nod and Jim are still great songwriters and have never received the recognition
they truly deserve. We had three singles in 1973 go straight to number one - even the Beatles didn't accomplish that,
but it's a feat that's never remembered! I've had a few Radio One producers to dinner and they say they can only give
records a token play, and if there's no reaction, that's as far as it goes."
But hundreds of fans wrote in to the station for plays of 'We won't give in' and Bruno Brookes was complaining
"I know. Doesn't make sense, does it? Someone up there has got it in for us!"
I thought 'You boyz make big noize' was one of the most contemporary things to come out of the band for a long
time and deserved far more success.
"I agree, but that fell on deaf ears as well, didn't it? Again, I just don't know what the answer is. One day we'll get it right."
Enough said. Well, what have you been doing recently?
"In fact I've written a children's book called 'Bibble Brick' and I am currently waiting for the drawings to be completed
for it. I've seen a few drafts and they are looking good. I don't want to say too much about the storyline just yet, but I
can say that Joan has written four songs that go with it, so we may be looking to release it as a book / cassette type
package. It could lend itself very well to TV or radio, so perhaps something might happen there as well."
Don's wife had recently been conducting interviews on BBC Radio 4's 'Kaleidoscope' for the World Service and
was a free lance journalist. She is also very knowledgeable about the antiques world and wrote columns in many
national newspapers on the subject. I asked Don if his wife is educating him on the subject of antiques and how
well is he doing?
"I'm really enjoying myself and learning all the time. We often go to fairs around the country together and it is very
interesting. I eagerly point out pieces, thinking I've found a bargain, and she just says 'reproduction!'
Have you bought any pieces for yourself recently?
"As a matter of fact, on my last trip I couldn't resist a lovely teapot I found that I thought would look good on the piano
in our lounge. Joan thought it was hideous and banished it to under a chair in the kitchen. Shame!"
I reminded Don about one of those trips when he put diesel in the car by mistake. Had he learnt his lesson?
"Yes. It's funny. Every time I go into a garage now I always look twice before I fill up. I've certainly learnt that lesson
the hard way. I really wanted a big hole to swallow me up that day!"
How is your solo project coming along now?
"Well. It was shelved for a long time while we were recording the last album, but the basic tracks have all been put down.
Joan wrote the melody and we recorded it at Jona ('Stop the cavalry') Lewie's studio. It still needs re-mixing and finishing
(At this point Don asked if I would like to hear the rough tape. I was very honoured and can best describe it as
a possible dance record with a rhythmic beat. I will definitely be interested to hear the finished product.)
"If I manage to get a record company interested in it we'll see if it can be released. It's entitled 'Amnesia', which is
very apt, don't you think?"
Yes. How are you coping with that nowadays?
"OK really. It comes and goes all the time. The other day I went out to some local shops, but when I went to find the
car - you guessed it - I'd forgotten where it was. I thought it was basically down to a choice of four streets, but just
couldn't find it and I was left thinking that maybe it wasn't one of those and got totally confused! In the end I had to
sheepishly ask a taxi driver to run me around until we could find it. I was very embarrassed to ask, but he turned
round to me and said 'Believe it or not, mate - you're the second bloke today to do that' and he asked me if I was
new to the area. I daren't try to tell him the whole story, so I just laughed to myself and said yes. Fortunately, that kind
of thing doesn't happen too often these days!"
What sort of music do you listen to at home?
All kinds really. The last album I bought was 'ESP' by The Bee Gees, which I thought was great. I've also bought all The
Beatles albums on CD, but I'm sure that wasn't a very smart move because all the flaws are highlighted with the better
sound quality. I prefer to remember how they originally sounded in the 60's."
How is your country residence coming along now?
"Everything is fine, although we are mainly based in London because of Joan's work commitments, we do like to
get down there when ever we can."
So life's based around Joan at the moment then?
"Yes. In fact I'm basically a kept man! While Joan goes out to work I sit at home doing interviews. I love every minute
of it. Joan is like a rock to me and she has made ma a better man for it. It's a hard life!!"
Did you see The Who coming out of retirement to perform live at the BPI awards?
"Yes, I don't think they should have done it, though. They had obviously worked very hard to be able to do it and were
cut off because the programme was too long. What a waste of time!"
Don't you think Slade fans will be saying 'if they can do it, why can't you?'
"It would take ages for us to come up to scratch, so I don't know how long The Who must have taken to rehearse even
a short performance like that. I bet they are disappointed and wished they'd never bothered with all the hassle that it
I watched you on daytime live and your drumming was well synchronised with the music. How easy do you find it
to mime on television shows?
"I don't find it too difficult as it tends to come fairly naturally to me. Although it can be awkward if the playback monitor
is too quiet. It's strange really, a lot of TV studios have dreadful playback, but the Pebble Mill show was OK."
Simon Bates said recently that Slade seem to be haunted by the 'My oh my' hit. Do you think that this is true?
"Not really. I think we are probably more 'haunted' by 'Merry Xmas'!"
Have you ever considered the use of kettle drums in the production of Slade material?
"It is very difficult to answer that one. We try different things when we're in the recording studio to see how they sound.
So maybe that will be something to consider for the future."
The song 'Love is' was thought to be a good choice for a single in 1985, but wasn't liked by RCA. Couldn't that
be released on Cheapskate?
"That's right. It was considered a potential single, wasn't it? Who knows? Maybe it's a future possibility, but we'll
have to wait and see."
NODDY HOLDER was interviewed by PAUL LYTHE in London on 20th April 1988.
Originally printed in the April - June 1988 issue of PERCY.
I met Nod briefly at this hotel in London and was greeted by him in the lounge as he was talking to two members
of a new heavy metal band 'Marshall Law' (Andy Pike - vocals and Andrew Southwell - guitar), who were both
quizzing our man on how he has managed to last so long in the business. Andy was particularly interested in some
hints on how to keep his voice in shape whilst on their current tour. Nod gave some 'fatherly' advice, but explained
that his voice had always been fairly easy to 'maintain', having left Doctors completely baffled as to how he does it,
a long time ago!
Having said goodbye to the new fans, I asked Nod if he had been doing anything of interest recently?
"Apart from the two BBC shows ('Pop score' and 'Back to square one'), I've recently recorded a song [which later turned
out to be TEAR INTO THE WEEKEND] for a radio advert with Pepsi Cola. It had already been written and they asked
me to put the vocal to it. It is a rock'n'roll type tune in the 'Mama weer all crazee now' mould."
How did they approach you to do it?
"I got a phone call out of the blue, they sent me the lyric and offered me some nice money, so I couldn't refuse!"
Why did they particularly pick you?
"Some guy in their production team was a fan in the seventies, and remembering the voice, thought I would fit the bill."
When will it be heard?
"It has been specifically made for the US and Canadian markets. if they should decide to go ahead with it, it will
probably be broadcast within the next three months."
How long did you take to record it?
"It didn't take very long at all. In fact I went into the Redwood Studios in London and put my vocal to a backing track
that had already been pre-recorded. As I was leaving, some session backing singers came in to finish it off."
Were you pleased with the result?
"I haven't actually heard the finished product yet, although it seemed pretty good at the time."
Do you think that the video compilation of the old favourites will ever be released?
"As you know, we are currently looking into the possibilities of doing it and would like to release the early 70's
promotional films. the problem is locating them."
Now that you are not under contract with RCA anymore, will you be releasing anything for CBS in America?
"They contacted us in January, having heard some of the tracks that me and Jim demoed for the 'You Boyz' album,
but hadn't actually used. They told us they liked them and we are waiting to see whether they will come back to us
What do you think of the current situation here in the UK with the lack of interest in the last two singles?
"I don't really know why things haven't worked out for us. I suppose it has a lot to do with timing as well as having
a good song. Look at the charts at the moment - Danny Wilson's song 'Mary's prayer' was originally released 18
months ago and I thought it was a great record then, even though it flopped. But now look at it . . top ten!"
"It's always been the same in this business, luck and timing. I'm sure it will happen again for us. It's just a matter
of the right song at the right time. Who knows why 'My oh my' should suddenly take off and have been such a huge
hit, when the one before it did nothing? 'You boyz' was a great single, but obviously the timing wasn't right for it."
Do you think that 'You boyz' or any of the non-hits would ever be re-released then?
"I wouldn't rule out the possibility of re-releasing them, but you can never tell. With a band like us there is always
a song that will come along. We've got such a great back catalogue of good songs as well as the new ones. Look
what Quiet Riot did for us in the States with 'Cum on feel the noize'. It became a huge hit for us as songwriters and
created an interest in Slade for its origins. From that we were approached by the record companies and then 'Run
runaway' gave us our first big hit out there. Who's to say that the Britny Fox version of 'Gudbuy T 'Jane' won't stir people
Have you had any approaches by other companies in the UK, or are you going to continue independently?
"We haven't really approached any other companies to take us on yet. At the moment I don't think it would be worth
it, although I'm sure they would be interested, because they know we can still write good songs. I think at this point
in time, if we came up with the right song, we could probably do it ourselves more easily. Don't forget, you have to
work within the confines of the contract when you're tied to a big label and you have to do things how THEY want
them done. With RCA, we would send them the demos of our songs and THEY would decide if it was good enough
for release. They would also dictate whether we should use such and such producer, etc. OK, at the end of the day
we still have to agree to it, but all of this takes time. Independently, we have the freedom of choice and can do what
WE want to do. With the last album, we were held up waiting for producers to become available and songs we'd written
and demoed a year earlier weren't even completed a year later!"
You must lose some of the excitement, then?
"Yes, the buzz and enthusiasm that the instantaneous thing can give you is lost. With the 'Boyz' single, we went into
the studio and within two or three days it was finished. When you're hanging around for so long, waiting for the Ok to
do this and that, you get fed up mucking about. Doing it yourself, you can churn it out when you want to. In the old
days, we used to write a song, be in the studio one day and it could be on the radio the following day."
Will there be another single released this year?
"If the right song came along, yes, but we haven't got one at this particular moment in time, although who knows
what will happen tomorrow . . .!!?"
FAN QUESTIONS TO NODDY HOLDER FROM PERCY THAT MONTH . .
Have you ever considered an album of Slade ballads?
"I've never really thought about that . . . actually I think that would be a very good idea. We've got some great
ballads and it would probably work. Maybe not in the near future, but it's definitely worth considering."
With the last real success being the Reading festival, do you think it would be a good idea to release a heavy
song along the lines of 'Won't you rock with me', which I think would go down really well?
"Yes, I think it would be a good idea, but then we considered 'You boyz' to be pretty heavy and of course 'We won't
give in was a heavy ballad! Everyone we spoke to loved both of those records, but they just didn't catch on at all."
Of all the album tracks you've recorded, are there any that you regret were never released as a single? 'Hey ho
wish you well' and 'Ooh la la in LA' always looked as if they would be follow up singles.
"That's a difficult one . . I thought Ooh la la in LA' was a great record, but probably not the right song for the UK,
although it was released in Germany and did pretty well. One track I've always liked is 'It's your body not your
mind' from the 'Til Deaf' album, and I thought perhaps that would have been a good one to put out. I tend to like
a song all the way from the writing stage all the way through to the final production. Some I like when they're finished,
but most of the ones I like, I've stuck with from those early stages."
Will Dave's solo album ever be released and do you feature on it at all?
"I've sung two tracks on it. Dave has written quite a lot of different songs and has mainly used girl singers. I don't
know how he actually plans to release it yet though. He has done some good stuff - different to ours, quite similar
to the group Heart."
What happened to the Andy Miller song you recorded a few years back?
"It was entitled 'Another win' and written for Status Quo by Andy and Francis Rossi, and Quo recorded it as well.
We did it about four years ago and I liked it. We've probably still got the master tape somewhere, although it may
not have been completely finished. the song was recorded by a few other artists, but Andy thought ours was the
What happened to the duet with a 'famous' female singer and who was she?
"I recorded a track for Dave's album called 'What are we fighting for?' with Ruby Turner. Dave sent it to her record
company, but they thought it was far too heavy for her, even though it came out really well! Since then he has used
another female singer for the song, but he still has the original vocal on tape."
Are there any plans to release the 'older' material on CD at all?
"We've been approached about releasing some albums on mid-price CD's, but we don't want to do that. So at the
moment only 'You boyz' and 'Rogues Gallery' have been released in the UK, although CBS basically released
'Kamikaze' as 'Keep your hands off my power supply' in the States."
PAUL LYTHE INTERVIEWED DAVE HILL AT SLADE'S OFFICES IN LONDON ON 27th JULY 1988 - THIS INTERVIEW
WAS ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN THE JULY - SEPT 1988 ISSUE OF PERCY.
I met Dave at the office in London and asked him what he had been doing lately and how was the solo project
"I'm still working with my girl singer and I'm currently trying to get someone interested in the material. We can then
hope to make an album which could possibly include a track or two featuring Nod as a special guest. I've got one
song already recorded by Nod, but we may do a couple more and then choose which ones to use. Nod's really
doing it with me for the interest and to see how it sounds. It also helps us to keep us both involved and recording
in the MIdlands is very enjoyable. I know fans are starved of material at the moment and although it's not Slade
stuff, there is a lot of mine and there will obviously be certain similarities."
Do you intend to play any of it live at all?
"From a personal point of view, I would like to see myself possibly perform at some point in the future. I think that
this would be refreshing, but would not mean the demise of the band or anything. It also doesn't mean that we won't
be touring as a unit again. I never rule that out! I always think that to be very possible, should the timing be right.
At this moment in time, I think the best thing for the band is to try out these individual projects. If anything should
come of them, it will only serve to resurge the band itself."
Will you be getting another band together, then?
"I may do. I don't necessarily need a band as I'm writing with a guy called Bill Hunt, whom I've written songs with for
about 5 years now. We stockpiled stuff over the years and and used several singers. My original idea for a group
was a Carol Decker / T'Pau type of thing, but that's already been done now. In a sense I suppose it could be more
like The Eurythmics, although I would only do backing vocals!"
Have you settled on a singer yet?
"I like the girl I've got now, she's not a 'Sabrina' type. She can sing and is different to the current crop of female
artists. Her name is Karen McKee, and together with Bob Lamb, I have produced a couple of demos for her.
It's Bob's studio that I use and I suppose I've used it now for about 4 - 5 years. You know, it could almost be a
bit of history in the making .. I don't think there's ever been a lead guitarist with a band who've had as many
hits as Slade that has become successful again in his own right. That in itself is difficult to cope with, because
it might not happen, but there's no point in me having that thought!"
What will happen if this should take off? Where would that leave the band's activities? Wouldn't there be a conflict?
"No. I don't think there would be a problem. I see it similar to Phil Collins. He can wear two hats - as himself
and as Genesis. So I don't really think it would be difficult at all. But to put the fans at ease, I must say that there
will never be another Slade, I'm just trying to diversify and keep myself active."
Are you trying to do this independently, or will you be approaching a big name label?
"I would be quite happy just to get the stuff heard, so an independent situation would suit me fine."
Do you have a problem thinking of ideas for your songs?
"Admittedly I would rather be touring around the world, because you can't get many ideas doing the washing up
at home! I'm always looking for inspiration. I sometimes feel that I'm unemployed, because basically that's what
it is. Slade are 'on ice' for the moment and I've got to keep myself occupied. I cannot afford to stop working. I don't
want to retire and I certainly don't think that Slade have stayed together this long for nothing . . . "
Was there a genuine reason for parting with YOB 1?
"I didn't want to sell the car at a later date when I possibly might be forced to for one reason or another. It was just
sitting in my garage not being used and would deteriorate, so the cost to keep it in good condition would grow.
I thought it was such a great car that it deserved to be used, but it was a bit grand and showy for where I live.
I find it more enjoyable driving round in my wife's Metro, without all the fuss that YOB 1 caused. the other thing
was the fact that although it was a great number plate, I don't like the element of violence attached to 'Yobs'
these days, especially with the football troubles."
"For Slade the yob thing was always a laugh, but nowadays the whole 'yobbo' syndrome is far too offensive.
I know that maybe the fans will think it some sort of loss, but I really feel like if you have owned something like,
say the 'superyob' guitar that Marco still has, let's face it, whoever it belonged to it will always be 'Dave Hill's guitar',
won't it? The same will apply to that number plate. So really, it will always be with you even though you're without it!"
Were you sad about losing it on the big day?
"I was glad to see Jenny and a few other fans there. They were very supportive and distracted me from the situation.
Had I been there on my own, maybe things would have been different."
When did you start taking an interest in the Jehovah faith and will it affect your career in any way?
"It all started just prior to the Reading festival and I hope that it will benefit my career because I will avoid certain
things that could cause problems. The basic thing with the doctrine is that you don't just listen, you study the Bible
and have to check it all out. I simply make a living in show business and you have to be very clean cut. Just look
at Hank Marvin. He is an Elder of the congregation and has been a witness for a very long time. There are certain
aspects I have to watch out for though. I cannot perform certain songs that might convey Satanical, sexual or political
lines and I have to view things more deeply."
"For the fans, I would say that the only thing that affects me really is that I don't celebrate birthdays or Christmas
and I wouldn't want to perform 'Merry Xmas' on TV, etc. Don't get me wrong though, it was a great part of my life
and I still like the song a lot. I'm not a baptised Witness, although I'm not far from that. I'm not quite ready, although
I do do door service, which can be very interesting when people recognise me, because they will talk to me rather
than close the door like normal. Overall it has made me a better man. I'm trying to be a bit more caring for people
and make up for certain aspects of my past that I'm not too proud of. My kids are now 5, 7 and 13 years old and
although I've been forced to stay at home a lot over the past few years, I don't think it has hurt, in fact it has brought
us together more as a unit. On the other hand, I don't think a month or two away touring now will do me any harm!"
Do you think that by not touring over the last few years it has allowed the band to experiment and record songs
that couldn't be played live on stage?
"I think we've always done songs that were difficult to play live, and with today's technology, anything would be possible.
I think the use of tapes in conjunction with the set is now more acceptable. Having said that, we would probably only
use them for a couple of songs anyway."
What do you think about the lack of public recognition for the band at the moment?
"The nature of this business is very fickle. One minute you're doing all the right things and the next you're forgotten
. It has always been the same in this business. A few years ago we were patted on the back, now we're out of the
limelight. In a way I can understand why people desert you and lose interest. But right now we need all the fans to stand
by us and be patient a little longer."
FAN QUESTIONS TO DAVE HILL THAT MONTH:
What was the guitar tuning used on the slide guitar for 'Gypsy Roadhog?
"If I can remember rightly it was: Top E tuned to E / B tuned to B / G tuned to G# / D tuned up to E / A tuned up to
B / Bottom E remains the same" [the standard 'E' slide tuning] "So when you strike the strings openly you can
play the chord and by running up and down the neck you play continuous chords. If you listen carefully you will
notice that the song 'Them kinda monkeys can't swing' also uses the exact same tuning."
Do you find it easy to write your own songs?
Not really. Although I mustn't allow it to become a chore. It's easier to write songs when you're enjoying yourself
and sometimes you get inspiration to do it at some very awkward times. I certainly don't want to force myself to do it!"
Why didn't Slade tour Denmark in 1980 / 1981 / 1982? 'We'll bring the house down' was a hit in 1981 and the
album was selling very well.
"We were probably caught up with tours of Britain at the time and also it was maybe not a viable thing to do
because of the costs involved to do it.
"Whatever happened to Dave's 'Superyob' guitar? I know that Marco from Adam and The Ants bought it and
used it in the 'Apollo 9' video, but how come Dave seemed to be using it in the 'Little Sheila' video?
"It still belongs to Marco, but I borrowed it again from him for that particular video. As a matter of fact, it was also
used in another video a few years ago by Madness, so it has become quite famous in its own right!"
I have a single called 'Run with the Devil' and I'm sure it's Slade singing it. Is it them?
"He must mean an acetate or something. I don't remember it, but I'm not sure because it sounds familiar,
although it's a title that I don't like!" [The track could be by the group GUN, who released a single of the same name in the 70's]
Did you really blow the headsets in the studio where you recorded the 'Till deaf' album? (I have it on good
authority that you did!)
JIM LEA WAS INTERVIEWED BY PAUL LYTHE AND DAVE KEMP AT SLADE's LONDON OFFICE ON 5th OCTOBER
This interview was originally printed in the Oct - Dec 88 'Percy'.
Once again Dave Kemp and I had the opportunity to meet with Jim at the office in London and found him in
good heart. Our first question was bout his involvement with the new single by Chrome Molly and about what
was happening with it.
"Nod and I had actually written the track for Samantha Fox last year called 'Shooting me down'. We had been
headhunted by Sam's record company and they wanted us to write a song for her, with me producing it. When
we met them they told us that Stock, Aitken and Waterman had done a track with her, but by the way they were
talking, they didn't seem overly struck on it. They said that there were two more songs to do for her album and
asked when would our song be ready? I gave my usual reply and exclaimed 'when it happens!' I went on to explain
that if it was going to come into my head, I would probably just think of it when I was walking down the street. So
it was impossible to give them a specific time."
"To cut a long story short, a couple of weeks later, Nod and I demoed the tune and sent it off to the company.
Literally two weeks after that, 'Nothing's gonna stop us now' was released and flew up the charts. Unfortunately,
the album was hastily packaged and put out before she'd had time to record our song, so we literally missed
What did they think of it though, and how did Chrome Molly eventually get to hear about the song?
"They liked it a lot and told us that they would still want to hold onto the track, but of course you could hang
around forever. Chrome Molly sent me some of their tapes about a year ago. Basically they only had a publishing
deal at that time, so I was a little puzzled and didn't know what they were asking me to do. They eventually got a
deal with IRS, which is Miles Copeland's label and sent me another song eight weeks ago, which IRS said would
be their next single. They initially wanted me to co-produce it with John Punter, which I didn't really mind.
Although, what with costs of two producers plus the lack of authority in sharing the role, I didn't think it would really
work out. Eventually it was agreed that I would do it on my own and I sent them 'Shooting me down' in case they
might like it. Later on I rang their manager who asked me to come and see them play. He also explained they
had a bit of a time problem, so I cut short my holiday in Cornwall to see them. When we met I asked what they
thought of the song, to be told it was already in the band's set and that they loved it. The record company thought
it was fantastic and gave us the go-ahead to do it as the single instead . . . in fact I saw them on the Saturday and
we were in the studio on Monday. I didn't know the guys at all and we didn't even rehearse it, but everything went
How long did it take to record, then?
"We completed it in three days, which is just how I like to do things. Very reminiscent of our early days as Slade -
straight in, no mucking about!"
What sort of song is it?
"Funnily enough, I've just done an interview with Kerrang about it and they suggested that it was very much like
what Bon Jovi might have done. I replied yes it probably is, but was it really like that or what Slade might have
done? I told him that Bruno Brookes played 'Mama' straight after Bon Jovi's 'Bad medicene track the other night
and he had commented that a lot of the sounds in today's rock bands were done by Slade years ago. The reporter
thought about it again and agreed that a lot of American bands do sound like an updated version of Slade, which
was quite a compliment!"
Why doesn't Slade take advantage of this fact and cater for a new market then?
"Well I can't really answer that at the moment!"
We then moved on to a letter that I had received from Ossie Crabbe in Ireland. He had written to me explaining
why he didn't renew his membership during 1988, using some very strong language. He wrote a 12 page letter,
levelling many criticisms against the band, explaining that he was fed up with nothing happening and that certain
events and no touring over the last five years had been a mistake. I had given Jim a copy of the letter at Earls
Court a few days before and he was very eager to discuss it in detail . . .
"My first observation was that here was a guy who loves us so much that frustrated love had turned to hate, and
I found it very interesting. In fact if I were to write a letter to the band about the current situation, I could have
probably written most of what he did, because I DO understand his frustration and identified with it greatly, as
no doubt you would."
"When we did the endless touring our loyal fans had us to themselves, but when we made it again, things weren't
the same and we couldn't see everyone backstage like we used to - even though we wanted to. Now we have the
situation where we're not in the limelight again and yet that contact is now missing. It's even more difficult and is a
bigger problem for us now, because we must seem very distant to people like Ossie, who've probably never had
to chance to even see us play live!"
"One criticism I can't agree with was that in his aggression he was saying 'be aggressive' for me, he said 'What are
you, a f***ing ballad band?' The thing is for example, just before I went on stage at Nottingham University, 'My oh
my' comes into my head . . . There's nothing I can do about it . . What am I supposed to do? Suddenly here's a tune
that sounds like a hit record to me. Does Ossie want creativity stifled and me to be blinkered saying 'this is how we're
gonna be' and ignore any other style, etc? If I'd thought like that, we wouldn't have had a hit with that song, which
meant we wouldn't have come out of the doldrums in 1983! We had hits with 'Everyday' and 'Far far away' and
people DO like that sort of thing. So I couldn't agree with Ossie on that point. Mind you, even my brother Frank
says 'Stop all this mucking about and be a rock band!' "
"Ossie also asked why did we do a 'crummy' college tour with 'My oh my'. the truth is we'd already agreed to do that
tour before the song became a hit and we didn't know what would happen to it, so it was all very unfortunate."
"He also complained that only two of the band turned up at the convention . . and from my point of view I would
like to say in the magazine to anyone who is interested that I am introverted and have great difficulty with being
in crowds. I feel especially uncomfortable in that type of situation, because it's the way I've developed as a person
over the years. I don't know whether I will always be like that and, who knows, one day I might be able to stand up
at the convention and make a speech or something. Right now, though, I would feel very uncomfortable to go into
a room with a lot of people who are fans. The other reason is that they will be asking the same kind of question as
Ossie, possibly being as aggressive about it . . and in any case I haven't any answers for them!"
"We've all got older and our inhibitions have changed over the years and Dave's are now out in the open about
Christmas, etc. I think Nod's not saying he won't go on tour again because he won't, he's saying he can't at the
moment! People's personalities change as they get older and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it!
Unfortunately, Ossie's comments about not touring are difficult to answer. Our strongest point has always been live
work and we have the power to steal the show like we did at Reading and Lochem. In fact we've recently been told
that both shows 'died' after we left the stage because we'd used up all the energy the crowd had to offer, and for
that reason it's a crying shame that we're not on the road."
Do you miss it, then?
"Yes I do, although as the years go by it's becoming not so important. I play badminton at my daughter's school
and I don't think I've ever won a game, but I know I can win as the bass player with Slade. I don't get down at losing
at badminton because I do it for the exercise, but I would get a lot more fun and far more exercise touring with Slade.
For instance in 1980, we'd been doing all these daft tours and when I went into hospital for some tests they told me
that I had the pulse of an Olympic athlete! There's so much energy used on stage and I would far sooner get my
exercise like that, than with a badminton racket . . even though I can't play the game anyway!"
Does that mean you would consider playing in another band?
"That is very difficult to answer, but I understand why Nod feels the way he does and why people change. I respect
his decision fully and I am very loyal to the band. I certainly won't give up hope for the future. In any case I can't see
that there will ever be another band with the power of Slade and Iwould definitely feel second rate in any other . . . "
What else have you been doing this year?
"Nothing! Zippo! In fact, the Chrome Molly project was my first musical activity since the Christmas show last December.
Mainly because I was looking for answers to many other things, which I shall not go into!"
What is happening with The Dummies material?
"Yes, bad move! we got into the studios and listened to it recently. Frank was keen to do it, but I'm not at the moment . . "
But you were so enthusiastic!
"No, I was never enthusiastic!!"
You were, Jim! You were raving over 'Nobody's fool' and the others when you did them.
"At the time I was, but now it's horrible - like looking at a picture of yourself with sideburns and bell bottom trousers!
Hasn't being in the studio recently re-lit the flame?
"As a matter of fact I am in the studio with Frank at the moment working on a couple of ideas. I've got this thing
about talking on records, but every time I hear the radio there is someone talking. It always seems that when
I think of something, someone else is already doing it! I don't know whether anything will come of it, but I started
in September, just after the Chrome Molly thing. Having got in the mood and particularly as I don't like sitting
around at home doing nothing, it's really to keep me going. I've just read 'Inhibitions, symptoms and anxieties'
by Freud and there comes a time when I have to say to myself, 'I can play guitar as well as read!!' I'll probably be
doing the singing myself, although I don't want to be too upfront about it . . "
FAN QUESTIONS TO JIM LEA THAT MONTH :
In a previous interview Nod said you had a great back catalogue of songs. Why not put them out on an indie
label, like the Dummies material?
"Well, for a start off there are only demo's sitting around and none of them are complete as it's only me and Nod
on them, not Slade. We were doing things in ten minutes, etc, so they are not viable propositions to put out on
record at the moment. They are good songs though and we might even record them properly sometime (at which
point Jim exclaimed 'I don't write naff songs, man!') There is actually one recent track that has been recorded and
of course a handful from the old days like 'Love is' which was never right on the record and should have been done
in some other way. Mind you, if we do decide to do anything this year we might be able to do something with it as a
b-side. We've also got a version of the old Fontella Bass thing 'Rescue me' somewhere. It's no good, but I'm sure
fans would be interested to hear it! It would be a crying shame to put out 'Love is' though, because it really does need
Can you tell me how much money went to the Band Aid and NSPCC charities from the royalties of 'Do you believe
"It's still coming in all the time. I actually got a letter about six weeks ago where sales have been dribbling in all
over the place from 'Crackers' as well as the single. Certainly a few thousand pounds have been paid over and I
keep getting these very nice letters all the time saying 'Thank you very much, Mr Lea'."
Who would you say was the best group to have supported you over the years?
"It would be very difficult to say who was the best, but I was talking to Rick Parfitt of Status Quo the other day at
Earl's Court and he still insists that the best time they had ever had was when we both went on tour to Australia in
1973. When I asked him if he'd fancy it again, he replied 'I don't know about that, Jim - we might never come back!'
In fact Alan Lancaster met his wife at a Slade press conference there and as you know has quit the group to stay
in that country. Rick also asked when we would be on the road again and said he will definitely be on the front
row when when we are."
"He also reminisced about the time he and Fran Rossi first saw us, just after we'd shaved our heads and were at
Manchester University. All the 'cool' bands were in one hall and all the 'pop' groups were in ours - i.e. The Foundations,
Slade and Status Quo. Fran and Rick were standing watching us play and I could see them giggling , whispering
and I thought they were taking the mickey out of us, but Rick told me 'You must be joking. We were saying that
we thought you were blinding and we were amazed at all the gear you had on stage. We couldn't believe what you
were up to!' He also remembered when Nod used to say '. . . and now we're gonna feature Jimmy, our bass player,
on violin, give him a round of applause!" I told him that I also remembered seeing them sniggering to one another,
thinking to myself that they thought what the hell was some joke violin player doing on stage? Rick's reply was that
they were actually saying 'What next? This is amazing . . We thought it was incredible and we still do!' - which
again was quite a compliment."
"To be quite honest, most of the groups that we've ever met, however big, come up to us and say to us that 'You
guys have done everything' and we certainly didn't realise that we now have that level of respect within the business ."
On that happy point we concluded our interview.
FEEL THE NOIZE! Dave Hill interview from Guitarist magazine, January 1989
Interview by Tony Hicks.
Dave reminded me that Slade and The Hollies did a gig or two together. .. I remember Nottingham, a ballroom where The Hollies were well known at the time, and it must have been very early days for Slade. But I do remember they went down ever so well- I also remember them being about three times as loud as we were!
IS THAT ABOUT RIGHT, Dave?
Yeah, and Allan Clarke came in and he was wearing a tassley ... did he used to wear a tassley coat?
Yeah, like a cowboy thing ...
Gosh, I do remember it, 'cos our drummer was laughing at him ...
Well Don's a bit like that, always throwing lines at you, and he said something like: "You'll never get anywhere looking like that!" And he'd got knee-length boots, like cowboy boots ... We were just happening, and you know how crucial fashion is then, when you're supposed to be carrying the fashion, so anybody that's like from a slightly older league ...
Right... we'll get off that subject... So when did Slade come about? Was it through Chas Chandler - formerly bass player with The Animals and discoverer of jimi Hendrix?
Well, he was important in shaping us, finding things in us. You see, some scout had been roving around up North, looking for groups to record for a strange French label, so we ended up being put in Philips studios, in London, to find out what we could do. There was this bloke named Jack Baverstock working at Philips at the time, and he said: "Whatever you do, you've got to get somebody down here to look after you". So he got Robert Stigwood who booked us to play the Rasputin Club, down New Bond Street. So we were playing this gig, and Chas, as he came down the stairs with his missus, said we sounded 'like a breath of fresh air'.
Now, we were doing what we'd always been doing - playing pubs and clubs, and just putting out our own personalities, not playing our own material, but not pop stuff - we never played the charts, it was always early soul stuff, you know.
Were you writing then?
No, I think we mucked around with a couple of ideas and stuck a few words on, but nobody got serious ... Anyway. Chas spotted something there and he told us: "Whatever you do, don't alter the way you look".
So what did you look like at that time - was there a distinct image?
Probably a slightly honed-down version of what we ended up looking like ...
... Not the skinhead thing?
No, that was probably more late '60s. We'd been through the hippie period - long hair. beads and earrings, and tight velvet trousers. We'd go to London and buy some gear to try and look like the London groups. Anybody from London looked great! Anybody from the Midlands didn't look right so you went to London and came back looking a bit more professional.
So, Chas thought you looked like a breath of fresh air.
Sounded like it and, I think, looked like it. There was nothing new happening to him and I suppose something was coming off us - Nod with the way he talked to the audience, me with the way I looked - grinning, and all the things I was good at - so he wanted to record us. But Chas' importance was to get us to write our own stuff. His point was: "All the things that have gone into your heads, through learning other people's material and doing it your own way, try and put that into your own songs."
Do you remember the first one you wrote that he was really impressed with?
Well, our first hit was Get Down And Get With It, which originally Little Richard recorded - it was one we did on stage, and which went down really well. So, strangely, the song which cracked it for us wasn't our song! The first original one to do it was Coz I Luv You, which was our first number one. Now presumably that really impressed him! But I remember when we completed it, we didn't want it out - we thought it was a bit wimpy in comparison to Get Down And Get With It - which was more Noddy's power.
I remember, it was a real stomper! Did the record turn out more or less as you'd intended it?
Yeah. We were trying to create the live thing of course, but we couldn't without the audience, so we were thumping on boards to make a noise onto the record - no technology, just grappling with what you've got around the studio. It's not like now, where we can just program it - we programmed it with our own inspiration, our own effort.
Was Chas very important on the production side - did he change things?
Well, it was like: "Let's not use the big stage gear, let's use a little amp." We used to go down to Olympic Studios in Barnes - and you'll know what I mean, being a lead player you've got a certain sound going for you, and although you could probably take in a small amp, I was starting to get the big gear going - double cabs and 200 watts - you took that in the studio and it never worked. So Chas was getting me to do that - and also to stop me from playing long lead breaks. His point was: "If you don't sound as good as Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton, don't play long solos!"
That's what I meant about his contribution, because exactly those words were said to me. Whenever I went into the studio I'd worked out a solo which I thought was really clever, and sure enough, Ron Richards, our producer would say: "That's fine, but if you cut three quarters of it out we might have something that's usable."
So I'm looking down the Guinness Book of Records here, and between October 71 and October 74 you had twelve top three records. That's a phenomenal success - if you were footballers you'd be playing for England. And they were all really good things, Coz I Luv You, number one, Look Wot You Dun was four, Mama Weer All Crazee Now - one - Gudbuy TJane, number two, then Cum On, Feel The Noize and Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me, both number one, My Frend Stan, two and Merry Xmas Everybody, of course, number one!
That was our last number one, I think ...
That's right, and then you had two at three, you poor old sods - Everyday and Bangin' Man - then Far Far Away was number two.
Number two ... that's when we were slipping .. !
Did the companies start throwing equipment at you when you became big?
No, we just found stuff. From Vox we went to Sound City or something - Nod and I both tried one ... But we'd seen Mott The Hoople, at the Civic Hall Wolverhampton, and we figured our sound was thin in comparison to theirs - even if one guitarist stopped playing they still sounded the same - still sounded thick. So we thought: "Oh dear", and the group had the meeting the next day round my house: "We've gotta change our sound - we've just seen Mott The Hoople".'
'The meeting'!! (laughs).
Yeah, 'the meeting'. So we all bought our piece of gear to thicken up our sound ... Eventually we ended up with Hi-Watt - I'm not quite sure how that came about, but I think it was because Townshend used it.
Obviously you were getting bigger, more boisterous crowds ... would you have been miked up in those days?
No, in fact we weren't miked up until we went to America, and when they miked us up we tried to take the mikes off. We said: "We just play, and it comes out that way", and the Americans were going: "Oh man, hey, you know - this lovely mike".
I saw a gig of yours, at Hammersmith Odeon. There was a very boisterous crowd, it was a great set, I enjoyed it a lot.
You just went there yourself?
I didn't know you were there ... you didn't make yourself known, did you?
Well no ...
Yeah, just popped in. I remember you had a thing built out from the stage, that you used to wander along ...
Oh yeah, that was just a thing we used to climb up on, to do solos.
But, as well as playing well, you did have great songs, songs that you could sing. Now, generally if that's the case with a song, you hear it once and love it, and you hear it three times and can't stand it. But they were quality songs, and they keep coming back. Have they released the Christmas one again this year?
It will be - we don't tend to control it, it just comes out anyway ... We've actually recorded a version of Chris Montez' Let's Dance. We just did a rock version of it for a laugh, and thought we'd stick it out. But of course Merry Xmas is always in competition with whatever we bring out, so we're just doing that because we've got nothing better to do we're not performing or anything.
Not at all?
Not at all. I haven't been on stage for two or three years now.
How does that feel?
At times it feels terrible because I have to cope with what's happening. I've got a family, three kids, and things are important in my life, in respect of the home.
So, as a live performing band, is it finished?
No, it's not finished full-stop. Nod and I are venturing into a project together, but we said we'd like to shelve the band for a year - no silly going on 'Wogan' or something daft. We thought, if we're going to further our careers we need to look for something special.
We've been together 21, 22 years, as the same four, and I think back to the days in the van, and the purpose and the reason you did it all... But that goes, because you don't want to be in the back of the van any more, you're in a car, you're chauffeured, you've experienced success, you've been in nice hotels and you don't really want to go back to that to survive. We finished touring when we were number two with My Oh My, in 1983, but then we started to have a go at America, and we had our first hit there. We went over to the States and immediately started to go through what we'd done seven or eight years before, and we suddenly saw red lights. It was a bit like: "Hang on a minute, we've already done this", and it felt like we were going to go through the same stupidity again touring with the wrong people, who were trying to get on tours to be seen - a favour for Fred, so we can get on his show. Plus we weren't twenty years of age any more!
It's very hard to turn the clock back.
Yeah, all I'm getting at is that the casualty of rock and roll is age, and it happens to us all at some point. We can mature and weather well - some of us do and some don't - and when you're in the minds of kids who grew up with you, unless they've seen you frequently, they don't see that gap. Then when you suddenly appear on lV, ten years later, it's: "Cor blimey! He looks ancient!" It happens to everybody - Jagger, and people like that, looning around as if it was years ago.
But the audience has possibly gone past that -you know what it's like: "I was never into the Bay City Rollers; I'm into Pink Floyd" - until the nostalgia thing whips round and then they go, confidentially: "Do you know, I always thought they were great".
But I think we've got longevity - you lot, us lot - various groups from certain periods seem to have longevity because their stuff lasts. It was well written and it's still good, whereas now it's quick and disposable - 'How fast can we get a record out? Who's new and who's sixteen?' You notice how young people are now, and it's hard to actually grab hold of anybody who's going to stay.
They certainly don't seem to ...
But we do want to tour and I do want to play. When I walk on there it just hits me immediately, and I feel it. We've had so many incredible shows, and we never finished it on any low ¸we finished on a real buzz. We always had a standard and a reason, so we're trying to look for a way of moving forward. I've started to write tunes and Nod wants to try production, and we thought maybe we'd rejuvenate ourselves by doing these things. And if we're to come together to make another LP - if somebody said: "Look, lads, we really want you to come back together and tour" - we'd want a reason, a product. Then we'd feel fresh and want to do it - not like: "We've got one more record on the contract to go, we'd better go and to it 'cos there's an advance ... "
I've always said we all take second place to a great song. If people go out and buy a record, they're generally buying what they think is a great song, and it really excites them to hear it. So, with the right song you could be right back there, if you wanted, and then the stage gigs would fall into place. But it's hard rock and roll that you played, and the older you get the less likely you are to want to do that. In our case, our stage gigs evolved, and it isn't actually that much different to what we've always done. But it's amazing how the audience has matured, and sort of come along with us, and the success of He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother hasn't made as big a difference as people might tend to think.
Well people do tend to think things, and any success is good, and a number one is even better. In fact, if you look down the sales figures for this year, yours is the only single that's gone silver, if I remember rightly.
Well they do say the middle – of – the - road market is the biggest one ... I mean that song must have fallen into so many categories - people who heard it for the first time, people whose original copy was scratched, and of course it came out on CD, so there's another market. The funny thing was, Miller Light approached us recently and said: "We want to do another commercial, would you mind changing the lyrics slightly?" We said: "What are you thinking of?" and they said - wait for it: "How about - She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother?" So you can imagine that... they're going to have this great hunky guy carrying his mother out of the pub, or something. So, apart from the fact that we didn't have the right to allow them to do it anyway, I think the song's a little more important than that...
Do you remember your first guitar?
It was a Kay's catalogue job about £7.50
Electric or hole - in - the - middle?
Spanish, hole-in-the-middle, a terrible guitar. I spotted it in the catalogue, and there was a kid down the road playing Tell Laura I Love Her at the time ... But I'd always had the desire for music - my grandfather was a keyboard player, but a church player - I never met him but he was a Doctor of Music, he had some diploma - and I've always had a kind of affection towards piano playing, although I've never actually played the piano. At school I attempted to get involved in a stupid recorder, but all I got was: "He's a fool, he won't learn to read", so the headmistress made sure I didn't play it. Mum tried to get me into a violin class and it was the same thing: "He's a clown, he won't learn". I was fiddling around a bit you see ...
But in those days you're not serious about anything. I could have just taken it up and dropped it - I'm quite favourite for going mad on something and eventually leaving it alone. I think Dad spotted that when I wanted a guitar - he said: "Well, you can have a cheap guitar and see how it goes", and he insisted that I had some lessons. I had a biology teacher, named Brian Close, who was giving lessons to this other kid, so I went to see him with the guitar, on my bicycle. I was left-handed, so I was trying to play it with the strings upside down and he made me change it round. He was trying to teach me a bit of music, but he would at least allow me to learn what I wanted to learn - he didn't make it like a studious programme of learning the guitar ... He was a jazz guitarist and it always sounded great when he was playing chords - it sounded real smooth, you know?
So then I started to think of forming a little group on the estate. We didn't have an electric guitar then, so after about a year it was: "Dad, I ought to get an electric guitar", and there was a shop in Wolverhampton and I bought a Burns – a Vista Sonic… or something Sonic. It had a knob on it that would click and it would make three strings play bass and three strings play treble ... it was either Bi-Sonic or Vista-Sonic - a funny name.
It must have sounded dreadful ...
Well I thought it was a whizz! If you played in octaves you could have one of your top strings and middle strings going and do a bit of a Wes Montgomery. So in a way it was quite technical, but it probably did sound horrible ... It was a poor man's Hank Marvin guitar really, I couldn't afford a Fender ...
You played Gibsons, what do you think of them?
I've got one; it's a special. Dad bought it for me in London before we made it. Chas thought the Burns was a lousy sound - too bassy - so Dad came down with me to Shaftsbury Avenue ... It was in the window and it was a funny looking thing - it's a Gibson neck fitted on a funny body.
I've seen it and I've often wondered what it is ...
It's a 345 stereo neck on some odd body - it's a one-off, built by a bloke called Sam Lee.
So it was a Gibson neck on a bastard body?
That's right. But that was to be the guitar on all the hits, 'cos it had a nice ringing sound. That was a lot of our sound, you see, ringing, odd chords and notes, a kind of big sound. That's what I used until I got into this Hi-Watt lark. Then I got away from that Gibson and got into the thick sound, which was caused by a bloke called John Birch, who made guitars for Tony lommi of Black Sabbath. I mean it was a big, thick sound.
Did you buy yourself an echo unit!
Yeah, a Watkins Copycat. That was big news - telling Dad that other guitarists' lead breaks only sounded great because they were played through echo ... a big bluff.
Yes, one of my aunties took me to Manchester and bought me a Watkins Copycat - same thing, magic ...
Obviously you had the same buzz as me in those days. There was such a magic in being young then and just expressing yourself through the guitar. You felt so good with it, because it wasn't so easily available. You can have anything you want now, and the price is fair. I remember when I was first buying guitars, you felt so proud walking out of the shop with it - you felt honoured that you had something like that. These days, if kids want a Fender, they'll buy a Fender!
I get the impression, from what you say, that you were one of the few bands that didn’t get ripped off?
I think Chas was always up front there. But I don't think it's good to sit down and work it all out, because when there's money coming in you're not too bothered about anything in particular - you've bought yourself a car and a house, so I never scrutinised anything much at the time. I enjoyed the period of success - because I'd worked for it - and those days will never come back to me, it'll never be the same. I've received success the second time round, in fact the third time round, really, because we've had two comebacks! But Chas has always come across as somebody decent to me.
He was a musician in a famous group, he handled a famous guitarist and he knew the pitfalls and problems in groups.
And I don't think it's any secret that The Animals were pretty much ripped off themselves, so it's all credit to him that he didn't think: "Right, now it's my turn!"
Tell us about when you went to the States.
We supported people like King Crimson, which was completely out of order. They were all like a bunch of 'public school wallahs' - sort of: "I say ... " and: "Everybody be quiet while we play our instrumentals". while the people are shouting :"We want Slade!" It just wasn't fitting. We worked with The Strawbs - stupid, off-the-wall bills like that. In America we were being hailed as the 'new Beatles' - going to be as big as them - and that wasn't good at all. The reporters were slagging us off, expecting us to walk water ...
That's a shame, because the Moody Blues went over supporting various people, and it did work for them. They did it for years, until they turned up at some place and asked who was on that night and were told it was Van Morrison. They asked what time they would be on, supporting, and they were told: "You're not supporting, this is your audience - he's supporting you!" Did you know Justin Hayward?
Oh yes, well! We supported them before we made it - we supported everybody, including Spencer Davis. Stevie Winwood was another one of my heroes - great voice. There was this place in Walsall, it was a casino. Almost everybody used to play it, and this guy was always favourite for getting groups just as they were making it - he got Herman's Hermits for £25 when they'd just cracked it.
How would you feel about starting all over again - I don't mean in Slade, but in the business in general?
I wouldn't! I like the technology - I pillock around with a little four-track at home, and it's useful for putting ideas down. I'm aware of sequencers, but I find them nauseating actually. I relate to physically playing the guitar.
There's a physical thing about what we did in Slade because it was that energy - plus the back-up of what we were as individuals.
What was it like on the road - roadies to tune your guitars and suchlike?
Yeah, we had a drum roadie and a roadie to tune our guitars, but I think at the end of the day Nod and I would go in and start re-tuning them - I mean, I didn't have somebody playing for me!
Did you realise, then, that the taxman was going to appear a few years later, for his cut?
With Labour in control we paid an awful lot of tax. It was in the hit period, you see; it was very heavy going with Labour in.
But you were aware of it, you didn't get lumbered.
Well, we did get lumbered, we had to pay - we weren't hiding it! We had Special Branch on to us, you know, checking us out ... and we paid up!
Well at least you were in a position to do so. An awful lot of bands who are enormous for a year or two, get the cheques in, go out and buy a Ferrari and totally ignore the fact that he'll eventually come knocking on the door.
I think we're all a little bit subject to going out and buying things, but I bought a house and so did the rest of the band. I bought a house down a posh road in Solihull.
Not a farm or anything. You weren't drawn to the land?
I thought about it, but as I wasn't writing the hits, the money was less for me ... But nobody ever did have a mansion in our group. We all just had decent houses ... nothing ever super big.
But, as I see it, twenty odd years on, when it comes up to Christmas, Slade start coming into people's minds, and that's a hole that we dug ourselves. Our hits were during the year, not at Christmas, but people relate us, like mince pies, to Christmas. Nevertheless it's nice to be remembered, at any time, but I'm not one to go polishing my discs and looking at past glories.
NODDY HOLDER INTERVIEW conducted by Malcolm Skellington, 22nd May 1989
ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN THE APRIL - JUNE 1989 ISSUE OF PERCY
A warm sunny day in London and I find Nod relaxing prior to recording another edition of BBC radio 2's quiz show
'Pop score'. A great delight for me to be able to interview your favourite front man and I'm sure you will be pleased
to read what he had to say.
I'm sure you must be disappointed with the lack of success of 'Let's dance', but was it really a genuine attempt
to make the charts or was it just a release for the sake of getting something out at Christmas?
"No, we thought it was a good track. We'd pondered over a few different songs, but we decided that 'Let's dance'
stood a good chance of getting some airplay around that time because when we didn't release a single the year
before, all the jocks wanted to know why. So we decided to put the record out, hoping it would get the plays, but it
wasn't the case. Only the commercial stations like Piccadilly and some of the others played it regularly, but without
Radio One, you're sunk."
Are you always happy with distribution and the job pluggers do with your records?
"You can't really fault that because you can't make the radio stations play the record, you can only service the station
and take the record into them. Same with the shops - you can't force them to buy it unless it becomes a top 75 record
and then they'll get it anyway, because they know it will sell and not be left on the shelf."
Who makes the choice of the next single? Is it just you and Jim?
"All the band are in on that decision and of course Colin has to be involved also."
Did you contemplate releasing a new and unheard track? Was there any alternative to 'let's dance'?
"No. Nothing that we considered strong enough to be a single. We had a great reaction to 'let's dance' when we
first recorded it. The record company thought it was a great track, but wanted to release 'Miracles'."
You obviously enjoy doing your radio shows for Piccadilly and Xtra AM. Is being a DJ something you intend to
pursue over the next few years?
"I'd not really thought of it like that. It's just that Piccadilly had asked me to do a one off show on Slade's music, and
then the producer, Paul Lockett, asked me to do eight more programmes and it went on from there. It's something
that had been thought about for a while and Paul thought I would be ideal for a one off show because I'd had first
hand knowledge of the 70's. After the first eight shows, we hadn't scratched the surface of 70's music so I just carried
"Then the people from Xtra asked me if I was interested in doing a show for them, as they thought my accent would go
down well in the Midlands. It's not something I've thought about doing as a full time career, but it's good fun and I enjoy
doing it. It's something different."
Are most of the requests on your show from Slade fans?
"Initially there were a lot at Piccadilly, but not so many now - but I am getting a lot at Xtra."
How much preparation is required for your show?
"It varies depending on the records I play and if I know much about the artist, but it takes a good day to prepare for
each show normally."
You've certainly made a lot of Slade fans happy by doing the radio shows, but whilst we're on the subject of
making the fans happy, is there anything to look forward to in the near future?
"We've had a few approaches from companies asking us if we fancy doing something on the recording scene
and we have started negotiations. So, it's possible that we may be recording this year, but I don't think there wil
l be anything [released] this year more than likely next year - but nothing is signed and sealed yet."
Is it OK to print that in the magazine?
Has anyone ever approached the band with the idea of making a film about the life of Slade?
"Yes. A girl from America came up with the idea about a year ago. She wrote in and asked if anyone would
object and said that she was trying to find someone to back the idea and if we liked the script, could she go
into it further. But that was the last we heard about it. I can't imagine anyone putting up the money to make a
film about us though!"
I was talking to Dave just before Christmas about his solo project and he expressed a desire to play a few
smaller venues just to try out his material and get the feel of playing live again. As you've helped out vocally
with some of Dave's stuff, I wondered if you would consider singing with his band if you were asked?
"I haven't discussed it with him and he knows I'm not into touring, but I suppose I would consider it."
In the last edition of Percy, it was mentioned that the Earl's Court film had been found. Have you decided to
do anything with it yet.
"Yes, we've got it now, but haven't had a chance to have a look at it yet. What we have seen. . the sound is very
bad, but we may be able to salvage some of it for use on a compilation video. It would take a lot of work on it to
make it into a concert type film and that might not even be possible."
Is the film actually owned by Perseverance Ltd?
"Well, it's actually owned by Whild John Music Ltd."
1991 is the 25th anniversary of Slade. Can we expect some kind of celebratory record or video to mark the
"We are looking at the possibility of a compilation album and video that would be TV advertised, but talks are
in the early stages, so I can't say much now."
DAVE HILL INTERVIEW FROM THE JULY - SEPT 1989 ISSUE OF PERCY, CONDUCTED BY MALCOLM SKELLINGTON
AND MARTIN BROOKES.
This was an interview that I was looking forward to and the day held a surprise or two that I really had not
anticipated, so read on. Thanks to Martin Brookes for sparing the time to come along and act as Slade
historical advisor for the day. We met Dave in the boardroom at the London office and the first and most
burning question came first.
Dave, we all want to know what's happened to the Nod and Dave single. We are constantly having letters
wanting to know when it is going to be released.
"You mean the Everlys song. Well, that's what I'm here for really. We want an answer on it really. It got held
up. . . How can I put this? Basically, Polydor have got it and they haven't made a decision, so really we feel
that we've got to get it out this year, bearing in mind that I started it last year and finished it at the beginning
of this year. We won't find out if it's a hit unless it comes out!"
"It was just a thing we did for fun. Nod and I got together to do it and we recorded one of my own songs,
which is also good and will probably be on the b-side. 'Crying in the rain' came from a bit of a jam. We
actually did an Elvis song as well, 'A fool such as I.' Although it's not as good as the Everlys song, Nod
sings it really well. We've got the prospect of the band thing as well, which is also with Polydor, but we've
got to get a decision and I hope to see the record out within the next couple of months, and I'd like people
to have it. It's a good piece of work. Not highly produced or anything. It's just done on a 16-track up North
and it's not high-tech - just done on a feeling really. Unfortunately, I can't give you an answer on a release
date so you'll just have to hang on a little longer."
What else are you doing studio-wise? Your own material?
"Well, I can tell you this actually, maybe the fans will like to know. I found a black singer who is only 14 and
he's got a slightly 'Stevie Wonder - type' voice. He's totally inexperienced, not used to a studio, but I think he's
got a remarkable talent. He's a natural. John Mostyn, who manages Fine Young Cannibals, and I saw this
lad at a talent contest, and I've recorded one of my songs with him just to see how he can manage in the
studio. And me and John Mostyn are doing some recording sessions with the band who won this talent
competition, so you can see I'm keeping busy."
"I'm also writing a few songs, some of which are with Slade in mind for the future, maybe the next album.
But until we get a decision on it, we can't say a lot about it, so yes, say negotiations are still on."
Do you think Chas Chandler could re-kindle some of the old magic, if he came back as your manager
"It's a difficult one to answer. I would say that some of the old sounds were good. They captured a moment
in time, really. You tend to go away from each other and you start to do different things and start to think differently.
I don't deny Chas' abilities as a manager, but sometimes you part because at that time it's best to part and as
you get that bit older you tend to almost manage yourselves."
"Colin Newman is involved with the band on a management level, but each of us has our opinions and that
gets a little complicated and sometimes you could do with a person to say 'do this and do that'. But, it's very
hard now to impose a situation where we are told what to do. No-one's going to take that anymore. You've
heard us say at Fan Club conventions that we are looking to have a future and further the band and put it back
into some sort of successful state again. And it's probably taken this type of 'doing our own thing' situation to
maybe arrive at something that's going to work for us all. What was happening before was that we were making
LP's for record companies and maybe all of us not enjoying it 100%. I think if we make another record together
we'll enjoy it more because of our individual experience on our own projects."
Do you think that your 25th year together in 1991 is a good reason to get a new album out?
"I never thought of that. It would be a good time to release a new, or even '20 greats' type album and also the
video that Colin is trying to sort out."
A lot of fans write in and suggest making a live video sometime in the near future to celebrate 25 years of Slade.
"Yes, it's a good idea, if we were back in the studio and in practice again. Yes, I see no reason why we just couldn't
get on with it. We'd have to get used to the gear again after all, we haven't played together for three or four years, but
you don't forget.
I was hoping to have Don here today and get you to talk in depth about your years together, but Don couldn't
make it. So Dave, are you aware that you and Don have been associated with bands for over 25 years now?
"I'd like to have seen Don. Has been 25 years? Send Don a message in this magazine : 'If I haven't contacted you
before you read this Don, give us a ring and we'll get our walking sticks out and go for a drink. Happy 25 years, mate!' "
Going back to our discussion earlier, re producing and looking out for new talent. When the day comes that
Slade are no more, will you concentrate on that type of work?
"Yes, I'd like to help people. I think the natural thing to do for people in our line is to go into production and
management. Not so much management - you get a lot of problems with artists and you don't want people
ringing up at all hours of the night moaning about the band. I think writing songs and producing would be for
me. You've got to enjoy what you're doing and I wouldn't want a lot of hassle from people complaining the bass
player hadn't turned up or the like!"
You said you were writing some new songs with Slade in mind. How did your only solo composition get onto
the 'Til Deaf' album?
"You mean M'hat, M'coat'. It's just something I used to play around with when we were touring Europe and Jim
said we should record it. So, we were in the studio and Nod was bashing out a few chords and really Jim
rearranged it. We really recorded it on the spur of the moment and I think that's why it turned out so well. It was
the first song I ever wrote and a few people, mainly fans, said 'why don't you write some more?' and that's what
got me into composing. I did a few things with Nod in the early days like 'Gospel according to Rasputin', but 'M'hat'
was my first real solo effort.
During your last concert at the Glasgow Apollo and in previous concerts, you were joined on stage by a local
character by the name of 'Jet Mayfield'. Can you confirm how you met and his whereabouts now?
"I think it's Jet Mayfair, not Mayfield. It was a bit of a novelty thing we used to do up there. He used to turn up maybe
for every group. We used to bring him on with his guitar and plug it into the amp and turn it off probably. He enjoyed
himself, but I don't know what happened to him. We used to get one fan turn up in a Cinderella outfit at the Aldridge
Community Centre. We always had odd things like that happening."
Have Slade ever been invited to play concerts in the USSR?
"You never know, if we get a record deal, we could. But no, we've never been asked. We played in Poland a few
times and the way that things are opening up in the East, who knows? Is there anyone in Russia you can
correspond with for the fan club - it's a good idea to keep in touch."
Dave brought a number of stage costumes along to auction through the fan club - The white 'All join hands'
outfit, the 'Run runaway' long black coat with chains, The 'Lock up your daughters' (Dutch sleeve) leather
jacket. He also brought the black and red leather jacket used on the Belgian sleeve for 'I'm a rocker'.
He was hoping to raise some money for the purchase of some equipment to use for home song demos.
Fans were invited to send in their bids via the fan club. So that's where those stage outfits went.
THE SLADE ARCHIVE FINDS A GOOD LONG JIM LEA INTERVIEW from 1990 from Percy
I sometimes get nervous before doing interviews and this time was no exception. Of all the band members
Jim Lea remained an unknown quantity as we had only met briefly a couple of times before.
Mr Lea put me at ease immediately we started talking.
I’ve spoken to Colin Newman several times over the last three or four months and he has told me about the
negotiations with Polydor for a new album, so as I’ve said to both Nod and Dave in the past – when can we
expect some positive news?
"We don’t know whether that’s Kosher at the moment, just because we’re talking does not mean anything.
This business is classic for the phone call that never comes, everything seems to be going great and they
say we’ll ring you but sometimes that call never comes. It looks like the Hits album is going to occur and
Polydor asked what we were doing, we said not much, so that’s how talks for a new album began. It’s very
nice to be asked by a major company, rather than going around demoing your songs. I think that people in the
Fan Club don’t realise what a cut throat business this is, one day you’re in the next you’re history. I was listening
to Jonathan King the other day talking about Kylie and Jason and he was saying that Pete Waterman should go
to them and say you’re very young and having great success at the moment but it won’t always be like this and
you should be prepared for it. People don’t realise how quickly record companies go off the boil and they are
looking out for the next band to give them success. It’s not the same for us now, we’ve had so many bloody
comebacks I feel that now our history is regarded not as ‘Oh yes you were that band that dressed up in daft
clothes on Tv’ but more ‘you are a great influence on today’s music scene’, so that point of view may be the
same within the business. I know it’s a different feeling now from what it was in the ‘70s and it’s very nice
for a major company to approach us, so who knows, it may come off."
Are you prepared for it if the deal does come off?
"I don’t know about the others but I’ve got used to a passive life at the moment. People say what are you doing
and I just say I’ve retired. I don’t mean that the band has split up, we’ve just stopped, it was not intentional.
I suppose you could say we’re taking time out to recharge our batteries, find new inspirations and do some of
the things that we’ve not had time to do in the past as well as to contemplate the future. As all the fans know,
we toured for years, so I think we’ve all deserved this rest and will be ready to go when the time comes. We’re
not finished yet, there’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle."
Has this rest period given you time to write new songs or have you just got the music business out of your
mind altogether, not that you can, as it’s been a big part of your life?
"Well yes, I have forgotten about the business to a certain extent, although you can’t stop tunes popping up in
your head, but at one time I’d always listen to Top of the Pops and read the pop press, now I’d rather listen to
the political programmes. I suppose I’ve grown up. But saying that, a mate of mine plays in a band and I went
to see him at a gig the other week and I got up and danced the night away and had a real rave up. I was drenched
almost as if I’d been in a swimming pool, and going back to your original question, am I ready for it if some said “OK
now you’re on guys” that passive mentality that I’ve acquired would turn into an aggressive stance, I’m sure."
But have you had time to write new material?
"It doesn’t quite work like that with me. It comes in trickles. I’ve never worked at it, I don’t sit and write songs, they
just come. I was talking to a guy in a studio yesterday and he told me he went in just to write songs and get his ideas
on tape. For me songs just happen. They come into my head. As for the new album it seems as though it won’t be
happening until October or late 1990. I don’t know that much about it at the moment, but we’ll be told when things
start happening. I don’t like this Christmas time thing, I know we’ve always stood a chance at Christmas because
of that one song. The other point is that the competition at Christmas time is immense, especially with the Radio
1 play listing, you’re either in or you’re out, so it’s a double edged sword for us at Christmas. I heard a comment
by Noel Edmonds the other day, he said “I’m so old I can remember when Slade released records other than
Christmas time.” That’s what I don’t like about the past, that our whole contribution to rock history seems to be
wrapped up in tinsel and that really sticks in my craw, so I’ve got my reservations about an end of 1990 release
should it occur."
A number of fans have asked why doesn't Dave Hill get more material on Slade records?
"Best of luck to Dave with his solo pursuits. Over the years he has never really bothered with musical input except
for M’hat M’coat. He put a couple of songs up for the last album but like any other band the choice of material has
to be a democratic decision along with the record companies involvement with the selection process. I’ve not heard
much of his material but I’m told it’s good and when the time comes for a new album we’ll all have to go through the
same process of selection and Dave’s songs will be given every consideration, along with the rest."
Have you done any production work lately?
"No, I get offered production work but I have to look at the financial rewards and what you have to put on the line for it. A lot of the time people like to work with you because you mean something to them. They are fans really, that’s the
easiest way to put it. I enjoyed doing the Chrome Molly sessions. It’s good meeting other bands and working with
them but I tended to think that financially it wasn’t worth it. You’re under a lot of pressure with the record company
and the artists and you’ve got to come up with something to keep the record company happy at the very least, so
you really are under pressure. It was like that with Slade, it ended up that way at least. I was the one that was in that
role, until one day I realised that I should get the credit, so it became produced by Jim Lea and not produced by Slade,
although the band had lots of say. It was very expensive having Roy Baker on the last album, but I was pleased to let
other producers do the work. I didn’t want the pressure."
We get letters asking if there are any songs in the can that could be used as a special issue just for the Fan Club?
"Yes there is a track actually. It didn’t get onto the last album because it didn’t feel right. Dave Kemp heard it and
said it was a Coz I Luv You type song. It’s called Love Is but I do not know whether we would put it out though."
Would you consider letting Stock, Aitkin and Waterman produce you, possibly under a pseudonym?
"I’m sure Stock, Aitkin and Waterman would jump at the chance to produce us but I do not think it would do much
for our credibility. I don’t know what it is about our career, but I feel as though we’ve been written out. Some of the
old die-hard fans have felt the same way. It’s almost like a conspiracy where we never get mentioned when it
comes to the seventies. We may have looked like a bunch of yobs then but we never stood still. We evolved
different hair styles and moved on from the skin head image into the Glam stuff. I never felt happy about the
dressing up bit, it got a bit tacky. I was well into making an image for ourselves but things went a bit over the top
for my liking. It was like at Top of the Pops, with only five minutes before we went on and Dave would come out of
the loo in his Metal Nun outfit when we did Cum on Feel the Noize. Dave and I still have conversations about those
days and he stands his ground on the subject of image making and of course he’s entitled to his opinion."
Another subject that a lot of fans write in about is the possibility of doing a couple of special live shows, because
there is not a really good live film or video of you in concert.
"The only thing I can say to that is when you rehearse for a while you then go on stage and for the first couple of
gigs you’re terrible but after say six shows you get it together and then we interlock and after a few more it becomes
second nature and we become super-human. We don’t even have to look at each other, we don’t have to think,
you get this feeling. I’ll never forget the Reading Festival, we were asked what we wanted on the monitors and
said Nod’s vocal and the snare drum. The guy asked what else we wanted and I said that’s all. We didn’t need it,
we played to the feel, we can perform like that, it’s a feeling I can’t explain any better."
Do you ever pick your guitar up and put things down on tape at home?
"I don’t use tape recorders, I don’t use guitars, I don’t use anything. I picked up a guitar the other day and then
after a short time my fingers started hurting just like when I first started, because I don’t play enough. I don’t
need all these things, guitars get in the way, tape recorders get in the way, musicians get in the way. Now you’ve
got computers to do all that sort of thing who needs instruments. I’ve been in the studio a bit just lately and just
dipping my toe into the computerised world of music. I think to myself, hang about, am I going to do things like
I always did or am I going to get on the band wagon with computers and things. I went into the studio yesterday
and hardly touched a thing but came out with nearly a finished track. I’ve go this idea to do We’ll Bring the House
Down as a house number in the style of Metal/House fusion with the chorus in Metal and the verse in a House
sample type sound. I just get an idea, book the studio and get on with it."
Is there anything you’re working on as a Dummies or China Dolls type project?
"That’s how all this studio stuff started. Frank said why don’t you do this and that, and I went into the studio with
about twenty songs I wanted to do but finished up trimming it down to five."
Would you consider putting any of this material out on record?
"I’d never dream of doing that unless someone really got behind the record with good promotion and marketing."
So how are you going to know if it is worthwhile, will you send it out to record companies to see if they want it?
"I’m passive on that point at the moment. I didn’t do it with that intention. I think I’ll hang on to it for the time being. It’s an expensive business so you never know, it would be a shame for it never to be heard but I’d have to wait for
the right moment."
Did you record in London or the Midlands?
"I can’t work in the Midlands. I have to work in London, although it’s an absolute rat race down here. You’re isolated
from the family and mates, so all you can do is work. I’ve also done another version of She Did It To Me with an
ex-singer from Uriah Heap, with an absolutely panoramic version, it’s great. I did a version of the old Johnny Kidd
and the Pirates song I’ll Never Get Over You, you’d never know it was me though. I’ve also done 7 Year Bitch but
not like Slade’s version and there is also some stuff that you’ve never heard of, but I haven’t finished it yet. There is
a track that I’ve written called Radio Wall of Sound and it sounds just like Slade, even my brother Frank says it sounds
I know if I put this in the magazine thousands of letters will come flooding in asking when you’re going to release
“It’s just something I wanted to do, although it felt a bit funny doing it by myself, but I can’t imagine it being
released, then again you never know. I just enjoy doing it and I’ve learned how to produce myself. Anything
I do is because I want to do it, not especially to be famous. I don’t want fame. I like dumb rock, songs like I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, Jumping Jack Flash, Mama Weer All Crazee Now and Cum on Feel the Noize.
If you’ve got the ability to write all types of music what do you do? You can’t just put out rock type music with
a heavy beat. I remember at the premier of Flame when Alex Harvey came up to me and said, “What the fuck
are you doing writing all this Far Far Away shit, you should be doing songs that tear people apart” and I think
he was really saying you’re one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands around. So what do you do, sell yourself down
the line or put everything out that you’re capable of doing, rock and the softer stuff.”
I’ve asked both Nod and Dave in the past if they thought it would be a good idea to get the DMC or the Music
Factory to do a Slade megamix. I think it would be a great party record and a good commercial opportunity.
“I personally would not be opposed to that. It’s a good thing that Jive Bunny are doing. I also like the idea of using
old records in advertising, you have to use whatever means you can to get your material used and if it cheapens
it, so what? It’s better than having it left in the attic. I remember that we did My Oh My and Run Run Away. We
made some demo versions with Nod and Don and Colin Newman said “these would be great songs for adverts,”
so we put some other words to My Oh My. Nod was singing” We all like our Guinness My Oh My,” and did words
for Heinz Baked Beans and something for Kelloggs Corn Flakes and even though the idea was put forward to an
advertising company, it was rejected.”
On that rather amusing note I turned off the tape recorder and thanked Jim for his time.
From the July - September 1990 SLADE International Fan Club Newsletter
NODDY HOLDER and DAVE HILL INTERVIEW
Normally I think myself lucky to arrange an interview with a band member once a quarter because they are
all busy men doing one thing or another but this time I feel extra lucky to get together with two band members
for a cup of coffee and a chat about Slade, old, new, future and past.
I had a meeting with Colin Newman recently and he held up a 58 page document, a contract from Polydor for some
new material. Have you signed it yet or are you about to?
Nod: We have not discussed it yet, none of us have seen it yet even.
Dave: It’s the usual stuff, dot the ‘T's’ and cross the ‘I's’, you can only do this and that with our permission etc, and of
course the financial side has got to be good.
So it’s just a case of the four of you to say yes and sign on the dotted line. Do you foresee any problems?
Nod: Not really, but we do not know what the deal is yet. We’ve got to work out whether the deal is OK to cover the
cost of making an album.
Dave: You know what it’s like when you’re making records, we’ve got to have money to make records, the way it
always works. We’ve got to look at it sensibly, we’re not kids anymore and obviously we see ourselves in a good
position with the 25 year business next year and all the old product that’s got to be taken into account. I’m looking
forward to seeing what the contract says. We cannot say that much about it because it’s up to the four of us to get
together and thrash it out.
Is it a case of you each getting a copy of the contract in the post, signing it and sending it back after you’ve
discussed it with each other?
Nod: No, we’ll probably go to the office and Colin will sit and go through it with us. We’ll have to sort out the cost
of recording because we have not been in the studio for a couple of years and costs have risen dramatically since
then, so we have got to sort a budget out.
Is that the costing for an album you are talking about?
As far as I know the deal isn’t for an album straight away. It will probably be for a couple of singles with the option
for an album if the singles do OK.
Dave: I think it’s a sensible thing to do for a record company. They’ve got to check out what we can do and if we
have a hit with a single, then it’s good for them to have an album deal with us.
Nod: We’ve been waiting for eighteen months now for this deal and we’re not going to jump in with both feet just
for the sake of having a single out. Whatever happens, we’ll be having a Hits album out, and all the old albums
will come out on CD, signed, sealed and delivered, but we can’t give you a firm answer about new product.
I’m really looking for the biggest ray of hope that you can give to the fans.
Dave: You’re looking for light are you? Well, I can tell you there is light.
I suppose the good news will have to wait for the final magazine of the year?
Nod: Everything will be discussed and sorted out within the next few weeks and we’ll probably finish up with a
deal for a couple of singles and the option of an album to follow. Even if we only do a couple of singles and
they are hits it will help sell the Hits album. Also, our back catalogue is going to be released on CD and we
are bound to get some airplay of the older stuff because a lot of radio stations won’t play anything that’s not
on CD these days.
With all this business going on with Polydor, will it affect anything that Dave may be working on as a solo project?
Nod: We don’t know yet, that’s why we’ve got to look at the contract carefully. There are all these things to take into consideration.
Dave: They don’t want you doing anything willy nilly just when you like, they want all your efforts to go into their
product unless you get special permission to do work outside the contracted terms.
Nod: It could prevent Dave bring out an album of his own, so we don’t know until we see the fine print. They
might want Slade, but not anything Dave wants to do be himself.
Dave: I’ll consider all that personally and weigh it up between my stuff and the interest of the band. The financial
commitment the record company make could well make it worth your while leaving solo projects alone for the time
Nod: H was in that position before with the RCA deal, he wanted to do some solo stuff and so did Jim, but they could
not go through any other company, so if RCA did not want the solo stuff they were f…ed.
When you decide you’re going to make an album, do you deliberately try to keep it a secret?
Nod: You can’t keep it a secret really, but you keep what you’re putting down on the album a secret.
Is that for any particular reason?
Nod: It could spoil the impact of the album and the songs could get pinched, but it’s really better for people to hear
the songs in the right running order to get the whole flow and impact of the finished product. Your weakest tracks
have to be put in between your strongest tracks or the whole thing could sound bad. More often than not I decide
the running order of the tracks and then put it to the others for approval and hopefully the dynamics of the album
have the right effect on the listener.
Did you decide the running order of songs for the stage act as well or was that a joint effort?
Nod: I used to work out the running order for the live show. We’d put different songs in from tour to tour, but the
format of the show was pretty much the same, it was just a case of where to fit in the new song. If we’d do a new
song, we’d always follow it with a hit, so that you had that good balance. That was one of our fortes in live shows.
We’d have peaks and dynamics, ups and downs, so that they didn’t get boring. I think that’s one thing you could
never say about our live shows, that they never had boring patches in them.
Dave: We could never be accused of drastically changing the stage act. We always had the violin bit and me on
the speaker and I suppose we knew that it worked well.
Nod: In the seventies we’d throw something out of the act and the punters would go berserk, so we’d have to put
it back in. We had to try new songs like Darling Be Home Soon and Move Over and we’d probably only leave those
songs in for two tours and then we’d put them on an album when we knew they worked. Just A Little Bit is another
case. Our theory or rule was if we went out on tour with an new album we’d put three or four new tracks in the stage
act but people would still think we were doing the same show as the year before, so you see the changes were subtle
so the rhythm and dynamics of the show were still there.
Do you still get big promoters offering you £50,000 or big money to do a live show?
Nod: Yes, all the time, although I don’t think we’ve been offered £50,000, but we have been offered good money for
a one-off. You just can’t do one-offs though, you need a crew, rigs, six weeks rehearsal and then you’ve not made
Dave: They don’t realise we have not played together for years, they think you just get on stage and off you go, it does
not quite happen that easily.
Nod: The type of promoter who offers that sort of money are the ones who don’t know anything about rock ‘n’ roll.
They’ve just got lots of money to throw around.
I only asked that question out of curiosity and to get an idea if you were still a sought after band.
Nod: Every year we get offered a Christmas tour. We’ve had three people on the phone this week asking if we’d
tour for Christmas, but it’s much too late to think about it, even now. It’s just not a case of doing it for the money
either, you’ve got to want to do it as well.
Dave: You’d have to be good as well, we’ve got a reputation to keep up.
Nod: In a position like ours you’ve got to be great. There’s no half-measures with us. Other bands go out and
do a half-arsed show, but not us. We’ve got to be great, because we’ve got pride.
I think most fans would admire you for that, although there are a lot of frustrated fans who wouldn’t.
Nod: The frustrated ones wouldn’t mind if we went into a little pokey club with 30 watt amps and played a live
set more or less like we did in the ‘70s, but it’s not going to further our careers a lot is it?
What do you do on Sunday, or how do you relax when you’re not working?
Dave: Get up, have a cup of coffee and scone. Life for us is different as we’re not 9 to 5 people. We all come
from families that had Sunday dinners so that’s what we do now, it’s full circle really plus the fact we toured the
world for years and had hotel food day in and day out so a Sunday lunch with the family is great. Nod again
has a different life style than I do, he probably does set things on certain days of the week. Not so much with me.
I go to Witness meetings, write songs and have a curry on Fridays, but generally speaking I fit things in around the
family and lead a quieter life than Nod.
Nod: That’s about the same for me really.
Do you NOT do things because you’re afraid you may get pestered by people who might recognise you?
Nod: A lot of the time yes. I get offered the chance to go to a lot of functions, but I don’t want to get back on the treadmill
that everywhere I go I’ve got to be signing autographs for half an hour. I don’t mind it now and then, but I’m not going
to do it everyday.
Do you have a clear division of your working and non-working time?
Nod: Definitely. I keep my private life totally private now and have done for a long time. I don’t see that my home
life is anyone's business now. We lived in the public eye for so long and it took a long time to get back any kind
of privacy, not total privacy but as much as possible. If you’re a known face it’s very difficult, you’d have to disappear
off the face of the earth to get it. If you go into a pub or restaurant there will always be some watching you drinking
and eating, there’s no getting away from it. The last thing I want to do is go out for a drink or meal and finish up
talking Slade for a couple of hours. We’ve lived Slade for 20 odd years, it’s the last thing we talk about if we all
get together, there’s nothing else to say after that amount of time.
Dave: The press can ask very personal questions that could upset you. It’s like Cliff Richard, they always want
to know if he’s ever slept with a woman.
Nod: It’s the same with us. Cliff always gets that style of question and with us it’s Merry Xmas or Don’s accident. They ask how he is, as though it only happened a couple of years back, or they ask how Jim Powell is getting on
after the crash.
Going back to a comment you made earlier Dave, have you written any more songs since Wild Nights?
Dave: Oh yes. Nod and I have done quite a few things, some fairly recently, but we’ve got to see what happens
with the record deal for the band before I can think about my solo stuff. There is a lot of material though.
Nod: There’s a lot of stuff in the can, maybe 5 or 6 tracks with me on. The songs are written by Dave and Bill
Hunt but the approach Dave has toward recording is different to how we record for Slade. They’re Dave’s songs
and he knows how he wants them done.
Dave: Yes, that’s right, and Nod also puts a few ideas into the recording as we go along.
Nod: It’s the same when we do Slade material. Dave and Don play the songs how me and Jim intend them to be.
Would it be true to say that you and Jim do most of the work on your songs in the studio first and then bring
Don and Dave in as required?
Nod: In the latter years, me and Jim have gone into the studio and done demos of the songs first, which is really
how we wanted the songs to be, but when you get producers in arse farting about with it you lose the spontaneity
of the recording which is what we managed to capture in the early years. With H, he has the arrangement sorted
out first with Bill and when we get to the studio we just get on and record and maintain that spontaneous feel of
the early Slade records.
Dave: We went to John Punter and did My Oh My and Run Run Away and that was a new experience for us, not
being sure what he was going to do. In fact, Jim put the question to him at RCA and asked what he was going to
do for us. It really involved a new process of recording from the way we’d been used to. We were a little uneasy
at first, but the sessions did bear some fruit in the end, in fact we jammed My Oh My to start with, didn’t we Nod?
Nod: With My Oh My, me and Jim put down a demo on piano and voice first. John Punter had to start from scratch
with that track. He put it down in layers. He started with a good drum track and then did three tracks on piano,
three on guitar, three on vocals and three of everything else and then took the best of each and put them together. We’d never worked like that before, but it worked. It was the same with Run Run Away and it worked fine. Then we
went onto the Rogues Gallery album and John Punter didn’t want to work the same way on that one. It became a
bit of a saga. It took a lot of time and eventually turned out to be a great album, although I feel there was something
missing. Something that is the Slade trademark was missing, but then the next album, Crackers, was totally the
opposite way. It was back to out and out Slade and that turned out to be our biggest seller of the ‘80s.
Then came You Boyz, which again was complicated, because we had three producers, Jim, John Punter and
Roy Thomas Baker. That’s what we initially wanted, a mixed bag of producers with different ideas, but Roy
Thomas Baker just went on endlessly. That was not the way to get the best out of us. Although it turned out
to be a good album, you can hear the difference between the three producers.
Dave, do you ever fancy producing any tracks for the band now that you’ve had some experience with producing
your own stuff?
Dave: I’ve not really had the opportunity and I never pushed myself forward. I just sat back and let Jim take the lead
in that area, although Jim didn’t produce the early hits, it was Chas. On We’ll Bring the House Down, it could be
arguable who produced it because we all had a hand in that one, although Jim is the one who can sit at the control
table for hours on end whilst me, Nod and Don wander off and then come back and help mix which is good because
it’s really a band mix. I was quite happy to let that situation carry on. We were very much together as a band, we’d
just done Reading and we had good feelings about We’ll Bring the House Down, with the live feeling the record had.
It was later on, when things changed, when we started bringing in producers.
Nod: It gets down to technicality in the end. Technicality takes over from performing, so we brought in Roy Thomas
Baker to try and capture Slade’s old sound from the early ‘70s with late ‘80s technology, which is what we wanted,
a producer to take our old enthusiasm and put it into an ‘80s mould, but it ended up spending three days on the
drum tracks and the rest of us sitting around doing fuck all. Hours and hours on technicalities. That’s OK for a
technical band, but not us. To me, it’s a total waste of money and looking back on You Boyz, the tracks he did do
not sound any better, even though his tracks took twice as much time to produce. The end product is no better.
Nod: I’m not knocking him as a producer, but everything took so long, he spent 20 days in the studio with us doing
two songs, yet he went on to produce a complete album with T’Pau in a month, so he was working in a way with
them that he should have been doing with us. The best way with us is to get it down quickly and capture the
spontaneity that always captures us at our best. It’s what you leave out on a record that makes it simple and
uncluttered. If you take too long and add track on top of track, you’re not a band, you might as well make solo
records with guest musicians. That’s not us, we are all part of the jigsaw that is Slade.
Are you still going to be a self-managed band now that the time looks right for some band activity, assuming
that the deal in the pipeline comes to fruition, or would you be thinking of bringing in a manager?
Nod: I don’t think anyone could manage us in the sense of The Manager like Chas did. Colin looks after our
business affairs and legal side of things, but no-one could be an artistic manager, especially after all the years
we’ve been together. No-one could start telling us what to do after 25 years, because they just wouldn’t know the
background of the band, and no matter what we told a manager, there are only four people who know the whole
background story. Someone may have theories about what we should be doing and what we should have done,
but they will never know us as we know ourselves. No-one would have a clue how to handle us.
Dave: I wouldn’t say a manager wouldn’t be useful in some ways, but he couldn’t manage the artistic side.
Phil Collins has got a manager, but no-one tells him how to write his songs, or how to record them, but just
advises on the financial side of things. No-one is going to tell Phil Collins what to do and no-one can really
tell us what to do after all this time.
Nod: We know ourselves where we are going wrong and what we are doing right. It just happens that the four
of us don’t always agree what’s wrong and what’s right, but you will always get that situation in a democratic
All the fans are expecting something to happen soon now that the back catalogue deal has been signed
with Polydor, any comments on that?
Nod: Well, it’s not guaranteed that the Hits album will be out for the 25th Anniversary. That’s all down to Polydor
to decide on what they think is the right time. It maybe that they think Christmas would be the time to release it.
We’ve not been told about any release date, but you can be sure they’ll release it when they are certain of getting
most sales and it seems to me that Christmas would be the right time. If we did a couple of singles and they
were hits, they would want to release something on the tail of them and that could be a Hits album or a Studio album, but they’d certainly want to capitalise on the success of a single with some sort of album, because that’s
where the money is made.
It would have been nice to have announced that something new was about to be released. Maybe next time.
Dave: It must be difficult to keep the interest going, but there definitely is light at the end of the tunnel.
Have you got anything ready in case you get the call to go into the studio and do a single?
Nod: We’ve got songs written, but it’s just a case of getting them recorded and listening to them and deciding if
it’s good enough to be a single. There’s no set pattern for song writing, some songs come in ten minutes and
some take days. You just have to take it as it comes. The majority of the melodies come from Jim and most of
the lyrics come from me, but there is no signed, sealed method of song writing. We’re changing the songs
around all the time, right up until we get into the studio.
Well, on that note of hope, we will leave the interview with Dave and Nod, and, of course, if anything more
positive comes up you’ll be told about it double quick.
From Jan/ Feb/March 1992 issue of PERCY, the Slade International Fan Club Newsletter.
It’s been a long time since I interviewed a member of the band, simply because there wasn’t much that was
new and interesting to talk about. Most of the old issues have been covered, regularly, so it’s been a deliberate
policy to let things go for a while. I’m glad to say that the last three months have put an end to that argument
good and proper, so, Mr Noddy Holder, first question;
Malc : Now that RWOS and Universe have run their course, in this country at least, what are the general feelings
of the band?
NOD : I think that everybody did a good job, we did a lot of TV, radio and press work around that period but it didn’t
translate into high sales of the two records. We had loads of radio play for RWOS so we can’t really complain
about the exposure with that one, Universe was not so good, but you can only put it down to not enough people
Malc : Do you know of any sales figures for RWOS?
NOD : No, not a clue, we won’t know that for at least six months. It wouldn’t have needed that many sales to have
reached that position, not a vast amount. The initial shipping out to the shops was around 30,000 copies, I think,
which is a good pre-order figure, good enough to go Top 40 first week out. The problem was sustaining the
momentum after using up all the available Tv’s there was nowhere else to go. We couldn’t get on Wogan, which
would have helped, so really that was all the TV possible. We did more press than ever before, in recent times at
least, but there just aren’t that many rock records making the charts these days unless they happen to come from
a film soundtrack. The charts have been very dance orientated of late and I can’t really think of any big rock records
of 1991. If you look at the rock album charts from last year, there are not that many that were really outstanding and
had any long chart success.
Malc : Out of RWOS and Universe, which one was your personal favourite?
NOD: Universe, without a doubt. I knew RWOS was more commercial, a good instant rock track, but I liked Universe,
even though I knew it was not such an instant song and it would take people time to latch on to it. I saw Universe as
the stronger song and maybe if we had held it back for a while it may have been more successful, but unfortunately
it got lost in the Christmas market and there is just nothing you can do about it now.
Malc : Who’s decision was it to release Universe so soon after RWOS, the band or Polydor?
NOD : It was the record company’s decision, the plan was always to do RWOS then the Wall of Hits album followed Universe to help carry the album along in the Christmas market, but we didn’t realise how late Universe was coming
out, it was actually two weeks later than planned. I don’t know why, but by then we were into the Christmas mania
season and not being such an instant track it lost out to the more popular records.
Malc : I only heard it played three times on Radio 1 and each time it was raved about.
NOD : I never actually heard it but it will be interesting to see how it does in Europe after RWOS and because of the
release after Christmas. We’ll definitely be doing promotional work with it out there.
Malc : Could Polydor re-release Universe if they wanted to?
NOD : I feel sure they could, especially if it’s written into the contract. A lot of material that gets into the charts has been
released more than once. I even think that Bryan Adams big hit was launched a second time.
Malc : Do you know if Polydor have any plans to release the two singles in America?
NOD : We haven’t done a deal for America yet, our contract was for worldwide distribution/release excluding America
but there is always a chance that we could get something released out there.
Malc : There are some rumours circulating that you have been offered some large and prestigious gigs for later
this year, ie Donnington.
NOD : We haven’t actually been offered it, but Maurice Jones has always said that if we felt like it he would be glad
to see us there, especially as we know him as old friends, but we have not yet been offered it and without product
to promote it would be a bit of a waste. There is always a catchment of shows that we could fit into at any time.
Malc : So what happens now in the light of the probability that you will not be doing an album for Polydor?
NOD : We always knew that it was only an option for an album, it was never cut and dried. All record companies
work the option idea now, even some of the biggest acts in the business have to wait on the results of their single
successes. The record companies have been caught out so many times by signing album / single deals together
that they are very wary now, with all but the biggest of people or bands.
Malc : It’s quite apparent that all the material on Wall of Hits was not the definitive collection, was that a deliberate
ploy to be able to use some of the excluded material on another Hits album?
NOD : Something had to go to enable the inclusion of the two new tracks and the two RCA tracks which made it a
good overall package, although we are not likely to get a volume two deal if the first volume doesn’t do that well.
Malc : Were the two singles expensive to make?
NOD : No, they weren’t, not by today’s standards. Recording in the Midlands is much cheaper than in London and
we’ve learnt by experience not to waste time in studios, because of the costs that can be incurred. A lot of new bands
make successful albums, but at the end of the day they don’t make any money.
Malc : I there enough material ready to fill an album should the right set of circumstances arise?
NOD : There is some material ready in various stages, either demoed or nearly finished. We would have to go
through it until we sorted out ten songs that we thought good enough for an album.
Malc : Are they new songs or stuff that has been around for ages just waiting to be used up?
NOD : There are some new ones and others that we could dig out and re-record, but yes, if we had the opportunity,
there is plenty of material for an album around in one form or another.
Malc : Anything that you consider good enough for another single?
NOD : It’s difficult to say, you can’t really put your finger on it. I’ve heard some of H’s songs that I think would make
great singles and with a bit of fine tuning, could turn out to be single material.
Thanks to Nod for an interesting chat which I hope has enlightened some of you and answered some of your
DAVE HILL INTERVIEW with Malcolm Skellington from 'Percy'
I always find it a pleasure when it comes around to
interviewing Dave Hill, as he always comes up with
something new to tell us, and
this time proved to be no exception and even more of a pleasure to talk to
over a good lunch.
First of all Dave, can we give the sceptics out there in Fan land a straight answer about Slade? Are the
band still together, and are all these rumours about a split nonsense?
"We are still together. Slade will always be Slade. If there is a record to make and promote, we'll get on and do it.
There will always be a band of the four blokes that you all know, Slade."
I hope that put paid to the rumours and puts a lot of people at ease about the band situation, but is there anything
new in the pipeline for the immediate future?
"Jim's mixed a couple of tracks that I've played guitar on recently, but I've not heard the finished product, so I won't
make any comment at the moment, but at least there is something available if we get a single option from anyone.
I would have liked us to make an album of new material together, but that didn't come off."
I suppose the rumours of a split might have arisen from people who have heard that you are putting a band
together of your own. Can you fill us in on that one, Dave?
"Yes. I'm trying to form a band. It doesn't have any specific name at the moment and I haven't got all the members
sorted out yet, but yes, I want to form a band because I need to work live, which is what I really miss doing. I started
thinking about doing it a little while ago and was speaking to our old manager Chas Chandler and happened to
mention it to him and asked if he knew of any good singers. He suggested a name for me to contact and the bloke
sent me a video of himself singing with his old band and I liked what I saw and heard, so asked him to come down to
Wolverhampton for a rehearsal / audition. He sounds a bit like Paul Rogers of Free and Bad Company fame. And when
I tried him on some of my songs, i.e. 'Red hot', 'Lay your love on the line' and one or two new songs, his voice fitted in
perfectly, even though I had not written those songs with him in mind."
Is there anyone else in the band that we know?
"Well, when I say rehearsed, it was just myself, this new singer and Bill Hunt, who you all know as my song-writing
partner on the last two Slade b-sides. Nothing is definite yet, but Don Powell is very keen to come out on the road
with me and I would feel very comfortable with Don around. It may have Bill Hunt on keyboards, but he has got
a day job, so he's not sure just yet and I'm in the process of rehearsing with other guitarists and vocalists to try
and finalise the line-up."
"A lot of people know that I do a fair amount of charity gigs and I really enjoy myself, so I want a band who can do
a tour. And I can entertain some Slade fans who come to the gigs and give some of my own material a chance to
be performed. I've no intention of calling the band 'Blessings in disguise', I'm still fiddling with the idea of a title
and at the moment I think it will be an all-male band."
It's good to hear that Don is keen to be out there with you.
"We've been together a long time. Originals, so to speak. But Don really does want to be with me. I did rehearse
another drummer at one time, but when Don did agree to be with me, I was delighted."
Will you be performing Slade material in your set?
"We thought we might look at some of the material, such as album tracks that were never performed live by Slade,
and the singer we've got writes his own material, and of course I've got my own material as well. I hope the fans
don't think I'm trying to replace Nod. That would be impossible, but I really want to perform live again. I do miss it."
What sort of time scales are you looking at to get prepared and on the road?
"We could be ready for October or November and we may start abroad, but we'll all be getting used to each other
and finding out if it works. I think it would be a mistake to start in the UK until all of the hiccups and little problems
are sorted out. Really it's no different to Phil Collins and Genesis. I just want to explore my own possibilities and
see how it works out."
I hear that there is a possibility of you getting together with a writer and putting a book together. Is this true?
"I approached John Ogden of the Wolverhampton Express and Star, who has been a keen follower and regular
reporter on Slade's career over the last 20-odd years, with a view to putting down some of my experiences and
stories, to see if a book could be produced that would be entertaining and amusing. I've done an initial chapter
for John to work on and we'll see what becomes of it, but it's going to take quite a while to finish, so don't expect
anything to be in the shops this side of Christmas."
Anything else happened to you lately?
"Well actually there was a couple of weeks back. I went to see Kiss in concert at the NEC. It was good to see
Gene and the band again, and as many fans will know, Kiss do admit to being influenced by the music of Slade.
The joke of the night was that Kiss had sent out for the 'Wall of hits' album to play in the dressing room to get
revved up before they went onstage! Gene said to me that he just wanted to check and see if he had nicked all
the riffs correctly! It was good to have a chat and they gave a good show, lots of pyrotechnics and tons of noize,
but yes, really nice to meet up with them again."
"I'm still doing some Rainbow House work, a bit energetic though, this time. I took part in a fun run. That's about it
really, although a nice thing did happen recently when this yuppy type chap got out of his Porsche and came up to
me and said 'You're Dave Hill aren't you? I'd like to thank you for making my youth great', which made me feel good
and that what's happened over some of the years is worth it."
Good old dayz
John Walsh meets Noddy Holder. The Independent - Friday 4 July 1997
There were four of them. The singer resembled a carnival barker from a minor Dickens novel, with mutton-chop side-whiskers, his curls- fronded head surmounted by a top hat festooned with circular mirrors, his trousers a ludicrously uncool display of Rupert Bear yellow checks. The guitarist affected a long silver wig and grinned with goofy bonhomie, possibly to distract piss-takers from his suicidal nine-inch platforms. The bassist was a foxy, intelligent-looking Ganymede whose clothes (uniquely in this galere) looked as if they might belong to him. The drummer chewed gum, looked like a Millwall fan and walloped the skins with an air of abstracted aggression - he might have been lost in some mental synthesis of Free Will and Predestination, but you wouldn't have bet on it.
Slade were a curious-looking bunch; and between 1971 and 1976, they conquered the known world with a string of brilliant, if orthographically-challenged, three-minute singles ("Cum on Feel the Noize", "Coz I Luv U", "Look Wot You Dun"). Slade was the rock band about whom students like me tried to feel snooty, even while dancing ourselves stupid to "Mamma Weer All Crazee Now". We didn't approve of them (my dear, the clothes! and the spelling!), but we couldn't resist them. When the music world divided into heavy metal and sobbing singer-songwriters around 1971, Slade were the noisy Jack- the-lad brigade that didn't muck about with million-watt riffs, or concept albums or with dithery Neil Young introspections. They were just the fun tendency and England lapped them up until her attention was distracted by punk. Meeting Noddy Holder, the band's charismatic front-man, you're instantly pulled back to the time when he was one of those figures who transcend working-class culture and become popular icons, like Henry Cooper, Gary Lineker, Barbara Windsor...
"It wuz a bit of a blur, really, them days," says Holder now, in his unreconstructed Brummie contralto. "All we saw of the Seventies wuz hotels, dressing rooms, airport lounges, the inside of aeroplanes and coaches, the stage, television studios, recording studios... We didn't have mooch sense of the outside world. Any time we did have off, we'd run back home to Wolverhampton and go down the local poob, because that's the one place you'd get a sense of reality. We wouldn't get mobbed there. In fact, if we ever got big-headed, they'd soon pull us down to soize. Because we still knew everybody, and everybody knew uz...".
Everybody - ah yes, that word. The secret of Slade's success, in my humble submission, is that they gave the impression that they spoke, or sang, for everyone, enveloped the whole world of Brit-rock in a fond, beery embrace and told them to have a good time. It's that boundary-crossing feelgood factor that explains why, for instance, Harvey Nichols, the ritzy department store in Knightsbridge, should have thrown taste to the winds two years ago and featured, on the festive wrapping paper given away with their glossy magazine, the image of a beaming Noddy, endlessly repeated a la Warhol's soup cans, with the legend "Merry Xmas Everybody", after the band's ubiquitously best-selling seasonal yell. And now everyone seems to want a piece of him. "Even Max Bygraves did a cover version of `Merry Xmas'," he says proudly. "And the guy who's the Japanese Cliff Richard brought out "Cum on Feel the Noize" and went to No 1 with it". And so, famously, did Oasis, the nation's most influential band. Noel Gallagher sang "Feel the Noize" on Jools Holland's Later TV show last year and it sounded pretty damn good. "They sent me tickets to their homecoming gig at Maine Road, Manchester," Holder recalls, "and played the song as an encore. It were a great ego-boost for me, 40,000 kids going crazy over a song I wrote 23 years ago. I were dead choofed. It proved that those songs were good. Put in the roight environment, they're still valid today."
Valid? Environment? These sociology-degree formulations aren't what you expect from such a guitar-drubbing crowd-pleaser. But then we are having lunch in the Groucho Club, surrounded by a whole roadshow of media analysts, and The Grimleys, a one-hour Granada TV film by Ged Mercurio, is about to be released on a critical world. It's an extremely funny rites-of-passage story of a precocious teenager in Dudley, 1975, who falls in love with his English teacher (the gorgeous, wide-eyed Samantha Janus) and battles for his future with both his sofa-becalmed slob father (Nigel Planer) and his sadistic PE teacher and love rival (Jack Dee). It's on tonight and you mustn't miss it (but the video will be in the shops on Monday). Noddy Holder appears, under his real name of Neville, as the school's classical music teacher, amusingly named "Noddy Holder". "It's a bit of an in-joke really," he says genially. "Ged wrote the part specifically for me. He's a Midlands lad, and it's a bit of a piss-take, to put me in as myself, but as far removed as possible from popular notions of me."
The screen Holder is a nice guy, the kind of teacher to whom the troubled adolescents confide their problems. Given that the real-life Noddy was an accomplished musician when barely in his teens, I wondered what his own music teacher was like. "When I think of school back then," he says, "all I can remember us doing in music was stand up and sing 'ymns. There was a teacher and a piano, but all we did was 'ymns. But I was singin' in public from when I was six years old." He used to accompany his father to Walsall Labour Club where his father sang "You Made Me Love You" in the haze of roll-ups and brown ale. And Noddy? "Me, I'd sing summat like `I believe for every drop of rain that falls/ A flower grows...', but don't forget, it were a little Michael Jackson treble before me voice broke." He sang the line again in a demented falsetto that made all the windows in Dean Street quiver. "So heartfelt. Big ballads, tear-jerking stuff for the working men after they'd 'ad a few pints. You can't go wrong. Know what I mean? It's that old trick of showbiz - make 'em laff or bring a tear to their eye. I was too yoong to make 'em laff, so... You learn all the tricks that way, performing on stage."
Manipulation and showbiz are recurring themes in his conversation. Many people have underestimated Mr Holder, thinking him a Midlands hayseed with a shouty voice and a funny wardrobe, who sang a few decent songs and amused working class teenagers. They're quite wrong. I've rarely met a performer so full of gleeful calculation about his and his band's image, their performance, their career path. Slade, for instance, started out as a skinhead band, then called "Ambrose Slade", a name fatally suggestive of an Edwardian ballet critic. Were they - boots and braces apart - ever real skinheads, as in "bovver" and queer-bashing? "Ooh now," said Holder with an affronted yelp. "We did the skinhead thing because we wanted an image to set us apart from every other band around at the time, all the long-hairs. And skinheads - well it wasn't a political thing in those days, just a fashion thing. We never encountered any violence." But booking agents were justifiably apprehensive. "It did put a lot of people off booking us, and TV and the media," he concedes, "so we changed it after we had our first hit. We still had the platform boots and shortened trousers, still wore braces and those shirts. But we had the hair feathered differently, and wore more colours. As soon as you get some colour, you're less threatening. People accepted us over night as a different band."
Their new incarnation was as part of the "glam rock" phenomenon, a couple of years of sequinned lunacy when (inspired by David Bowie, T Rex and Gary Glitter) large truck-driving heterosexuals minced about unconvincingly in blue eye-shadow and stuck gold and silver WH Smith merit stars on their clothes. Slade were far too tough and street-wise to look good in Bacofoil (especially the drummer). So, if they weren't skinheads and weren't really glam rockers, what were they? Music hall throwbacks? Amazingly, the answer's yes. "Music hall. That wuz it. I got it all from me dad. His favourites were Al Jolson and Max Miller. And I got all the hand movements from Jolson and the clobber from Miller. The clothes I was wearing were straight from the Max Miller handbook."
My God, he's right. Slade was a direct descendant from The Good Old Days... "Oh it's obvious now, when I tell yer, but nobody realised then. Everybody nicks stuff. It's the old showbiz tradition, isn't it? I've always watched people on stage, seen how they do it. I loved the way Max Miller would walk on stage and people would be rolling on the ground before he even told a gag, just because he looked the business. Get them on your side, before you open your mouth and you're home and dry. That was my adage, even when I was a little kid." But surely he was too young (at 51) to have seen the Cheeky Chappie in person. "Of course. But I've seen the pictures, and me Dad had the records. When I first heard him, I cracked up. I didn't understand the gags, but it was his delivery. I couldn't believe it. And when I was old enough to understand, I realised it was something you could take into rock 'n' roll. Nobody'd done it. All you had to do was take what he had and make it Seventies. Instead of the white fedora Max had, I had a top hat with mirrors on..." The idea of the hat came to him while watching a mirror ball on a stage. During Slade concerts, they'd kill the lights, then shine a spotlight on the Noddy titfer, and send searchlight beams all over the squealing auditorium. "It was just 30 seconds out of every show, but people never forgot it. They went berserk. 'Course," he says modestly, "you only need three or four tricks like that in a show and you've got them suckered right away. And with a lot of hit songs to back it up, you were home and dry. We were a top live attraction for years and years around the world, purely on the strength of those tricks."
He was once an accomplished guitarist, with a special fondness for Django Reinhardt, after whom he has named his youngest child, now two and a half. At 11, Holder was playing jazz guitar. Then he adapted the pop tunes on the radio to what he'd learned from his Django-loving teacher. "But I wouldn't say I was a great musician. In fact, I got worse as a technical musician, the more successful I got playing pop. I wasn't doing any difficult stuff like I did when I was young. I concentrated on being the singer." This was aided by a dumbing-down process insisted on by their manager and producer, Chas Chandler, who used also to manage Jimi Hendrix. "Chas always said, keep it short. No solos. Me and Jim , the bassist, we became kings of the three-minute pop song because Chas pushed us into it. Left to ourselves, we'd have been doing 10 or 15-minute songs. But he said, `No way. You can say all you wanna say in three minutes. Get the first 30 seconds right, get the intro and the hook into the first half-minute and you've got a hit record. If you're going to put a guitar solo in, make it short and memorable, so people can even sing the solo, and it becomes an extra hook.' And he was right."
So that's how it's done. Becoming a rock star, having a hit, having 20- odd other ones, conquering the world - Noddy has a sweet but slightly exasperating way of suggesting that success is about following a few simple rules. He's a man, I think, of enormous optimism, seemingly impervious to negative thoughts. Listening to him talk about his and the band's fortunes since 1976, when punk swept glam rock aside, you'd swear they'd been chart- topping stars right up to last week. In fact, they've been up and down, ignored, feted, gone on nostalgia tours, metamorphosed into a heavy metal combo, been plagiarised (by Kiss, for instance), been rediscovered, anthologised, had their records re-released, turned up in Viz comic and been lampooned by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Noddy now sits, a slightly bewildered but lovable figure, pondering offers of acting work, invitations to TV quiz shows and similar signs of iconic status. Whatever the truth of the past 25 years, in Noddy Holder's hindsight, everything - and everybody - has been for the best. Everything's turned out just fine all round.
Interview: Noddy Holder - Still feeling the noize.
Birmingham Post Oct 30 1999
In the 1970s Slade was to rock music what the Monster Raving Loony Party was to British politics. Dressed up to the point of absurdity, a lot of people underestimated the importance of both these institutions until they were no longer there to cheer us up.
But Slade's lead singer Noddy Holder has evidently refused to discard the wardrobe he must have collected as a dedicated follower of outrageous fashion in 25 years as the band's frontman. For in he walks wearing a beige leather coat which reaches practically down to his ankles, where I now expect to see a pair of huge, ankle-breaking platform shoes. In fact underneath the coat it all looks relatively sensible, although his green shirt is just a jade too bright. If the ensemble is relatively low-key the whole effect does not quite add up, which is something of a relief.
Because exquisite good taste was never quite the point about Slade, was it? First there was the music. This fact might be an unfair reflection on the band's versatility, "we wrote lots of ballads" says Noddy, but Slade have been famous since 1973 for writing the ultimate Christmas anthem rock song, Merry Xmas Everybody.
And then there was the image. You could never accuse Slade of being cool. The four of them were no oil paintings. And then there were the clothes - Mad Hatter hats, cut-off tartan trousers, braces and huge kipper ties. Glitter in their hair, feathers, space suits and platforms you could build a bridge over. "I was a bit of a spiv," Noddy says in his autobiography Who's Crazee Now? You don't say Noddy.
But that's what you get from this Walsall-born man. He sits back in his seat, stares into the middle-distance and shoots from the hip. No pretence, no "airs and graces" as he would say in a strong and gritty Wolverhampton accent. As he tells the story of Slade it is quickly apparent that the glam and glitter was always kept strictly for the wardrobe. Since day one Noddy seems to have been born with confidence. He admits it himself. "I didn't know when or how I was going to make it into the music business," he says, shaking his big mop of fuzzy, blonde hair which still does little to betray his 53 years.
"But I knew I had talent and with a bit of luck I would get a break."
He launches almost immediately into reminiscences about his family. He came from a typical working-class family, born in Newhall Street, Walsall in 1946. His dad Jack, who had been a Desert Rat in the Second World War, and mum Leah never fully understood what their only son was all about. They must have scratched their heads a few time at his on-stage outfits.
"My parents never thought I had a proper job. I don't think they realised why I was doing it until we had three or four number one records," he says matter-of-factly. "In fact I don't think me mum considered it a proper job until I was put on This is Your Life. Then she thought, 'he must be famous'. But of course she was more excited about meeting Michael Aspel than about the fact her son was the surprise star of the show."
But he is not bitter about that. He does not remember his parents ever saying they were proud of their son, but then they did not have to. "I just saw the look on their faces. It was like they'd seen the light. They finally understood why I had been doing it all these years. This was about ten or 12 years after being a professional musician. I'd been doing it professionally since I was 16. I had a band for four years at school."
So it sounds like Noddy has always been in some sense a one-man band. An only child, he was thrown on to his own resources from a young age. He manufactured the confidence himself. Perhaps that is why he talks about Slade and its success as though it was a matter of fate. All Noddy had to do was go with the flow.
"If you believe in yourself, that's the main thing. If you've got the confidence and a good sense of humour, then you will survive. I knew I was good enough musically from a young age. I sang from day one. I knew music was going to be the big love of my life. And it proved to be so. "It's something you have to have in you. You've probably got to be born with it. It's something that draws you on."
He leans forward in his chair, warming to his theme. I have been warned that Noddy shouts rather than talks. This is not strictly true. He just says everything adamantly.
"You can learn to be a technically good singer and I am not a technically good singer. I break all the rules. But you cannot learn how to sing. Even a bad singer can sing."
He admits their style was "bad taste" but then corrects that. "It had nothing to do with taste. We were always colourful, even in the early days before we were famous. We always had an image. We just made people laugh. If you can get people to smile then you're halfway there. People took to us and warmed to us just because we looked outrageous. I think they were shocked more than anything else. No one else was doing it then."
I suggest this might have been part of Slade's image problem later. They might have enjoyed three decades of chart success, even into the early 1990s, but they were always dismissed as something of a novelty band. Perhaps the image became a distraction?
"We were never putting it on," he says. "We wouldn't have lasted that long if it wasn't genuine in some way. I suppose we dressed as caricatures of ourselves."
Noddy says the recent rewriting of Slade's history, helped by 90s band Oasis doing a cover version of Cum on Feel the Noize and the revelation that Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was a fan, has been a huge compliment to the band. But what has done most to rehabilitate the band from the superficial glitter of glam rock is simply the passing of time.
"Lots of bands followed us and when they tell you they went into the business because of you that's a big compliment. It was a great kick for me when Oasis invited me to their show and 40,000 fans of a new generation were singing a song I had written 20-odd years ago. But also enough time had passed for us to be rediscovered. We made some damn fine records and we were always a damn fine live band. People give us credit for that now. At the time a lot of people saw us as shambolic yobs bringing out mad records. But they can hear the other good songs now. If you listen to our albums they're not all full of anthemic songs. There are loads of ballads. For example people say to me all the time that How's It Feel is one of their favourite songs. It wasn't one of our biggest hits. It wasn't a number one song or even a number three song."
When Noddy wrote a hit song he always knew it. Slade put together Merry Xmas Everybody in the heat of a New York summer while the band were on tour. It suggests how business-like Slade were behind the scenes. It went to number one the year it was released and every Christmas since has received massive airplay. The single is never out of circulation Noddy tells me. More copies are printed around the festive season but it is always in the shops. And he never dismisses its enduring appeal, even though it appeared to be the pop equivalent of an albatross around their necks.
It makes you wonder why Slade never produced another Christmas song just to cancel out the other. At the very least it would make a change for them to play a different tune.
Noddy shakes his head adamantly. "We never considered doing it again. I think it's fabulous for a record like that not to have dated."
And he has a theory as to why the song has endured for 26 years without any sign of waning.
"Ours was a very working class family-orientated kind of song. And people make a very obvious mistake when they write a Christmas record.
"They try too hard to make it festive. If you listen to our song, it's got no sleigh bells, no Christmas sounds, no mention of Santa or holly and ivy. It's just a straight-forward rock song. The only thing festive about it are the lyrics. And that's proved by the fact that it was number one in France the following Easter after it was first released. It climbed its way up the charts very slowly and eventually got to number one. But the French did not have a clue what the song was about."
Although Slade still continues to this day, Noddy is no longer its frontman. He chose to leave in 1992 because he wanted to try out new things. And he has undergone a successful reinvention, unlike many a former rock band member. He has a weekend radio show with Manchester's Piccadilly Radio and has just starred in a second TV comedy drama series The Grimleys where he plays a music teacher called Neville Holder who was once in a band which never made it to the big time. Neville is Noddy's real name, but only his mother calls him Neville now.
He says he is enjoying this latest chapter in his life. He once wrote: "Look to the future now, it's only just begun. . ." Divorced with two grown up daughters, Noddy is a father again to a son called Django and lives with his partner, 19 years his junior, near Manchester. The name Django is after Django Reinhardt the famous jazz musician. Noddy knows a lot about Django, having been taught to play the guitar by a jazz musician. In fact Noddy's record collection is pretty serious. He lists the artists who have influenced him - The Beatles and The Who in the 1960s, Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding in the 1970s. He thinks the Fun Lovin' Criminals in the 1990s are fabulous but soul and black music is his main love.
"Music isn't the biggest part of my life now, like it was for so many years. I don't watch Top of the Pops every week. I don't know what's in the charts anymore but I still listen to new stuff."
He thinks the carefully manufactured pop and rock bands who dominate the music scene today are not likely to last as long as Slade. "We kept the original line-up. Nobody has ever achieved that, nobody." And nobody has yet emulated Slade's winning formula. "What we did is still valid today because nobody is doing what we did, not all in one band anyway. They might do the music but nobody's is having a laugh like we did."
Noddy Holder, Who's Crazee Now? My Autobiography, is published by Ebury and is available now in all good bookshops at £16.99.
A new series of The Grimleys will be broadcast early next year.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd