Wednesday, January 25, 2006
New Don Powell interview
On January 11th I went over to Don's place. We were to do an interview and some photos for the Danish paper Birkerød Avis in connection with Slade's concert on January 27th. Apart from me only getting 4 hours sleep the night before and the train being late so we were all starving when I arrived, it all went great. After a superb lunch (thanks to Don's lovely lady Hanne), Don and I retreated and did a 2 hours interview as well as a really hilarious photo session.
Now the stuff has been out in Denmark. Not many people in the world read Danish, though, and even those who do will have a hard time getting hold of the paper, so I've decided to put parts of the interview up here as well as some of the photos. Enjoy!
We have to cater a bit to the Danish audience as this is going into a Danish paper.
So…it is now publicly known that you live in Denmark.
Yes, it has been quoted in a lot of media things and a lot of people sort of know it. And when they know I live here they always ask how did you meet? How did you and Hanne meet, and we always tell them the story.
Right, tell the story once more, then.
Well, what it was is, we were playing in Silkeborg probably about 5 years ago. I met Hanne later after the show and she said that she had a drumstick of me back in 1973 when we played in Aarhus. Her mother took Hanne and some of her school friends of the time and I don't know how it happened, but Hanne got a drumstick that night. And she still has it! It's a different colour tape banding now [Hanne's is red, whereas the present is black]. And I thought she was joking when she explained it to me, that she still had it after all those years! And that was how we met. I DID remember that we played Aarhus twice I think in the seventies, 1973 and 1974, and she said that all her friends got together to go to the show, but they had to buy Hanne's mother a ticket for the concert as she was to drive them, obviously. And then the story is this, that Hanne's Mom was a speech therapist at the time and she forced the girls to put gum in their ears to protect them from the noise! [laughs hard] And the gum sort of stuck, so later they got into trouble with the school nurse, because they still had bits of chewing gum in their ears! [laughs].
How do you like it here in Denmark?
Oh, it's wonderful! It's a beautiful place, and I'm not just saying that. I find it so peaceful, it's so peaceful living here and still there's so much going on. What I like is, that apparently in Denmark, the authorities, whoever it may be, they really care for the young people, of their interests. Like I was asked to go to this music school and talk about Slade's career, and when I got there, they had all this equipment there, amplifiers and drums and guitars. And there were quite a few of the kids there, and they had lots there for them, and they swap ideas and go on play, taking turns and just jam, really. And I think it is wonderful. And I did a question/answer thing from the stage, so they could ask about Slade's career and certain things relevant to having a record and what we did. And I was explaining about certain aspects about recording, which they were interested in, obviously. Then I jammed with the young guys, and then one of them said to me, "You're a fantastic drummer for an old man!" [laughs hard] That was just wonderful!!! [Don can't stop laughing] It was SO good!! [still laughing for a while, then getting back to the conversation] But I think it is great that they are sort of given opportunities. They may get that in England now, but obviously when I was that age we didn't have anything like that, maybe they do in certain places now, but not as I know of. I think it is wonderful opportunities that are given to the younger generation of Denmark. And the young kids at the music school were so friendly. All together it was just so good to see that kind of thing, that they respect everything. I think it's wonderful. And also there are so many concerts around in Denmark anyway, not just the well-known bands but everything, lots of sort of all across the borders in the music business, different things. The opportunities are THERE to go and see or listen or whatever to anything in the music business and I think it is great. The opportunities that the young people are given in Denmark are wonderful.
Slade has always had a big following in Denmark. You must get recognised when you walk the streets?
It's happened since there's been a few features in the local newspapers and things like that. I did a few interviews with reporters here in Silkeborg. I've been living here full time for 1½ years now. Nowadays since the features have been published, when I'm going certain places like the record shops or the cafés people say, we thought we recognised you, but we never imagined that it was you. And somebody once said, didn't you used to be Don Powell? And I said, I still am! [laughs].
Many of the old fans still go to you concerts. So at a Slade concert when you look at the audience these days you see all these 45 and up…
I know, I know! And it's great because a lot of these people said to me, I've just totally relived my youth! And sometimes they have their children with them and the children are SO embarrassed by their parents! [laughs] Well, the thing is that many of the old fans still remember certain things from when we toured here a lot in the seventies, they still remember so many things about it, the records and so on which is wonderful.
Maybe the fans remember more than the band?
Oh, yeah! They can pick you up and tell you things that no way I would ever remember, things about quotes and even articles from that period; you said this and you said that, do you still stand by that? And I don't even remember saying it! [laughs hard] But they remember these things. A funny thing was that at a concert, it must have been a few years ago, and there was this fan from the seventies and he was with his daughter and we met them in the street and he said, do you know who this is? And she says, no. And he says, that's the drummer with Slade. Do you remember them? You know Slade. She goes, oh, didn't they sing about Christmas? [laughs] Of all the hit records we've had people remembers that. But that's the one, I mean, the Christmas record obviously appeals to every age group, so there's no way you can like ignore that particular record. You can forget all the hit records but people always remember Merry Xmas. Especially when we tour at Christmas time, when the contracts are made for the shows, there's always a clause that says they must finish the show with Merry Xmas. We would do that anyway, 'coz once you play that song you can't play anything else. You can't follow it with anything else. So we have to finish with that one. Which is wonderful.
Your first official concert this year will be in Birkerød, but you can't really say that it's your 40th anniversary tour that starts here, can you, because it isn't.
Well, this year is our 40th anniversary and although it isn't the exact date it is the 40th year and this is our first tour of that particular year so in a way this is the start of our 40th anniversary tour. The real 40th anniversary tour in England at the end of the year, that'll be the Christmas tour, November/December, where there'll be at least 40 shows.
Are there any particular plans for that?
At the moment what we are talking about is maybe we could try to get different guests from different groups who'd said that they're big fans of Slade. That would be nice with a few people maybe at certain shows. That has to go into motion, obviously, because they have their own schedules as well, so we'll try to work it so we can get guests on stage with us. That would be good. There are also talks about us doing one-off things coming up, big shows in England that we may be asked to appear on because of the 40th anniversary.
You're also playing Russia this year?
Yeah, Russia and Europe in general. Germany obviously and all over the Scandinavia and the European countries. That's where we'll be going. And we'll be coming back to Denmark later this year to do some more shows. I think we're going to do some of the Danish festivals as well this summer. That'll be nice. I think it IS wonderful that we can still go out and tour, especially now the world is such a small place these days and the borders have broken down a lot so we can go to Russia and places like in the seventies there were NO way we were ever getting there. It is SO good. I just hope the younger bands of today realise what an opportunity they have to really open their eyes to see the different cultures and different things around the world. As I've always said, it has been my education.
You're rather big in Russia and the former Eastern bloc, aren't you?
Yeah, in those countries and Russia as well they know so much more about the band than what you'd ever think, you know. And they say, why didn't you come here in the seventies? [laughs] It's obvious why we couldn't be there in the seventies. In the early seventies when we had all the big hit records we went to East Berlin to do a TV-show and I was kicked out of the TV-studio for chewing gum! That was Western decadence. I didn't know! They were shouting at me in German and pushed me out of the studio and I couldn't think what I had done wrong! And then I saw the guy who was looking after us from Polydor which we were signed to in those days, and I said; please, talk to them, I obviously did something wrong. And he said, take the chewing gum out of your mouth! It's Western decadence! [laughs].
It's a bit amazing that you're still here after 40 years, because not many bands are.
It IS amazing. I always quote what I said, when we first started having hit records, and people asked, how long do you think you'll go on for now?, I said, well, I'll give it five years [laughs] but here we are, we are still carrying on. But I've always said that as soon as I stop enjoying it, I WILL finish. I'm not gonna go on stage just for the money or for whatever, I'd rather stop myself personally as soon as I stop enjoying it. I've met so many bands over the years that don't want to go on stage! [Don sounds baffled] When they are doing a concert; oh, I wish I was at home watching TV and they MEAN it!! It's not just a silly quote! And I said, well, how can you DO it then? You know, you can't just go on stage as a robot and go through the motions of doing something.
All the concerts in Denmark this January/February are to be with Sweet on the same bill?
Yeah, we've done quite a few shows together since Mal has been in Slade and it's quite nice.
Mal could just stay on stage all evening, couldn't he?
Yeah [laughs], I never thought of that!
Are there any plans for new releases this year?
Yeah! There are talks about it. Because, okay, we have the CD, The Very Best Of Slade, that was released in November/December last year. It went into the charts. Initially when it first came out, it went into the charts. I don't know if it's on in the moment, but I've been let to believe that there's a lot more promotion work to go on now. It was fun to see that in the charts, actually, and there are talks about doing some more CDs of the obscurer tracks. The B-sides and some of the tracks that we have never really used and then some more new clips for DVD that haven't really been used but that WERE filmed in the seventies. And then maybe more stuff from live concerts, some live concert footage, and some of the other TV shows that have never really been featured, that have never really been used before. That could be good. With the CDs they are talking about a lot more of the tracks that have never really been featured, especially some of the ones that we DO have film of as well, you know. So some of the B-sides like I said. We've always wanted to do a CD with some of the early B-sides. It WAS planned a few years ago to be called "A-sides Of Backsides", but it never happened. But I think the next CD will feature quite a few of the B-sides. It should get out this year, at least that's what the plan was. I like the title "A-sides Of Backsides" [laughs]. And some of the things that were filmed, that has never really been shown because either there weren't A-sides or there weren't singles, so that's why they have never really been used. We did some live concerts on English TV and some of the material from that could be good.
What about the present Slade? Are you going to have a new CD out?
That's what we are talking about now. We want to do a new album now. We are talking about doing it this year, definitely this year. Len, our manager, is in talk with different companies and apparently there is quite a bit of interest. I think because of the old Slade, the last CD and also the new stuff coming out so I think there is sort of a profile on the name at the moment. So that's a good time for us to do a new CD.
Would that be a studio CD?
Yeah. With all new songs. It'll be all new things. There's no point in covering the old songs…with all that is being released…how are we going to top that? Why compete with ourselves?
You yourself will be writing again as well, then?
Yeah, we'll do it together. What we'd like to do is lock ourselves away somewhere in one of the residential studios where we live and record, so we can record when we get inspirational, when we get ideas, so we are not like stuck to a time thing like say, from 12 lunchtime to 6 o'clock where we can record. At a residential studio when we get ideas, we can go record THEN. When we have an idea: let's go put it down NOW. That would be great. We did that once before with the old band in Tittenhurst Park, the one John Lennon used to own and then Ringo took it over, and we did some recordings there once, so when we got ideas; QUICK! Let's go record it! And that's so good. We could walk from the TV-room or whatever and just go record something. It happens SO many times that if you don't put it down on a small tape, you lose it. You forget it. At least in this situation it's; Quick! While we have it at present. Let's go, let's go! Even if we just record you know half a minute, 30 seconds or something, at least we have it down on tape, so we can finish off on a later date. So that's what we think we might do with the new line-up.
If you're gonna have the time for it!
Yeah, that's also the trouble! We have to take maybe 2 or 3 weeks, otherwise you know, you don't achieve anything. You need to be there and get inspiration.
Yeah, also if you just have normal studio time it's difficult to be creative on demand.
Yeah, like watching the clock, I think you have to finish now, WHAT!! Oh no!! [laughs].
With Mal's voice and John on the violin you're approaching the original sound?
Yeah, we try to do that. What started that, Lise, was because of Mal's voice, he's leaning more towards the Noddy Holder sound. We had to change some of the keys back to the original keys, so that was when John decided to use the violin.
During the sound check in Bilston in December I heard him have a go at Run Runaway on the violin.
Yeah, maybe we will do that as well, try that. But even with the old band, Jim never played violin on stage during Run Runaway.
Is there any hope for a reunion of the original Slade?
Well, they say, never say never, but to be honest I can't see it. From the bottom of my heart, I can't see it happen.
I think that one of the reasons why people keep hoping for a reunion is that you are one of the only bands that actually COULD do a reunion, because you're all still here, you're all still alive.
Yeah, and I also think we all still have the ability to do it. It WOULD be nice, it WOULD be nice and it may only take a couple of mails or phone calls to get it in gear, to put it back together again, but I think we have to wait and see. I'm not ultimately ruling it out. As for other bands, it's amazing how many of them are dead. Be it just natural causes or brought on by themselves, it is really the same. So many are dead. You don't realise it, you kind of forget, you know. It's amazing.
Finally, Don, there's just one thing… I have to ask you about that. That's not going to go into the Danish papers, but, I've always wondered…When you did the Play It Loud-album you wrote a song with Jim Lea called I Remember. I've always wondered about the lyrics, because there are these lines, "My kids said hello and I didn't reply, you see my memory was gone. Like a fire in the grass it just wiped out my past and my memory's gone".
Oh, yeah. I actually never thought of that.
And that was 3 years prior to your accident.
I never realised that! Well, that's strange…that's strange, isn't it!! I wrote the lyrics. That's spooky! I never thought of that. That's strange, that! I don't know why I wrote that. I don't remember what the inspiration was at the time when I wrote the lyrics to that one, but that is VERY weird! It IS strange. I never even THOUGHT of that. [laughs] That IS weird.
Well, as most writers have learned the hard way, you have to be careful what you write, because some of the stuff comes back to haunt you in real life!
Yeah, I must be more careful in the future about what I write! [laughs]
Monday, January 23, 2006
Erfurt 1977 photo
Monika Kahle of poprocknews just sent me this photo from the Erfurt 1977 show, which I mentioned on January 8th in the Slade Live In East Germany 1977-post. Apparently the photo appeared in a local Erfurt paper. Thanks a lot, Moni!
Friday, January 20, 2006
Perseverance - The Story Of Slade
For Slade's 20th anniversary back in 1986 a Music Box special was made. The special was called "Perseverance - The Story Of Slade" and had Gaz Top as the host. Recently Don gave me the opportunity to see this, and it is really great. It features 9 promo videos as well as interviews with Nod, Jim, Dave and Don, taking the viewers from the first meeting of the members of Slade through their whole career to the (then) present days.
The 9 promo videos are Do You Believe In Miracles, Gudbuy T'Jane, My Friend Stan, Far Far Away, Run Runaway, All Join Hands, Myzsterious Mizster Jones, 7 Year Bitch and Give Us A Goal. Four of them I actually hadn't seen before. Of those I quite liked the gangster/prohibition story of Myzsterious Mizster Jones, but the guys seemed to have enjoyed the shooting of 7 Year Bitch more. And who can blame them, as they get into a custard pie fight with a bunch of beautiful girls with hardly any clothes on. This promo is strictly one for the male sex! Personally I prefer All Join Hands and especially Do You Believe In Miracles as the settings are great.
The interviews are very good, Gaz Top asking the right questions and the boys answering very frank and entertaining. They get around many aspects of Slade: the highs and lows of the band, the relationship to Chas Chandler, Don's accident, "Flame", Charlesworth's "Feel The Noize" book, the Perseverance company and loads more. This special is truly a little gem.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Photos from Wilf
I've just received some great photos from Wilfried Mende, who used to run the German Slade fan club. The first one shows Dave and Jim at a TV studio in Munich doing 7 Year Bitch. Dave lost his hat, which caused a lot of laughter. The second is taken of Jim and Nod at the Berlin Airport in 1986. You can just spot Dave behind them. Next up is a shot of Don and Dave backstage at the Walsall Town Hall for their 25th anniversary, and the 3 last ones are all taken in Munich when the guys promoted Universe. It's Wilf with Dave and Jim. Thanks a lot for letting me use the photos, Wilf!
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Slade Live At East Germany 1977
These days you can buy a DVD on the net called Rare Videos - Live at Granada Studios 1972/Live At East Germany Television 1977. As the Live At Granada Studios 1972 is exactly the same as the Slade Alive!-DVD mentioned somewhere else on this blog, I'll concentrate on Live At East Germany here.
The DVD contains 16 tracks taped in the the East German town of Erfurt as well as some short clips of the boys goofing around in town and separate interviews with them. Most of the songs are hits like "Cum On Feel The Noize", "'Coz I Luv You" and "Far Far Away", but also songs like "Gypsy Roadhog", "When The Lights Are Out" and "My Baby Left Me" have found their way to this DVD. All spelled wrongly, that is in correct English.
There is not much live about this television concert, though, as it is all play back. Sometimes you can hear the hard thumps of Don on the drums or Jim's precise violin cutting through the recorded sound, but that's it. Nod doesn't even bother to pretend that this is live as he lets go of his guitar several times. As Nod has never been good at lip sync you'll also see him forget to move his lips a couple of times while hearing his voice booming out into the studio.
The studio audience is quite a chapter of its own. They clap their hands all right, but sit perfectly still with gloomy expressions on their faces. Like mindless zombies not knowing what the heck is going on. Not until the encore (a second rendition of My Baby Left Me) do they freak out. Nod and Dave are going into the audience, Nod flirting left and right, and the audience invades the stage where Jim asks a young girl to wipe off the sweat of his face before she gets pushed away by security.
The concert itself is really no big deal, but the few clips of the guys in town and the interviews are great. Among other things Nod says that he sees MXE and Gudbuy T'Jane as Slade's biggest hits, Jim admits that he wants to do some solo work, Don lies himself 5 years younger to fit in with the "official" ages of the boys back then, and Dave says that he's never sad except when the tax man comes around. Unfortunately all the interviews are simultaneous interpreted into German so you can't hear exactly what the guys are saying. All though I understand German perfectly well, it is annoying not to be able to hear the "real thing". Only Jim pauses for the interpreter to finish his sentences, which makes the interpreter wait for Jim to finish his, so at least you can hear Jim a little better than the others. Apart from the interpretations the interviews are really good, and also note the intro AND the credits where the guys have to clean up. Hilarious!
Friday, January 06, 2006
Recently the 3Sat-Channel aired a rerun of the 2004 WDR production "Generation Pop" where "ordinary" Germans born in the early 1960s talked about being young in the 1970s and 1980s. The first part of this 4 part series included an interview with Don and Dave as well as some short clips from different TV-appearances of the original Slade.
The interview had Dave telling how important the clothes and the shoes were to the band and that because of the exploration of space he invented the silver look. With that and the big shoes the guys looked like men walking on the moon, he said.
Don talked about the phonetic spelling of the song titles and how that caused the band a lot of trouble with the educational authorities in England. He added that a few years later they started using phonetic spelling in schools.
Probably the funniest thing in the series was a woman admitting that as a young teenager she didn't understand English. When "Cum On Feel The Noize" was a hit she therefore got out the dictionary to look up the word "cum".
The running time of the whole series was 3 hours, but only 5-10 minutes were Slade-related. Well, at least the theme of the series was "Lock Up Your Daughters"!
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Jam session in Herning
On Boxing Day Don participated in an open mike/jam session night in the Danish town of Herning. There was a lot of bands there from Heavy Metal freaks over country rockers to a cappella singers and Don went on stage 3 times, each time with (to some degree) different musicians. Don and the guys (and gals) played a quaint rendition of MXE and then songs like Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode", The Beatles' "I Saw Here Standing There", Dusty Springfield's "Son Of A Preacher Man" and even Dolly Parton's "Jolene".
All in all Don participated in half a dozen numbers and it was great hearing him do something else than just Slade-songs on stage. As I know from different sound check experiences there is so much more to him as a drummer than just Slade, so it was good seeing those sides of him too in front of an audience. Don got his well-deserved appreciation, some of the guys in the audience even shouted for more, when other bands went on.
I had a really good night out with Don, his lady Hanne, Mikael and all the rest of the nice folks I got to meet, but man, was I tired when I rolled into bed at 4 a.m.!
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Jam session in Herning, January 5
Generation Pop, January 6
Slade Live At East Germany 1977, January 8
Photos from Wilf, January 17
Perseverance - The Story Of Slade, January 20
Erfurt 1977 photo, January 23
New Don Powell interview, January 25
Slade in Søby-Højslev, January 28, 2006, February 2
He's "far, far away", February 6
Slade hits on the Danish Top 20 1971-1991, February 8
The Slade-gig on February 4th, 2006, February 11
It's Slade, February 21
Rock Legends, March 9
Don in Sounds, March 14
Happy anniversary, guys!, March 19
1980 photos, March 22
Glam Top 10, March 27
New Don Powell photos, April 6
Twenty years ago on BBC, April 13
Slade on German RTL television, April 17
Live in San Francisco 1975, April 21
Slade in Bremen 1984, April 26
Slade in Aarslev, May 4
This Is Your Life, May 11
New pics of Jim, May 13
Fab 208, May 16
Fab 208, too!, May 18
Birthday greetings, May 24
Castle Donington pics, June 2
More pics from Denmark, June 6
Slade in Skanderborg, June 8, 2006, June 13
Slade in Nordborg, June 10, 2006, June 16
Slade at the Portland Recording Studios, 1981, June 21
Slade in Mørkøv, June 24, June 29
In search of photographers, July 5
American Bandstand, 1984, July 12
Till Deaf Profiles, July 20
Countdown 1991, July 26
The new re-releases, August 1
Golden Award, August 4
Review of the first 4 remastered Slade CDs, August 7
Slade in Holstebro, August 12, 2006, August 17
Remaster inteview with Don!, September 1
Pics of Slade 1979-1980, September 7
Happy birthday, Don!, September 10
Don's birthday, September 11
The Slade Box, September 21
Slade micro site, September 27
Don’s biography, October 3
Record Collector, October 11
Box set-interview with Don, October 15
MOJO feature, October 22
Liverpool Royal Court Theatre, 1983, October 26
The world’s worst DVD about the world’s greatest album, November 1
German photos of Slade, November 8
Slade in Munich, 1992, November 15
Crackers, November 23
Slade in Bilston, December 5
Danish photos from 1977, December 12
Good Times, December 19
Merry Xmas Everybody, December 23
Just to let you know, December 27