Chris Slade, current drummer for AC/DC and a musician of over 50 years comes to Breaking Bands Festival 2018 as a special guest with the Chris Slade Timeline. Festival Director Jay has an exclusive chat with Chris about his career, his experiences along the way and also lets some of the fans ask a few questions too.
So Chris, firstly we’d like to thank you again for agreeing to play our little festival. You were first asked about this event back in 2013 when you were backstage of the Rock n Blues festival in Derbyshire. I told you about this festival that we were putting together and asked if you would like to come and play it and to my delight you said yes. This was 2 years before we even had a venue. Since then you were invited to go back and play for AC/DC, possibly the biggest tour you have ever been on. According to online statistics, over 4.7million people turned out to watch the band on the Rock or Bust tour. Can you explain the feeling of playing to that many people in any band, let alone one of the biggest in the world?
You’re right about the numbers we played to about 80,000 people a night and in Austria we broke the record for a crowd coming to see one band, not a festival and we got 120,000 people there. The feeling is amazing when that many people get together but you can’t let it get to you, you have to concentrate on what you’re doing and then it becomes another day at the office. I play the same if there are 80,000 or 80 at a show because people have paid their money and expect a good show.
Across the 50+ years you have performed with Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Michael Schenker Group, David Gilmore, Gary Moore, Asia and of course AC/DC back in the late 80’s but you started out with Tom Jones as a young lad out of school. How did that come about and was it unusual to work with such a fantastic character as Tom?
It’s not unusual, sorry about that!! It’s a long story which I’ll tell in full in my book when I finish it, but, I got a chance for Tom and the band to come to my front room to see me play in 1963. (We lived in the same village, Treforest, S. Wales) He wasn’t called Tom Jones then, he was Tommy Scott and straight away we went to a pub to rehearse.
We have Breaking Bands Festival now in its 4th year with over 140 bands that will have played the stages after this years event is done, and all but the special guest each year are unsigned/independent/underground bands. Was there the same opportunities in the 60’s and 70’s to play festivals as there is today?
Festivals didn’t exist back then, there were tours which had a number of bands on the bill because bands (or pop-groups as we were known then) only played for a maximum of 20 minutes a set including The Beatles or The Stones. My first real professional gig, in London, was supporting the Stones in a tiny club in Oxford street. The Artwoods opened the show which is the name of Ronnie Woods’ brother and I think Ronnie was in the band. By the 70’s, festivals had caught on and there were more opportunities to play. One of the first festival organisers was Sir Harvey Goldsmith who started out as a roadie (Crew member) for Manfred Mann.
Is there a single moment in your career you can look back at and say wow, that was just epic?
It would probably be Toshina Airfield in Moscow with AC/DC in early 90’s when we played to a million people at one show.
The digital age of music is well and truly here with Spotify, Youtube, Facebook etc. What was the most significant thing you can think of that changed the face of the music industry?
None of the above. I would say it was The Beatles that significantly changed the music industry and to a certain extent, The World.
Which country have you enjoyed touring the most?
It’s called Planet Earth.
What is the single most important piece of advise you could give a drummer starting out in music?
Practice! Every day because if you become professional there’s no time to practice. There’s no secret, it’s just practice and that’s the same for any instrument.
Now we’d like to hand over to some of this years festival ticket holders for their questions. Some are great and some are a bit odd… so are the questions!!!
Ron Morrow asks…
Do you think the Cadbury gorilla is a better drummer than you?
I think a lot of people are better drummers than me but I haven’t seen the said gentleman???? play.
Ron also asks…
Drummers as lead vocalists – what are your thoughts on this?
Well Phil Collins hasn’t done too bad at it. And Deen Castronovo of Journey and Dead Daisies is a great singer/drummer. It doesn’t mean because you’re a drummer you cant sing or play guitar or keyboards or write songs. Never limit yourself if you have the talent.
Paul Richardson asks…
Who is Manfred Mann?
Manfred is a contemporary of The Beatles in the 60’s The Band (Called Manfred Mann) had about 20 top 10 singles and number 1’s and were always on T.V. Manfred and Myself Formed Earthband in the 70’s and it was a Prog Rock band, we also had hit records.
Mucka Jay asks…
If you didn’t spend the last 50 years behind a drum kit, what career do you think you would have taken on?
To quote Spinal Tap, ”I think I could have worked in a shoe shop cos I can say, sorry sir we don’t have that size”
James Cummings asks…
Is there anyone you would love to work with again?
Everybody, except some!
Guido McFister asks…
Jaffa cakes? Are they cakes or biscuits?
I think this is a bit too deep for me to contemporise about…..I’m a drummer!!!!
Mark Rambler Ross asks…
Have you ever played the wrong beat for a track? Did anyone notice/care?
Have you ever had THE song come into your head, then wake up and it’s forgotten?
Do you still get the ‘tingles’ when you play one of your classic tracks for the umpteenth time?
Is there such a thing as a wrong beat?
That’s why you should always keep a recording device or phone by your bedside, because that has happened to a lot of people.
I always love to get onstage and play, I don’t understand artists who say Ï don’t want to play my hit tonight. Why do they think punters have turned up.
Melanie Bruce asks…
Have you ever turned down the opportunity to drum for a major act and if so why?
Unfortunately I had to turn down Elvis Presley when he asked me to play drums for him because I was contracted to Tom Jones
Che Thatcher asks…
Andrex or Izal?
I refer the right honourable gentleman to the answer I gave a little earlier about Jaffa cakes.
Chris, it has been an honour and a pleasure talking to you. We look forward to seeing you on stage in Bromsgrove at Breaking Bands Festival IV.
COMPETITION: Win Chris Slade signed (personalised) drum skin after his set at Breaking Bands Festival. News will be announced on 4th of May!