DECEMBER / JANUARY 1975-6
A YEAR GONE BY!
"DAVE IS WEARING his pink frilly knickers tonite ... and if you're really good ... " Noddy Holder circa 1973 British Tour. Biggest draw in Britain, our very own working-class heroes made good. Filled every hall they played, had 15 hit singles, five hit albums. Always seemed to be in British charts albums, singles, often both.
Their latest album "Slade in Flame" was released last November made it to six in the charts. The elpee before that ("Old New Borrowed And Blue") got to number one. Their last single "Thanks For The Memory" got to number seven. In july they went to America. Even Sir Geoffrey Howe could almost be forgiven for mentioning Slade in his tax exiles speech. The Evening News made the same boob just last week - both presuming the band had been away for so long that they must have joined the British elite who for tax reasons live abroad.
Last year they filmed "Flame". It has grossed over one million dollars in Britain alone.
Not bad at all, very good in fact. It is now showing in America. It opened in St. Louis where it broke all box office records. On their last British tour, it was reported that not all of the gigs were completely sold out.
Mel Bush who promoted the tour stated" As far as I am concerned it was a sell out tour although there were the odd dates that weren't exactly sold out".
Bush insists "Slade are still a big band, a massive band, Fourteen number ones and twos cannot be dismissed. I get loads of phone calls asking me when Slade are going to tour again. There is a big interest". It is difficult to gauge how big Slade are in the States. The first time they went over they followed swiftly on the heels of Marc Bolan. Bolan bombed. It seemed that America was not quite ready to accommodate another "British best".
Slade went again. And again.
Reports seeped back. Conflicting reports to say the least. I saw them headline in New York at the 5,000 seater Felt Forum, where they packed the place out. The audience went pineapples. Kate Phillips witnessed them at San Francisco's Winterland where they supported Ten Years After and "went down well".
However, the real criterion is how many bucks people shell out for the product. In America the "Flame" album got to 80 in the charts. The Bay City Rollers (admittedly with much hype) have reached higher. Premier Talent, Slade's N.Y. booking agent lists among Slade's future venues Rochester Dome (capacity 5,600) where they are billed as "special guests" (not support) to Aerosmith, and War Memorial, Syacuse, where again they are Aerosmith's "special guests". They are topping however, the 2,400 seater at Calderone Theatre, Hempstead, Long Island.
Slade are now in Britain promoting their new single "In For A Penny".
In December the band plan to have a rest.
"They have", says their press agent, Leslie Perrin "Been touring like mad, and other tours are being lined up for them".
In Britain, I hope.
by JULI E WEBB of NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS
"We had to move 14 tons of equipment into the New Victoria Theatre last night and tonight we've got to carry it all out again. We'll be lucky if we can leave for Wolverhampton before 3 am!".
That's a day in the life of Slade's road crew, four gentlemen by the names of Ian (Charlie) Newman, John Jones, Rob Wilson and Haden Donovan, Charlie's been with the band the longest, four years, and the others joined about three and a half years ago. "I think we're one of the longest lasting road crews there is", he says.
Charlie is Sound Engineer. "I'd worked with other bands before but with Slade I got more into sound because they require so much power. The average gig needs 5,000 watts out front, 1,500 in the monitors and the backing gear 1,200 watts. We tried Revoxes once for ADT effects but it did not work for Slade. If you try to copy the studio sound for them you can't do it with that volume. The group take great interest in the technicalities of sound, especially Nod - he's the boss" .
John is in charge of the P.A. with Charlie. Haden looks after the backing gear and Rob handles the drums. Setting up for the average Slade gig takes about four hours, two of those hours being positioning of the gear. Veterans of six American tours, the crew reckon that power wise, things are simpler in the States.
"Every venue has it's own union and if you explain to them what you want there's usually no trouble at all", said Charlie ..
"Here, if you want anything slightly unusual it throws them. At one Wolverhampton gig we wanted a non-standard power supply, to be provided for 10 a.m. When they finally got it together and switched it on it was 5 p.m. and too late for a check".
Decibel meters create problems too. Ever since it was reported that the DO rating at Slade's Earls Court Concert was higher than a Jumbo jet taking off, the anti-noise freaks have been on their tail!
"We're only using 4,000 watts at the New Victoria tonight, but in the States it'll be about 8,000 and we'll increase the monitoring to 2,500", said Charlie optimistically.
The band rely on their own distribution box, as they don't put much trust in house mains. The back line gear is mainly Hi 'watt, four 200 watts amps, five slaves, six 4/12s for lead and 'rhythm guitar, four Acoustic 360s for Bass, Acoustic pre amps and a WEM Audiomaster for extra top on guitar.
"The monitors, like the PA are also WEM. The mixer is a 24 channel steromaster with electronic cross over stereo limiters, etc. The PA is driven by Crown DC300s, driving six 4/15 reflex cabinets with four bass bins, for Britain, with modifications for America. They have two 24/18 J.B.L. lenses, four J.B.L. 375 HF horns and two double 2470 HF horns.
"We use WEM power amps to drive the horns which gives us the sound we want. The WEM gear was all custom built for us. Charlie Watkins (head of WEM) was one night, stamping and clapping and really enjoying himself", said Charlie. "Slade use Shure microphones, all SM58s", he continues, "The drum kit is Ludwig and was custom built for Don and the guitars are Gibson SG3s, an EB3 bass, a Fender Telecaster and the rest are John Birch customs, including the good old Super Yobl"
Slade certainly follow the old boy scout motto, "Be prepared". They carry spares kit which is total duplication of everything they've got, right down to the last nut, bolt and guitar pick-up.
They also have a back up on each amp which is always plugged in in case of emergencies. But even with such careful preparation, unforeseen things you can still go wrong.
"Once we took the wrong road to a gig in Yugoslavia", recalled Charlie.
"We went over the Austrian Alps, with a foot of ice on the road, and ended up in a tiny village which had a little bridge in it that we couldn't get under. The bridge was about eleven feet high and our truck was twelve feet. You'd better continue the tale, John, because that's where I lost my cool!!
John carried on; "we let the tyres down and still couldn't get under. It was 3 a.m. and we still had 300 miles to go to get to the gig the next day.
"In the end Charlie jumped into the van and rammed with all his might under the bridge, leaving us with half a roof. We got under and then, to our horror, we found we were facing another even smaller bridge. So there we were, stuck in the middle of this village, Charlie had given up by this time and was saying "We're never going to make the gig, better forget it;', then we noticed a little path and drove down that. But there was a house and a cliff and no room for us between. We ended up knocking a piece off the house and demolishing the village tree. The owner came out in his pyjamas and just stood scratching his head. The whole village came out and gasped. They'd never seen a truck as big as ours in their lives!
"The path lead back to the road so we managed to get to the gig all right. Funny thing is, we never heard any more from the man whose house we damaged". So if you meet an Austrian with half a chalet ...