Conversation with a fan - Part 1



ESBJERG ROCK FESTIVAL 1996

Ain't I a lucky bastard!?

In '96 I got a chance to talk to Dave Hill (DH) at a hotel downtown Esbjerg. The interview was taped and parts of it was later broadcast in Denmark as a two hour radioshow, "Keep On Rockin'- A Portrait Of Slade". The original recording goes something like this...

 



Hi Dave, I've been waiting since '72 for this to happen, and...

DH: Yeah, that's a long time to wait!

We drove a few hundred kilometres yesterday, and I'm just happy to see you.

DH: It's good to see you too.

It's hard for me because I feel I know you, and you don't know me, and then maybe you do as..

DH: Cosmically speaking, yeah, ha, ha.

But,..is there life after Slade?

DH: Life after Slade, well, there is life after Slade, cos that's what I'm doing now.

It's still your music that's coming across?

DH: Yeah, I think it's sticking to a situation, where what you've created, you continue to do. There's always things you want to do furthering the music, there's personal...as a person myself, there are other things I like. But I think when you're performing in Europe, and the popularity of that music you've grown up with stay whole strong for you. It's something like with classical music, it doesn't actually die, good songs seem to last! Today, obviously you go on this Esbjerg festival, and you play the hits..

Nostalgia?!

DH: It's nostalgia, yeah, but it's weird, cos you can't walk on stage and play things people don't know, so you have to play them!

You might ask me do I still enjoy playing them, you might ask me that question.

The next question is, ha, ha..

DH: Oh, that was the next question, was it!? Because some people think, well, how can you play these song for years? And the thing is, that I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it!

And retire?

DH: Yeah, I suppose so, it is a living, it is a job, you know, like any other job. The thing about performing, I think you can't be good unless you actually believe in what you do! And the songs of the 70's...although they were written in the 70's, were about that time, they're not about now, times have changed.

But, it doesn't matter!

DH: But, it doesn't matter, doesn't matter!

What about the new songs, do you feel they're as strong as the old stuff?

DH: Do you mean peoples songs, anybody else's songs?

Your songs!

DH: Our songs, well, we've made a new album called "Keep On Rockin", and that was, sort of, in the Slade style. It's always different because you have a different singer.

But it was back to basics!?

DH: Yes,. it was!

What happened in the 80's, with the RCA records, did you have to prove that you could make hits, or..

DH: Well, I think you have to with a record.

They're pulling the strings!?

DH: Yes, I think so. The trouble with a lot of record companies, the sign you, they expect to have a hit record, they still live of your hit records.

The story I heard was, show us the hits! And then there was "My Oh My" and "Run Runaway".

DH: Well, that worked, and that was very big! But come sort of 84-85...

Well, to me it wasn't Slade!

DH: What "My Oh My"?

That period, you know, there was a whole different vibe to it!

DH: Oh yeah, well, the trouble is the different vibe comes from the person who's writing it. And the writer was mainly Jim Lea, you see, and Noddy Holder.

What it sort of a gentleman's agreement, that it was Holder/Lea? Like Lennon/McCartney?

DH: Yes, it's a bit like that!

When one person writes, the other get credits as well?

DH: Oh, no! No, I think they both wrote equally. I think Jim probably wrote more of the music, and things, towards the later part of the years. I think in the 70's, 50-50!

Did you feel that you were, sort of, in the background?

DH: Sometimes, yeah!

Could you come across with your stuff?

DH: I think it was difficult! Obviously, looking back, there are many regrets that I didn't actually make more progress with that.

There were a few songs, B-sides that you and Don made.

DH: Yeah, there was. Don wrote..he had something to do with "Look Wot You Dun" as well, and stuff like that you see.

But, he didn't get credits for that?

DH: Don did, in whatever he did. But I didn't actually get involved in the hits, and the thing is, as a group, you.., yeah, it's a bit strange now, but, it's all gone now you see, so..

But, still money comes rolling in, like with the Xmas record, year after year?

DH: Yeah, it doesn't actually come to me, you do out of the recording, but it's better for the writer. The thing is, when you're successful..

Obviously, you got songs, they're coming now, with yours and Hunt's stuff!

DH: Yes, Bill Hunt and myself, yeah! Well, Bill Hunt used to be in Wizard, Roy Woods Wizard!

Oh, did he?

DH: Yes, he was a keyboard player.

Great band, I love the old stuff!

He was also in ELO as well!

And The Move?

DH: Yeah, and he also went to school with Stevie Windwood, so he'd had quite a musically career, really! Eventually, he got out of the business and he became a schoolteacher.

Really?

DH: Yeah, he got fed up. Same as Noddy Holder, really, he got out, left it, but he's got his legacy of hits you see, which he still earns off, which is fine.

To get back to that, did you ever argue about that, fight about it?

DH: No! Maybe we should have done, but we didn't at the time.

Cause on the outside there was always this schoolboy humour, or whatever!

DH: I think the thing is, we were a very successful band, we each knew what we were doing.

Did that keep you keep you together, the humour..

DH: yes, I think so!

And the lager?

DH: Don't know about the lager, but there was some of that (laughs), plenty of that, probably.

Any problems with that?

DH: No!

Never?

DH: No, cos we were too professional. We didn't have problems with drink. I mean you got drunk, everybody gets drunk!

Yeah, party's and..

DH: Yeah, especially when you're successful, but not on stage. I mean, not every performance was wonderful, but we did have many good performances. But, we did have a very professional attitude in the group!

I was wondering, when did the touring stop? Cause, we didn't see any touring after the Liverpool concert!

DH: There was touring after that! Oh, yeah. Long after the Liverpool. The last gig we did was in America, 1984!

I though that was the last tour.

DH: No, not as far as I know! What year are you talking about?

Umm, hang on..

DH: Got him (laughs)

It was 1983.

DH: Touring stopped in, must have been 85 I think!

That answers the question then. But now there's a lot of touring again!

DH: Oh, it's different now, we've been doing it for three years.

Why did it stop?

DH: Cos our singer didn't wanna do it, and that's the real truth. I think in some ways we'd all probably had enough at that time. The singer was just an option, that he said well, I don't wanna continue doing this, I'm not happy. He'd divorced his wife, and had a lot of personal problems. Well, he got over it, we thought, 2 or 3 years later he still said the same, you know.

And people are still waiting.

DH: Yeah, still waiting, and the biggest problem is waiting a long time, you see. It's a problem, you see, because your singer can stop everything else working.

What if the money had been there, if he was paid well to do it?

DH: No, nothing to do with money! No way! You could pay him a million, he wouldn't go on stage, he doesn't need it!

Argh!

DH: Well, we could all have a million, couldn't we? Yes, it would be very nice, but.

I just think you deserve more! And I've heard you say, we can't blow your own trumpet and stuff like that, but, I've seen other bands, and draw certain parallels, in a band like Kiss, who's been around since the 70's. And they release things on video, old concert footage, even their old passport pictures (laughs) pictures of their grannies, you know! The fans love it, and they buy tons of it! Outtakes from studios, and this and that, where's all that stuff?

DH: The only problem, with a lot of it, is that when you're not still together, and someone isn't actually pushing it, you see, you find that if the original band was still working, that sort of stuff would come out!

But, it still exists?

DH: I suppose so, it's a bit stupid really, but...

The Earls Court film, and things like that?

DH: That exists!

I'd love to get my hands on that!

DH: It's like the film "Flame", have you got it?

Yeah! You can buy that..

DH: But, you can buy it, yeah!

But, the concert footage is really interesting, right!

DH: I think the problem with a lot of the early stuff, is because, I mean, the band of the 80's had a lot of things filmed, you see, in the 70's they didn't have a lot of things filmed, there were bits of video's, bits of live things you know.

The only live thing, on the Wall Of Hits video, that was Coz I luv You, I wish there was more of that!

DH: Have you got We'll Bring The House Down live?

The one I've got isn't a live video.

DH: Well, part live and part recorded, you see.

I know the fans want live videos on our shelves, will it ever come out?

DH: I don't know, I don't really have anything to do with it, well,

You haven't got any of it?

DH: It doesn't interest me particularly!

No?

DH: Well, it's just I don't bother about it! I'm not a fan of Slade, I'm playing it (laughs). I don't actually demand it, you know what I mean, like you're a fan of Slade, I'm a fan of The Beatles, so if something of The Beatles came out I'd probably buy it. Same as you want something to do with slade, I can understand what you're saying! But, it's like having a situation in London side, for someone to actually look into it, and get that sort of stuff put together. And it all cost money, you see! And in most cases people can't see profits, they won't put things out. But, it doesn't rule out that, at some point, something might happen with it, you know.

Yeah, cause on the other hand, you've got the bootleg side of it, and somebody's making the money, but not the band. And we all buy that stuff!

DH: Yeah, you do! We can't control it. You see, in some cases you let it happen, because in some cases, it good to have something out! You know, they're nuffy. So, if a person bootlegs a performance, and puts it out with a picture on the front, you'd spend all your life trying to trace these people, to sue them! And it's not worth it, cause the fans say, oh, I kinda like this, and I'm glad this man brought this out!

The ones I've got, they're really good!

DH: Are they!?

The quality is fabulous, I don't how they done it, but..

DH: The bootlegs? -from performances in England, is it?

Yeah, and Europe..

Really!?

Yeah, and Scotland.

DH: Good grief!... Interesting!

It is!

DH: Yeah, I suppose all that stuff must be..If you'd put it all together, you could have what is called an anthology, all the years, and if you put it together it would be very interesting.

I could image a Slade boxed set!

DH: A Slade boxing, yeah..

The Golden Years!

DH: The Golden Years, yes.

With the vids, and everything, and the hat, ha, ha,

you know! I believe there is a marked for it! Cause the magazines are still raving about the old days, and the live band..

DH: Yes, I know! The good things, you know you leave a good impression, you've had a lot of shows, you've had a lot of success, and, we were good at what we did! And, we're still good at what we do! We're not totally original, but half of it is. You know, we might be better that the group would be now, who knows? If Noddy came back in, and Jim came back in, it doesn't mean to say it's going to say it's going to be as good. It doesn't, cause if you have people in the band who don't wanna do it, it's not good. Who knows what it would be like? I don't know, I still like what we did, I still think a lot of those people, cause we were together nearly 25 years, huh, it's a long time! So I don't go around saying I hate them, cause that's stupid

They still send you Christmas cards, or whatever?

DH: They ring me up occasionally, Noddy's 50 this year, you know. His missis' trying to arrange a surprise birthday for him, you see, so something..

A secret gig in the backyard, perhaps?

DH: No! Not a gig..

Sorry, my mind went wandering off again, ha, ha.

DH: I might do I video for him, so you see, saying "Hi, Noddy! How about coming on stage again?" (Laughs) Now you're 50!

And bring your hat!

DH: Bring your tophat (more laughs)!!

Will it ever happen? Gotta ask!

DH: Donno! I doubt it, I can't image he'd...the longer he leaves it the worse it gets, you know! The more hard for a person to even do it. But, if he's lost his initial reason for doing it, you know a person has to want to do that. Some people perform, and they play on stage, and that's what they do for the rest of their lives, and you're probably getting that with me!

And like Ozzy Osbourne, a few years ago, retire and..

DH: And then doesn't retire!

Yeah, adds in the papers: Retirement sucks, back on tour, new record! He couldn't just sit down and twiddle his thumbs. It's in your blood, right!

DH: Absolutely! Well, if you knew Ozzy Osbourne, you'd know why he couldn't retire! Because, that's what he does! The trouble is, you see, that some artist they retire, and they can't find anything else to do. So, they actually go mad! They end up drunks, booze, drugs, it's all the same stuff. See, when your young, you know, when you're 15 years of age and you're in a group, and that's your job, you do it for years and years and years.You live with your parents and you do that! You imagine, say, when you're 40 years of age, after all those years of doing it, and suddenly you don't do it, and you go: Oh, what should I do now then?



Have you ever done anything else?

DH: No!

You were, what, 15 when you started out?

DH: 14! So, that's what I've done. It doesn't mean to say that there isn't something else, cause, I'm sure there is for me! But, may be still be connected with the group. It may be something to do with, I don't know, some people become consultants, or some people go around doing speak, you know, talking to audiences about being a member in Slade, or the life, or you could write a book, there are things you could do! There's nothing quite the same as playing live, though!



Continued... (Part 2)






Dave Hill and some
of his guitars

 


Dave, Steve and Dave G
Oslo - Norway - 2002
© Musikkavisen.no

 


Good old days: Jim & Dave
© Ian Edmundson, UK

 


Jim, Dave & Noddy
© Ian Edmundson, UK

 


Jim in the old days!
© Ian Edmundson, UK

 


Dave Hill
Click to enlarge.
© Masters of Rock 2003
Vizovice, Czech Republic

 


The Show-Man Dave Hill
© Masters of Rock 2003
Click to enlarge.

 


Slade On Stage!
© Masters of Rock 2003
Click to enlarge.

 


Slade at Vizovice
© Masters of Rock 2003
Click to enlarge.

 


Dave & Steve
© Masters of Rock 2003
Click to enlarge.

 


Dave & Steve
© Masters of Rock 2003
Click to enlarge.

 


Programme from the
Masters of Rock
Sometimes in the 80's!

 


Steve Whalley
© Masters of Rock 2003
Click to enlarge.

 


The SuperYob

 


Dave Hill & Me
Skien - Norway, 1995

 


Dave Hill in the early 70's

 


Dave & Noddy in the early 70's

 


Dave Hill
© Knut Slettemo

 


Dave Hill
© Andreas Soltvedt

 


Dave Hill
© The Official Slade Site.

 


Dave Hill
© The Official Slade Site.


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Last Updated: 13 May, 2007 22:31