An Interview with Chris Slade of ACϟDC

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Being a multi-faceted drummer has allowed Chris Slade the opportunity to play alongside some of the most notable artists in music history.

From Tom Jones, David Gilmour, and Olivia Newton-John to Michael Schenker, Jimmy Page, and Angus Young, Slade has reliably provided his signature power and technical prowess behind the drum kit for nearly 60 years.

A native of Pontypridd, South Wales, Slade’s initial introduction to the music business came courtesy of Tom Jones. Due to his sense of groove and innate energy, the teenage drummer began to establish a name for himself.

Despite appearing on eight albums and evoking considerable buzz, Slade left the band to explore other musical ventures. After showcasing his talents with multiple acts in successive years, including Toomorrow with Olivia Newton-John, Slade became a founding member of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1971. Most famously, the band climbed to relevance on the shoulders of 1976’s ‘Blinded by the Light,’ a rendition of the 1973 song from Bruce Springsteen’s debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. The Manfred Mann version soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains Springsteen’s lone No. 1 single as a songwriter on the Top 100.

The journeyman drummer continued to hone his chops for a vast array of musical acts throughout the 1970s. By the early 1980s, his resume included Uriah Heep, Gary Numan, and David Gilmour. Slade was very much in high demand.

By 1984, Slade became a household name when he joined forces with Paul Rodgers, Jimmy Page, and Tony Franklin to form The Firm. The esteemed supergroup produced two albums before ultimately disbanding in 1986.

As lengthy as Slade’s resume is, however, he will forever be remembered for his impactful stints with the legendary Australian rock band ACϟDC. Slade performed on 1990’s The Razors Edge, which spawned mega-hits such as ‘Thunderstruck’ and ‘Are You Ready,’ as well as Live at Donington, ACϟDC Live, and 1993’s Big Gun. He would later rejoin the band for a brief period during the Rock or Bust Tour (2015-16).

Incredibly, Chris remains active with his group of nearly a decade, The Chris Slade Timeline.

I recently sat down with Chris to discuss his storied career.

Andrew:
Chris, I really appreciate you taking the time. I’d like to start by asking about your early impressions. Who are some of your most important musical influences?

Chris:
Well, drumming wise, Buddy Rich, as many drummers of my age say. He was tremendous, had a much crisper sound than many other drummers around, and his technique was unbelievable. I think he’d been playing since he was four years old – on stage! I think he was called “Traps, the Drum Wonder.” He would be a drumming influence, and, well, I didn’t care about anybody else, really. [Laughs].

Andrew:
Were you always drawn to the drum kit, or did you ever aspire to sing or play guitar?

Chris:
No, because I’m terrible at both! [Laughs]. Actually, I do sing a little bit, but I wouldn’t call myself a lead singer. Backup singing is about as far as I can go. I can sing in-tune, but that’s about it.

It would have been impossible in those days to see anybody; didn’t even have a T.V. growing up, so it would have been impossible to have seen Buddy or any of the musicians of those days. Didn’t get a T.V. until I was in my teens, I think; before then, there was hardly anything on T.V. for young people. My brother [Danny] started me off into drumming, actually. He was a marching band drummer, and he’s seven years older than me. He used to bring the big, brass side-drum home to clean. And, of course, he got his younger brother to clean it. But, for cleaning it, he taught me a few drum licks; I was about ten, I think. He taught me a few things, I practiced and took it from there. But he was my first teacher.

Then, I got into marching bands myself, and in school, I was in every band, school orchestra, and everything. Nobody else – out of a thousand boys – nobody else played drums. I was the only drummer in the whole school, so I was on-call for everything! [Laughs].

Andrew:
Your initial breakthrough in the music industry was with Tom Jones. How exactly did that materialize?

Chris:
Bit of a story. I was working in a shoe shop, and this was just after or maybe even during my end of school. In fact, I dropped out of school, so I was a real high school dropout. So, I was working in this shoe shop, and this woman that worked in the shoe shop kept going on about this singer and band that she knew. She said they were fantastic and better than anybody on television; they were called Tommy Scott and the Senators. And she said, “By the way, they sacked their drummer last night.” And I went, “What?” She said, “Yeah, they sacked their drummer. You’re a drummer, aren’t ya?” I went, “Yeah…”

A few hours later, just after that, the lead guitarist walked into my shop to buy some shoes. I was, like, 16, and he was 20-something, ya know? So, I was terrified, but I walked up to him and said, “I hear you need a drummer, and I’m a drummer.” I lived by Tom, which then was Tommy Scott; I probably lived about half a mile. Although I never knew him, my father did because he was in what we used to call a “concert party.” They played all the working men’s clubs, not Rock clubs like you’ve got today; working men’s clubs for miners and steelworkers and things like that. My father was a tap dancer and singer; his name was also Danny.

At the end of the day, I connected — because we didn’t have phones in our houses in those days – so I must have arranged to speak with Mike Roberts, who was the lead guitarist, in a phone box at a certain time, I suppose. I ended up going to Tom’s house and then the whole band came to my house. I’d just bought a brand new Premier kit, and I set it up in my front room. They came down, and one of the guys said, “Can you play the intro to ‘Walk Don’t Run,‘” which is by The Ventures. I played it, and they said, “Okay, let’s go to the pub and rehearse.” So, everybody grabbed a drum, we got on the bus, and went and rehearsed. Simple as that. [Laughs].

Andrew:
You played on over a half-dozen albums and began to establish a following as a young musician, so what ultimately prompted your departure from the band?

Chris:
Money, actually. I was with him for seven years because Tommy Scott became Tom Jones, and the band became Tom Jones and The Squires; we were just the backing band to Tom Jones. We [The Squires] did tours of America with Tom, and after seven years, I found out that most people were getting paid three times what I was getting paid. They didn’t want to get rid of me; why would they pay me a third of everybody else? Nevertheless, they must have liked something I did because I was there for seven years, in fact, after The Squires. The other guys were all sort of real, session men, so they demanded real money to go on the road. And there was me, who was still stuck back in that shoe shop. I didn’t want – – that’s not true; I did want more, and I talked to the manager; he gave me like fifty bucks extra a week. So, I just went, “Well, screw you guys. I’m gone.” And when I say I’m gone, I’m gone; there’s no, “Oh, come on. We’ll give you another 200 dollars a week.”“No, sorry guys, I’m gone.” Then I ended up getting a phone call from Manfred Mann, who was a big name in those days.

Andrew:
Speaking of Manfred Mann, ‘Blinded by the Light’ remains one of my favorite classic rock songs to this day. Do you recall anything about the song arrangement or recording process?

Chris:
Oh, yeah. Well, the first time, Manfred came up with an arrangement; he played the piano to us and probably just hummed the melody. The whole Earth Band went, “Eh, I don’t think it’s us.” And then, a few weeks later, he came back with the version that you like. So, it made a big difference, Manfred changing a few things here and there. We all put our all into it, in the way of arrangements, vocal backing, all that sort of thing. And it became successful because of a glitch in the tape because it became very sibilant. “Revved up like a deuce” turned into something else, and that’s probably why it became No. 1 all around the world; selling millions, I’m very pleased to say. We still do it today with [Chris Slade’s] Timeline.

Andrew:
In the mid-1980s, you joined forces with Paul Rodgers, Jimmy Page, and Tony Franklin to form The Firm. What do you recall from those initial onboarding conversations?

Chris:
I got a call one lunchtime, and it’s like, “Hello, David Gilmour here.” I went, “Oh, come on, Fred. I know it’s you; you’re messing me around.” He goes, “No, no. It’s Dave Gilmour.” I went, “Oh! Hello, Dave. How do you do?” And he said, “I’m putting a tour together, and I’d like you to play drums.” I went, “Wow, that’s fantastic. But you know, I’m working with Mick Ralphs.” And he said, “Oh, yeah. That’s fine because Mick’s doing it as well.” So, I said yes to that back in 1984. I think that was – actually it was ’83 – because I said to my Mrs. “Okay, we’ll go down to the pub and celebrate. I’m going out with Gilmour in a few months.” I came back from the pub, the phone rings, and it’s like, “Hello, it’s Jimmy Page here.”

I said, “Fred, I know it’s you now, mate.”“No, no, no. It really is Jimmy Page.” I went, “Wow, I can’t believe this.” And he said, “Paul Rodgers and myself are putting a band together, and we’d like for you to play drums.” I went, “Wow, you won’t believe it, Jimmy, but an hour ago, I said to David Gilmour that I’ll go on the road with him.” He said, “Oh, how long is that going to take?” Initially, it was going to be three months; it was a three-month tour, and apparently, he was already booked. I said, “It’s gonna take three months.” And Page goes, “Oh, that’s okay; we’ll wait.” I looked at the phone incredulously. That tour changed from three months to a year. I kept ringing Jim and saying, “Ah, Jim, they put another month on. Ah, they put another two months on.” And he went, “Oh, well, let us know,” which I did. In the end, they ended up waiting a whole year for me to come off the road with Gilmour. So, that was really something; that was a red-letter day. I can’t remember the date, but I marked it in my calendar at the time.

Andrew:
Obviously, Jimmy is revered as one of the greatest guitar players in music history. However, from a bandmate perspective, what was it like working with him on the project?

Chris:
Oh, it was great; he’s a really nice guy. Believe it or not, he has no pretensions. I never saw him throw a wobbler, as we say in Britain unless it was professional. Yes, he would throw a professional wobbler — in other words – things aren’t set up right, or there’s some sort of glitch with the sound. But never personally. He was great to work with.

Andrew:
The band’s rhythm section was incredibly cohesive. You and Tony complimented each other immensely.

Chris:
It was tremendous. He’s a great player. Of course, he played fretless, which makes a big difference; it’s more lyrical and melodic. But Tony is absolutely fantastic. He’d been working with Roy Harper before that, but he hadn’t done a lot. We keep in touch now and again. He lives in California and I used to live in California; we were quite close to each other. I used to see him at the Namm show all the time, but I haven’t been to one of those for about five years. We used to hang out together as well; we would to go to bars together on the time off. It was a really good relationship.

Andrew:
The band produced two albums, the self-titled debut and Mean Business. Do you believe the band fulfilled their potential, or was The Firm merely scratching the surface prior to disbanding?

Chris:
I thought there was a hell of a lot we had to offer. Paul being one of the greatest voices ever and Pagey being a legendary guitarist, I think it just burned out. It shouldn’t have. We got a lot of shit, too, for calling it The Firm because they said, “Obviously, they’re just doing it for business.” Which is not true. There was a bunch of English gangsters called The Krays in the 50s and 60s, they were vicious people, and they called themselves The Firm. And that’s where the name comes from. Pagey jumped on it straight away. I suggested it, by the way. Actually, I have a history of naming bands; I named [Manfred Mann’s] Earth Band, with the consent of the other members, of course.

Andrew:
Before joining ACϟDC, had you previously established a relationship with Cliff Williams throughout your travels?

Chris:
Only met in passing. Cliff was in a band called Home, and he actually – I don’t think he’d mind me saying this – he actually auditioned for Earth Band when we were looking for a bass player. The spooky thing is, I just remembered, Cliff and Earth Band’s bass player, Colin Pattenden, were both on the shortlist of two to join AC/DC when they came to the UK for the first time.

I think that audition was the only time we actually met up. We knew of each other in passing, as bands do when you’re playing the same circuit. But never got to have a pint or anything at that time.

Andrew:
I’ve read many renditions of the legendary ACϟDC audition, but what is your recollection of the audition process?

Chris:
I got the audition for ACϟDC because I was working with Gary Moore at that time. The manager of Gary Moore and ACϟDC was Stuart Young; he put me forward for the audition. I only found out afterward from Dick [Jones], the drum tech, that they’d auditioned 100 musicians before me. Well, in fact, I was No. 100. The auditions were held all over the world; mine was in England. Drummers would call the band and say, “Hey, I hear you’re auditioning. Don’t tell my band, but I’d really like to try out.” It was people you would not believe because so many musicians are closet ACϟDC fans. I found out I got the gig after the audition. I thought I’d done really badly, and I was kicking myself driving back to my house, which was one hour away from the audition.

There were all sorts of people before me; no names, no pack drill. This was ’89, maybe even ’88, but they called my house before I got home to say I got the gig. So, that was a surprise, because my wife said, “How’d you do?” And I said, “Not very well,” so she walked up the path to meet the car and said, “You did badly?” I said, “Yeah, let’s go down to the pub.” She said, “They just called to say you got the gig.” So I said, “Oh, well, we’re definitely going down to the pub now!”

Andrew:
The names of the other hopefuls have never been leaked. Is that to be kept a secret?

Chris:
Pretty much, I think. Pretty much. I knew quite a few of them. It’s like, “Oh, you know, I heard you’re –”“Shhh! Somebody might hear.” It really was as simple as that, you know? Just think of a named drummer.

Andrew:
The song ‘Thunderstruck’ has become an iconic setlist staple for the band. Tell us about the origins of the song.

Chris:
We did it first in Ireland, and that didn’t work out. Then we moved to Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver. Those toms weren’t on the demo, which really made a feature of that, and of course, it sounds logical now. The engineer and producer go, “Are you okay to go “Thunder?” And I went, “Yeah, of course.” They seemed surprised at that; I have no idea why. Then they asked me to double it. They said, “Do you think you’d be able to double it?” Ask any drummer – it’s the simplest thing in that world — but they seemed very surprised at that. But anyway, I did it, and it worked out absolutely fantastic.

Andrew:
Throughout the recording process, did you have any idea that the song would become so prominent among its genre and stand the test of time?

Chris:
Maybe Angus and Mal did; I didn’t. I had a feeling about ‘Blinded by the Light’ and a few other songs in my career, but not about ‘Thunderstruck.’ But obviously, it’s such a powerful song; everybody loves it. It’s huge for all sorts of reasons – pumping up troops, and I’ve heard so many stories about football players and parachuters. They all use it to pump them up. It’s fantastic to play.

Andrew:
You’re playing on ‘Thunderstruck,’ and The Razor’s Edge showcased your versatility as a drummer. Given the vast contrast of drumming backgrounds, was there an adjustment period?

Chris:
Yes. I’ve had decades of playing little grace notes, but this happened right at the start. Brother George came up and said, “Don’t do any of that fiddly stuff.” Just before the backbeat, there’s a little dribble before — and after, perhaps. So, there’s usually like a little, almost inaudible [sound] before and after the backbeat, and Angus and Mal didn’t like that; they wanted just a straight crack. So, that was a big deal; a very quick learning curve. A lot of people just play straight, but where I’m coming from in the 60s and 70s, there was always that sort of Jazz feel to it. But you have to have a laid-back snare, which means it sits behind the beat, to be technical about it. Also, people call it the “Lazy Snare;” in the states, they call it “pocket playing.” That backbeat has gotta be in the pocket; that’s the main thing. In fact, I remember Michael Schenker asked me once. He said, “Do you think you can play less laid back?” I said, “You know, Michael, I don’t think I can. I think it’s impossible for me to play, other than a laid-back snare drum.” Which I couldn’t; I tried. So, that’s a big insight into drumming and drumming for ACϟDC.

Andrew:
It sure sounds like the learning curve was especially steep, but the fact that you were able to adapt so seamlessly speaks volumes of your ability.

Chris:
I’m really grateful for my technique and to be able to adapt, as you said. I started off , as I said, into Buddy Rich. So, in the beginning, all I listened to was Jazz records. There were Pop records, but it was Pat Boone and people like that. Nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t what rock – which had only just been invented back then – was about. Bill Haley had only just happened, and then this guy came along named Elvis Presley. I met him, actually, through Tom. I’ve got this photograph of myself with Elvis on my right hand and Tom Jones on my left. I call it “Who’s that with Slade?”

[Elvis] offered me a gig as well. We met quite a few times in Vegas; he used to come to the shows. We first met, actually, in Hawaii. He and Priscilla came to Tom’s show in Hawaii. But I was asked by Joe Esposito if I would play drums with Elvis. Of course, I said, “Sorry, Elvis. I’m too busy.” [Laughs]. We tried, and again, Tom’s tour kept getting stretched and stretched. I called Joe, and I said, “It’s gonna go on another few weeks.”“Well, what we’re gonna do is, we’re gonna get this guy in to do the rehearsal, and then you can take over.” I went, “Oh, okay.” And then it became, “Well, we’re gonna use the both of you.” I said, “Who’s the other drummer?” He said, “Ronnie Tutt.”

Unfortunately, that never happened. Tom’s tour just went to the end. Of course, Elvis wanted to do that special that he did in Vegas. I think that’s the chronological; I’m really not too sure on that. But nevertheless, this went on for like two-three months, and I couldn’t, in the end, do it. It would have been a great experience; I know Ronnie is a tremendous drummer. I used to love his work on the Andy Williams show on TV and I went out of my way to find out who the drummer was. There was no Googling in those days; you had to ask around, maybe in a music shop in New York City or something like that. I know Ronnie to be a tremendous player. It would have been absolutely amazing to do that. That was not synchronicity. [Laughs].

Andrew:
In 1991, ACϟDC, Metallica, Pantera, and others played in front of 1.6 million people at the Airfield in Moscow during the implosion of the Soviet Union. Tell us about that experience.

Chris:
It was quite an amazing experience because with a million people, you’re gonna get all sorts of stuff; babies born, people dying, people being killed, even. I’ve seen footage of something like that happen – people being hammered with a pickaxe. I don’t think the guy survived that, which is terrible. So, everything happened in that million crowd. The crowd went over the horizon, because it was Tushino Airfield, and it was in the middle of Moscow. I don’t know if it’s still there. I’ve worked in Russia a lot and I’ve met people who were at that show. I’d say, “Oh, yes! You were in the middle of that million!” But it was incredible. That’s such an amazing experience. As I said, I’ve been back to Russia many times since then, on my own.

Andrew:
What prompted your initial exit from ACϟDC?

Chris:
We were doing demos in London, just Angus, Malcolm, and myself. This went on for months, actually. I got a call from Malcolm saying, “It’s nothing you’ve done, it’s nothing you haven’t done, but we’re going to try Phil out again.” And I went, “Wow, where did that come from? That was left-field.” And I resigned on the spot. I said, “Well if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” He said, “Oh, we’ll keep you on and keep paying ya.” I said, “No. I’m not interested. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And this is true. It was Malcolm himself that called, which was a tough call for him, of course.

Now, if I’d been my father and that was my son, I would have said, “Just hang around. They already said they want you.” Because Malcolm said, “We don’t even know if [Phil] can even play.” I said, “Well, that’s your problem now, guys, sorry.” It was probably a bit stupid of me or a fit of pique, but I don’t like being messed around.

I heard some horror stories about other drummers in different bands – no names, no pack drill – who people were always on their case. Play this, or play it like that, or play it like him. And I’m afraid I won’t be able to put up with that. It’s like, “Look, do you want me as a drummer, or don’t you want me as a drummer?” I will go out of my way to bend over backwards to make the part work; to make the drum part work to the best of my ability; to the best of what the people who’ve written the song are asking me to do. I’ve always done that.

Andrew:
After spending some time away from music, you joined Asia and played on The Aura [2001] and Silent Nation [2004] albums. How did the band manage to contact you?

Chris:
They wrote me a letter. They didn’t know my phone number – I had an email address but they didn’t know it, of course – so they wrote a letter, which eventually got to me. Don’t ask me how. And they wrote and said, “We’d really like you to play drums with us,’ which is Geoff Downes and John Payne, who in those days were the mainstays of the band. Then a little later on, actually, they were using guitarists as session players. One guy showed up and he was phenomenal. His name was Guthrie Govan. The man is a genius; he’s now considered one of the top guitarists in the world. He’s been playing since he was four, as well. He went to school and just wondered why the other kids didn’t have guitars—an absolute genius of a player. The great thing about Guthrie is, he has no ego whatsoever. He could play anything; he plays the blues that’ll rip your heart out and he can do techno, rock, and whatever else you want.

Andrew:
You obviously departed on relatively good terms with ACϟDC in the mid-1990s because they eventually brought you back into the fold for the Rock or Bust Tour. Who reached out to bring you aboard?

Chris:
The manager called from New York; I was in Switzerland. At the end of the conversation, I said, “Did this come from the band?” And he said, “Of course it came from the band. Do you think I’d be calling you if the guys didn’t ask me to call you?” And I went, “Oh, okay. That’s nice. That’ll do it, then.” Because I was so shocked that they were asking me again, I was really, really pleased to get that call because the timing dragged on. My friends and people used to say, “Oh, you’ll be getting that call any day now from ACϟDC.” I’d go, “No, they ain’t gonna call me, okay? They’re just not gonna call me. That bridge is burned.” But there it was; they did. It’s always been an honor and a privilege to play for ACϟDC.

Andrew:
Brian Johnson was limited on that tour, which ultimately led to Axl Rose filling in. How did the band arrive at that decision and who else was considered?

Chris:
Yeah. Well, for me, it was quite a long time. Me and my Mrs. had to spend a lot of time in Miami, Florida. Towards that break, which ended in Florida, Brian was really unhappy with what he was doing. And I could hear him perfectly; I was using in-ears and I could hear the band, and him, perfectly. To me, it didn’t sound as bad as he thought it was. I kept saying to him, “Brian, you’re doing fine.” But he didn’t like it. I don’t know the circumstances, but all I knew is that Tim the tour manager said, “Brian’s not here anymore. We just gotta hang around.” I went, “Oh, okay.” It took some time; maybe a month or more. Then we went to Atlanta, Georgia and there was some auditions. I said to Dick Jones, “What’s tomorrow? Is it a day off?” He said, “No. It’s Axl Rose tomorrow.” I went, “What!?” I couldn’t believe it; I heard all the stories about Axl. The next day, there he is. I shook his hand and thought, “This guy’s not bad at all,” and he was telling jokes. And then he sang and I didn’t know he had that voice. I really had no idea he could sing like that. It was tremendous from the start. Within the next day, he was in the band.

Andrew:
So, it sounds as though Axl meshed with the band rather seamlessly?

Chris:
In my opinion, yes. People may disagree with me, but again, I could hear him perfectly, too. Some of those notes he hit were unbelievable. He used to warm up for two hours every day. And I know he did because we were either on the same floor or very close. You could hear him on his piano, doing the scales and everything. And as I say, he was quite a funny guy. I know it’s not the opinion that a lot of people have of it, but that’s my experience of Axl.

I know in the past, he’s had his problems, but the guy that I met was a really nice guy, really talented on the case. He was never late, ever. That’s what I was afraid of, more than anything, because ACϟDC is never late, not even to the second. If it’s an 8:30 show, it’s an 8:30 show. On that tour, by the way, there was one night where there was a glitch. I don’t know what it was, exactly — a guitar wasn’t working properly — and we were about a half an hour late going on. I found out afterward that was the only time that ACϟDC were ever late for a show. They’re pretty conscientious like that; everything has to be spot-on.

Andrew:
ACϟDC continues to bring the energy all these years later. Where do you believe to be the power source?

Chris:
Well, you know, people ask me this question. Even then, I was what, 70 years old, I think. Certainly in my very late 60s. People ask me, “Where do you get your power from? Where do you get your energy from?” And I’d say, “I use the force.” And that’s a fact. I tune in and that’s where the energy comes from. I’m sure that’s where Angus gets his energy from, too. He probably wouldn’t say it in quite the same way, but I’m a bit of a hippy, so I’ll say that. ‘Cause Angus is no spring chicken; he’s much younger than me and Brian, but we’re all up there. You actually get inspired by the crowd. As soon as we’re off and the crowd goes, “Wahhh!” That really gives you a charge. You know, I’ve never done drugs in my life and neither has Angus; he doesn’t even drink. I’m afraid I drink, but I never drink on the day of the show. I just cannot play, and never have been able to, when I’ve had even a pint or two pints. I cannot play with the certitude that I like from myself. I’ve tried it once or twice – it don’t work. So, I always play sober, even if it’s a jam in a pub, for instance. We did in Tom Jones’ day, but the whole band were Welsh, of course.

Andrew:
You’ve been unseated by Phil Rudd twice in ACϟDC. When the band brought you into the fold on both occasions, was there ever a discussion regarding the duration of your stay?

Chris:
No, nothing was ever spoken about how long it was going to be. Now the first time around, they said, “Oh, we’re going to make you a member of the band.” They brought me in first as a session guy to do the album. Then after about a week of doing the album, they said, “We’d like to make you a member of the band.” And I went, “Wow,” because that was a big deal. Then the second time around, there was never any talk of when that might end. With The Razor’s Edge, that kept getting extended. It was supposed to be a year, and it ended up three years. So, there’s no; how long is a piece of string? That doesn’t come into the conversation.

Andrew:
Do you have a favorite song from the ACϟDC catalog that you played live?

Chris:
Well, funny enough, one of my favorites we never played — we did play it once or twice – is ‘Rock Your Heart Out’ on The Razor’s Edge. To me, that felt different, sounded different. But of course, how could I forget ‘Thunderstruck?’

Andrew:
You’ve been with the Chris Slade Timeline for ten years now. Tell us more about the band and its formation.

Chris:
Yeah, we’ve been together ten years now. We knew each other before; some of them were in a band together. We get on really well, although some of the guys are just 33 years old. I think the two singers, they’re either close to fifty or closing on fifty, and the other guys are in their thirties. And they went to school together, so they’ve been playing for about twenty years together. When we put the band together, it’s so important to have a keyboard player because Uriah Heep, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Asia all required keyboards. It was very important, and I knew that Mike [Clark] was more than capable of doing it. So, I said, “What are we gonna do about ACϟDC? We need another guitarist.” And Mike goes, “Oh! I thought you knew. I started with music playing guitar, and I learned all of ACϟDC.” Unbelievable. I had no idea. And James [Cornford] didn’t tell me that he could play guitar, so it was like a no-brainer. And he really does know ACϟDC and plays it incredibly well. And he can also play Classical stuff on keyboards. I call him professor Michael J. Clark. He really is one of those keyboard players who can play anything.

James is an unbelievable guitarist. He had lessons from that guy I mentioned earlier on, Guthrie Govan. I’ve known James since he was about 10 or 11 years old. The other guys I found later were friends of his, of course. So, it’s a really, really tight band and a virtuosity of musicians. We’ve only got one CD out at the moment. I’m quite proud of that, actually. I think you’d be impressed. We’ve got the whole set recorded, which is probably about three-and-a-half to four hours of music, but we haven’t pressed any of them. A lot of it is impressive, actually. Even to my drummer’s ears. [Laughs].

TIMELINE band members:
-Chris Slade – Drums
-Bun Davis – Vocals
-Stevie Gee – Vocals
-James Cornford – Lead Guitar
-Michael J. Clark – Keyboards and Rhythm Guitar
-Andy Crosby – Bass

Image Credit: Andrea Ripamonti of Rock On.It

Andrew:
When you look back on a near-60-year musical journey, is there a particular chapter, moment, or achievement that you’re most proud of?

Chris:
Oh, I’m proud of all of it, to be honest. People say to me, “What’s your favorite band that you’ve played in?” My answer is, “It’s like your children. You love them all equally.” You don’t have a favorite; they all have different characteristics. And that is true. Different bands, different strokes, different folks. Thankfully, I’ve always been able to get on with people. Not always, not one-hundred percent, but usually. If you’re a musician, you have to get on with the people you’re working with. If I’m being a complete asshole, I wouldn’t have lasted 56 years in this terrible business. You gotta go with the punches; you gotta ride the punches. I always say you need Rhino Hyde because people say to your face, “You’re a useless player.”“You’re just terrible. I don’t know what you’re doing here.” Of course, my detractors would say, “Yeah, I bet they said that more than twice!” I actually had a guy saying, “I don’t know what Chris Slade is doing up on stage, but he can’t play drums.” It’s like, “Okay, how long have you been playing drums? Who have you worked with? You can say you don’t like my playing, but you can’t say I can’t play drums.” Looking back, of course, in retrospect, I can say that. But it’s not obvious when you’re doing it. I thought I’d be dead at 50. Then funny enough, you find you’re 70! You look back down the timeline and go, “How’d I get to be 70? How’d I get to be 50? How’d I get to be 30?” We all do it. I thought I was gonna die as a teenager, at least at 27, like Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix.

Andrew:
Lastly, Chris, what’s next on the horizon for you?

Chris:
More Timeline, actually. I can’t see anybody else calling me right now. Mind you; I thought that the last time. [Laughs]. The only reason I’ll stop playing is if I can’t play with the same power and exactly the same as I always have played. Once that stops, that’s me gone. But at the moment, everything is really clicking – at least the last time I played, it was. I just wanna keep doing Timeline and continuing to – because we play for sometimes two-and-a-half hours a night if there’s enough time. When announced the last song, even after two and a half hours, people groaned! And nobody has left the building. Nobody is disappointed in any way; they don’t want this to stop. And I love saying that. It’s just a validation. We drive to shows, usually; we fly a few times. We all take turns driving; it’s just like the old days when I started, which is fantastic. So, really, it’s back to the beginning.

Interested in leaning more about Chris Slade? Check out the video below:

Dig this article? Check out the full archives of Shredful Compositions, by Andrew DiCecco, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/shredful-compositions-archives/

About Post Author

Andrew DiCecco

Predominantly known for his NFL coverage, Andrew DiCecco is a Pennsylvania-based journalist with a profound passion for Rock music and its illustrious history. What initially began as a childhood hobby collecting CDs eventually evolved into a full-blown absorption into the world of Rock and Roll. An aspiring rock historian, Andrew seeks out every autobiography and documentary on Rock artists imaginable to further his knowledge to go along with a growing collection of vintage albums and magazines. Andrew’s musical preferences include, but are not limited to, Def Leppard, Van Halen, AC/DC, Guns N Roses, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions, Foreigner, and Journey. An innate appreciation for guitar heroes, Andrew cites Vito Bratta, Eddie Van Halen, John Sykes, George Lynch, Dave Meniketti, and Neal Schon as some of his personal favorite players. Andrew is also a regular listener to SiriusXM’s <i>Trunk Nation</i> with Eddie Trunk, his primary source of inspiration.
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