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Location: Odense, Denmark

Published author, Ph.D. I write mostly fiction and books on music, movies, art and literature.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November 6, 2007: interview conducted at Don’s place, Silkeborg, Denmark

The first question comes from a fan in Hull. He says: You co-wrote some of my favourite Slade songs including Dapple Rose and Man Who Speaks Evil. As the Holder/Lea partnership took over, did you continue to write for your own creative pleasure - and if so did you ever offer anything to the band?
Not so much, because a lot of the stuff that I had written with Jim at the time was still there, on file so to speak. The things that I’d already written some things with Jim which were used as B-sides, things like Candidate and Wonderin’ Y, things like that. I think we had already recorded them, actually, but after Nod and Jim wrote ‘Coz I Luv You, that was it basically, I didn’t write anymore.

From Holland you have this question: In your first answer you told us that the master-tapes of the B-sides are still around. Do you know who owns them and why they weren't used for the great series of re-releases?
I was let to believe originally that the master tapes were going to be used for the USM re-releases, and that one of the albums were going to be called A-sides of Back-sides, but they weren’t for some reason. As far as owning all the stuff we as a band all own that.

Birmingham wants to know if you remember why the track Coming Home was left off the Slade Alive! album?
Coming Home? I don’t think we actually played it, did we? I don’t think we played it at the time. I remember when we recorded Slade Alive!, but I’m not quite sure that we actually played it.

A fan in London asks, after John Punter got involved with producing the band in 1983, did you make demo's for all of your new songs, or just the ones that you (the band) thought would be good singles?
I think we made demos of everything that Nod and Jim had written and then we made a short list of what to record, really. The demo tapes must be in the office somewhere. A lot of times like when I heard My Oh My for the first time it was just Jim playing and Nod singing and we listened to it while having a coffee or something.

Bournemouth asks, have you anything privately owned by yourself by Slade that has never been released or is it true that everything ever recorded was put out?
I think more or less everything that has been recorded has been released. There may be something there but it couldn’t have been that strong because then it would have been used. No, it would have been used, either as a B-side or on an album. I don’t think there is anything that hasn’t been released and is just lying around.

He continues, you have become the most approachable one of the band. Is there anything that fans do or have done that annoys you? I only asked this as I have seen Dave, Nod and Jim take off at certain people who forget to be polite!
Polite? I don’t know…. No, it only takes a few minutes to talk to people and it really doesn’t bother me. The funniest one was once before we had any success and we were playing at a university in England. I was in the bar having a drink and this guy came up to me and started to talk about guitars. And I said, you talk to the wrong person, I no nothing about guitars, go talk to Dave and Nod. He said, will that be all right? No problem. He went away and I forgot all about it. Then later we got on stage – it was the days before many roadies and security – and we started the set and I was playing along and then suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up and it was this guy! He said, is it okay if I talk to them now? [Don starts laughing] And that’s the truth! That actually happened! [Don is still laughing, while shaking his head] I mean, it was so far out!
I’ll try that the next time!
It was so… Oh my god! Don’t people think? It was obviously before the days of the roadies. They would have thrown him off stage!

A fan in Chorley asks plain and simple, was it a sad day when you called it a day? I guess he means with the original band.
We didn’t really split up, it sort of more fizzled out. We stopped working basically. Nod wanted to do other things. We were recording at the time but nothing was happening success-wise with the records and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Nod wanted to do other things and he gave us his blessing to carry on. But we had done everything that we could, we had released a few albums and they did nothing. Nothing was happening, really.

Then we are back to Bournemouth and the question is, when Slade effectively disbanded before Slade 2 was formed did you ever consider joining or forming another band?
No. [Don looks as if he has never ever considered that] No…. [long pause]….no! At the time I worked in the antiques with my ex- wife and then Dave called me up. He had talked to Lenny - Len Tuckey - and they wanted to see if they could get Donald back in and Dave came down and saw me and I said, yeah, let’s give it a shot.

The next question you get all the time. It’s from California: Will Slade ever consider coming to the states to do a few shows maybe do some festivals our play a few club dates like the Whisky or the Roxy. I’m sure they could easily sell out a club tour. We would love to see Slade in the States.
Oh….I would like to. If the right thing came up, if we got the right offer I would love to. To do a 2 week tour there with somebody. A big name, you know. We couldn’t tour on our own there.

A fan in Sweden wants to know if you ever did a promo video for Ohh La-La in L.A., because he seems to remember Nod mentions something about it in the Get Fresh appearance?
There wasn’t a promo-video as far as I remember. We only did the My Oh My video for America, you know the one on the truck, with the girl on the motorbike, that was shot FOR America by the MTV in England, but we didn’t shoot any videos in America at that time.

From Essex it says, on the subject of Ooh La La In L.A. do you remember an extended version?
Not what I can remember, but what happened a lot was when we recorded with John Punter we always did the songs a bit longer, then he said, I can edit that to a single and make it a bit shorter. Or edit it to a 12” single and make it a bit longer. It was like that. So there are extended versions of quite a few of the tracks because that was the way that he worked.

A London-fan refers to when you dated Bob Dylan’s daughter by asking, did you ever get to meet Miss Zimmerman's old man ?
No! No, but I remember somebody making a joke; wouldn’t it be funny if Dylan recorded Cum On Feel The Noize? And they started singing like Bob Dylan. It was quite funny, [Don starts singing “Cum On Feel The Noize” in a Bob Dylan voice, then breaks down laughing] I couldn’t stop laughing! [he can’t stop this time either, and neither can I!]

Manchester asks, given the chance, (or even just on your all time wish list), who would you like to work alongside and play live with? I seem to remember you were (or perhaps still are) a big fan of The Eagles, so would they be on your wish list?
I would love to play with the Eagles! Somebody has asked me that question before, and I said I’d love to play with the Eagles. I probably know their songs better than they do! [Don laughs] But I don’t think I could play so loud, I would be allowed to play like I play with Slade!

From Wales comes the question, as you get older - as we all are ! - do you find it harder hitting those drums as hard as you do ? He says he can't believe the power in your playing, and it doesn't seem to wane as the years pass.
No, it doesn’t get harder. What happened was that when we started, Lise, in the 1960’s, everybody got bigger and bigger equipment, and it was the days before monitors so I had to play louder to try to keep over them and I though that was the way to do it. I had to keep up with the rest of the band and it just carried on. I’ve always played like that basically, there’s no formula, no hidden thing, it’s just the way I play. Once in the seventies we stayed in the same hotel as I think the Manchester United, the football team, and we were talking to their trainer an were asking about the same thing, about stamina and he just said, honey. Before the Manchester United players played a match they had half a dozen spoonfuls of honey. The trainer said, then it’s in your system and when your adrenaline starts to go down the honey builds you up again. So I decided to do that, but I think I OD’ed on honey [Don starts laughing] because I needed to throw up on stage so it only lasted for a while. The way I play, there’s no formula there, it’s not conscious, it’s just the way I do it

Then we have Bournemouth again. He asks, have you ever been asked to endorse a particular drum maker and have you a particular favourite?
I was endorsing Ludwig and that was fantastic, like Christmas Day. Because if I needed anything, no matter where I were in the world I could call them in Chicago and they would find out where I was and they would say, okay, there’s a Ludwig drum distributor or whatever in, say if I was in Tokyo, go to this and that address. I could go to any show in the world, take whatever I wanted, sign for it and then they would sort it out by fax. It was by fax in those days. So I could just go along and take whatever I needed. That has sort of stopped now, I’ve got an incredible deal, but it’s only the Paul McCartney’s or Eric Clapton’s and people like that who get stuff given to them for free nowadays. But I have an incredible deal, it’s almost like paying nothing, anyway now. Ludwig was always my favourite, but nowadays I like Pearl, they are probably better than Ludwig now, and I also like DW. They make fantastic drums.

A fan from Birmingham asks, have you ever considered having a signature pair of drum sticks in production?
I actually have some now. On the old ones my name was just printed, but on the new ones it’s made like a signature

And then we are back to London again with this question, How much input did you have for laying down the drum track, when Nod and Jim first presented their songs to you? Was it a case of Jim saying this is how it is gonna be, and sound or did they just leave you to get on with it?
I was left to do it myself. I especially remember My Oh My, because as I said earlier it was only Jim playing and Nod singing. There was this song by Billy Preston called “That’s The Way God Planned It” and I think George Harrison produced it and he got Ginger Baker to play drums on it. It was like a ballad, but he really lets go on the drums and I said to Jim, I’d love to play that on My Oh My. And Jim said, fantastic! And I used it for the intro and at the very end. I played it on rotodrums. It’s like sort of narrow drums, highly tuned, you have more control over the different sounds on them. Those were the drums I used on the drumrolls on the intro and in the end. When we did that John Punter had a great way of working because if I wasn’t doing anything I didn’t have to go in the studio. He said, there’s no point in you coming in, sitting around. Just come in whenever you have a day and then we did the drums for My Oh My just myself and John Punter and it was good.

A fan in Spain wants to know who wrote the drum notes for the intro to Lay It Down?
I don’t even remember what happens there! It’s me anyway, but I don’t remember what it was, what I played there?
How’s it going…something like, “A beat on the drum, a drum on the beat…”
Oh, yeah! Yeah, that was me just playing.
Because you never did make use of drum notes, did you?
No, no, no!

A fan in Sweden says, when reading Slade biographies on different websites I found out that many of them mention you doing session work for other artists in the late 70's. My question is, Did you end up on any albums or singles (A's or B's) by other artist (credited or uncreditted)? One name that is often mentioned is Sue Wilkinson.
I did do session work for Sue Wilkinson, but it was only cabassa and those click-click-click, whatever they call those things. And I played on the record, because Sue Wilkinson was on Chas’s label and he told her, Don’s the guy to do that for you and it only took 2 seconds to do it!

Bournemouth again. He says, You appeared in Lorna Doone in 2002 I believe it was. Have you had anymore offers to act or is it something you would like to do more of?
Lorna Doone was something that I did in England and now I’m not in England anymore. I haven’t done any acting since then, but I would like to. I meant to talk to Mikael Helmuth, the director of Oliver T., if he knows of anyone or if he can use me. I would definitely bear that in mind.

Then a question from Devon. It’s actually the only question from a lady this time.
Oh, yeah?
She asks, was there ever talk of a sequel to Flame? And if you were approached today do you think you or any of the original Slade would consider it?
No. But John Steele wrote a script, what was it now?
That’s the one with the trifids.
Yeah, The Quitamess Experience, yeah, but it never amounted to anything. We were all a bit scarred from making Flame, because of how long it took. I mean, it didn’t take any time really, but it did to us. It took a long time out of our touring career at that time, anyway, so it never happened. It got shelved. And I think Dave was written out in the first scene anyway, so he wouldn’t have that! [Don laughs].
But there was never talk about an actual sequel to Flame with the same characters?
No. There never were talks about a sequel, but it would be funny to do one today.
The Monkees did something like that at their 30 years anniversary. They made a one hour episode of their old TV-series, the same characters and all.
Oh, did they? I’d really love to see that, Lise! It could be funny to do something like that with Flame. It could work out really good and I would definitely do it!

And a question from the Bolton: What were the highlights of the recent musical for you?
That’s a difficult one! Highlights? I don’t know. I think I used more time watching the play from sitting behind the drums than actually playing drums in Oliver T.! But highlights… that was just being involved. I saw the production when Michael Helmuth first did it 2½ years ago and that was when I showed interest in playing with the band. It was all great fun. Everybody there involved with the production, the actors, they were all great. It was like one big family, but there were no particular highlights as such because it was all great fun.

London wants to know if you use the internet and if so, have you looked at You Tube or any of the other Slade related websites?
No. I sometimes look up a few things, especially old rare records like the foreign releases because their track formats differ, but I’m not really into computers. But back in the old days in certain countries they used different track formats, especially for singles. For instance sometimes they would put two singles on, like say Cum On Feel The Noize on the A-side and Squeeze Me Pleeze Me on the B-side. Some of the countries used to do that, but if they still do it, I don’t know. I haven’t looked for ages.

Bournemouth says, I remember seeing Slade at Bournemouth Winter Gardens on 15th December 1983. Towards the end you appeared to be constantly holding your head and you left the venue straight after the show. Do you have any long term difficulties as a result of you accident besides the memory loss, and the loss of sense of taste and smell?
Oh, I don’t know. When I first went on stage just after the accident my rib cage was really hurting whenever I stretched because I broke five ribs in the accident. And I thought there was still something wrong with the bones. I went to the hospital in Wolverhampton and they did X-rays and they said, there’s nothing wrong with the bones, it’s just the tissue in between that is still stretching. And they said, there’s nothing to worry about. And later it stopped and that’s about it, really.
You don’t have problems with scars? I once had my appendix removed and my scar hurts whenever the weather changes.
That’s quite common, isn’t it? But no, I’ve never had that as far as I can remember. I used to have head aches a lot, but that was because of the fractured scull, but I guess that’s a normal thing and that was just for a few months after the accident. I don’t really feel that now. I still find it hard to brush my hair because I have to be careful because of the scar on my head, but I seldom brush my hair, anyway! [Don laughs]

The final question is from Lancashire. It says, You spend quite some time in Denmark I believe, have you managed to learn much of the language?
Yes and no. Everybody speaks English here in Denmark and it’s not good for me! I understand more Danish than I speak. When somebody speaks Danish I know what they are saying but as both my family and everyone else speak English here so I don’t practice my Danish that much.

Well, that’s it.
Really good questions this time.
I’ll tell the forum!


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