Dave Hill

ARTICLE ABOUT Slade FROM Record Mirror, June 17, 1972

There is no doubt that Slade were what we categorize as a rock band. Possibly in the glam variety, but still.. Today, the notion that a rock band would get in trouble for swearing on stage, would seem quite absurd. Not so in the conservative England at the start of the 70s… read all about it here. Enjoy.

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They`re not rock or pop or anything else, they`re SLADE

Dave Hill talks to RM`s Val Mabbs

“OKAY”, says the hearty bellowing voice. “We want you all to clap along with us on this one, yes, everybody, let`s hear ya…”
The familiar kind of patter used by Slade on their live performances, building the audiences up to their almost frenzied height, when all the arms will stretch out to move in the mannerisms of Dave Hill, or Noddy Holder on stage, and the feet stamp relentlessly on polished ballroom floors.
They`ve long been the centre of a cult following, the heroes who provide the safety outlet for many a frustrated teenager, often pent up in a boring daytime job, just waiting for a chance to break out. And stomping along with Slade is better than smashing up trains, anyday!
But suddenly Slade are becoming accepted by a wider audience. They`re no longer thought of as an extension of a pop band – a description which never quite fitted anyway – and even the crowd at Lincoln`s Great Western Festival rose to their feet when the thundering little band hit the stage.
“It was the first big festival we’d done here,” explained the bouncy Dave Hill still happy despite having waited around for my arrival, following a muddle-up in communications. “We expected from your reports we’ve heard before that things would run late, but everything was very well organised, especially considering the bad weather they had to put up with.”
The group used the same on-stage act that they use regularly for their college and ballroom appearances, with one addition, “Move Over” by Janis Joplin. Apart from the obvious observation that Slade produced a good, controlled but rocking set, I wondered how Dave felt he might account for their victory (though he hates the thought of bands being put into a type of competition) on being tipped as the best group of the festival.

“I don’t think we played any better or any worse than we usually do,” he told me honestly. “But we’ve always gone out to get a mixed audience, and never wanted to be in any particular bag — we don’t want the rock label either, because we’re not a rock band, we only do one rock ‘n’ roll song.
“If you think about it we write our own numbers written through many influences, and I think where you’re brought up and the way you live influences things you write.
“I’d call our music beaty music, things you can dance to. I wish there was a new word, because when you say a rock band, to me that makes you think of the past, it’s attributed to Little Richard.
We aim to keep writing and keep fresh in our music all the time, we’ve got hundreds of tracks down in the studio now, and they’re nothing like what we`re doing on stage at the moment. We want variety in the act to appeal to many kinds of audiences. I really think that’s why we’ve won out because we can do that.”
From the outset of their career, Slade have always been individualistic. As Ambrose Slade, a quiet yet cheekily happy bunch of characters, they used violin on stage — an instrument that then was not as widely used as it has become today — and their title of being the first skinhead group, goes undisputed.
Even now, finding the correct words to apply to the group is difficult… they really can’t be labelled, except to say they’re Slade, and anyone who’s seen them work will know just what that means. Their live album “Slade Alive!” also gives an excellent indication of the band.
Slade are currently working in the studio recording tracks for a new album and single – all the tracks, Dave tells me, receive the same treatment, and are not recorded on a “this is going to be the single” pre-arranged basis.
Although being able to see the obvious shortcomings of recording all singles live, I echoed a reader’s view and asked Dave if he felt it could be beneficial for the group to record more live material.

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“The album was recorded over three nights and an audience was brought in every night,” he told me, looking serious. “But it would be practically impossible to set that kind of thing up every time you wanted to record. Also you might not want an audience making a noise on the recording. All we wanted to do was produce a Slade live album showing how Slade are at present, not to get into any particular thing about recording live.”
Okay readers?
Slade themselves were particularly pleased with the outcome of their live sessions, recorded in the Command studios. But are certainly not so pleased about the current obscenity charge that they are faced with, following an appearance in Glasgow.
“As far as I know Nod didn’t swear,” Dave told me, leaning back and crossing his yellow clad knees. “We did the normal act that we do everywhere, so why all of as sudden, out of the blue, should someone come and pin that on us? I know there were a lot of hassles with people jumping on seats and running around, but nothing different happened on stage.
“The police just walked in to the dressing room and asked who was swearing, who was doing the announcing. I didn’t hear everything that was said when I was out on stage, but I don’t remember anyone swearing. We just don’t need that,” Dave’s anger at the whole situation was beginning to show, as he continued. “I might swear when I’m talking to you, it’s just part of speaking, people do swear. Girls in London swear, I’ve heard them, but if a group do they labelled as being obscene”

In the past, with their sometimes open talk on stage — Noddy occasionally will call for couples to get together, jokingly commenting “let’s see you having a fee” – the group have acquired the reputation for stepping out a little, and I pressed on to ask Dave if he felt they had been lucky in not being told to lessen their comments before.
“I’ve never thought about us being lucky, we don’t think about things like that. I hate people using the bit about being obscene, I couldn’t think of anything cornier, our music’s good enough.”
Indeed Slade are a highly successful and entertaining act who need no extra gimmicks.
“The way we are on stage is what we are,” says Dave. “I wear flashy clothes but I always wear flashy clothes, and Nod has always been the way he is. We haven’t gone out of the way to be anything different. We haven’t planned anything.”
Wouldn’t you agree that the members of Slade are good businessmen though? Dave gives a knowing grin, adding seriously: “We’re not out to con the public. We put out what we are. Now we’ll continue on as normal, we’ve always been the same.”

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ARTICLE ABOUT Slade FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, FEBRUARY 24, 1973

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog. If you really like this sort of thing – follow my blog!

I started this blog with an interview with Slade, and now I think it is time yet again. Listen to one Mr. Dave Hill on top of the world at the start of 1973. They were quite an attraction at this point in time!

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Superyob – I`m a freak attraction

Dave Hill talking to Keith Altham

He comes on stage with Slade like an overdecorated, perambulating Christmas tree – smothered in silver-stars, gold and glitter from head to toe – but somehow he never minces into the realm of the camp.

What he does is counter Noddy Holder`s version of a Space-Age bully with his own interpretation of Superyob.
Dave Hill is showman first and guitarist second by his own admission, but front-line men with his special brand of cavalier style and confidence are essential to any band trying to snare and retain the public`s attention.
Jagger was the supreme example of this type of rock-theatrics, despite the fact that in more recent years his reputation has been enhanced by that ethnic ingredient “blues” appeal.

What Dave Hill set out to do was to make himself a personality in a group which no one could ignore, and, if he never topped a guitarist poll, it wasn`t going to worry him too much in his formative years.
No one worried overmuch about the Beatles instrumental ability in their early days, Hill reasoned, so why should he at a time when Slade`s music is not meant to be anything more than fun.
“There are so many good guitarists in this business that if you can`t go out on stage and deliver, you might as well be dead,” says Hill.
“There`s only one Eric Clapton who can afford to lay back, but even he surrounds himself with musicians who project something more.
“I made up my mind some time ago that I really just wanted to help focus attention on the band, and I`ve worked at it and exaggerated my own style.
“I`ve always been a bit flash and all I had to do was get up enough nerve to go on stage and be as outrageous as I felt.

“The four guys in the band are really a very good cross-section of what our audience are like, and we`re really a good mix of working, upper, middle and lower class. There`s always an element in young people who want to dress up and be exhibitionists – I`m just one of them.
“I`m really not a pretty character because what I put over is more brutish, and it can only be a reflection of the music which has a hard masculine feel about it. I couldn`t be camp if I tried, because my background is working class and I`m tough at heart. Someone described me once as looking like an off duty navvy from 2001.
“Don`t get the impression that I think I`m any more responsible for Slade`s success than Jimmy, Nod or Don. I`m just trying to get over what I think my contribution is. Slade only really works because it`s a perfect balance. While there are four of us I can`t see us missing. If one dropped out it would be the end of the group.

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“I know some people seem to resent what they think is arrogance, but then you`ve got to expect a certain amount of that if you come on strong.
“I get a few who come looking for a fight, like the idiot who started throwing chips at me while I was sitting in my car in Wolverhampton recently. I just got out and faced him down. I don`t look for trouble but I won`t run either.
“You get problems with your private life, but then, that`s to be expected. I still go to places I want, like Working Men`s Clubs in Wolverhampton, and if I get a few odd stares and pestered for autographs, so what – that`s part of the game. I`m a freak attraction.
“The only thing that really makes me puke are the copyists – those groups who think that the way to succeed is by imitating everyone else.
“There`s only one way, and that is to be original – be yourself.

“The image only really works if you have something to back it up with, and I think the results in the NME Poll have proved that we do.
“As long as our singles and albums are selling more each time, and as long as the people are turning out to hear us, we must have something more to offer than just the way we look.
“Best `live` group must mean there are a lot of people getting some sort of charge out of us which has little to do with the glitter.
“What really helps is when someone like Pete Townshend puts in a good word for us – I was reading a feature recently where he said Slade reminded him of the Who in their early days.
“From someone like him, that really means something, and if we were to pick out our favourite `live` rock and roll group it would be the Who. And I`m not saying that just because he had a few good words to say about Slade.

“We`re not really interested as a band in improving our own stature as musicians – we`re only interested in entertaining and giving our audiences a good time. We don`t feel the need to educate them.
“We`ve recorded some numbers which we`ve deliberately held back because we feel they are too clever – too indulgent for our fans at the moment. As we get older as a group then we hope to take those fans with us as we change.”

When a group becomes as popular as Slade are at the moment, a possible over-exposure becomes a real threat.
“Can you have too much of a good thing?” asks Hill innocently when you raise the subject. “I mean, so long as people think it`s still good. I really don`t think we could afford to throw a moody and play hard to get, because while we were taking a six months break someone would nip in and steal our audience.
“I don`t think the Beatles ever really stopped. Even when they finished with touring they were always there – in the papers, in the news, doing films or appearing on TV.”
You`ll find the Beatles are a constant reference in the Slade`s comparative values department. Do they really believe that they could be that big?
“What`s the point in aiming for anything but the top,” says Hill. “If you set your sights any lower, you can only achieve something smaller.
“You just take a look at what sort of figures the champions have set, and go for a World Record. The way we are going, I personally can`t see us missing.”

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Those were the days of full page ads for Slade! With THAT single they just couldn`t miss.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Led Zeppelin, Jan Akkerman, David Bowie, Strawbs, Traffic, Pete Townshend, Chuck Berry, Back Door, Guess Who, Alice Cooper.

This edition is sold!