INTERVIEW: NODDY HOLDER & DAVE HILL, SLADE


ANOTHER 'TRICK' IN THE WALL


Twenty years after their first Number One, Slade are back, looking to new heights and a fresh bite of the cherry. With a single getting plenty of airplay and a Top of the Pops appearance freshly behind them, the Nineties Slade, it seems, are in with a chance.

The Wall of Hits compilation is now in the shops, ready for the Christmas market, and should prove something of a pointer to further success. If things go to plan, Noddy and the boys will be in the studio next year working on new material for a mid-year release, and would have then completed the first stage of the new Resurrection.

Meeting Noddy Holder and Dave Hill in a London hotel lounge I start by asking them which way things will develop and how do they see the present Slade package.

Noddy replies first:
"We've always been a rock band, but we have tended to change a bit from album to album. If you listen down the years, you'll find a diverse selection of styles creeping in. We've gone from making out-and-out rockers to soft records with a keyboard feel."
Dave cuts in:
"We've all got different tastes. Nod might like stuff that I don't and vice versa, but the common link between all the band is the band edge that makes music exciting. We are capable of doing a ballad like EXTREME and THE SCORPIONS have done recently, but our hearts lie in something more up front."
Why is it you've kept so quiet on the live circuit?

Noddy:
"We have taken a long time out, but it was important to do so. We’d reached a stalemate position. There is no point going out touring unless you feel good about it. Playing without the right energy just creates a negative feeling. The main problem with long-lasting bands is they do tend to repeat themselves and often fail to come up with fresh ideas. Every time we've felt this happening to us, we've put the band on hold. It allows us individually to follow other pursuits and means the band is fresh when we get it back together."
What kind of things did you get up to?
"Dave was doing his own solo stuff,  Don's been playing with other people, and Jim’s been doing a lot of production for other acts. I've got my own radio show in the North and the Midlands, playing music from the 70s so there are other things and plenty of life outside Slade."
The skinhead incarnation
Going back to the early days, what made you adopt a skinhead image, when it was more closely associated with reggae?

Dave first:
"It did confuse a few people but the image did depict the hard hitting rough sound which we played."
Noddy continues:
"We did get a lot of backlash from the image, but it did help break us. Later we made it more colourful and people accepted that. We never attracted a skinhead audience. We were always big attractions in the universities and colleges, and it's through constant work there that we got our name. We were about the only band at the time who didn't have long hair. Whatever its down points, the image was at least instant."

How does it feel being back in the charts again?

Back to Dave:
"It does feel odd in a way. I was listening out on Sunday for the chart position. It's like it's all new. When I had my first number one I was 26 and that felt old at the time. I never expected I'd still be around 20 years on."
Noddy continues:
"In the Sixties you just didn't consider being in a band if you were over 25. It's only now that the whole rock n' roll game has grown up. This is the first time that so-called rock artists who are in their 40s and sometimes 50s are still making records. Video and old film have helped many older bands survive,  giving younger audiences a chance to get into things from earlier periods. Wall of Hits is also coming out on video, and that in itself is a sort of history on film."
Talking of video and film, leads us onto "Flame" the movie Slade made in the early Seventies. Taking a serious look at the business, the film is far different from any of the BEATLES or ELVIS Ventures before. Picking up some critical acclaim and prayers within the industry,  the film wasn't what the young fans expected.



Noddy takes up the story:
"None of us could act but we got by because the characters were based on ourselves. We weren't too impressed with the original script, so we got the writer and director to come out on the road with us for a few weeks. They soon got a clear picture of life in a band, and the new adaptation was far more real."
Dave cuts in:
"We passed because we didn't have that many lines to speak."
Noddy: 
"You didn't. I did!"
Dave: 
"Yeah, they took a good look at my acting early on. I heard someone wanted me killed off in the first scene."
Noddy:  
"It couldn't have been that bad because Channel 4 showed it on a Friday night sometime back.  We didn't want to do a 'Hard Day's Night' thing, so we went for something close to home, having a serious as well as humorous side. The film did show the black side of the business, and in many ways destroyed a lot of myths."
Dave again:
"The critics were kind to us, but a lot of the fans were shocked."

Wasn't it a bad move, showing a young audience the non- glamorous side of the business?
"Career wise it did us no favours, but it was a great experience. It did pull apart the facade and perhaps kill off some young support, but 15 years on I think the movie stands up and is something I'm pleased to have been part of."
Looking to the future,  how do you say things going?
"We never have planned too far into the future. You never know what tomorrow will bring. We've got a single out now and another to follow, so we must build on that. There's a whole generation of people who've never heard of us so for a while there's a lot of promotion to be done."
Noddy for the last words:
If things take off and the singles and Wall of Hits do well, a new album for 92 is on the cards. After that I don't know. We looked dead and buried at the end of the Seventies, but went on to big things at Reading in 1980 and Donington the next year. We don't know what's around the corner, but we're ready and looking forward to having another go.

Mike Harris
Riff Raff
January 1992




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