Their new single is imminent and this week they began work on their next album.
DAVE HILL (the man with the YOB 1 car number-plate) took time out to talk to MM's Rob Randall
SO what are the true facts about the various reported reception accorded Slade on their American tour?
"Well, we're going back in August," said Dave Hill. "Of the many gigs that we did, it was a case of our having nothing less that a half house. Some gigs we had as much as two full houses - like New York and San Francisco. Other gigs, we played to one full house. In fact, we were very fortunate in some places. We were drawing a lot of people without any hit record.
“They were a very mixed crowd, mind you, and we'd have to sift out the people who were really there to see us. But, in the States, it's different, it's like England two years ago – they’re still sort of head nodding and pot smoking. But the young kids are looking for something totally new to do.
“In some places we were, getting very young people and we'd also he gelling the left-over hairy people, who would he something like old Rolling Stones fans, etc. And they wouldn’t be digging us because of the fact that they were into the rock 'n' roll thing when they were young and their idols are still their idols.
“But the young kids have no idols. So, they're looking for something that’s a rave With their help we aim to do there what we do in England, and in quick time. It took a long time' over here, but in the Slates it's gonna he quicker - judging from the reaction we got anyway .
“We did two major coast-to-coast TVs. One was called ‘In Concert’ and is a typical concert show with a 'heads' hip audience. The other, ‘Midnight Special’, is a sort of Top Of The Pops and intended for teenage viewing.
"The exposure that those shows will have given us (they went out just after the boys had come home) is huge. Now, we've got to see what the reaction is. The current single, “Cum On feel The Noize” has just been released over there. We need to break a single in the charts and we need to break an LP - in fact, we've got two LPs to break. in. The way it looks to me, is that it's just waiting.
“At some of the gigs, it was almost like England. We were getting a really young audience. They were all getting hot and raving to the band and there was no smell of drugs and things .
“I reckon that the young kids were getting to hear about us through FM radio stations, cos they were the only ones playing our stuff. AM won't play it yet because it's not, so far as they a-re concerned, ready for them. They're waiting for it to mature into the charts and then they’ll pick it up afterwards. .
“But, we were picking' up stations as we were travelling. For instance, in Seattle wc went down really great. And, after the night, the AM bloke, who was there and saw us. went onto playing our record the next day.
"You see, they've got to see us to get confidence in playing our material. After all, when you're dealing with Slade material, you're not dealing with a regular pop sound - you’re dealing with a heavy, raucous sound. A lot of AM stations won't 'play it because they are afraid of offending their audiences.
"The Americans know a lot about us from England and they expect so much from, you over there. They put us over as a modern group and. when you're coming from England to the States after so many other big English groups, you've got a lot to live up to.
“Many of the biggest groups have been over there, made it in the States, and then come back to England as big-time, whereas we worked until we did it here. Then we went abroad to Europe, then we went to Australia. Australia was just unbelievable! There were crowds of 40,000 in some places - just incredible. It was gigantic! Six gold albums!"
“After America and Australia, Slade's sights are set on conquering Japan, Will the language' barrier be a problem.
“I don't think there'll be a language barrier actually. Japan is, to me, the remotest country as far as music's concerned. I think all of a sudden now, they're all sort of going overboard for Western pop.
"We've done a lot of promotion and interviews and things to pave the way for our appearances there. But there are only two or three places that you can play in Japan. and they're all vast halls. So, we'll do about three concerts and some television and that’s it! - that's all you can do. But it can sell a lot of records.
“So far as the language problem is concerned, it's not a case of telling them what to do at the gigs, It's a case of showing them - like we did in France where we physically showed them what to do and they really did get up! In any case, they’re not idiots, they do English at school. English is the dominating language everywhere.”
Slade’s next single “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me” is released next month.
“The record has one dominating line, when everybody goes ‘Whooooooh!’ – and the audience do this. The song is more melodic than most of the songs we’ve done. When you’ve first listened to it, you’ll probably find that you already know it. It’s a very exciting non-stop domineering song.
“I think it’s a slight change from what we’ve done before actually.”
"Anyway, if somebody says to me that all our records sound the same, it’s rubbish! The only thing that sounds the same is us. You know it’s Slade, but it’s not the same guitar riff and it’s not the same key.
"I mean, you always know a Stones record and you always know a Beatles record, but you wouldn’t say they’re all the same. It's the personality of the music that distinguishes us - you know it's us because it sounds like us.
"We write the sort of songs we think arc right for the group, are right for the present day, generate excitement. Like “Mama We're All Crazee Now” written purely on the strength of one night when we down really well and the audience went just wild.
"When you see reactions like that, it influences you to write songs about the audience. So we saw a lot of kids raving it up and thought 'We're all bloody mad’ – ‘Mama, We're All Crazee Now.'
"That's how the song was written, they're about experiences. And our experiences obviously are with the audience. 'Cum On Feel The Noize" was written because one night the crowd were noisier than us. They were making that much noise, they couldn't hear us which is unusual!
"We don't bring out a ballad because that's just "not what Slade fans want. Slade fans want to go out and have a good time – you’d let 'em down if you brought out a slow song. They'd say 'That's smoochy stuff, that's' not Slade."
"But on the LPs. Eventually, when we mature and the fans mature. the songs and the progression will change. Then, in a couple of years time, we probably won't be working on the road and we'll probably be writing a lot more songs for our albums and going into the mood of what’s happening to that teenager at that time."
So, rather than taking their audiences with them as they grow, Slade are thinking in terms of catering for each successive generation of youngsters?
“I wouldn't say that because I think that we will mature with our audience. But our faps are very young. and I mean they're very young! They'll follow us and the next generations will have their own whatever-it-may-be, We’re now.
"So far as our image is concerned, I'd started' dressing up in silver suits and things bcfore even tried the skinhead thing. But nobody was taking any notice of what we were doing, so we made the change to attract attention. We wanted to look different and we got our first record by having an angle.
Then we ventured onto rock - we matured into the next stage. As far as the 'flashing-up' goes, that came as a natural thing in the group. When I think of how long ago I was wearing the flashy clothes, I probably set a trend that other groups have now copied. And it’s f1attering because it proves that I was on the right track."
How much are the remarkable clothes that Hill wears on stage his own invention
"Well, I've got a designer called Steve working with me. He's at art school, at the moment. He came up with the idea of this ‘Superyob’ thing - now me car's 'YOB 1' and we designed the clothes to fit the idea.
"My idea of a really flashy yob is to make it look butch - not poufy. You see big blokes looking like poufs now, they may have glitter or make-up on, but the thing is that they look at it in a different way now.
"When I first did it, it was' He must be a queer but people have now accepted the fact that it's not true so, therefore, the situation has matured.
"Personally, I'm not into make-up. Basically, what I use is sparkles and the c1othes and the big boots for stamping - it's all got a positive connection with what we're doing - it's not a case of looking flashy to go on stage.
" We'll be going into the studios in a few days time to start work on a new album, for which we have already written some of the material. And don't miss our Earls Court concert on the first of next month. The lighting's going to be quite something!"