Slade Slaves

London, April 26th, 1975

"We had to move 14 tons of equipment into the New Victoria Theatre last night and tonight we've got to carry it all out again. We'll be lucky if we can leave for Wolverhampton before 3 am!". 
That's a day in the life of Slade's road crew, four gentlemen by the names of Ian (Charlie) Newman, John Jones, Rob Wilson and Haden Donovan, Charlie's been with the band the longest, four years, and the others joined about three and a half years ago. 
"I think we're one of the longest lasting road crews there is", he says. 
Charlie is Sound Engineer.
"I'd worked with other bands before but with Slade I got more into sound because they require so much power. The average gig needs 5,000 watts out front, 1,500 in the monitors and the backing gear 1,200 watts. We tried Revoxes once for ADT effects but it did not work for Slade. If you try to copy the studio sound for them you can't do it with that volume. The group take great interest in the technicalities of sound, especially Nod - he's the boss". 

John is in charge of the P.A. with Charlie. Haden looks after the backing gear and Rob handles the drums. Setting up for the average Slade gig takes about four hours, two of those hours being positioning of the gear. 

Veterans of six American tours, the crew reckon that power wise, things are simpler in the States. 
"Every venue has it's own union and if you explain to them what you want there's usually no trouble at all", said Charlie.  
"Here, if you want anything slightly unusual it throws them. At one Wolverhampton gig we wanted a non-standard power supply, to be provided for 10 am. When they finally got it together and switched it on it was 5 pm. and too late for a check". 

Decibel meters create problems too. Ever since it was reportted that the Do rating at Slade's Earls Court Concert was higher than a Jumbo jet taking off, the anti-noise freaks have been on their tail! 

"We're only using 4,000 watts at the New Victoria tonight, but in the States it'll be about 8,000 and we'll increase the monitoring to 2,500", said Charlie optimistically. 

The band rely on their own distribution box, as they don't put much trust in house mains. The back line gear is mainly Hi-Watt, four 200 watts amps, five slaves, six 4/12s for lead and rhythm guitar, four Acoustic 360s for Bass, Acoustic pre amps and a WEM Audiomaster for extra top on guitar.  

"The monitors, like the PA are also WEM. The mixer is a 24 channel stereomaster with electronic cross over stereo limiters, etc. The PA is driven by Crown DC300s, driving six 4/15 reflex cabinets with four bass bins, for Britain, with modifications for America. They have two 24/18 JBL lenses, four JBL 375 HF horns and two double 2470 HF horns." 
"We use WEM power amps to drive the horns, which gives us the sound we want. The WEM gear was all custom built for us. Charlie Watkins (head of WEM) was  there one night, stamping and clapping and really enjoying himself", said Charlie. "Slade use Shure microphones, all SM58s", he continues, "The drum kit is Ludwig and was custom built for Don and the guitars are Gibson SG3s, an EB3 bass, a Fender Telecaster and the rest are John Birch customs, including the good old Super Yob!" 

Slade certainly follow the old boy scout motto, "Be prepared". They carry a spares kit which is total duplication of everything they've got, right down to the last nut, bolt and guitar pick-up. 

They also have a back up on each amp which is always plugged in case of emergencies. But even with such careful preparation, unforeseen things you can still go wrong. 

"Once we took the wrong road to a gig in Yugoslavia", recalled Charlie. 
"We went over the Austrian Alps, with a foot of ice on the road, and ended up in a tiny village which had a little bridge in it that we couldn't get under. The bridge was about eleven feet high and our truck was twelve feet. You'd better continue the tale, John, because that's where I lost my cool!!"
John carried on; 
"We let the tyres down and still couldn't get under. It was 3 a.m. and we still had 300 miles to go to get to the gig the next day."
"In the end Charlie jumped into the van and rammed with all his might under the bridge, leaving us with half a roof. We got under and then, to our horror, we found we were facing another even smaller bridge. So there we were, stuck in the middle of this village, Charlie had given up by this time and was saying "We're never going to make the gig, better forget it!", then we noticed a little path and drove down that. But there was a house and a cliff and no room for us between. We ended up knocking a piece off the house and demolishing the village tree. The owner came out in his pyjamas and just stood scratching his head. The whole village came out and gasped. They'd never seen a truck as big as ours in their lives! 
"The path lead back to the road so we managed to get to the gig all right. Funny thing is, we never heard any more from the man whose house we damaged"
So if you meet an Austrian with half a chalet ...

Read about the London gig at Slade In England.

For more information about Slades road crew click on

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