During the recording of new album No Plans, founding member Steve Prestwich passed away – how did this affect the band?
It meant that we had to reinvent ourselves last year, with Charlie Draper helping out on drums. It had been the five of us playing together from the mid-Seventies on. You put another person in there in place of Steve, there are adjustments to be made. We did the hard work last year, though, so we are match fit.
Is the album especially poignant?
Steve only appears on three songs, and he wrote the last song, I Got Things To Do. We demoed it with him, and when it was being mixed, we found out he’d recorded a vocal on it. It was so good, that’s the version we released – the first time we have included a song on a studio album with someone other than Jim [Barnes – singer] or Ian [Moss – guitarist] singing.
What inspired the album’s writing?
It’s written from life and what’s going on around me. These songs are drawn from a long writing period – one is 15 years old. What binds them together is that I’ll have a bunch of the songs on the kitchen table – the Chisel ones
are just the ones the other guys like.
You’d turned down reunion offers before – so why now?
We weren’t interested for a long time because we’d been doing other things. We felt we did things when we were young and didn’t need to return. We did it in ‘98 as enough time had gone past and curiosity got the better of us. We made a very good record then and what prompted this reunion, 15 years later, was a one-off show in Sydney in 2009. That was so enjoyable and the band played so well we thought: “Why not do some recording together again?”
Has it felt like a new era for the band?
We have always been present on the radio and in record sales, but as a working band we broke up in 1983. And we haven’t been around at all for a long time right now.
Has the band dynamic changed much?
We always managed to find some way of screwing it up or making it unenjoyable for us. When we were young, we used to ride each other and demand things in a musical sense. We don’t do that quite so much anymore, there’s the assumption we all know what we’re doing.
Have you all mellowed with age, then?
Mellow is the right word. The live show is still ferocious, and we’ve made a rock ‘n’ roll album, but our feelings with each other are a lot more adult. Issues never get resolved, though, you just become more forceful in dealing with each other.
You’re doing shows outside of London…
Yeah, we’ve the big festival in Hyde Park, and then Glasgow and Manchester, which I am curious about – I wouldn’t have thought there would be a lot of Aussie expats there!
Have you played there before?
Neither. We did a handful of shows in the Eighties, London and two or three in Cornwall, of all places, supporting Noddy Holder. It was one of those strange strategies: “Let’s crack the UK, and start with Cornwall!”
What’s the secret to your longevity?
What we do on stage doesn’t rely on nostalgia. Our band is as good as we’ve ever been. When you come down to one of our shows, you’re not relying on a memory lane trip.
Is it more difficult for bands these days?
I don’t think that aspect is any different to 40 years ago. When we were young, there were bands receiving glowing reviews and had record companies buzzing round them at their second show – we weren’t one of them. Some bands have to graft it out because they are not fashionable in any era. There’s never been a time when we were fashionable, but our material has held up better than stuff that was.
What’s the band’s best moment?
From mid-1979 to mid-1980, we went from a small club band to hugely successful across Australia, that was enjoyable. The smell of success after many years of the opposite!
Which new artists do you like?
You’re not talking to the right person – I don’t keep up with music. Jack White does the goods, but most things I like aren’t on Top Of The Pops.
How does the tour set list look?
We like to do a show with energy, so in our choices there is going to be a bias towards the rock ‘n’ roll. And then there are songs we like to do because people love them.
Cold Chisel play Hard Rock Calling.
July 13. £50+ W1J 7JZ
Tube | Hyde Park Corner