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March 31, 2023

Back from the Cold

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With Bluesfest just around the corner, it’s time we started getting more acquainted with some of the acts who will be headlining this Easter. Thursday’s show is sure to be a massive event kick-off with Aussie legends Cold Chisel at the helm. Mandy Nolan spoke with Ian Moss, still riding on a high after their massive national tour last year, pulling massive crowds wherever they went.

What prompted you to launch the biggest tour in nearly 30 years last year? We got together for one show in 2009, and liked the way that went, enough to begin planning a national tour. It took two years in the planning, and we did some writing and recording in that time.

How do you think Cold Chisel has managed to not just maintain their fan base but to grow it? We don’t really have ‘fans’. Some people want a certain thing, and know that we’re one of the places they can reliably get it.

When you are preparing for that kind of show, how do you marry nostalgia with the now when it comes to set lists and song choices? Nostalgia isn’t part of what we do. We pick songs we’re going to enjoy playing, keeping an eye on the fact we’re a rock and roll band and it’s good to keep things moving.

What is it about the combination of Ian Moss, Jimmy Barnes, Don Walker and Phil Small that sets it apart? We spent our youth together, and forged a certain musical chemistry – nothing special about that, lots of bands do that. Among the four of us are some who are uniquely good at what they do, so maybe that’s it.

I’ve never thought to ask but what actually is a ‘Cold Chisel’? I could say a tool that hangs in Bunnings for too long, but I won’t. Something for cutting metal. In our case a temporary name that wasn’t meant to last beyond one bottom-of-the-bill gig.

2011 was a tough year for Cold Chisel with Steve Prestwich dying in the January; how has that affected or informed your live shows through the rest of that year? Steve’s passing a little over a year ago stopped everything. We didn’t know for some months if we’d ever do anything again. Around mid-year we began trying to put what we do back together with Charley Drayton playing drums. That involved a lot of detailed work, especially between Phil, myself and Charley. A lot of thanks for the success of that goes to Charley.

Your songs are so distinctly Australian; do you think that has made it hard over the years to break an international market? We went to America once and toured for a month and a half, June to August 1981. No-one breaks America like that no matter what they’re singing about.

How important is it, do you believe, that bands forget about overseas and start telling Aussie stories about place and people? Bands should do what they like. Singing about what you know is no impediment to making it anywhere, so long as it’s done well. It never held Bob Marley back, or the Beatles. Youssou N’Dour doesn’t sing about Europe, but he sells a lot of records and tickets in Europe. McKinley Morganfield sang about Chicago, but was loved everywhere.

What should fans be expecting for a 2012 Bluesfest Chisel show? Some rock and roll, in the original sense of the phrase, and a rare dose of blues.

For line-up and ticketing info go to www.bluesfest.com.au

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