With a new album, The Perfect Crime, about to be released, and a tour kicking off in October, we spoke to Cold Chisel’s bassist, Phil Small about both in a relaxed, candid interview.
Tell us a bit about the process in pulling together The Perfect Crime.
We started in June last year with about nine tracks at Jim [Barnes]’s studio. And then we sort of shoved them on the shelf and went our own ways. The after playing at Clipsal, we decided to go back into the studio. As a result of that, we got another eleven tracks. We were all quite happy with it. At this point, everyone’s in a good place with the band. It’s great having Charley [Drayton] with us on drums, even though it was hard getting through that transitional stage, with the previous album, No Plans, because half of that was recorded with Steve [Prestwich] as well (Prestwich passed away in January 2011). We all come to the table with different ideas and styles, but when the five of us get together, the end product is Cold Chisel.
Cold Chisel have always been a quintessentially Australian band. Even on the new album, your disco-style number Bus Station, contains a reference to the chiko roll. Is that Australianess something you strive for, or does it come naturally because you are all good working-class aussie boys?
I think that’s attributable to Don [Walker]’s song-writing skills. Don’s a natural at being able to paint a picture with a few words. And he has that ability to make it so Australian. Most of his songs effortlessly sound Australian. He manages to tell stories without being over-the-top, ockerish.
So many Chisel songs are based on real stories. There are at least two on the new album: All Hell Broke Lucy and The Mansions. Are stories something you go out and look for, or do these just pop up naturally in your lives?
Well The Mansions was an old pub in Kings Cross, and Don used to spend a lot of time in the Cross. He just observes people and places. Don’s book of short-stories Shots is a testament to his writing talents.
And talking of writing, you’ve written, or co-written two songs on the album. Tell us about Get Lucky, the song you wrote solely?
It’s a song I originally wrote about five years ago. I put it forward for No Plans, but at that time it still wasn’t ready. So with the new album, I changed some of the lyrics around, and there was also an entire part of the song which I cut out. That part might well become another song, down the track.
You start a new tour soon, and in true, Chisel style, you’re kicking it off at a ute-muster. What can we expect from this tour?
Well the fans will get all the old stuff, and a few surprises, maybe. And, of course, there’ll be a sprinkling of the new songs in there. We’re really looking forward to playing them live.
And we’re all looking forward to hearing them.
Interviewed by Tracey Korsten
The Perfect Crime is released on October 2nd.
One Night Stand tour kicks off on October 2nd at the Deniliquin Ute Muster.
Cold Chisel play Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Tuesday November 17th