Chris Slade didn’t touch a drumstick for three years after being replaced in AC/DC by Phil Rudd in 1994
Former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade was recently interviewed by eonmusic and spoke about his time in AC/DC. Slade played drums for AC/DC from 1989 to 1994 and again in 2015 onwards. Slade was replaced by Phil Rudd in 1994 and appears to have been replaced by the latter once again as AC/DC are reportedly recording a new album with Rudd and singer Brian Johnson.
In terms of his audition to be in the band back in 1989, Slade advised: “I did the audition along with a hundred other, might I say, top players. I won’t give you any names, but some of them are household names, as far as drummers are concerned. I was the hundredth drummer that they tried out over quite a few months, and to cut a long story short, I didn’t think I’d done very well at all. I drove home, and I got lost because I was so preoccupied, and it was only an hour from my house. I was berating myself driving home; “Well, why did you say that? Why did you do that?”, and when I got to my house, my wife come up the path and said; “How did you do?” I said; “Really badly. I don’t think there’s much chance of that”, and she said; “They’ve just called to say you’ve got the gig!” [*Laughing*] So they called before I’d even got home.”
With respect to whether he felt that The Razors Edge album was going to be something big, Slade recalled: “To be honest, no, not really. I don’t think anybody does. Whenever you make an album, you cross your fingers and hope it’s going to turn out the way you hear it in your head. There had been times in the past where I’d known it was going to be a hit record; one was with Tom Jones ‘It’s Not Unusual’, and the other was ‘Blinded By The Light’, with Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – we all absolutely knew that those were hits. But I had no indication, and I don’t know if the guys did, that ‘Thunderstruck’ was going to be the huge thing that it was. It put the band back up into the mainstream to where they are today, which is as arguably, the biggest band in the world.”
In regard to how he found out in 1994 that he would no longer be in AC/DC, Slade shared: “I got a phone call from Malcolm [Young], actually. I’d been doing demos with the guys in London; Angus, Malcolm, and myself. Mal was playing bass, and Angus was playing rhythm – no lead guitar, just rhythm guitar, which seems very strange, because Malcolm, being one of the greatest rhythm guitarists ever. But he played bass in these sessions, and that went on for weeks, and they were writing as they were going along as well. I thought; “Well, the guys are in the studio and I wouldn’t mind playing drums”, and I put that to them, and they said; “Yeah, come along”, so that’s what I did, again, for weeks and weeks. I’m terrible with titles, but it was for the next album that came out [1995’s ‘Ballbreaker’], and I demoed every track for that album.”
When asked whether he played on the Ballbreaker demos, Slade advised: “I know this is a fact, because after I’d left the band, I went to visit Cliff and Brian. I went to have a pint with them, and they were all in the same apartment complex, and I said; “Oh, where’s Phil [Rudd]?” This is after he’s back in the band, and they said; “Oh, he’s upstairs”, and I heard him playing, learning my drum tracks, which is a turn up for the books, because I usually have to learn his tracks! So, he played my parts that I had demoed for the next album, so that was a little bit of satisfaction, actually.
So, I got a call from Malcolm saying; “We’re going to try Phil out. Apparently he’s straightened himself up, and we’re going to try him out”, and I went; “Well, I’m gone then, Malcolm, Thanks very much, but…”, and he said; “No, no, we want you to stay on; we don’t even know if he can play drums anymore, because it’s been a while”, and I said; “And you’re going to try him out?!”, and he said; “Yeah, well, we’ve talked to him”, and I said; “Well I’m gone, and if he can’t play drums, that’s your problem now, Malcolm”. And he said; “No, we’ll keep paying you”, and I said; “I don’t care”. And that was it, I resigned, right there and then.”
In terms of whether he was happy with what transpired, Slade advised: “No, I wasn’t. After that I didn’t touch a drum stick for three years. It just knocked me back. I thought, you do your best – as I always do, as I always have – and it’s not appreciated and I thought; “I’ve had enough of this business”.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Chris Slade at eonmusic.