Cold Chisel have penciled in their new album for 2012, after they complete their run of 26 shows across Australia and New Zealand.
Jimmy Barnes tweeted earlier in the year about making a start on the new release “Off to start Chisel’s new album. Can’t wait.”
New material from the band had been up in the air for a while when drummer Steven Prestwich died in January of a brain tumour. After recruiting new drummer Charley Drayton (Keith Richards, B52’s, Divinyls), songwriter and keyboardist Don Walker said “We’d already recorded a number of new songs with Steve prior to his passing. Plus all five of us have written songs over summer with the intention of more recording this year.
“Hopefully Charley [Drayton, new drummer] can help us complete the work we began together. Steve was totally into everything we’d been planning for 2011 so while the last few months have been very difficult to deal with, we all feel that he would want us to complete the plans we made together.”
This will be Cold Chisels seventh studio album since forming in 1973.
At exactly the same time as the concerts were being announced yesterday, all of the band’s recordings were unleashed digitally for the first time, in a major online launch that included 56 rare and previously unreleased tracks. Retailers also received the newly remastered and repackaged CD versions of all the classic Cold Chisel albums which are in store now (each of their studio albums now comes with a bonus DVD containing rare and unreleased footage from that era).
This massive catalogue rollout had already been hailed as the most extensive archival project in the history of Australian rock. Jimmy Barnes revealed that the original plans for all of this were actually hatched in secret nearly two years ago around the group’s memorable one-off show to over 50,000 people at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.
“We got such a buzz from that gig that it made all of us really want to get our act together”, he explains. “We wanted to do things properly though because we know this band means a lot to a lot of people – especially us! So we had to do it right. That meant taking time to find lots of cool unreleased stuff and getting the albums looking and sounding great. It also meant making all the music available everywhere that people might want to get it these days. We agreed that once that was sorted we’d go out and play all those songs right around Australia and New Zealand in a way that we haven’t really done since the early 80s.”
These plans took the better part of two painstaking years to pull together including lengthy archival excavation and remastering activities. And with the passing of Steven Prestwich, the band wondered whether it was worth going on.
“At one point we actually thought about calling the tour ‘Unfinished Business’,” explains bassist Phil Small. “After that 2009 gig we’d all quietly decided to try to do something big. To have bailed out just a few months from actually doing it would actually have felt like we were letting Steve down.”
As guitarist Ian Moss explains, “It was all another reminder that life is short and you never know what’s around the corner. We miss our brother Steve every single day but the four of us still love playing music together. And we know that people want to hear these songs, so we want to do more of that while we still can. The tour is going to be a celebration of what he helped us create.”
One fifth of tour profits will go to Steve Prestwich’s children.
The tour name refers to the practice of injecting nitrous oxide into the carburettor during a street race, which instantly doubles or triples the horsepower of a conventional engine. Incredible power, explosively unpredictable … obviously apt for this incendiary live band.
Hardcore fans may be interested to know that “light the nitro” is also a line from one of the songs the band recorded over recent months … a new Don Walker rocker called HQ454 Monroe about a man and his beloved hotrod.
For the rest of 2011 the group will be focusing totally on supporting their massive catalogue re-release with the biggest Australian concert event of the year … the Light The Nitro Tour.