Producer Shirley’s fight with Cold Chisel
Producer Kevin Shirley has told how he looked forward to reuniting in the studio with revered Australian outfit Cold Chisel – but instead walked into a battle zone.
The deskman worked on 2012 album No Plans, their first release in nine years and the first since the shock death of drummer Steve Prestwich last year.
Shirley had fallen in love with singer Jimmy Barnes’ voice after moving to Australia and hearing the singer’s solo album Freight Train Heart in 1987. In 1998 he produced Chisel’s The Last Wave of Summer.
Interviewed for a feature on the band in this month’s Classic Rock, Shirley told Dave Ling: “From Freight Train Heart I discovered Cold Chisel. Even though they never broke anywhere else they’re even more legendary in Australia than AC/DC or INXS.
“It’s weird: you meet grown, butch Aussie men – with tattoos of Barnesy on their back.”
But when the South African-born producer returned down under to work on No Plans, he found himself having to fight with the band.
“The first time I went over they weren’t ready to record at all,” he reveals. “They didn’t even know the chords of the songs – and I had to have strong words with them.”
But Barnes says there was a reason behind their lack of preparation: they were struggling to recover from Prestwich’s passing just a few days after he’d been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The singer reports: “It wasn’t a case of being slack. It took much longer than expected to get into the right frame of mind after we lost Steve.
“As much as we wanted it to, no one was even sure the album would happen.”
With some recordings from the demo stage patched in, Prestwich appears posthumously on the record, playing drums and also contributing vocals to I Got Things To Do.
Shirley is extremely proud of his contribution to No Plans. He says: “Cold Chisel’s live performances made them such a hot property at home, it’s time for the rest of the world to realise what the fuss is about.”
The band return to the UK for the first time in 30 years next month:
July 11: London Shepherd’s Bush Empire
July 13: London Hard Rock Calling
July 15: Glasgow ABC
July 16: Manchester Ritz