Bring forth Metal Trick! – exclusive interview with Chris Dale
So, starting with the immediate, you had the by now traditional ‘Kissmas’ shows last month. 2010’s London show is supporting underground thrash legends Nightlord – how did that come about?
I’ve known Ferenc from Nightlord for longer than my memory stretches back. Me and Ferenc went to the Dynamo Open Air Festival in Holland together in the early 90s. Nightlord supported my old band Atom Seed years ago in Woolwich, I think their other guitarist fell offstage that night. It was at that moment I realised how great they were. I keep bumping into Ferenc every now and then and he just asked if we fancied playing at his gig… with Sack Trick we only do things for fun and this seemed like fun to me.
You mentioned in advance that this rather noisier bill will bring out ‘Metal Trick’ – now what does that entail?
It’s an odd thing. I’m a metal fan. I don’t really listen to anything else by choice. Yet the Sack Trick albums aren’t really metal themselves. They have aspects of metal running through them and the odd metal track here and there but by and large they’re quite loungy… this Metal Trick is us playing the same old Sack Trick tunes but in the style of Racer X. Twin guitars, lots of shredding and double kick drums all round. It sounds top!
Out of the revolving roster of Sack Trickers past and present, who joined you this time?
You’re right we do have a revolving roster of band members. I think there’s about thirty or forty so far, but I might have missed some. We don’t like to advertise who will be in the band in advance. That’s for two reasons, firstly because we never really now who’ll be in the band until a day or two before (for example when we played Denmark in December, we didn’t know who was playing drums – someone would get in touch I was sure – maybe even two…).
The second reason we don’t tell people is because then lots of people would come to the gig that Bruce Dickinson did with us a while back and not so many would come to the gig being done with a bus driver from Milton Keynes on guitar. This would be a mistake on the audience part as Bobby the Bus Driver is a better guitarist than Bruce, though it should also be mentioned that Bruce is a better singer than Bobby, so maybe it all evens out in the end.
But I’m happy to tell you retrospectively who did play at the Camden Nightlord show – it was me, Alex Dickson on guitar (who was in Bruce Dickinson’s band with me a while back – he’s also played for Robbie Williams, Gun, Calvin Harris, James Brown and just about everyone else you’ve ever heard of), Jef Streatfield on the other guitar (he’s known for playing with people like the Wildhearts and Plan A – a great natural player), Robin Guy on drums (he’s also been in Bruce’s band with us, as well as playing for Faith No More, Rachel Stamp and the Bay City Rollers), and Roly Bailey on percussion (he runs the Picadilly line – no really he does. He’s also the force behind a very cool band called Bittersweet).
The line up changed considerably by the time we played Denmark.
Why did you choose that over your own headline show?
Cos we’re a bit lazy. The thing is when you do a headline show, the venue closes down just after you’ve played and the bar shuts and they usually want you too pack up and go home straight away. That’s no fun at all. After a gig we like to relax a minute, get our breathes back, have a beer or two, chat to some mates and then maybe pack down and go home later. That kind of lifestyle is best suited for a support band. So we’ve demoted ourselves.
I know for some bands there’s a kind of prestige/ego thing going on – “my band’s bigger than your band”, which doesn’t really appeal to us. Who cares either way?
Also, without wanting to come across like a complete wanker, among the musicians we had playing in Sack Trick that night there are guys who have headlined some of the biggest music events in the rock world – Wembley Arena, Wacken Open Air, Knebworth Park… after you’ve done that kind of stuff then whether you’re on at 8.30pm or 9.15pm at a small, sweaty club in Camden seems a little trivial. Bands that get upset about going on before other bands, should try to get over themselves a little bit, dry their tears and concentrate on the task at hand, which of course is rocking out.
And of course, there’s the Gimle, Roskilde show in Denmark. Out of the whole world, what draws you back to Gimle?
It’s a very odd thing. There’s just this one club in Denmark that really gets what Sack Trick is about. We’ve played there every Kissmas for about eight years now. The place is packed, everyone gets dressed up, sings along, does silly dances and has a party. It’s a great atmosphere. Nowhere else quite gets the Sack Trick game like Roskilde. In the UK we do okay, there’s always a few keen folk along for the ride, but not quite like Denmark. Now UK fans get flights out to Denmark to see what all the fuss is about. But then Sack Trick is all about the randomness of life, and what could be more random than only being popular in one small town in a far away country? I’d much rather that then be famous in my local shops.
I hear there is a live album planned for 2011, how’s work on that going? Which shows are you looking at pulling the material from?
The album’s called Live in Tokyo with a Tiger, and subtitled Not Live, Not in Tokyo, No Tigers. We wanted to make a classic live album. You know like the kind of things made back in the 70s and 80s by bands like Kiss, Lizzy, Priest, UFO, Sabbath… that is, one made in the studio!
It’s also in the style of Metal Trick, shredding and riffing taking precedence over cheap keyboards and foreigners mumbling over kitchen noises, which was often our trademark in the past. If you’ve liked Sack Trick before, but wished we’d been a bit heavier, then this is the album for you!
Any danger of new Sack Trick originals in the future?
Oh, yes at some point. There’s a bunch of tunes lying around. It’s just a case of when we get doing them. That is the one down side to being a band only motivated by fun rather than dollars. Bands motivated by dollars tend to release albums more regularly.
Like everyone in Sack Trick, you have other projects outside of the band – what have you been up to recently?
My main musical outside project right now is teaching my kid, Archie to play guitar. He’s four and very keen.
My other project is Tank. It’s the old 80s Kerrang band reformed with me on bass and Doogie White (also a long serving Sack Trick member) singing. We did an album this year called War Machine. It’s exactly the music I love, sounding like Dio with a bit of Maiden. It’s had some amazing reviews so far and we’ll be touring it in Europe next year. See www.tankofficial.com
I also DJ on Total Rock radio most Thursdays, 3-6pm UK time. I play mostly classic rock, with a bit more Kiss thrown in than you’d really want to hear. Then I interview famous people and ask them about Kiss too. See www.totalrock.com
When I’m not rocking myself, I assist others to rock by working as a backline technician for bands on tour, mainly looking after people’s guitars and basses. I’ve worked for bands like Armored Saint, Glenn Hughes, Therapy? and Go West. One of my favourite jobs like this is working for bass-god Billy Sheehan of Mr Big. He’s been a big influence on me since I was a teenager, now I go on tour with him testing his rig, tuning his basses and knocking back a beer with him after the show. He is a truly great bass player and a hilarious guy to know.
What next for Chris Dale, and for Sack Trick?
Who knows? That’s the fun part of this job, you never know what’s coming next… A new Sack Trick album? A Sack Trick Tour? A Tank tour? A Mr Big tour? Maybe all four?
Keep up to date at www.sacktrick.com