Cold Chisel's ready for eager fans

Cold Chisel is in the middle of rehearsals for its Light the Nitro tour, which starts next month.
Cold Chisel is in the middle of rehearsals for its Light the Nitro tour, which starts next month. Steve Baccon

THERE was a time when no one listened to Cold Chisel.

"It was the Italian Club in Adelaide in 1973 and I remember no one noticed we were on stage," Don Walker said.

More than 30 years later, those young fellas during their first gig, were yet to realise, that their songs would become some of our much-loved anthems.

Cold Chisel will be at the Mackay Showgrounds on Wednesday, October 26, with their biggest tour in 30 years, their Light The Nitro Tour.

"We are in rehearsals; the first week has been hard work, but we are getting there," Walker said.

"It is the fourth day and there is some good things coming out of it."

Born in Ayr, Walker was the main songwriter for Cold Chisel between 1973 and 1983.

Some of Walker's song contributions to the band include Saturday Night, Cheap Wine, Standing on the Outside, Four Walls, Khe Sanh and he also co-wrote Flame Trees.

Walker said it was very different rehearsing with the band this time round after the passing of drummer Steve Prestwich.

"It's not a trip down memory lane after the passing of our drummer (Steve Prestwich), we have been working with a new drummer (Charley Drayton from the B52's and The Divinyls) and we are taking a hard look at what we do.

"The five of us fit for 40 years. It is not nostalgic, it has been very musical. We are getting down to the nuts and bolts and making the band work," he said.

In 1994 Walker recorded his first solo album, We're All Gunna Die, over four days at Electric Avenue Studios in Sydney, with a touring band featuring David Blight and Red Rivers on guitar.

Released in 1995, it was reviewed as "a masterpiece" and "possibly the best Australian album released in years".

In 1998 Cold Chisel released its first studio album for 15 years entitled The Last Wave of Summer, which entered the national charts at number one.

Walker, the pianist for Cold Chisel, is arguably one of the Australian music industry's best lyricists and when I asked him what was the motto or piece of advice he lived by, there was a moment of silence.

"Don't take any notice of industry or fashion. Do what you think is good.

"And if you are any good it will work, if you're not, it won't," he said.

Cold Chisel moved to Sydney via Melbourne in 1976. Impassioned hard rock covers got the bands gigs while Walker developed original songs.

During this time Cold Chisel's legion of fans began to grow and they followed the band from venue to venue.

By 1977 WEA - now Warner Music - signed the band.

The band's first two albums, Cold Chisel and Breakfast at Sweethearts, included the classics Khe San, Home and Broken Hearted, Merry-Go-Round and Shipping Steal.

By 1980 the top 10 single, Cheap Wine, introduced the album East, where all band members contributed songs.

Walker said when the band first started out it took 10 years to reach a successful point in its career.

"The first six to seven years we didn't have a lot of success".

With the band about to hit the road, many will be singing along to a Chisel song penned by Walker.

"For me good songs are the ones that move me. It comes from somewhere within me.

"There are many ingredients, it can be in a funny lyric or a little twist in the melody that pulls a string or pushes a certain button," Walker said.


In Concert

  • When: October 26
  • Where: Mackay Showgrounds, supported by You Am I, licensed all ages show.
  • Tickets: On sale now for $99.90 and available at or at the MECC box office.

Topics:  cold chisel mackay showgrounds

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