Singer Dave Gleeson has had a very busy year. As frontman for both The Angels and The Screaming Jets, he has certainly not been short of things to do. In his role as lead singer of The Screaming Jets, he is about to embark on a national tour, dubbed Atomic 47, The 25th Anniversary Tour. Yes, that’s right. The Jets are celebrating their 25th Anniversary.
“It’s really exciting for all of us,” he tells me, “To a) reach a milestone and b) be able to put on a tour that people are willing to come and see and, by ticket sales, it looks like it’s going to be massive. The days of the old touring where we used to do five or six shows in a row are long gone now.” In retrospect, he admits that doing so many shows one after the other was often to the detriment of the show itself. “It was pretty hard to do that show every night five or six nights a week and then, along with the assorted after show behaviour, by the time you get to the sixth show you’re probably a little bit down on your performance. But now it’s obviously a very different touring circuit. You really only perform Thursday, Friday, Saturday and maybe sometimes Sunday. It certainly gives you a chance to just go out and put on the best show you can every night.” He notes the contrast between the ‘pre children’ life on the road and life on the road with children. “I’d come home on the Monday and the wife would be at work and I’d be a wreck. I’d just lie on the lounge and watch telly and fade in and out of consciousness. I can’t do that anymore.”
And, speaking of anniversary tours, he has just finished a four month tour with The Angels. “We were celebrating forty years of The Angels,” he says. “I’m very lucky with The Angels. We’ve probably done about 160 gigs or so in the last three years. And obviously at the start there was a fair bit of ‘argy bargy’ going on on social media about me taking Doc’s place and how it’s sacrilege and stuff but they might as well have been yelling at a brick wall because I don’t do social media. And we’ve grown to the point where we’ve just done a sold out tour and no one was bemoaning the fact that Doc wasn’t there or that I usurped his job and everyone was there to celebrate forty years of The Angels and pay respect to Doc. John Brewster said a moving tribute to both Doc and Chris Bailey every night on stage so it was a great experience for everyone; the fans and the band as well.”
Dave says that he has been handling the transition quite well between the two roles. “I look at it this way,” he explains. “With The Screaming Jets, I’m a contractor and with The Angels, I’m a sub-contractor so I take my cues from John and Rick Brewster and I like to make sure that they think I’m doing a good job, then all’s fine whereas with me being in The Jets, then all the other guys have got to make sure they do their job right.”
And after twenty five years, the band certainly must be doing their job right. Dave relates how it all began. “Grant Walmsley and I started a band out of high school called Aspect. We played around Newcastle for three or four years and got to the stage where we owned our own PA and on our third year we released a cassette to celebrate the fact that we’d done 300 gigs in three years. When we broke that up, we decided that we wanted to get together with a bunch of guys that we knew to be great musos in Newcastle and take it to the next level so that’s what we did and it just kind of grew out of our desire to take it another step. That was 1989 and three years later we were in America doing a massive tour and another tour in the U.K. Not our own tour but supporting other acts. It just came from that desire to see how far we could take it.”
Dave recalls the tour buses they travelled on during that American tour. “It was amazing. There were ten bunks and a lounge up the front behind the driver and lounge up the back and one that we had on just one weekend had a double bed suite downstairs on a double decker bus. We had wild times on those buses. They kind of live large in my memory. We played at the Rock am Ring Festival in Germany. INXS were headlining and on the Sunday night it was Def Leppard. We had our caravan next door to The Black Crows’ Marrakesh tents that they had set up with Persian rugs all over the floor and there was a funny smell wafting out of the place. It was quite surreal. I could write a book but then I’d have to kill everyone in it,” he laughs. “It might have to be a novel I think.”
The Screaming Jets currently have an album in the works but Dave explains that it is a bit behind schedule due to his other commitments. “But we are working on it,” he assures me. We just want to let people know, these milestones come and go but we still feel we’ve got a trail to blaze and worlds to conquer.” He says that they will be playing their hits and crowd favourites on this tour but there will also be a few tracks from the new album thrown in as well. “We’ll slip them in under the radar so no one goes to the bar when we play them,” he laughs.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2014. All rights reserved
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