The Red Hot Summer Tour kicked off last month and is already pulling big crowds at some very scenic locations around NSW, Victoria and South Australia. And it certainly has been a Red Hot Summer so far! I had a chat with Ian Moss recently, following some of the hottest temperatures this country has ever seen. “One show in particular was very hot,” he informs me. “The very first gig we did in Tumut NSW. It was 45 degrees. That was pretty full on. But at least, when we were on, the sun wasn’t on the stage so that definitely helped.”
Notwithstanding recent record breaking heatwave conditions, Ian assures me that the tour is going really well. “It’s a good, fun, energetic line-up. We all get along well and we all try to improve our playing all the time. Everyone’s pushing each other along. We all feel that there is a great appreciation for the music in the rural areas. I think the audience is especially appreciating the fact that, while bands usually just stay in the cities and they have to travel to them, now it’s us coming to the people.”
That energetic line-up includes such great talent as Dragon, Baby Animals, Chocolate Starfish, Ross Wilson, Swanee ( John Swan) and, headlining on the tour, John’s little brother and Ian’s former Chisel band mate, Jimmy Barnes. The tour still has a few months to go but time won’t stand still for Mossy when this tour winds up. There are some acoustic shows lined up for the middle of the year but he says that these dates have yet to be locked in and confirmed. Once again though, he is keen to get back to some of those greatly appreciative regional areas of the country.
Ian also plans to fit in some writing with an aim to putting out a new record later in the year. “It’s been a while,” he laments. “It was 2009 when I released the latest album. That was a soul album, Soul on West 53rd and that was all about vocals. I’ve just been having a renewed interest in electric guitars and getting a new guitar based album out there. It’s been a while so I think it’s the right time for that.”
And, of course, Ian Moss is recognised as one of the country’s best guitarists. “I’ve always been a guitar player, first and foremost,” he admits. “But I also enjoy singing and, right from the start, I had no choice. When I was in high school in Alice Springs, I wanted to get my own band going and I was the only guy around who could sing! It was a bit of a hard road, though, to get the confidence up behind that voice. From day one, in my own band, I was the lead singer and the lead guitar player.”
Ian’s interest in music started at a very early age. “When I was five years old, I was an Elvis Presley nut!” he admits. “And I remember when The Beatles came on the scene and that musical excitement that gripped the world. That was palpable even in a little outback town in the middle of the country, right underneath the bottom of the Globe. I remember very strongly how powerful that was with The Beatles.” And that had a huge impact on Ian. “Definitely,” he agrees “but I was always keen on music and singing. I used to do little vocal concerts for my parents when I was five years old. I started learning piano and then I jumped to guitars at the age of eleven. I’d been learning guitar for a couple of years when I heard Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and all of those guys, and I thought ‘Wow! What is this?!’ It was such a radical change. It wasn’t gradual. It went from one part of the universe to another, in one swift leap.”
Then the boy from Alice Springs made a swift leap of his own and one that would change the direction of his life forever. “Adelaide had a really healthy music scene, probably spurred on by the fact that the city had a lot of really talented migrant musicians. It was a great musical scene in Adelaide in the late sixties/early seventies. And then I gradually started meeting the guys from what turned out to be Cold Chisel. That was 1973/74.”
The band formed in Adelaide at that time but, originally, they weren’t known as Cold Chisel. “We actually named ourselves after a Jeff Beck album,” he tells me. “We called ourselves ‘Orange’ for about three months.” But that was soon changed to the name that is now synonymous with Australian Rock and Roll and the rest, as they say, is history.
After reigning supreme for a number of years as Australia’s quintessential ‘pub rock’ band, Cold Chisel finally made their Last Stand with a farewell tour in 1983. Although they were asked to reform many times since then, it wasn’t until 1998 that the band reunited to record a new album and to tour. They have reformed several times since, the most recent reunion taking place in 2011, for a tour that took them not only nationally but internationally, with shows in the U.K. as well. “We were genuinely blown away by its success,” says Ian. “The concerts, ticket sales, the whole thing was just unexpected really. We’d shifted management about three years ago and these guys seemed really confident. But we thought we were going to look pretty shoddy when the room is only a quarter full! But they had a lot of confidence and the tickets went on sale and they were sold out in minutes. And the reactions on the tour were phenomenal.”
Looking back over those glory days with Cold Chisel, there are many moments that have stayed in his mind. Ian has bittersweet memories of Cold Chisel’s American tour in 1981. “We knocked them out wherever we played,” he tells me, “but we never got to do a follow up and that was disappointing. I think the band deserved to be and was good enough to be a big hit right around the world but for various reasons, that didn’t happen. 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Looking back now, I think we could have made much more of a go of it than we did.” He takes a deep breath and adds, philosophically, “But that’s all in the past now.”
And Ian is now focused on the future and the future, for Mossy, is looking pretty good. He has a very successful solo career that continues to build momentum with a busy touring schedule and a new recording project on the horizon… And, I have to ask, are there any plans to resurrect Cold Chisel again anytime soon?
“No plans,” says Ian, with a laugh. “We hit the market pretty hard in 2011 and 2012. Of course, we released the ‘No Plans’ album and went to London in July last year and did a couple of dates there which were very, very good. We’ll probably wait out 2013 and look at doing something in 2014. Exactly what, I’m not sure just yet.” But I think Ian Moss has more than enough to keep him busy for now and for quite a while to come…
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2013 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved.
For more info on the Red Hot Summer Tour and details of how to book, go to our Touring page.