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'PULL UP A CHAIR' INTERVIEW: LIVE/WIRE - THE AC/DC SHOW
Interviewer: Paul Robins
Photography Copyright: Market Square Heroes
for the most, it’s been people who love the music. The camaraderie has been the most important aspect all the way through. I also think it’s the enjoyment of the music and the camaraderie of travelling up and down the country, but the love of AC/DC is central to that.

MSH: How long have you been with the band, Eddie?

Eddie: 20 years!

MSH: Are you part of the ‘Live/Wire’ album, I found recently on iTunes?

Eddie: We did 2 albums in ’01/02 and ’04 for a company from Norwich. They used to sell the albums into places like Wilko. We made 2 albums of AC/DC music, ‘Live/Wire - A Whole lot of ‘DC’ and ‘Live/Wire Perform the Best of AC/DC’. We have actually been on compilation albums, all over the world.

MSH: Of all the AC/DC tributes, why do you think Live/Wire has become so popular?

Eddie: I think it’s attention to detail. That’s born from the fact that as the band have made an ‘upwards progression’, the people that have come into it, have embraced wanting to get as close to AC/DC as possible. Also, it’s their personalities. There has to remain a little bit of Live/Wire as well. We can’t just go out and be AC/DC. There are little twists. I think it’s the attention to detail, but it is the personalities. It’s the personalities that you see onstage and the fact that we laugh. We are up there enjoying it. The only difference is that we have the instruments, the audience don’t.

Podge ‘Black’ Smith: There is as much camaraderie offstage as there is on. What you see onstage is what you see offstage. We jump barrels with each other, whatever it may be. It’s just fun! If you take yourself too seriously in this tribute world, you can be seen as ‘up your own backside’. It’s wanting to be as good as you can possibly be. It’s what we all think and why we all pull for the same thing within the band. That’s the ethos of Live/Wire.

Dave Vai: I think it’s the level of commitment by each individual. It’s all good energies coming together as well.

MSH: You put on the wigs and the clothes….

Podge: Wigs? Hair pieces!

Eddie: Syrup!

Live/Wire: (Group laughter)

MSH: How much of what we see onstage is ‘yourselves’ and how much are we seeing you impersonate Angus, Bonn and Brian etc?

Eddie: I think that you have to go back to when you are doing a show. Personally, and I would think the others will agree, but these aren’t my words, "You want to take somebodies emotions and their senses to somewhere they have probably seen AC/DC at some point in their lives. Whether it was with Bonn or Brian. Where they were either listening to a record, watching a video or visiting a show. Where they see something onstage that is an exact replica, it heightens their senses to a point that it puts the hairs up on the back of their necks and they feel like they are watching AC/DC. At that point people buy into it, because they realise, by either luck or judgement, you are absolutely copying and duplicating AC/DC."

Podge: We’ve had that with ourselves onstage. We try and emulate everything onstage as close as we possibly can, but when you are firing off of each other onstage, it’s just like wow! You look like him! You are playing like him! That’s where our energy levels are. That’s where we are as a tribute. It’s the enjoyment of working with each other onstage, with the music you’re playing. As Ed says, it does heighten your senses. It’s great to be playing in front of 400,500 and 2000 people, wherever we play, but to work with each other first and foremost, is the biggest compliment to be a part of. That’s where your energy levels first come from, before you even go onstage, because you have got all of the travelling in between. 

MSH: How much of Simon Davies is there in what we see? Do you make the guitar solos up as you go or is there a structure?

Eddie: It sounds like it! (Laughs)

Simon Davies: I try to copy Angus as much as possible, but you find parts of yourself creeping in here and there. I have found certain tricks of my own over the years, to get more like Angus. I may have lost a bit of my own identity, but that’s alright because onstage I am meant to be Angus. There have been gigs where I actually start to believe 'I am Angus’ and that’s what it’s all about.

Eddie: What’s really weird is that after a gig, you can can think you are a million miles away and someone will come up to you and say ‘You’re Cliff or you’re Angus’.

Dave: It can really get to you, when they remember what your ‘character’ did at a certain time. You can see it in their faces.

Podge: The flashbacks! You can read it all over them. When they see the reaction between Dave and Simon, during ‘Hells Bells’, you can see them thinking how good it is and that they are actually having a flashback to when they saw the real thing.

Dave: And they are so eager to come and tell you afterwards.

Podge: Adding to that, you come offstage, me just over an hour, but Simon 2 hours and 10 minutes, and when you get back in the dressing room, only then can you think I can be myself again. It literally is 3-2-1….and me! Of course, while I’m wearing my ‘piece’, not my wig (laughs) and my cap, I am going to keep on talking in a Geordie accent, because that’s what people want to see and hear.

MSH: Dan, how do you manage to find your energy levels? You don't still from the minute you come onstage until the moment you leave it!

Dan Mosley: (Laughs) It’s not easy, but as Podge says, our energy level comes from watching each other, hearing each other, but more importantly watching the crowd and seeing their reactions from us performing. We get as much of a buzz as they do. We thrive off of the crowd.

Podge: If you ever see Ed smile onstage, then you know that his senses have been heightened from something he’s seen from a fellow bandmate onstage. Being the longest serving member playing AC/DC through Live/Wire for 20 years, I can’t imagine that. I have not even been in the band for a year yet, so for Ed to be able to smile from what Live/Wire are achieving, with all the fences that we are jumping, as they being put in front of us…watching him smile onstage, watching Dan smile or Dave, our stage crew as well, Jon and Tim, it’s priceless!

Eddie: When you tribute a band and play their music, the first thing you actually have to do is play their music. If you are going to copy or tribute something, you shouldn’t just play through it or play the way you hear it. You need to be receptive to that. There are thousands of AC/DC tributes and they are all doing a great job. However, there are plenty of people who can put on a Harley-Davidson black shirt and a pair of jeans, a pair of boots, a cap and a bit of hair. When they walk on the stage at that point, you think they are Brian Johnson, body shape might be different, but you’ve got the idea that this guy is meant to be Brian Johnson.  But then you’ve got the moves, the voice, the interaction, the body language and all of these other things. I think that in tribute, over the years, you have got copycats and mimics. Now people can either mimic or they can’t mimic. People can do impressions of some people, but some people they can’t. I am very lucky to play with a bunch of guys, that either because of the way their bodies work, the way that they sing, act or whatever, are able to look at something and copy it. I’ve watched the band for 20 years and I’ve always wanted it to get to a certain point where I am happy, but you are never really happy. You never play the perfect gig. We are not the ‘real deal’ but you are always aspiring to get that point. I am lucky to play with a bunch of guys that do something each night that they have seen on a video, heard on a record or seen live that is not an approximation. These are moves, athletic moves or sounds, played through the amps or the guitars, that to me are as good as. That, for us, when it projects out front, when it’s all put together, is something that is very powerful. It’s something that we want to share with everybody else. We just want to share what we do, the power when we do it and the passion. That’s why we are successful. That’s what I think.

Dave: We have got a big commitment to it as well. We are all committed. It’s a real labour of love for each and every one of us. We love it as much as the crowd and I think we have got a big connection. What we do and why we are in this position, it just sets us aside.

Podge: We don’t just go through the motions every time we go onstage. Our prep before we go onstage, starts when we are traveling in the van together. That’s what it’s all about. Our prep starts the moment we wake up, from vocal warmups to checking the oil on the van (smiles) and that’s when it becomes real. It’s serious. We take this very seriously. People are playing a lot of money to come and see us play.

Dave: We have to deliver the goods every time we play!

Podge: And we do not take any one of the fans money, without giving 100%. When we come off of stage, we are absolutely washed out. If we feel that we have left anything onstage, we have not done our job. I don’t believe we have ever felt that way.

Dave: After the gig, it doesn’t stop there. We meet and greet. We talk to everyone. We ask people how they feel. We ask for feedback. That’s important to us.

Eddie: If you want to talk about how we got to this point, yes there has been up’s and down’s, but the guys in the band now and the guys that brought this together, the intellect and the intelligence and the knowledge of the music, means that sometimes this is like falling off a log. Its easy. If you don’t pick up on something, then someone else will. We have an inclusive way of making sure that the product that is put out there is right, and that sounds very mechanical, but it’s not. Everyone has a say on how we tweak things. Did you notice Bonn did this or Brian did that? We keep improving things over and over.

Dave: It’s all work in progress.

MSH: Do you ever go and see other tribute acts and think ‘That’s a good idea. We don’t do that, but maybe we should?’

Eddie: There have been occasions where we have, through other people, taken ideas from other bands. ‘If You Want Blood’ is one of them from Gary Jenkins. Gary used to be our Bonn Scott. Unfortunately, Gary, got a very bad kidney complaint and nearly died, thank God he’s had a transplant. Something he brought from the band he was in, right at the end of ‘If You Want Blood’, they used to freeze like mannequins. And then they would all start up again. It would look like they were all dead onstage. We took that and enhanced it, but we’ve also looked at things AC/DC have done and thought, why don’t we try this or that. There has to remain a little bit of Live/Wire in all of it.

Dave: There’s a little bit of comedy from time to time.

Dan: Singers falling over monitors (Laughs)

MSH: I must admit, I see you all onstage and I think ‘I wish I could do that!’ Dave and Podge command the audience, Simon is just incredible on guitar. As teenagers, did you want to be ‘Rock Stars’?

Dave: As a kid, always! I used to close my eyes, sing into a broomstick and imagine I was singing before 1000’s of people. Its actually happening now, so I am living my dream.

Dan: When I was 15, my Dad took me to watch Live/Wire, because I was getting into AC/DC at that time. Seeing Live/Wire got me hooked and I started playing guitar. For years, all I wanted to do was be in Live/Wire and luckily, it did happen.

MSH: Did you work your way through other bands or straight into Live/Wire?

Dan: I was in one band, which was an original band in my local area, but my dream was Live/Wire and that happened.

Podge: What better dream is there? Working the stage, in front of the biggest crowds. We have all been on the edge of record deals and signings, the same as many other people all over the world. I feel overwhelmed that I am in something as special as Live/Wire, feeding my ambition of playing in the best places, to the best crowds. That’s all I have ever dreamed of. It’s not just with Live/Wire, it’s the acting as well, which I have done before, that has contributed to looking at Brian and seeing how he moves. So, what is there not to like about working on a big stage? That’s where I am with all this.

Dave: We have been getting some amazing feedback since Christmas and things have really taken a turn.

Podge: Yes, it’s been phenomenal.

MSH: Let’s talk about that for a moment. The ‘Power Surge Tour’ has been really successful. You are on the road nearly every weekend. You must have clocked up some miles?

Podge: It runs into thousands.

Dave: It’s work in progress. We just carry on. (Laughs)

MSH: So, has this become a fulltime job for all of you or are you all employed elsewhere?

Dan: I work during the week, just as an Electrical Assembler, but Friday is an early finish and then its ‘Rock Star’ time.

Dave: I’m just a ‘Rock Star’. (Laughs)

MSH: I was talking to Carl Wootton from Whitesnake UK and he has just started a new job. I can imagine it’s very difficult going to do an interview and saying you need to finish early every week.

Dan: That has been one of the hardest things, especially when we have been looking for a new member. Our first question is always, what is your job situation? We need to be at a venue no later than 3pm and obviously with Friday traffic, if people can’t leave until whatever time, it just doesn’t work.

Dave: I wouldn’t do another job if I could. I love what I do.

Podge: I retired when I was 52 and now I am ‘Daddy Day Care’ during the week. At the weekend I am with my mates, my wonderful friends onstage, being a ‘Rock Star’ with Live/Wire – The AC/DC show.

Dave: I was just thinking about the mileage we have clocked up since we started he Power Surge Tour, it’s been non-stop!

Podge: I think it’s been 20 sell outs from 23 shows, and out those 3 shows, it has been 19 tickets which has made the difference. Last night in Carlisle and tonight in Wrexham, sold out again.

Dave: It’s becoming a habit. (Laughs)

Podge: We are overwhelmed, honestly. Ed, I am sure, has played many sold out shows with Live/Wire, but recently with so many sell out shows, he looks like a Cheshire cat. It’s amazing.

Dave: We must be doing something right!

MSH: You keep the show fresh, but if you are on the road all weekend long, how do you manage to rehearse new songs?

Dave: We don’t. We have to practice at home.

Podge: We all have to know which version of a song we are doing. There is no point in someone learning the live version from Holland 1983 and another learning the album version. Everyone knows, that’s the version we are learning. You learn it clinically and then it becomes more natural when you play it live. It has to.

Dave: The only real chance we get is at soundcheck, maybe 30 minutes or so. We might be able to run through 4 songs and see how we go.

Eddie: We won’t put in in the set until everybody is happy. The media is out there to learn from. There is also a reason we do and don’t do things, but there are songs we can’t not do, we all know that. I still get a buzz from playing those songs, even after 20 years. I don’t go through the drudgery of thinking ‘Oh no, not this song again!’ Until I play the perfect song and the perfect set, I won’t be happy. I think that’s the standard of most musicians to be honest with you.

Podge: It is. When you do play the perfect song, the perfect set, the perfect crowd, the perfect lighting, the perfect sound….

Eddie: You want more money!

Live/Wire: (Group laughter)

Podge: That’s when you walk off the stage, hand over the mic and say ‘Find somebody else now, I can’t do better than that!’

Eddie: Luckily, we are all human. There are things that still go on when we are onstage that make me laugh, I don’t think I would do it otherwise.

MSH: I was going to say that. You obviously enjoy what you are doing. You are always against time, but even when you finally get a few moments to yourselves, you are very kindly, sat here answering the questions that I am throwing at you. You seem quite happy with that too?

Dave: It’s a labour of love, it really is.

Podge: You are giving your time up too, doing this for Market Square Heroes, so why shouldn’t we reciprocate and do exactly the same thing?

MSH: We are coming up to the first anniversary for Podge joining the band. In a survey I was asked to choose my favourite gig of the year. Most people would probably have put an original artist at the O2 London or something similar. I chose, Podge’s second gig, The Gloucester Guildhall. I still remember it nearly a year on. Do you all have favourite venues or gigs?

Podge: I enjoy Exeter….

Dave: I was going to say Maddison Square Gardens! (Laughs)

Podge: Leamington Spa with its suspended chandelier right in the middle of the venue. It was just gorgeous.

MSH: Gloucester Guildhall, the floor moves. It’s awesome!

Eddie: It has a spring-loaded floor. I can’t say anything else, but Holmfirth. I stood on the mic 2 years ago and told them it was my favourite venue. They are all different and they all bring something different, but you want people rocking and enough room on the stage to do what you do. A small stage for ‘Angus’ is not acceptable. We also need room and the room itself needs to have the ambience and for all that you need a certain size of venue. I always used to joke with Daz Wood, our former drummer who was with us for 14 years, I had a list of ‘Top 5 Gigs’ and I have about 85 gigs in my ‘Top 5 Gigs’. I would say "That was number 85 in my ‘Top 5’ ", because there were so many.

Podge: I think the gig that stands out for me, more than any of the others, is the night all our phones started pinging on the table. We were actually playing the Glasgow O2, the hometown of the late Malcolm Young, God rest his soul, when he passed away. You wouldn’t believe how emotional that was. It’s the only time I have ever seen Dan come forward and thank the crowd.

Eddie: We need a certain size venue to breathe.

Simon: We can still do some great gigs on small stages. It’s the atmosphere that’s important. The sound and the crowd.

MSH: Dave and Simon, do you ever get amongst the audience during ‘Let There Be Rock’ and find you are confronted by the ones who have had too much to drink during the show? What do you do in that situation?

Dave: Take it off them!

Live/Wire: (Group laughter)

Eddie: Dave took Simon for a walk around in Inverness. I’m stood there playing and I’ve looked across to the left-hand side, and seen this guy about half way back, with around 700 people in the venue. This guy has offered his drink up to Simon as he sits on Dave’s shoulders. Dave is battling his way through with no real direction. Simon is trying to play a riff on his guitar.  This guy is absolutely determined he is going to get this drink to Simon. He’s forcing this drink up to him and eventually because Simon is trying to play and move all at the same time, Simon decides to punch this guys arm out of the way, covering the guy in the contents of the glass. On the Tuesday/Wednesday, the following week, we get a Facebook message, "I’m not coming to anymore shows because you spilled drink all over me!" We explained that Simon can’t play and drink at the same time, and eventually he says "Maybe I was a bit pushy."(Laughs) It’s a bit of a white-knuckle ride for them, going through the crowds, but they are determined they are going to do it. They normally do it with security though.

Simon: That’s an 'Angus thing'. Angus doesn’t take any flack. He will fight his way through anything. That’s the mentality I have. I am not a violent person, I don’t hit people, but it was like an 'Angus reaction'.

Eddie: Normally, if Simon is offered a drink, he would make Dave take it to the fridge and save it there for later!

MSH: Lets go back a year. Pete Eccles retired, leaving a huge void to fill after so many years, yet you filled the gap within a really short time. Did you ever think, this could be it for Live/Wire?

Dan: I had seen Podge before and that was my intention to recommend him. I shared that with Eddie and it was agreed we’d give him a try.

Dave: Plus, Daz mentioned him.

Eddie: No Daz just said ‘Get him!’. The text message consisted of 2x3 letter words.(Laughs)

MSH: Podge, did you ask Pete for advice before joining?
 
Podge: I didn’t know Pete to be honest. I have never even met him.

Eddie: Pete looked at Podges videos once or twice, but I don’t really think he passed an opinion. He kept in the corner a little bit, still making sure that the band he was in, were looking to move forward. Not just Pete, but Daz left last year as well. Every time you get a change, you worry about things. The maxim for us has always been to improve the band, with every person that comes in. That’s very, very hard when you reach a certain level.

Dave: That’s a concern because you always want to go up a notch.

Eddie: You don’t want to fall back. You look for people who can improve the band. I think we have done that. An agent said to me about 10 years ago, “Don’t worry about things, you’ll be alright. You always are.” I can count a few errors we have made over the time Live/Wire have been together, but I am always weary of making a bad decision. Luckily, because we make a decision together, they are normally well thought out.

Podge: Since coming into Live/Wire, I have found out what the ethos is all about. It’s a working family. You have to buy into that pretty quick because we are going to be travelling with each other, week in and week out.

Dave: When you go abroad, it’s a strange place and you need to have that family with you. You need that strength of being together.

Podge: You need to know that, the guys you are working with are totally and utterly on your side.

MSH: You played Wrexham: Rock The Park last year. Then you went off to play ‘Cyprus Rocks’, 3000/4000 people. You are headlining Sunday night at Rock the Park 2018, this year they are expecting 15000. Will this be the largest ever gig for Live/Wire?

Eddie: We have done some gigs around 12000 before in Europe, but that's big numbers.

Podge: It’s about projection, not just the singing or playing guitars. Being able to project your persona onstage, which you learn working in theatre. You don’t just project yourself out to the first 8 rows, you have to come out onstage and you have to be larger than life. You have to be able to walk onstage and literally rule the roost. If not, you can look pretty small. You need to project what you do right out to the back of the festival and to someone who thinks they are not being seen.  You see someone waving their hands at the back and you do something in their direction, the smile on their faces as everyone in that area realise you can see them. That’s what you have to do as a performer onstage. You really have to throw your persona out there. And sometimes that can be difficult, especially if the lighting is not very good.

Dave: It’s still a labour of love though, isn’t it! (Laughs)

Eddie: It doesn’t matter what stage you put us on. We believe in what we do. We love doing it!

MSH: And long may it continue! Gentleman, thank you very much. We really appreciate it.

Live/Wire: Thank you very much! Cheers.
MSH: Firstly, congratulations, all of you, for being part of a hugely successful and inventive band.

Live/Wire: Thank you!

MSH: Who is the longest serving member now?

Eddie Clark: I am.

MSH: What has changed over the years?

Eddie: People! I think the thread of the band has been the same since the very start. I think