Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

House Of The Animals

Iconic UK band The Animals have been touring Australia for the last month or so, making a stop at the Airlie Beach Festival of Music before they head home. John Steele is the band’s drummer and only remaining original member and he can’t wait to get in the Whitsunday sun.

You’ve been touring Australia for the last few weeks; how have those shows been going?

They’ve been going very well actually. We seem to be doing pretty good business everywhere we go, standing ovations, which can’t be bad, we must be doing something right. We’re coming to the end of our tour. We’ve got two gigs in Western Australia and then we’re flying back to Queensland.

Growing up in the UK, what was your perception of Australia and what was it like to tour back in the day?

Actually, the original Animals, we never did get to Australia. When the original band broke up in 1966, Eric Burdon, the lead singer, formed a new band called Eric Burdon and the Animals and he did tour Australia but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do it.

Right, so what’s it like to finally get over here?

Lovely! Apart from the past two and a half years, obviously, but from the mid-90s, we’ve been here quite a few times and we really enjoy playing Australia, it’s a great country. Usually, we come over in either November, December or even January or February and it’s always been wonderful weather but this trip, it’s been awful.

It has been a bit all over the place. I can promise you it’s been nice and warm up here, so you’ll be able to get out in the sun.

We arrived in Perth last night and I think it’s the first time we’ve seen the sun since we came over. I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather forecast and it does look nice for the Airlie gig.

What does your role in the band as a drummer usually look like?

Pretty good actually, I’ve always had a bit of a jazz background which came in quite handy. Me and Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones) had very similar backgrounds musically, so we always had a swinging feel to our drumming and that made us different from the rest. I’ve always had a bit of a jazz influence in my playing.

What drummers were you looking up to when you first started playing drums?

When I first started playing drums, I was listening to jazz a lot. I was 16 when I first started drumming which was right in the middle of the 50s, so we were listening to Fats Domino, Little Richard, Elvis, Eddie Cochrane, Buddy Holly. All of those guys were influencing me and at the same time I was also listening to jazz with people like Art Blakey and Buddy Rich and all those great jazz drummers, a bit of a mixed bag, really.

How excited are you for Airlie Beach Festival of Music?

Before we left the UK, I had a look on the website and it looks really, really, really nice. Lots of people that have been over here told me to expect a really good gig. We’re looking forward to a good show.

What can crowds expect from the Animals?

We get to do the singles, obviously, we’ve got some great stuff to work with. Songs that really stand the test of the time - ‘House of the Rising Sun’, ‘We’ve Got to Get Out of This Place’, ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, ‘It’s My Life’, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, ‘Bring It Home To Me’ – they’re great songs and they seem to hit the right spot for every generation. We get plenty of young people coming to the shows and they know all the words, they sing all the lyrics, its brilliant. Then we’ve got quite a bag of album tracks and B-sides, so we shuffle them about a bit to keep the sets fresh. We’ll always play the hit singles, but the rest of the set will be a mixture that we just pick and mix.

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