Speaking to the Upside News over the phone from his home in England, Hot Chocolate’s Patrick Olive is in high spirits and looking forward to the band’s forthcoming Australian tour.
“I’m sitting in my kitchen finishing off a glass of Australian red, celebrating,” he says. “I’m celebrating because the sun was out today. We haven’t seen the sun for ages and today it decided to show its face.”
The legendary soul outfit has visited our shores a number of times, to the point where bassist, Patrick feels very much at home here.
“For me, Australia is my dream country,” he enthuses. “Everywhere in Australia is nice and if I had my way I’d take up residency in Australia tomorrow.”
Patrick is also particularly keen to perform in Adelaide again.
“They make great wine in Adelaide, don’t they; they have some great restaurants there as well. The audiences there are pretty wild, they know how to enjoy themselves.”
Now veterans of the music scene, Hot Chocolate were given their start through a chance connection with John Lennon in the late sixties.
“We were just larking around one Sunday afternoon,” Patrick explains. “This friend had a guitar and another friend had a guitar and there were some cardboard boxes lying around in his parents’ house that we were banging on. One of them was playing in a reggae style to ‘Give Peace a Chance’, and someone said: ‘Hey, that sounds good, why don’t we make a recording of it and see if they like it and give us a break.’ We went and recorded the song in a studio for sixty pounds and some of the guys took it down to the Apple office and they played it. John Lennon was there and everyone was very happy with it. There was a girl called Mavis who said: ‘We quite like it and, being an Apple song, we are going to release it on the Apple label for you.’ So that’s how easy it was.”
In fact, Patrick reflects how much easier it was starting out back then, as compared to now.
“It was much easier starting out then. There weren’t that many bands and there were producers’ offices or record companies that you could go to just to get them to listen to your song and they’d say ‘kind of rubbish’ and throw it in the bin or say ‘we do like a couple of your songs here, let’s talk about it.’ Now it’s not the same; I would not like to be starting all over again.
It was an encounter with another Beatle, Paul McCartney, though, that would help shape the band’s signature sound.
“Paul McCartney was a really, really nice guy. When he was forming Wings he said ‘We are having this shindig at the Lyceum in London’ and so he invited the group and we had a chat. He gave us some advice. He was starting Wings and we were starting out with the Hot Chocolate thing, we had a couple of songs out by then, and he said ‘Look, you want to to do something about your drummer.’ I said ‘Why?’ He said, ‘He forgets he has a bass drum, he plays on the high hats and forgets the bass drum, so you want to look for a drummer.’ So we took his advice and got rid of the original drummer and got this guy that we’ve got now. So he gave us a sound bit of advice.”
Patrick attribute the enduring success of Hot Chocolate to a simple focus on melody and lyrics.
“Our songs and lyrics are all about people: happiness, fun. And they’re always very melodic. At the end of a Hot Chocolate song, there’s always something that people can hum afterwards; something stays with them, it’s like having a nice meal and the taste lingers in your mouth. After you hear a Hot Chocolate song, the melody lingers in your head and it takes a hell of a lot to get the lyrics and the melody out of your head. And that’s what makes people love us so much and makes our sound so enduring.”
When Hot Chocolate bring their show to Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Patrick is promising a dynamic, crowd-pleasing performance, and audience should come prepared with their dancing shoes.
“We play all the hits and more,” he enthuses. “I promise you it’s going to be one fantastic evening: fun, music, dancing and happiness. It’s going to be a tremendous night. And we are coming with another fantastic band, The Real Thing. We won’t have too many slow songs, but we will have to calm the audience down a little bit, so we might take the tempo down and do three or four medium temp ones, but most of the songs will be up. We want the people to be up and dancing. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun, I promise you.”
So what is it that motivates Patrick and the rest of the Hot Chocolate to keep performing after almost half a century in the music industry?
“Making a record is one thing but performing to an audience of thousands and seeing all the hands in the air, clapping and singing the songs, that’s the motivation, that’s what keeps us going. And to hear them sing the songs, knowing the words as well, that is fantastic. And Hot Chocolate’s motto is ’18 till we die’, so we will be around for a long time.”
Hot Chocolate play the AEC Theatre on Friday 14th October. Event and ticket details here.
Written by Matthew Trainor
Photos courtesy of www.hot-chocolate.co.uk