Charles Nicholas Hodges, better known as Chas, is rarely seen without his mate Dave. And the pair will of course be together on stage at the upcoming PennFest. He spoke to us about his illustrious musical past and what the future may hold.
I began by asking Mr Hodges how I ought to address him. What came next was the first of many amusing anecdotes from a genuinely funny and friendly man.
He tells how an unknown little girl christened him “Chas” when he was being pushed around by his mother in a stroller as a baby. His mother liked the name and it seems to have stuck.
It’s also clear there is a lot of affection between Chas and Dave.
“I became myself with Dave. When we got together we decided to be ourselves. We aren’t flying the London flag or any particular part of the country, we are flying the flag of Chas & Dave.”
A talented musician Chas can masterfully play the piano, guitar and bass guitar. He recalled being the first person in North London to have a bass guitar but he was most inspired by legendary hell raiser Jerry Lee Lewis.
He learned the piano because he was inspired by Lewis and shortly after got to perform with his hero. When asked him who would carry forward his legacy he said: “Loads of kids come up to me after the show and say ‘I love how you play the piano, you’re the reason I learned to play’. I have got to make a teaching video of my piano style, it’s my next project. I want to make sure people who want to learn it can.”
I asked if he was surprised at how many young fans he had. He replied that from day one people would ask him what markets he was aiming for. He says he has no market, he just makes music he enjoys.
“We gained a more trendy following, for want of a better word, when Pete Doherty and Jools Holland said on TV that we were their inspiration. We supported The Libertines towards the start of the century. Predominantly our fans are 20 year olds.”
Chas & Dave have made 10 studio albums and many singles. I asked Chas what his personal favourite was. I was expecting this to be like choosing which of your children is your favourite, but he answered straight away:
“Ain’t No Pleasing You is my favourite. I felt I wanted a serious song with a serious meaning but in my voice and in my style. It was something that hadn’t been done before.”
He added that this was also the fan favourite, the one that had the crowd singing the loudest, but that their fans wanted to hear all the hits live. “Rabbit, Margate, Snooker Loopy, Gertcha, The Sideboard Song. There’s no way we can do a set without any of these.”
Given the state of British bands in the 70s and 80s I wondered if Chas & Dave partied just as wild as their compatriots like The Who? and The Rolling Stones.
“I remember in the early days we used to go on a show called Tiswas which was filmed in Birmingham. We’d reach the Holiday Inn at night and party all night with Lenny Henry and Chris Tarrant. We’d sometimes go on to the show straight after partying.”
Chas has been playing music professionally for over 50 years. He used to be a session musician and play with all the biggest stars, even those from the States. I asked if he wishes he could have worked with more.
“It would be nice to do more with Paul McCartney. I know he’s a fan of Chas & Dave and I think we could get together and make a really good album.”
Before signing off Chas added he’s often asked if when he paired up with Dave, he ever thought they’d still be playing together in their 70s.
“I have to say I did. What I didn’t realise is that in our 70s we would be better than ever.”
Tickets can still be purchased online or from Ricki’s News, Beaconsfield Old Town or Kingsride Supermarket, Tylers Green.