Rock Steady’s NZ tour: An interview with Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell

Do you love the music of Bad Company, Free and Foreigner? Well, if you do, you’re in for a treat because Rock Steady, a supergroup featuring musicians from those iconic bands, is right here in New Zealand.

Rock Steady features guitarist Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell (Bad Company, Humble Pie), bass guitarist Richard ‘Rick’ Wills (Bad Company, Foreigner, Peter Frampton) and vocalist Ronan Kavanagh (Jeff Beck, Brian May, Kenny Jones). Joining them on stage are well-known Kiwi musos Gordon Joll on drums and Bruce Madden on keyboards.

To find out about Rock Steady’s New Zealand tour, I had the pleasure of talking with Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell.

What are your impressions of New Zealand?

I absolutely love it — a fantastic place. New Zealand seems to have all the best things from England and America all in one country. The food here is fantastic, and the people are so friendly. We’ve never been here before, Rick and I, so we’re seeing more of New Zealand than most New Zealand people have seen, I think.

How did you end up touring New Zealand?

Ronan (vocals) is from Dublin originally. He used to sing with me in England in my band Bucket and Co. Ronan immigrated down here three years ago. Basically, he missed me, ’cause we’re best buddies, and he put this tour together as an excuse to get me down here.

You will be used to playing big gigs. What’s it like playing smaller venues?

You’ve got to start small. Like I said, we’re never played here before. So, I’d much rather play a smaller place that’s sold out and put on a great show rather than book somewhere too big for us and have the place half empty. The audiences have been amazing, so we’re having a great time.

How long are you here for?

Until the end of the month. It’s all a bit of a blur, to be honest. There’s a lot of mileage involved—I think we’ve done 2,500 kilometres already!

Does the band have plans beyond New Zealand?

We’ve made some inroads in Australia for next year, but we’re all doing different things individually. I head straight back to London after this tour because I’ve got a new record coming out called Bucket’s Rebel Heart—I was recently in Nashville mixing it, and I’ll be touring America over the summer.

Ronan Kavanagh performing with Brian May.
Ronan, Dave and Rick with Brian May looking on.

What gear are you using on the tour?

My number-one guitar is a Mike McCready Signature model Gibson Les Paul ’59. It sounds great, and it’s the lightest Les Paul I’ve ever owned. I’ve got a signature guitar as well, which is by a company called Fret-King. It’s basically a Les Paul Junior, you know, single-coil P-90s, and that’s what I use for open-C tuning on stuff like ‘Can’t get enough’ and ‘Moving on.’ For amplification, I use Blackstar amp—the series-one stuff is great.

How did you connect with Kiwi Gordon Joll?

Ronan found him, and I’m so glad he did. What a fantastic player and just a lovely guy as well. We’ve got Bruce Madden on keyboards also—another incredible player. Rick and I couldn’t be happier with the group — it’s really a kick-arse rock ‘n’ roll band.

To see Rock Steady kick arse in person, check out their remaining dates:

  • 18: Blue Smoke, Christchurch
  • 19: Altitude Bar and Nightclub, Hamilton
  • 20: Kumeu Classic Car and Hot Rod Show, Auckland
  • 21: Kumeu Classic Car and Hot Rod Show Auckland
  • 25: Smash Palace, Gisborne
  • 26: Feilding Events Centre, Manawatu.

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Andrew Healey


Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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