His birth certificate lists his age as 77, but The Animals drummer John Steel’s mindset is that of someone several decades younger.
“I’m fit and well,” he said from his home in England.
“Really, 77 seems like a silly number… It doesn’t seem to mean anything to me because I’m still sort of 30 in my head,” he laughed.
“I’m still playing music, and still enjoying it. Maybe that’s why I feel so young all the time.”
Originally formed more than 50 years ago and a key part of the British Invasion, the rhythm and blues rockers have a complex history.
This includes a lengthy list of ex-members and having operated under several different monikers.
There have been legal disputes over the rights to the band name. Founding member Steel lamented his falling out with vocalist Eric Burdon due to “a bit of a horrible, messy business”.
“Eric was basically trying to stop me touring because he said I was stealing his life from him,” Steel laughed.
After a long, expensive legal battle and appeals process, Burdon won the rights to The Animals name.
As a result, in many countries Steel’s version of the band tours under the Animals and Friends banner.
However, he said that “Eric doesn’t own the name The Animals in Australia”, enabling Steel to utilise it when playing live Down Under.
For their upcoming Australian tour, Steel will be joined by Mick Gallagher, the band’s original keyboardist, Danny Handley (guitar/vocals) and Roberto Ruiz (bass/vocals).
“This is the best band I’ve been in since the original Animals,” Steel said.
“We’re very tight, rockin’ and we love what we do.”
They’ll perform all the classic hits including We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, It’s My Life, The House Of The Rising Sun, Boom Boom and I Put A Spell On You.
“Luckily, the hit records that we have in our repertoire still stand up so well today,” Steel said.
“They weren’t middle-of-the-road pop songs. Songs like It’s My Life and We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, they’ve got a darker edge to them.
“I think that’s why they still stand up so well today.
“I mean, everybody sings We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. If you’re leaving school or university, or you’re leaving a job and there’s an office party to see you off, everybody sings We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.
“It’s become an anthem all over the world.”
The Animals will perform at Centro CBD, Wollongong on Wednesday, October 31.