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Pete Agnew (Nazareth)

Interview with Pete Agnew from Nazareth
by Grigoris Chronis at 09 November 2005, 8:09 AM

I posted this interview under a huge amount of pleasure because: a) it's an honor to be interviewing a Nazareth band member, b) Pete Agnew is not in his mid-30's anymore and Nazareth have been producing albums for 34 years now, still he was eager enough to chat - apart from their latest review.asp?id=1232 DVD release - on everything asked, c) numerous two-albums-star-wannabe bands can't do much better than send you to sleep online with their ridiculous two-word answers. Enough… Please, proceed for Razamanaz; always on a first-comes-first-served basis!

Pete, greetings from magazine! We’re definitely pleased to hear that a new Nazareth DVD is in the works. Would you like to share with us some a few details regarding Live From Classic T Stage? First of all, where was it recorded?

It was recorded at the T Stage at Shepperton Studios. Lyn Beardsall from Classic Pictures approached me about 18 months ago to do something with Nazareth but it took that length of time to find a window in our schedule to fit in the recording. As you know, we’re busy boys.

We definitely know that! Would you consider the DVD’s setlist to act like a greatest hits compilation or do you think the band’s devoted followers will find hidden gems not included in the average Nazareth show?

It is basically a Greatest Hits but a bit longer that the usual set because we tried to fit in some numbers we hadn’t done for a while. By the way, we don’t do average shows (just kidding).

What was the motive behind this release? Was it a team decision?

We didn’t have anything recorded by the current 4 piece lineup (which I believe is the best we have ever had) and this seemed an ideal opportunity to fix this. There was nothing in the pipeline as regards a new studio album at the time, so we just wanted this to be a record of what we were in 2005. However, only last week we have been offered a recording deal with a German company for a new studio album and hopefully we will do it in 2006 (God knows when because we’re booked for touring up to the teeth already).

Do you think that DVD releases do in our days replace the 70’s/80’s ’Live’ albums that most bands would release at critical turns in their career?

It definitely does replace the live albums. The DVD is relatively new and needs fed. We have at least two requests every month from record companies to release old video concerts. What attracted us to Classic Pictures was the fact they wanted us doing what we no NOW!

 Cocaine, a beloved song offered by JJ Cale had also become a worldwide hit by Eric Clapton. Is this selection a Nazareth tribute to Cale or Clapton (or both)?

Eric just did the same version as JJ Cale but with electric guitar. We like to change a song when we cover it (like This Flight Tonight) and make it a Nazareth song. This is just a tribute to a great song.

Pete, speakin’ ’bout Love Hurts, do you know if the Everly Brothers ever expressed an opinion about your version?

I can only tell you that when Axl Rose was getting married to one of the Everly’s daughters, he asked Dan to sing it at his wedding. We were touring at the time so Dan couldn’t do it (probably just as well because the tune was longer than the marriage).

My White Bicycle? What about this tune?

Just an old favorite from the days we used to play it when we were The Shadettes.

Some of the super hits: Hair Of The Dog, Razamanaz, This Flight Tonight, Broken Down Angel - to mention a few – must have been performed live thousands of times! Is the fans’ love for these classic tunes the driving force, so as to not feel bored?

The fans never get bored because if we didn’t play those songs they would ask for their money back. We never get bored because we’re too fuckin’ busy trying to remember the words.

The Nazareth 2005 World Tour includes dates on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. U.S.A./Canada till mid-October, then back to Europe for – among other countries - Austria, Germany, Norway and Ukraine. Will the Live From Classic T stage DVD be supported by a similar setlist at the dates after its release?

Except for a couple of tunes, the DVD is pretty much the setlist for 2005. We do rehearsals every January (nobody tours in January because all the fans are having to pay their Christmas via bills and don’t come to concerts) and the set we rehearse is pretty much what we do that year.

Out of curiosity: is Ukraine such a dear Market for Nazareth? I’ve seen you include ten gigs up there!

What we refer to endearingly these days as Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine etc…) has always been a huge market for Nazareth.

Are there any other dates to be added after December 2005?

Yeah, the rest of my life…

Pete, with a career spanning nearly four decades, do you think the youth of today (mainly teenagers) is likely to get caught in the magic of Nazareth or other legendary Classic Rock/Hard Rock acts with their roots in the late 60’s or 70’s (Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath etc)? What do you think can be the antidote to today’s industry guided music? I’m not that happy with what I see around me… Music seems to come second, faces and dress codes upfront.

It may seem strange to you, but the front of stage audience have never aged in 34 years. They still seem to be 17-22. Maybe it’s because they were pelted with Naz records by their dad or maybe it’s because they want to hear a real live Rock band. Music comes about fith place now after PC Software, Playstation, X Box and a host of other pleasures. Music was screwed as soon as all the boy and girl bands (dancers) showed up. Music covers gave the industry the finger so now it produces records for 8-14 year old girls.

Speakin’ ’bout your son, Lee, I wonder what the feeling is rehearsing, recording and touring with your own ’blood’. Have you set a boundary where you must forget your family bond and act like associates? Is there any tension at times?

I’ve been jamming with Lee since he was 10 years old. We have a lot of blood on the road. Another son of mine (Blair) whorls with the road crew. Dan’s son (Colin) works with the crew. My cousin Stevie is our lighting director. There is never any tension unless they try and steal my beer.

I’m wondering what your wife has to say about both your jobs!

We have 5 sons and 4 of them are musicians. In fact Lee plays drums on record for his brothers. My wife Jane, arranges their bookings and also takes care of the Naz business for me when we’re on the road, attends university studying Scottish history and still manages to run the household. Pretty amazing woman really.

Were there any auditions or was Lee the first choice for the drum kit after Darrell’s tragic death? In any way, I think Darrell will be smiling form ’up there’…

Darrell used to go and watch Lee playing and thought of him as one of his favorite drummers. There was never any other choice.

Even if Manny Charlton is not in the band since 1990 (if I can recall well), is there any kind of correspondence between you or Dan with him?

I speak to Manny from time to time on the phone. Any time we play Texas (where he now lives) he usually shows up.

Speaking ’bout Dan, I can’t keep away but ask how the hell does this man preserve his voice in the same first-class level? David Coverdale once recommended, you just have to choose the appropriate booze and cigarettes…

Dan always says I don’t Drink, I don’t smoke and I don’t tell lies.

Nazareth and Scotland: Do you feel the band’s career would be any different if your base was e.g. in London or Birmingham? I’m young enough to remember the behavior of the U.K. Press against Nazareth.

I don’t think so. We had our share of the Fame thing in Britain but just happened to make it bigger in other parts of the world. Still love playing at home though.

Pete, thanks for your spare time! Waiting for the Live from Classic T stage DVD, I’d just like to know what is the first thought that comes to mind, assuming that in every country/town/city there is a teenage bass player dreaming of being THE Pete Agnew in HIS own Nazareth when he grows old.

When I am on stage playing, I still feel like that teenager. When I stop playing is the problem.


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