INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Welsh singer Carl Sentance began his musical career in 1975 when he founded his first band Leading Star. In 1980, he replaced John Deverill as singer NWOBHM band Persian Risk. The band broke up in 1986, and later Sentance worked with several bands including Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler’s solo band, a former UFO guitarist Paul Chapman, and the Swiss Krokus, with whom he recorded a TOTAL of 13 in 1999. In 2006, Sentance teamed up with Deep Purple’s keyboard player Don Airey. So far they have released three albums, the latest, KEYED UP, was released in 2014. Sentence’s first solo album, MIND DOCTOR, was published in 2008; musical guests include Airey and Thunder rhythm section of Harry James and Chris Childs. Persian Risk returned with a new line-up in 2012, and later in the same year, the band released ONCE A KING. In February 2015 it was announced that Sentance had joined to the legendary Scottish Nazareth, replacing Linton Osbourne who in turn had replaced the band’s original vocalist Dan McGafferty just a year earlier. We met Sentance in Hämeenlinna, Finland, just before his first performance with Nazareth.
In a couple of hours you are going to do your first show with the legendary Nazareth. What are your feelings right now?
09:00 PM we are on. Aren’t we? Yeah, 09:00 O’clock. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. Of course I’m nervous, I’m always nervous. It doesn’t matter if it’s a show like this or whether it’s in a pub, always nervous. So its power gets me going.
This is not the first time when you are replacing someone’s big shoes, but I think this is still something really special.
I think so, it’s great. No one is going to replace Dan, because of his unique voice. But hopefully people will accept me and I’m going to give it something different, my voice is completely different. So hopefully people like it, I hope.
What is your Nazareth history?
Funny enough I do remember, this is going to show my age now. But I’m not going to tell you. I do remember when I was listening through the songs, I thought; I remember that when I was a lad. I was like; oops! But yeah, I remember quit a few of the songs. It’s just a great band, it’s really nice.
When did you first hear Nazareth’s music?
I was only a lad, so I don’t remember a little bit. I just remember the songs, when I was trying to learn the tunes I thought; I remember that one. I said; yeah, I remember that one.
So you were never a Nazareth fan?
No, no. I wasn’t a fan, no. But I just like, there was a different kinds of music. In the day it wasn’t just rock, I was listening to all sorts of music.
Tonight you have the first show, but how many rehearsals you have had with the band?
What’s been the most difficult song for you to sing?
To sing, what song? I can’t tell you that, you’ll have to decide for yourself when you hear me. You go; that song “Laughs” There are many hard songs to sing, because like Dan got unique voice and I’m not trying to copy him. But I want to do the songs justice, and when you sing something that’s recorded by someone else it’s always difficult. A lot of them are difficult, but hopefully I’ll give it something new and we shall see.
I look forward to hearing “Love Hurts” tonight. You can’t hide anywhere when you sing it on stage. “Laughs”
I know I can’t, could stand only as something maybe.
Nazareth 2015: Jimmy Murrison, Pete Agnew, Carl and Lee Agnew
JOINING NAZARETH AND FUTURE PLANS
Many fans are interested in how you came to this band?
I first heard they were looking for a singer. I had a phone call off the promoter agent, and he said there might be a job and maybe I might be interested in. I went; okay, tell me more. He mentioned the name and I thought; yeah, that is big boots to fill as they say. So I said; yeah, I’m interested. Then I didn’t hear anything for a couple of weeks, because I said I was busy with Don Airey and doing some albums and stuff. Then I didn’t hear out, so I thought I’ll give them an email to see if they are still interested. They just thought I was too busy at the time, and so they next day flew me to Scotland. I sang about two and a half songs, and they were all smiling. I went and did the job. So I was quite amazed that they offered me the job, there and then I was quite surprised. So I felt; yeah, this is going to be great. I loved the songs, it was great.
Nazareth is a band which does a lot of gigs. How much do you know upcoming gigs and tours at this stage?
More so in the summer I think is US and places like that, at the moment there is just gigs here and there. In two week time we’ve got another two gigs and another two. Its early days, now there is a band. We’ve got the new singer, the gigs are starting to come in. But it’s more so in the summer, when we are starting to do a lot more. So I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be great. I have to look after myself a bit now and leave the alcohol.
At least you can try to leave it. “Laughs”
Yeah, try to.
You’ve been in the band for only a few weeks, but have you already discussed the potential of new Nazareth music in the future?
We’ve had the conversation, yeah. That’s got to happen, I love the classics and the older tunes. But if you’ve got a singer that’s different, you need to do something new and I think that will happen but I think that will probably be next year now. When we get some gigs and rebounds and make sure everyone likes us, likes me I should say.
I heard that you met Dan McCafferty just recently. How did that meeting go?
I did, yeah. It was cool, yeah. It felt really strange, but he’s a lovely guy. He’s great and funny and he made me laugh, yeah he’s really cool.
Nazareth: Live at Hameenlinna 2015
What about the other bands with whom you work. I know that you continue to cooperate with Don Airey, but what about Persian Risk?
Yeah, I will work with Don in the future because we are writing partners. He’s a friend and we write together for his projects and he also played on my solo album a few years ago but it’s more difficult with Persian Risk, because they are not such a known band. We never did a lot originally in the early ’80s, but I’m still going to write for Persian Risk and we are actually doing a festival in July. We’re doing a Spanish festival. Yeah. It’s still going, but at the moment not so much. But I think they will be the odd festival we will do, it’s just getting in the gigs and getting someone that will actually pay for the band. It’s a big problem, I was offered a gig a couple of weeks ago and this guy said; come to Scotland and do this festival, I forgot what it was called now. He says; I can pay you 200 pounds. I said; once you get there and you eat that’s gone, so there is nothing to pay the band. So it’s just impossible, so I don’t think these people realized but there you go. It’s just a bit harder, but it will still be Persian Risk. Persian Risk is my band now, so I will still be going.
I actually own the Persian Risk album ONCE A KING (2012) and it truly is an excellent record. In a good way, it sounded like it would have been recorded as early as 1983, and for me it was like a mix of early Samson, Iron Maiden and Saxon. It was a really cool album!
Thanks! The guy that mixed it, his name is Dario Mollo from Italy. I’ve just done an album with him, so that should be out hopefully in the summer. But he’s great, he’s great guitar player and he makes the sound great as well. So it’s good team.
Although the original version of Persian Risk disbanded in the mid 80’s, you had another version of the band in the States when you were living there in the late 80’s. It seems that you really love the name. “Laughs”
That was more ’90s, yeah. I wanted to do my own thing when I was out there. I didn’t know what I was doing really, times were changing then. The grunge were starting to happen and I think a lot of bands didn’t know where they were going, but I used the name at the time. But that wasn’t really, we never did a lot. We had to go on the road to make a living and over there that is a nightmare, up and down the East Coast. You talk about paying the band 200 quid, that’s what the whole band had to play for six nights in a roll in a same place. That’s hard going, sleeping in crap rooms. It was awful, but that was hard work but it never lasted.
The first Persian Risk album RISE UP is a classic metal album but it’s almost impossible to find nowadays. Could it be possible to have it re-released some day again?
Yeah, that could be a great idea but I don’t know how owns the rights actually?
Perhaps it’s Phil Campbell (ex-Persina Risk, Motorhead) who owns the rights?
No. Definitely it’s not Phil, but maybe I should find out if there’s something I can do?
OTHER BANDS IN LIFE
When the original Persian Risk broke up in 1986, you then worked for many years in the Geezer Butler Band, but the band never really made any progress?
That was great band, Geezer Butler is brilliant guy. But we just never did any gigs, we did loads of recordings and one of the songs I helped write with them was “Master of Insanity”, you know, Ronnie James Dio sang that song on Sabbath’s DEHUMANIZER album. He was actually singing parts of my melody on the theme, which I was so chivied about. But I never got any credit for it, but it didn’t matter. It happens all the time, but I was just so chuffed that he sang something that I wrote and that was really cool. But yeah, it was great experience.
I just saw some old promo photos of the band. You had a proper 80’s band look with big hair and stuff! “Laughs”
Proper ’80s, yeah. That was ’86 when I joined, so yeah.
After that project you started to work with Paul Chapman (ex UFO).
Yeah. It was interesting time, yeah.
The band was called The Ghost, right?
Ghost, yeah. That was called Ghost. We did one alum, and yeah. There was quite a few songs on there that I wrote, but he only put me down for one song. But yeah, it was cool. It was good experience, we went up to New York a few times. We played the famous clubs up in New York, that was great. Really interesting, I met some strange people as always you do in America.
Paul is still living in America?
Yeah, I think he’s still out there. But I haven’t spoken to him since.
I’ve heard that he’s doing some guitar teaching in there?
Teaching. Yeah, he was doing that. I’m guessing he’s still doing it.
Geezer Butler band in 1986. Carl pictured far on the left.
When you returned to Europe, you worked for a few years with the Swiss rock band Krokus. It was certainly an interesting time also?
That was brilliant time. I loved it, it was a good time. It was a bit disappointing at the time, because they soon got the original lineup back. But I think they needed to do that, the band came from this level to middle when I was in the band. It was building process and it was good, but they needed to get that step further and then they wanted to go to America. To do that, they needed the original lineup and that’s what they did. But it still hasn’t worked for them.
But it never happened?
No, it didn’t. I think they might have gotten there, but I think it’s still difficult for them to really do well outside of Switzerland. It’s a great band, I saw them in England because Persian Risk played Hard Rock Hell. They were in the bigger room playing there that night and it was great, it was great to see them again and they were still rocking. It’s great, but it’s a tough business for any band.
THE LAST WORDS
Nazareth is now the most important thing for you. Tonight is your first show, as you said, there’s a lot gigs coming and maybe a new album is coming next year. Is that all?
I don’t know, it’s just really starting… I’m just guessing gigs and run outs and yeah, we think about writing for next year and the gigs are coming in now. They are not all advertised yet, there is a lot more gigs coming in. We just take it from there to see how it goes.
PHOTOS FROM CARL SENTANCES FIRST NAZARETH SHOW
IN HAMEENLINNA, FINLAND BY MARKO SYRJALA