Nazareth is a Scottish hard rock band formed in 1968. In the early 1970s, the band had many hit songs in Europe. They achieved international success with their 1975 album HAIR OF THE DOG, which included the hits “Hair of the Dog” and the ballad “Love Hurts.” The band has now released 23 studio albums, and they still continue to record and tour around the world. The current line-up consists of the band’s founding member and bassist Pete Agnew, long-time guitarist Billy Morrison, Pete’s son Lee Agnew on drums and vocalist Carl Sentence, who joined the band in 2015. On next year, the band celebrates its 50th anniversary, so it was good to sit down with Pete and Carl and discuss their celebration and other future plans.
Next year is going to be Nazareth’s 50’th anniversary. How does that feel, after all these years?
Pete Agnew: Don’t remind me about it “Laughs” I can’t get it out of my mind. I am trying to forget it. Yeah, yeah, it’s going to be fun. We’ve got a few things that we want to do next year. You know just pick up that special … I am not going to tell you what they are though “Laughs.”
One of the big news for next year is that you are going to have a new Nazareth album out. Tell something about that, how is the state of the album at the moment?
Pete Agnew: Yeah, yeah. That’s what we were going to do this year earlier, you know, but the things turned out that we don’t have the time, really. So yeah, next year will be a right time for that. It would be the 50th anniversary, and the new album is a good time to come with that. So, we are looking forward to it because we need to do an album with Carl.
Carl, you’ve been two years in the band now.
Carl Sentance: Two and a half.
So, do you feel that this is your home now?
Carl Sentance: Of course. Yeah, it’s great. It’s been fantastic. Gigs are great. Traveling is hard but you know it’s part of the deal. It’s great. I am enjoying it.
Do you see that now the fans have accepted Carl as a vocalist of the band?
Pete Agnew: Yeah, they do actually. It is quite surprising actually because I thought it would have been harder. But show we’ve been we’ve got great reviews. And they have always wanted us back. It’s you know I see that in a Facebook, there you see it in people writing about you. Yeah, it’s been accepted very well. And he’s made a big difference to the band. The band has got quite a lively. He gives a new lease of life to the guys that are already there. And I think it shows. I know it shows. And it is quite funny because even the very original band which has been gone a long time already, there’s a lot of people who come to see us never even saw that band. They don’t even know that band. You know. They have always seen Jimmy and Lee and me you know. So, Carl is a new guy. But those guys were an original band. But accepted as being a via a lot of people who have never seen anybody. It’s good. I am glad!
Dan McCafferty retired two years ago, but he’s still doing shows every then and now. What do you think about it?
Pete Agnew: He goes out to do a song, maybe two songs? Because that’s all, he can do really. And I don’t know. If it makes him happy, fine, but you know it’s no problem for us. You know Dan was up here in Finland last night in the festival.
I know about that.
Pete Agnew: You know, I’m still in touch with him, and in fact, I saw him three days ago. We only live five minutes from each other in Scotland. So, I still see him a lot when I was still very friendly. And it was that we were both going to Finland to do shows. But we don’t see each other as any competition or anything. You know. It’s just if he is happy to do that you know then fine. We don’t bother about it. I think he misses you know what he’s been doing for 45 years; you know you just stop with that. It is very, very difficult. So, you can see why he still wants to come out, get a little taste of it. You know. And that’s all he can handle now.
I saw him performing in Swedenrock last June, and it was like terrible to watch. He was trying, and he was struggling. He can hardly make it anymore.
Pete Agnew: No. It’s hard, it is very, very difficult for him you know. But you know as I say if it makes him happy. That’s all I can say.
I remember when Carl joined the band and did his very first show with the band in Finland. That was in Hameenlinna where we also did an interview then. How have the things evolved since then?
Carl Sentance: I think it was the very first gig, so I was… I was really nervous at first “Laughs.”
Pete Agnew: Yeah. It was, I mean he didn’t know how he was going to be accepted. Because when you join in a band and you have replaced a very well-known singer. You know it’s not just as that you are just another guy. You replaced somebody who was very, very well known. That was a big step you know. And it was tough for sure, but everything started great right from that first night even he was a really nervous boy then “Laughs.”
So, for you, how are things different now, more than two years later?
Carl Sentance: Yeah, it’s just, I think I’ve just become a bit more confident, and of course then I didn’t know what to expect. And it was kind of like rabbit and the headlamp. You know it was just like “just going” you now. And now you know it’s just a bit more confidence. And yeah, it just feels like a family now. You know it’s been great.
Pete Agnew: There is still that thing you know when Carl came in. You know, you’ve got to sing this, this, this, this and that. A list of songs. Well, now it’s like you see let’s try that one. Let’s try you know other songs as well. Now he can come in and say, “I’d like to try different Nazareth songs.” So, he is picking them for himself instead of me picking it for him. So that is really good thing.
So, I remember when we discussed about various things in Hämeenlinna and I asked about how well do you know about Nazareth’s history and the back catalog, and you said: “Maybe I know 8 out of 10 of that stuff?”
Carl Sentance: Yeah. I know and remember that “Laughs.”
How much more you’ve learned more from the band’s music since then?
Carl Sentance: We have been working solid, solidly since then. I only had a chance maybe three months ago to start listening to different albums that I didn’t have a chance to listen before. Now I hear all the stuff and as Pete has said, I’ve picked a few songs out there you know that I like and I thought would work. And yeah. It might take me another ten years to learn all the other songs. But you know I’m getting there “Laughs.”
THE NEW NAZARETH ALBUM
I think it is great that Nazareth, that you guys, have chosen the path to create new stuff instead of being nostalgia act only.
Pete Agnew: I think you have got to. I mean people don’t necessarily want to hear a whole lot of new stuff, but they want to know that you are still creating new things. I mean, they know the ones they want to hear. They want to hear the hits. They want to hear the big songs. But then if you look as if you’ve just stopped recording you just become an oldies band, you know, and you can’t really do that. Let’s say we do a new album … You usually when you do a new album these days, you do maybe 2 or 3 songs from the new album in the set. And that lasts for an about a year or something. And then it will eventually disappear, and you go back to old stuff. But still, then you have given them, the fans, a new album.
I have seen few times during the past 20 years, and I didn’t see hear too many songs from the 90’s or 20th century on any shows…
Pete Agnew: No, you don’t. You don’t because that’s because the ones that were supposed made a reputation, I mean, if you go along to see the Rolling Stones, you are going to hear “Jumping Jack Flash” first, but I don’t know what the fuck you are going to hear about the mid 90’s. I don’t know what the mid 90’s were, I never had. I know that they did new stuff then but I know “Brown Sugar”, and that’s the way it is. As you know we go and we see Deep Purple. They are doing new albums but you know that they are going to play “Smoke on the Water” and “Highway Star”. That’s the way it goes.
It was a few months ago when it was announced that Nazareth has signed a deal with Frontiers records. How did you end up to that label?
Pete Agnew: Well I said, it is funny actually because when Carl joined a couple of years ago, that was in 2014, record companies got in touch with us to say are you going to be doing a new album? You know. And to tell you the truth. At that point, we weren’t really doing it. But then we thought, well, why wouldn’t we? So, we just take a look at the different deals that we were offered. Basically, that Frontiers deal, that was the best deal. Then I spoke with Mick Box from Uriah Heep, and I asked how he liked about it, we always speak each other and ask about things, and he said it was okay. He said, I mean you see, at last stage of the game you know when you make a new album that no record company is going to treat you like some new band coming out. You know it’s like “wow”. You know you are not going to get that. You know it is going to be released. They’ll do what they can. They’ll do something maybe in the first four to six weeks. That’s it. Then after that any kind of promotion won’t happen. And you know that is going to happen. And I know that is going to happen. So, all the record companies you go with, it is the same. So, one is not a lot much different than the other. But I know that Frontiers, they have a lot of what we would call band classic old bands. They’ve got a lot of that and it seems to work you so, we’ll see. Ask me next year this time how it went? “Laughs”
MANNY CHARLTON TALK
Do you know how is the former Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton doing these days?
Pete Agnew: God! I’ve never seen the man since like 18 years since Darrell Sweet died. I have never seen him. He lives in Spain now I believe. He moved back there. He was actually born in Spain. He moved back to Spain a year or two ago, I think. And he lives in Cordoba.
Do you have any contact with him anymore?
Pete Agnew: Not really. No. I mean I don’t … we don’t have nothing in common anymore. You know. I mean, I’ve only seen him maybe four to five times in all those years, after he quit with the band. But the last time I saw him was, it was way back when Darrel died. That was the last time I saw him. That was at the funeral.
This is old news but can I ask, what actually was the reason why you broke up and why the things went so ugly between him and the band?
Pete Agnew: Just because of we had disagreements. That’s it. You know we totally disagreed with some stuff and that was it. You know, there was no point in staying together. So, since then we haven’t spoken to each other. We have agreed to be apart. I mean we were doing our own paths, we never had big fights. Everybody talked about each other. So, it was just the goodbye you know. And just “Go do your thing. We’ll do ours.”.
Did he even give any comment about Dan’s retirement?
Pete Agnew: No, I’ve never had connection with him since any of that. I mean, like I said, we are not in touch. We are not really in touch. I mean it’s never again once in a blue moon we’ve got to saying something. I could get sent some legal thing you know. That’s only the time I am ever in contact with him. We never talk or anything like that. But I know that he is in Spain because, I just know that. People have mentioned it on Facebook or something. He moved from there from the States. That’s probably because he was born in Spain. I guess he was to die there. Who knows?
This might be a little bit tricky question but because three out of four band members have already changed during the years….
Pete Agnew: Yeah.
Do you see that when there is going to be a day, when you step away for some reason or another, that the band would continue without any original members left?
Pete Agnew: Yeah, well you know I keep wondering that. The guys have managed to make a reputation for themselves. And I know that people will … well Nazareth is Nazareth because you know you’ve got one guy here and another three. But these guys are probably Nazareth longer than some of the members that originally played with Nazareth although they were on the early recordings that were there. Because that’s what had happen in your early days, you know. I’d like to think that they can continue on but I don’t know how viable that would be. But as I see one of the bands we come across again and again are the Yardbirds. I mean, there’s hardly any original members in the band but the Yardbirds are known as a great band, and they are a great band. And people are used to see them. The younger people don’t know who was in the old Yardbirds band. So, I’d like to think that these guys would still be able to do some kind of Nazareth you know. And I don’t know if it would work out or not.
But you are not seeing that retirement going to happen anytime soon?
Pete Agnew: Well you never know what’s going to happen. You don’t retire at this game. You die. You know. So, when I go then we will find out. But as long as I am healthy enough to keep playing then I’ll just keep playing. I can’t think about doing anything else really. But I think there comes a time when you know. See at the moment I can you play and the vocals I do, I can still do same as I did when I was 25. But when some people, I mean, if it affects you that you can’t play or you can’t do it as well as you could then that is a problem. And you know, like I said, I don’t really need to comment on that too much.
PICTURES FROM NAZARETH SHOW IN LAHTI