Interview with PETE AGNEW (NAZARETH)

December 2010

naz2010If NAZARETH do something, they deliver, and their new album, “Big Dogz”, sounds as bold as anything the band have done in the past. There’s guts, there’s cheek, there’s balls. So let’s have the group’s bassist Pete Agnew deliver the news.

– Pete, does the title of “Big Dogz” serve to remind the public of “Hair Of The Dog” or the canine theme came purely by chance?

The opening song on the album is called “The Big Dog’s Gonna Howl”. That’s where the title came from and nobody even thought about “Hair Of The Dog” at the time.

– Ten years between “Boogaloo” and “The Newz” and now a new album in the pipeline… Was it a burst of creativity or a good deal with the label?

Our record company, Edel, liked “The Newz” so much that they wanted a follow-up CD as soon as possible. This was as soon as we could make it.

– Would you care to depict a new record and name some of the songs?

Once again the album is quite diverse like “The Newz” but recorded with a harder edge. We had Jimmy [Murrison] co-producing with Yann, who produced “The Newz”, and Jimmy wanted to keep any overdubs to a minimum so we get a very open sound, almost live at times. Some track names are the title one I mentioned and also “Claimed”, “No Mean Monster”, “Radio”, “The Toast”, “Watch Your Back” and “Butterfly”. There are eleven tracks altogether.

– Was it a relief to let the youngsters, Jimmy and Lee, write most of the new music? Did it give the stuff a modern edge?

Jimmy and Lee did do most of the writing although Dan (McCafferty) co-wrote some of the stuff, like “Watch Your Back”, for instance. When we did “The Newz”, Jimmy and Lee wrote a big portion of that album so there’s no real big change in the writing styles. I think with myself and Dan’s history in rock and Jimmy and Lee’s influences combine to give us a unique approach to any song we do.

– Writing for four decades now for NAZARETH, could you think of some other voice, rather than Dan’s, doing your songs?

No, I can’t imagine any other voice doing NAZARETH songs but, more importantly, I don’t think any of our fans would go for it.

– How much of the “Big Dogz” material made it to the stage by now?

We won’t be playing anything from the new album until after its release.

– Is GUNS N’ ROSES’ DJ Ashba really working on the “Dogz” artwork?

At the moment there are several people working on different artwork ideas although we have asked DJ’s company to do us a design.

– This year saw a new reissue programme that you took an active part in preparing. Was there a re-discovery of sorts when it came to the rare cuts?

When a record company reissue an album they go looking for bonus tracks, and all we really do is either agree or disagree with their choice. But yes, it’s always interesting when they come up with a track that we had completely forgot about, and believe me, there are a lot of tracks that we have completely forgotten about.

– The rarest of all was the first version of “Expect No Mercy” which didn’t have the title track on it. How did you oiriginally plan to call the record?

I’m sorry, but I don’t know about this. The album was always called “Expect No Mercy”, and there was only one version of the album.

– Will there be a box set including rarities on Salvo?

Maybe, after they have reissued the whole NAZARETH catalogue they might want to do something like that, but it would be a good way off in the future.

– The rumors had it Roger Glover turned to NAZ with a request to play on his new record: true of false? If true, did you record anything already?

Roger has a new album coming out soon and he asked us to sing one of the songs. All the backing tracks are done by Roger and friends, and he has different singers on all the songs. Dan sang a song called “The Dream I Had” and I did some backing vocals.

– Have you remained in touch with Roger all these years?

We keep in touch, but mainly we only see each other when we meet up with DEEP PURPLE at some shows we are both playing.

– Occasionally you play an unplugged concert. Is there a thought to re-imagine your classics for a whole acoustic album… what with the band’s old country leanings?

We did do an acoustic tour but that was fifteen years ago when everyone was getting into the unplugged thing. I don’t think we would be doing anything like that again but, as they say, never say never.

– What music did you listen to lately?

Dan has been listening to KINGS OF LEON, and I’ve been listening to a Scottish band called Aaron Wright and THE APRILS.

Photo © Eugene Veinard exclusively for DME

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