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Interview

Andy Scott interview 

Andy Scott

added: 13 Oct 2013
interviewed by: Claudia A

Andy Scott interview - Andy Scott - Printable version
Mention the name ANDY SCOTT and 70's rock band Sweet immediately come to mind as the band notched up no less than 25 Hit Singles in several countries. Andy also had a very successful solo career and it started with a song called Lady Starlight which Andy had written for inclusion on Sweet¡¯s celebrated album Desolation Boulevard.­
Producer Mike Chapman decided to release it separately as Andy¡¯s first solo single and it charted in Germany, Australia and South Africa. So for a brief period in the ¡¯80s, Andy released a number of successful European singles before reforming his beloved Sweet, which still perform today to packed audiences throughout Europe.
Angel Air Records recently released Andy¡¯s solo singles alongside various Sweet albums, thus Music-News¡¯ Claudia A. figured this calls for an interview with the one and only Andy Scott!
Music-News:
Andy, given the history of The Sweet, I think it¡¯s fair to say you¡¯re not only a true survivor but you also seem to be determined to keep the flame burning¡­

Andy Scott:
The path that leads to success is not always easy and in Sweet¡¯s case that is an understatement. I don¡¯t believe in ¡°What ifs or why that¡± because you play the cards you are dealt, that is life. I am still here trying to maintain a musical credibility for the band 45 years later so we must be doing something right. When we take to the stage we play like we mean it and for me that is the reason we have survived. I guess when I don¡¯t enjoy the experience anymore that is the time to stop.

MN:
You were always keen for the band to take on a harder sound (evident on the album ¡®Sweet Fanny Adams¡¯) and you guys played indeed harder tunes during the later stage of your career. So what was the reason for the softer Sweet sound of the early 70¡¯s?

AS:
The simple answer is that Sweet had a producer and songwriters who made most of the decisions in the beginning. We were desperate for success and would have done almost anything to achieve it. However after a year of catchy pop we engineered a change in direction by dressing up in the ¡®Glam¡¯ era and singles such as ¡®Little Willy¡¯ and ¡®Wig Wam Bam¡¯ eventually led on to the biggest hits ¡®Blockbuster!¡¯ and ¡®Ballroom Blitz¡¯ and in 1973 it was our time in the limelight. 1974 saw the biggest change when we released ¡®Sweet Fanny Adams¡¯ which sounded like the band live and was more in line with the band¡¯s own compositions on the B-sides of the Hits.

MN:
It¡¯s well documented that during the height of the band¡¯s success, you all turned into a bit of hell raisers¡­ Did it have an overall destructive influence on the band (it obviously had on Brian Connolly), or did it also play a part in the band¡¯s decision to gradually move away from their glam-rock ¡®teenybopper audience¡¯ image?

AS:
There is a story that goes around that tells of Led Zep moving hotels because we were staying there but I just think it is an urban myth, especially given some of the tales of their exploits. We found ourselves on the same circuit in Europe alongside many heavy rock bands so it was probably only natural that some of the same would transfer across. When the Sweet circus rolled into town I guess you got to know about it, one way or another. We were like an army on manoeuvres.

MN:
Personally, I loved ¡®Sweet Fanny Adams¡¯ the minute I¡¯d heard it ¨C in particular ¡®Rebel Rouser¡¯ with its Eddie Cochrane style chords. But what was the initial reaction of the fans, seeing how the album was quite a departure from the usual Sweet songs¡­

AS:
A lot of Sweet¡¯s fans by the time ¡®SFA¡¯ was released had probably seen the band on tour so they were delighted by the move musically to a genre that over time has been viewed as original and brave. The fact that it influenced most of the LA ¡®hair¡¯ bands in the 80¡¯s shows that it was futuristic and has stood the test of time. We have just released a ¡®Sweet Fanny Adams Revisited¡¯ CD which is a live version (40 years on!) and given the reviews sounds bang up to date.

MN:
After Connolly¡¯s departure you soldiered on bravely¡­ and after a chance meeting with your former agent in 1984, you had assembled the next generation of the band soon after¡­ sounding harder than ever. Was this how you always envisaged the original Sweet to sound?

AS:
When Brian left in 1979 I think the band had backed itself into a corner. It was a no-win situation, if he had stayed we may well have split up but having tried to ¡®cure¡¯ his alcoholism his leaving was the only way. It was never going to be the same but it certainly pulled what was left of the three of us together. We played some remarkable shows in America but the writing was on the wall. To say that the Sweet went through more musical changes than most other bands - I would not argue with that - whether it was all positive is another matter. So when Mick and I reformed the band with a new line-up to go back on the road in 1985 it was with one thought - Sweet would be a Rock Band, a Hard Rock Band!

MN:
During the legendary ¡®Live At The Marquee 1986¡¯ shows you still had drummer Mick Tucker on board, from the old line-up. What had happened to Steve Priest then?

AS:
Steve did not participate in the band¡¯s reformation in 1985. Mick and I hoped he would but at the eleventh hour he pulled away. He told me in a private moment that he really had not enjoyed touring the first time around so why would he the second time, so he stayed in America where he has lived since 1980.

MN:
In the 1980¡¯s you embarked on a solo career (which will come as a bit of a surprise to our readers) and released a few singles, and rather successfully at that. However, the sound was neither rock nor glam-pop, it was in fact very electro-pop/synth-orientated dance music. Have you always been a fan of this particular genre of music, or was this more of an experimental excursion?

AS:
My production career ran alongside Sweet during the late 1970¡¯s and obviously carried on into the 80¡¯s, 90¡¯s right through to today so releasing a solo single or two seemed quite natural. My first solo in 1974 was ¡®Lady Starlight¡¯ which was on the ¡®Desolation Boulevard¡¯ album and was never really intended as a single until there was a hiatus in Sweet¡¯s releases. Brian had been in a fracas which left him beaten and bruised so no chance to tour or sing. Mike Chapman, our producer and the A&R at RCA felt that we needed to do something and the fact that Mike had always felt that ¡®Starlight¡¯ was a potential hit, but not as Sweet led to the suggestion that it should be released as my solo single. Then in the early 80¡¯s with Sweet not touring and my productions in a lull, my engineer was given the job to build a mobile recording studio, the Fleetwood mobile and I agreed to be the guinea-pig. The result of those sessions was ¡®Gotta See Jane¡¯ and the first draft of ¡®Krugerrands¡¯ which led on to a solo record deal with Statik Records. Rock music and dance were beginning to merge together on recordings and it seemed that this kind of experimentation was the way forward, plus it was testing my production skills to the max. No computers back then. Andy Scott, the Solo Singles has just been released by AngelAir.

MN:
What prompted you to give up on that one and carry on with the Sweet again (and with yet another line-up)?

AS:
I had produced a band called Weapon in the early 80¡¯s and the drummer on the sessions was Bruce Bisland and one of the guitarist, backing vocalists was Mal McNulty. The singer, Danny Hynes had a side-line, a fun pub-rock band - Paddy Goes to Holyhead - I was invited to come along and inevitably got up on stage with them. In fact I would get up to play with many famous and not so famous artists in this period that I finally thought ¡°Why did I stop doing this?¡± - I loved playing, back on stage, no frills - so when I met my former agent in 1984 and he told me that if Sweet were still around he could fill the date sheet, I jumped at the chance.

MN:
Have you ever, at some stage, planned to form your own rock band ¨C a band which has nothing to do with the Sweet, but would be entirely your own creation from scratch?

AS:
There was an idea bandied around that myself, Mick and Steve, to run alongside Sweet, would form a heavy hard rock band - STP [Scott.Tucker.Priest] - but Sweet were going in that direction anyway and subsequently recorded ¡®Give Us A Wink¡¯. As for an Andy Scott Band that wasn¡¯t really an option unless one of the solo singles had been a massive worldwide hit.

MN:
Which bands/musicians have you admired the most in your youth, and which current ones do you like?

AS:
My earliest influence was The Shadows, like most guitarists if truth be known. Then along came The Beatles, Beach Boys, The Who and The Yardbirds who had the triumvirate of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page pass through their ranks. During the 1970¡¯s I became a real electric Jazz nut and would try to see Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Chick Corea wherever and whenever possible. I remember getting in a car and travelling out of the city into New York state to catch a show in a small club featuring Jean Luc Ponty and the Brecker Brothers. It doesn¡¯t get better than that. I¡¯m happy to see guitar bands and rock making an impact again but I¡¯m afraid I don¡¯t see heroes like there were in the 60¡¯s and 70¡¯s.

MN:
When did you get your first guitar, and which make was it?

AS:
My father acquired an acoustic guitar (a Levin?) for my brother and I at some point and it was knocking around the house for a while before a family friend came around and showed us what could be done with it. Up to that point it was for practising Shadows dance moves. My first electric was a Burns NuSonic bass which was traded for a Gibson EB-0. My first electric guitar was a Hofner Futurama Coronado (I wish I still had this - rare and very fashionable) but my first real purchase as a pro was my now revered Gibson ES335 TDC 1964 Block inlay which is now to be seen in the British Music Experience Museum at the O2 Arena in London.

MN:
So, who is your ultimate guitar hero then?

AS:
I could not possibly pick one from several outstanding musicians - but if I am forced then it would be Jeff Beck whom I met for the first time this year at Rock Against Cancer (concertatthekings.co.uk) - this is a concert that raises money for cancer that I am part of the organising team.

MN:
What else is Andy Scott doing these days apart from touring with Sweet?

AS:
Right now I¡¯m relaxing, watching football on TV. Sweet are about to tour in Russia and the UK 2013 with tours in Australia and Europe 2014 and some new recordings somewhere in between.

MN:
Many thanks for the interview, Andy, and best wishes for future projects!






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