Gary James' Interview With Steve Priest and Andy Scott Of
They are one of the most famous groups in Rock today. Their best-known songs include "Ballroom Blitz", "Fox On The Run", "Everybody Wants A Piece Of The Action" and of course their current chart hit, "Love Is Like Oxygen". We caught up with Sweet members Steve Priest and Andy Scott at the Syracuse War Memorial, where they were opening for Foghat.
Q - Why is Sweet touring so much lately? (Note: This is the group's second appearance in Syracuse in nine weeks.)
Andy Scott - We did the tour with Seger before and it just so happens that Foghat made their swing through this part of the country.
Steve Priest - Coincidence, that's all.
Q - Do you change your songs and stage act around a lot?
Andy Scott - To start with you do, until you find the set that's working.
Steve Priest - And the set that the audience finds enjoyable.
Q - Are there any songs you just hate doing?
Andy Scott - Not really. The songs we don't like, we don't do. We only do songs we enjoy. The last time we were in Syracuse we didn't do "Fox On The Run". This time we did.
Q - What type of audience are you trying to reach with your music?
Andy Scott - Everybody.
Steve Priest - Anyone.
Q - What makes Sweet's sound so different from other groups?
Andy Scott - It's four fellas doing it a certain way. I don't think there's any recording group that sounds like us, that has our studio sound. You see, there are some groups who make it just on recording, like Boston and others like Seger through playing.
Q - What do you think of critics who label Sweet as a "bubblegum group", not to be taken seriously?
Andy Scott - They don't call us that anymore. We're called a Rock 'n' Roll group nowadays.
Steve Priest - We've come full circle from doing the Pop bit when we started to being a Rock group today.
Q - Do you have any favorite groups that you listen to today?
Andy Scott - Little River Band. I got their new album and like it. Frank Zappa. Chick Corea. Stanley Clark. Al Di Meola.
Steve Priest - I also like Corea, Clark and Di Meola.
Andy Scott - My favorite composer is Beethoven. At times he's heavier than Led Zeppelin. I also like Handel and Tomita, a Japanese classical musician. Probably the greatest album of the decade has been made by Gerry Rafferty, an ex-member of Steelers Wheel.
Q - And who were some of your earlier musical influences?
Steve Priest - Cream. Hendrix. The Who.
Andy Scott - And The Beatles.
Q - What is the music scene like in England today?
Andy Scott - It's just like it is here in The States. You've got everything going at once. You've got Funk City happening, Reggae and Rock 'n' Roll.
Q - What do you think of Punk Rock?
Andy Scott - Punk Rock is dead. New Wave was a misnomer. There was nothing new about Punk Rock. I understand their ideas, but Johnny Rotten (The Sex Pistols) went against everything he originally stood for. He's now spending the money he got from the record company (about $200,000). People like Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello are New Wave. They're the new artists leading a rejuvenation in music.
Q - By the way, what is Power Pop?
Andy Scott - I don't know what that is. Power Pop is a cliché. We've been called Power Pop and I always say "if you like."
Steve Priest - I don't even know where that expression comes from.
(Interviewers Note: Power Pop was first coined by Kim Fowley on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow Show on NBC. Fowley is a West Coast producer, having produced such artists as Helen Reddy and The Runaways.)
Q - Did your parents like the idea of you making a career in music?
Andy Scott - Mine didn't. They wanted me to do anything but that. But when they saw they couldn't win, they backed down. Later, they even financed some of my ventures.
Steve Priest - I was fortunate because my father was in a Hawaiian band before the war and he helped me quite a bit with equipment. So, he was all for it.
Q - Why isn't Sweet headlining in the U.S.? I've read it's because you wanted to play it safe as an opening act.
Andy Scott - No. That's not true. Touring in the States is something new for us. In Europe we are a headlining act. I don't know, but I don't think we could sell out 12,000 and 20,000 seat halls here.
Q - Outside of music, do you guys socialize much?
Andy Scott - When long gaps exist between performing, yes. But right now, we're on tour and we need space.
Q - What kind of fan mail does Sweet get?
Andy Scott - We hardly ever see it except when they pull it out and show us at a business meeting.
Q - Do you have young girls sending you nude pictures of themselves?
Steve Priest - Oh, yeah. We got that sort of thing five years ago.
Andy Scott - But we don't encourage it.
Q - Some people say the only way to enjoy a Rock concert is stoned. Do you agree?
Andy Scott - Yeah. Let them do what they want. They're not gonna listen to us anyway.
Q - Do you still live in England and how do you pay those high taxes?
Steve Priest - Yes, we do, with great difficulty.
Andy Scott - I was born in England. I like England. I'm a patriot. Leaving isn't going to solve anything. Money isn't everything. Where we'll live in the future, God only knows.
Q - Did you ever want to give up music?
Andy Scott - Of course. When we were living on $20 a week a piece in a bad neighborhood and nothing was happening. But deep down, we wanted it.
Steve Priest - For some reason, I don't know why, I always knew that Sweet was going to make it.
Q - Would you advise a young musician to make a career of Rock 'n' Roll?
Andy Scott - I wouldn't advise anybody on anything. You gotta do what you want to do.
Steve Priest - It depends on your personality. Do your own thing. That's all I can say.