Andy Scott, (seen here on the right), lead guitarist with Sweet, chats with Kevin Cooper about Paul Manzi joining the band, forming QSP with Suzi Quatro and Don Powell, the death of Steve Priest, and Sweet’s latest album Isolation Boulevard.


Andy Scott is a Welsh musician and songwriter. He is best known for being the lead guitarist and backing vocalist in the band Sweet. Originally formed in 1968 with lead vocalist Brian Connolly, bass player Steve Priest, guitarist Mick Stewart and drummer Mick Turner, they were originally called Sweetshop but when a band of the same name released a record in the UK, they shortened their name to Sweet.

In the late summer of 1970, Scott replaced Mick Stewart in Sweet after an audition in front of Brian Connolly, Steve Priest and Mick Tucker, as well as the group’s managers, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. After plugging in his guitar he immediately blew the fuse on the amp.

They released three bubblegum pop singles, Lollipop Man in 1969, All You’ll Ever Get From Me in 1970 and a cover version of The Archies, Get On The Line in 1970; all of which failed to chart.

With a record contract with RCA Records they released their single Funny Funny in 1971 which was their first single to chart. In 1972 they released Poppa Joe, Little Willy and Wig-Wam Bam which were followed up with Blockbuster in 1973 which went on to reach number one in the UK chart.

In 1979 Connolly left the band to pursue a solo career and what followed were several changes in the group’s line up as well as several incarnations of the band formed by leaving band members. Unfortunately, Connolly died at the age of 51 in February 1997 and Mick Tucker passed in 2002. It was announced that Steve Priest had died in 2020 leaving Scott as the sole living member of Sweet’s classic line-up.

Scott was a main organiser of the first charity Rock Against Cancer concert in All Cannings, Wiltshire, in May 2012, which was headlined by Brian May, The Boomtown Rats, and Midge Ure. Concerts are still ongoing, in which Scott still plays an active role.

Whilst busy preparing for their forthcoming tour he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Andy, good afternoon, how are you?

I’m fine thanks Kevin, how are you today?

All is good thank you, and before we move on let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

That’s okay, it’s my pleasure. You are based in Nottingham are you not?

Yes, that’s right.

I recognise the accent. You have the same accent as my sister-in-law who has been married to my brother, I don’t know, for as long as I can bleeding remember (laughter). She has got a very similar accent to you. Anyway, let’s go (laughter).

Well I must ask, just how is life treating you in these weird and wonderful times?

(Laughter) well if you want to talk about my wife, she is climbing the walls. She is a very active and a hands-on kind of person. Whereas, me on the other hand am a ‘do I really need to do that’ type of person, so, I am quite happy in my own skin, and I am quite happy to do nothing. I am happy within my own environment; I don’t need to mix with people. Having said that, I have suddenly realised though that we may very soon be coming out of this, which is a good thing so I think that I had better start picking up a guitar more often (laughter).

Well I suppose that we should really talk about Sweet’s latest album, Isolation Boulevard, hadn’t we?

Yes, we had.

Well I have been playing it now for the past couple of weeks and I have to say that I think that it is a great piece of work.

Thanks for that. You are now just compounding what quite a few other music journalists have said. We never set out to make, what could well be considered, potentially a greatest hits album. However, what you must remember is that we are in lockdown. I was on tour as an MC over in Germany, with Uriah Heap, Wishbone Ash and Nazareth last January. They had asked me if I could do a few interviews between bands, which I agreed to do. After that, Sweet went back out on the road in February and March, and at the beginning of March, we were in Denmark with Slade, playing a couple of gigs, but unfortunately the second one got cancelled because the whole of Europe went into lockdown on that Monday.

We were being told that over the weekend there couldn’t be any gatherings of more than one thousand people. The problem was that we had already sold over sixteen hundred tickets, so that second gig got cancelled. So, we all came back to the UK. At that point I had already had a couple of blood tests that, shall we say, were leaning towards the fact that my prostate cancer may very well have returned. So, I went into the hospital and had a scan, and yes, there it was, and so it was agreed that I needed a course of radiotherapy. The good news was that it was away from any major organs because the danger is always that it could attach itself to bone. So, I was out of order and off limits for the months or March, April, May and June.

However, at the beginning of June I was beginning to feel a little more active, so we began to have a few discussions, and I brought up the fact that we were due to make an album of new material for Sony at some point. However, we couldn’t do that simply because we all couldn’t get together, set-up and thrash things out for a week or so. We had around five songs ready to record, but in all honesty, you really do need around ten or eleven tracks on an album these days. We then looked at what the next alternative was, and I have got a lot of multi-tracked live recordings, plus I have got a hell of a lot of outtakes from tracks that we recorded in the past. These recordings and outtakes are like a second version of a hit or something like that.

At that moment in time, my drummer Bruce’s wife found herself in a similar position to me, in the fact that she had breast cancer. So he certainly didn’t want to start messing around with things. Plus, unfortunately, he is the one member of the band who doesn’t have any sort of recording studio at home. So, we had to start with some drum tracks, and what we found was exactly what ended up on the album. I managed to find eleven or twelve really good tracks that we could mess with and edit, and with a little bit of digital magic we were able to make all of the drums on all of the tracks pretty damn similar. So, we built the tracks like that.

Considering that we were doing this in dribs and drabs due to the lockdown, and some of the guys were doing their stuff, for example, our singer Paul (Manzi) and the bass player Lee (Small) were doing their vocals and bass parts at their houses and sending them over to me. That was working, all be it slowly, but then we had a break in the lockdown, which meant that the guys were able to come down to mine for an afternoon on a couple of occasions and we managed to socially distance ourselves. Normally when they come over, I will plan and prepare lunch, but I said to them, “come down after midday and leave before six, and let’s have an intensive four hours”. Working like that, I have to say that we managed to get a hell of a lot of stuff done. And here we are, this is the end result (laughter). Also, as somebody pointed out, “well at least you now have Paul’s voice on all of the hits as well”, so it really all made sense in the end.

I’m glad that you have mentioned Paul Manzi. There are a lot of people out there, mainly fans of Cats in Space I have to say, who claim that you poached Paul from them back in 2019, to join Sweet. Is there any truth in that?

From the outset, let me just say that we didn’t poach Paul from anyone. Honestly, there are some people who know no better; who get onto the internet and think that they are entitled to become opinionated. But I have to be totally honest with you and say that Paul was up for the job with Sweet way back in 2005. However, we chose Pete Lincoln at that time, simply because Pete was a bit older and his voice, at that time, was more in keeping with what we were doing. Paul was at that time working with a couple of Progressive Rock groups, which I have to say were very good. However, I can remember Bruce (Bisland) saying to me, “when you all sing together, at this moment in time, Paul’s voice doesn’t have the power that the rest of you have”.

So, I said to Paul, “you haven’t been singing with power” to which he replied, “no, that’s right. In the things that I have been doing I have been having to control it”. I then said,” well you need to start letting it go and start singing from your belly” (laughter). And of course, back in 2011 somebody left the band and at that time we needed to find someone who could play the keyboards and second guitar. Paul, at that time, had started to do some depping with us, so he was like the go to guy whenever anybody couldn’t do a tour, that kind of thing. Now let’s cut to Cats in Space. I have personally known Mick (Wilson) and Gregg (Hart) the two song writers, for a very long time now.

They both came to my studio with Mr Heartache. I actually played guitar on that together with some of the backing vocals. They asked me, “do you think that Sweet could do this” to which I replied, “I don’t really think that it is a Sweet kind of song, but I think that it will be a hit”. At that, Mick said, “oh well, I think that I will release it as a solo single”. And then the next thing that I knew about a year later, Cats in Space came out and Paul was then singing the lead with them. To start with I didn’t recognise the voice (laughter). Someone said to me, “that’s Paul” to which I replied, “that’s fantastic”. Later, I did a few bits on their second and third albums; backing vocals on certain things, things like that.

Then there was a moment when Pete (Lincoln), and would you believe with Mick (Wilson) and another guy, had formed a band with three lead singers called The Frontmen. They were an acoustic Crosby, Stills and Nash kind of band. They were going out playing small theatres, and I have to say that they were doing rather well. An agent friend of mine started to manage them and he said to me, “I don’t want to leave the band, but I don’t want to stop this either” (laughter). So, I said, “well it looks to me like you have got more dates with them than you have with Sweet” (laughter). So, Paul and I made an agreement at the start of 2019 when we were doing a European tour, Paul said to me, “if this job is going to become available then I want it” to which I replied, “you’ve got it”.

So, we took both Paul and Pete with us on the tour and showed the audiences over there in Europe both what we had and what we are going to get. And I have to say that it went down a storm. I said to Paul, “are you sure that you want to leave Cats in Space and join Sweet” to which he replied, “after three albums they are not listening to my songs, the song writing is not available to me, and I really do enjoy working with you, Bruce and the other guys” so I just said, “fine, if that’s the way that it’s going to be, it’s your choice and I’m very happy to have you”.

And what a voice.

Yes, what a voice. Paul is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I have been very lucky with my choices of personnel. Don’t get me wrong I have had the odd guy who has turned rogue, and you have to stop him and bring him back into line. But generally, the guys have been very respectful to the original legacy.

Isolation Boulevard, where did the title come from?

The young engineer who actually worked on the album, a guy called TC, he is the guitar player in a band that I produce called the Nova Teens. And I have to say that they are really fantastic. They are getting airplays on Radio 1, Radio 2, and Planet Rock. I am still trying to get them over that final hurdle, in order that they can become a household name, and that their touring will not just be to crowds of two hundred and fifty people. TC is a brilliant engineer, who I’m sure will be a fabulous producer, if not now then certainly soon. He has engineered everything, and we were sitting in the studio and he said to me, “I would like to put the name of a project on this, so that when we start looking in the computer, everything is in the same place”.

TC then pointed out to me that there are a rather lot of things that begin with the word sweet (laughter). I said, “yes that’s right, you are right” and I had just been looking at the CD of Desolation Boulevard and something just made me go, “what about Isolation Boulevard” and TC laughed his head off saying ”I like it but I’m not sure if its right”. I said, “neither am I but put it down” (laughter). And two months later when we were ready to release the album, that’s it, everybody basically said, “why would we change it, it’s a great title”.

What the album did for me was, if you strip away the Glam Rock image, it highlights just what great rock songs they really were. Would you agree?

Yes, I would totally agree with you. The other side of it is it is only here in England where we seem to get this idea of where we are in this box that we can’t get out of. Here in the UK there is a snapshot of us on Top Of The Pops back in 1973 performing Blockbuster and people simply cannot lose that imagery. As someone recently pointed out to me, “you are probably worth a thousand tickets everywhere you go in the world” and I will happily take that. We are never going to have our moment totally in the sun again, but all of the gigs that we do are fantastic. The audiences are tops, and they are there because they want to see us. If there is only five hundred, or a thousand or five thousand, we will still play the same, and it will be the same for the audiences. They will still walk away singing all the songs that we have played in that two-hour set.

I have always loved Set Me Free which was the first track on your Sweet Fanny Adams album back in 1974. You have recorded a slightly heavier version which is, in fact, the first single off Isolation Boulevard. What has always puzzled me is why the hell was it never released as a single?

I’m so glad that you have mentioned that because that really is a point that I would love to take up with RCA at some stage. You have to go back to 1973 when I wrote it, and as you rightly said, it found itself onto the Sweet Fanny Adams album in January 1974. There wasn’t a single on that album but there were a couple of people who were trying to push Heartbreak Today, but nothing happened. As you know, we even put Set Me Free as the opening track on the album. There were a couple of people in the record company together with an agent of ours who said, “you could do worse than releasing Set Me Free”.

However, the powers that be, the record producer and (Nicky) Chinn and (Mike) Chapman, the song writers, simply were not having any of it. At that time, we had just released Teenage Rampage, but it really was the Desolation Boulevard album that set us on our way everywhere in Europe, Japan and Australia. Everybody now knew that the band could play a bit; they had heard the B sides but here is a cohesive album of bloody good rock songs.

I have to say that I love the mash-up which you have done with Hello’s New York Groove and Rihanna’s New York. I think that works really well.

I totally agree with you. The original version of that, we had done before about ten years ago now on the New York Connection NYC album. As you know that was an album of cover versions. We were in the studio messing around and Pete who was the singer at the time basically said, “I’m going to send you something over Andy” and we knew that we were going to do a cover of Hello’s New York Groove, but he said, “this suddenly came to me in the shower and I went straight to the guitar and let me tell you, it works” (laughter). Pete said, “why don’t we do that New York Empire State” and I have to say that I totally agree with him, its brilliant. All it took was a bit of kicking around to sort out the arrangement really.

Do you have a favourite track on the album?

I would most probably agree with you and say that it is Set Me Free.

That track stands up on its own; it could be written and released tomorrow.

Yes, it does and yes, I totally agree with you on that point. A friend of mine recently said, “the timing of a song called Set Me Free isn’t too bad either” (laughter).

Did anything miss the cut; is there anything that is not on there that with hindsight you wish was?

No, simply because we were looking for drum tracks that we could use and so there has been a little bit of lifting from here, and lifting from there, and putting it all together, and what we ended up with was what we used. I think we probably had a version of Wig-Wam Bam; we might have had a version of that somewhere. But, in the end, I wanted to put on a couple of rock tracks like New York Groove and Set Me Free because I wanted to concentrate on that side of things a bit more rather than going all the way back to 1971 and 1972.

Will there be a second album where you will in fact go back and revisit 1971 and 1972?

(Laughter) No. Having said that, we did do an acoustic set when Pete was in the band because even though he was singing and playing the bass in the band, right in the middle of the set just before the drum solo, we did a twenty minute acoustic set where we played all of that early 1971 and 1972 material. And let me tell you, it really did go down a storm. The crowds simply were not expecting it. We included an acoustic version of Lost Angles, and then we played the medley of all those early hits, and because it came out of nowhere, and don’t forget that you are dealing with a Heavy Metal crowd here, they are not quite sure what they are listening to, then they suddenly find themselves singing along to ‘Ho-chi-ka-ka-ho, Co-Co’ (laughter).

It used to make me laugh. There would be a guy wearing an AC/DC t-shirt who would suddenly start singing ‘Poppa rumbo, rumbo Hey Poppa Joe coconut’ (laughter). It really is very funny. If you look, there is some footage which was shot in the mid to late 2000s of us playing at Sweden Rock in front of twelve thousand people. Now, we had a set planned of what we were going to play. It was quite obvious that we weren’t going to be playing anything from before Little Willy; anything before that was gone. Then the crowd, all of a sudden started to sing Popa Joe (laughter). It was at that point that I realised that Popa Joe was one of our biggest number one singles over there in Sweden.

I thought, ‘oh my god’ and said to the audience, “are you serious” and they all went, “yes” so I got the band together, we had a little conflab around the drums as we weren’t intending to perform it, but we had in the past performed an electric medley of these songs. I asked, “is everyone on the same page” to which everyone nodded and said “yes” so we played the medley of Funny Funny, Co-Co and Papa Joe (laughter).

Perhaps you can clear something up for me?

I will do my very best.

On your recent PR photographs there are five of you whilst on the album sleeve there are only four of you?

Right, what I will tell you is that there are only four of us who are technically in the band. We have got a keyboard and guitar player, Steve Mann, who lives over there in Germany, and he has recently been playing with The Michael Schenker Fest on the tours of Japan and America. He thinks that is possibly coming to an end, after the pandemic, but he doesn’t know for sure. He also just happens to be the lead guy in the newly reformed Lionheart. So, as you can imagine, he cannot commit to being in Sweet as such, but I am very happy to have him along for tours and things like this. He will be our guy when we start going back into Europe. Steve’s first run with Sweet was back in the 1990s.

He then re-joined us in the late 2000s. Because Steve couldn’t travel after we had done the tour, when we played a couple of dates in February, TC has been doing some keyboards, guitar and backing vocals. So, I am now in the position where I now have two people who can fulfil that role.

If all goes according to plan, you should be back out on the road, in Brighton, on the 25th November, are you looking forward to it?

Yes, I am, it has been far too long but that is all down to circumstances beyond our control. The tour that we are about to do towards the end of the year, which I now truly believe that should happen, just as long as the vaccinations go ahead, and we get down to the safety factor. Quite honestly, if anyone fell ill at one of my gigs, I would truly feel dreadful. I know that there are people on these liberation websites who claim that the vaccination is an invasion of their civil liberties and all of that. But we have just gone through something that will most probably never happen again for another hundred years. This is something that happens once every third generation or something like that.

The Spanish Flu that was around a lot earlier; it came through back in the fifties, but it didn’t seem to affect the whole world. For us as a family living up in Wales, it didn’t affect us as much as the heaving metropolises further south. The tour finishes in Bury St. Edmunds and I can tell you that my road crew will love that because all of the gear that we have is in a warehouse in Suffolk so, finishing in Bury St. Edmunds they will be able to go just down the road, in order to get rid of it (laughter). We are not going right up to Christmas which we did on the last tour. Last time out we didn’t finish until the 23rd December. However, as we are finishing this time on Monday 20th December, I am determined that we will have a bit of a party.

Does touring still excite you?

Let me just say that I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t still like it. Once or twice in my life, when I had some disruption in the band together with a little disharmony in my life, what you have to remember is that since 1985 I have been constantly on the road; there have been the odd moments like when Mick (Tucker) fell ill. At that point I wasn’t totally sure that I was going to carry on in 1991. However, I had a record company come to me together with agents and promoters saying “you can’t stop now, it will kill you” so I said to Mick “I’m going to continue”, I don’t know just how happy he was about it but he came round at the end. Brian (Connolly) was also trying to do a few things around that time, which really wasn’t conducive because by that time his voice was most definitely shot.

However, Brian was the lead singer in the band. I have a rule which is, if you are an original member in the band, then why shouldn’t you exploit the name Sweet if you want to. You can’t start threatening everyone with lawyers simply because the four of us in the band were all of equal standing. Even though Brian had left the band, he was still the one who a lot of people wanted to see, regardless of whether he could sing or not. Then there was another time back in the 90s when someone was being quite disruptive in the band, and I thought to myself ‘I really don’t bloody need this’ and then all of a sudden we found Tony O’Hora who had been playing in a band called Praying Mantis with Bruce (Bisland). Bruce came into the band and well, it was fantastic, it really did put us back on track.

So, in answer to your original question, no, I am one hundred percent happy with touring. There is no point in doing it just for other reasons. You have to be there, you have to enjoy it, and I have been asked many times “how can you still play the songs, you must have played them thousands of times” and I always reply by saying “it is when you see just how the audience react to the songs, jumping up and down and singing along, probably getting the lyrics right far more than we do, that makes it all worthwhile” (laughter). Plus, being in a band and being on stage with a group of people who are all likeminded and who want to make it the best that they can, there genuinely is no better feeling than that.

I am hoping to both see you and photograph you at The Town Hall Birmingham on Thursday 2nd December.

That sounds great, make sure that you come backstage and say hello.

I see that you have got Limehouse Lizzy opening for you.

Yes, we have, and I have to say that I have heard some fantastic reports about them. I know Ricky (Warwick) and Scott (Gorham) from Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders, so I am going to send them a little message, once I know that the dates are happening. I am going to say, “if you are over here in the UK, we have got Limehouse Lizzy supporting us, so why not pop along to the gig”. I have a feeling that, if not accredited, they have been given the thumbs up because they are that good.

Being totally honest with you, if you close your eyes then Phil (Lynott) is alive and on stage. Wayne Ellis really is that good.

Thanks for that Kevin, I really can’t wait to see them now. I will take your word for it so if they are rubbish you had better watch out (laughter).

(Laughter) I can honestly say that I am in absolutely no danger whatsoever. Phil’s legacy is most definitely in safe hands.

At least you are confident, that’s always a good sign (laughter).

Regarding the tour, have you worked out a set list yet?

Look, the truth of the matter is that we simply can’t go out on tour without playing the hits, and we will most probably include Little Willy and Wig Wam-Bam on this tour. There will also be a couple of Heavy Rock tracks that we haven’t played for a while, possibly songs like Windy City, which is as you well know is off our 1977 album Off The Record. That is both my intention and my determination.

You have spent fifty-eight years within the music industry, have you enjoyed the ride?

Yes I have and I have to say that it has been incredible, right from the very first time that I realised that, even though it was only £1.50, people would pay us to come and do a gig in a Youth Centre. I realised then that this was actually what I really wanted to do.

Putting you firmly on the spot, what would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

To be totally honest with you there have been quite a few things. We won an Opportunity Knocks type of show in Wales with the band that I was in at the time called The Silverstones. That was a big deal at the time, even though it went nowhere. That band was then picked up by Opportunity Knocks and we went on to win that too. So, I have got to put my mind back into that because we were all so young and all so excited; I was only sixteen at the time. Another highlight would have to be when we got to support Jimi Hendrix back in 1967 when he first came over to the UK. He played The New Century Hall in Manchester which really was a massive dance hall.

I have actually got a review of that somewhere, where it says ‘The Silverstones, as usual, brought the house down. Rather disappointingly, Jimi Hendrix did not quite get the same reception even though his Hey Joe was steaming up the UK charts’ (laughter). Also, being number one with Sweet and Blockbuster where there is photographic evidence of me walking around with a Magnum of Champagne bottle on my head, with no shirt on, in the dressing room at Top Of The Pops. I have to just add that having the success over in America from 1975 when we used to go over there regularly really was a great experience.

I’m glad that you have mentioned Top Of The Pops because I was going to ask you just what can you remember about your first appearance on the show?

(Laughter) to be totally honest with you I don’t really remember that much about it, and I have to say that neither would the rest of the guys, if they were here. I doubt if they could remember very much about it either (laughter). What I can remember is that the four of us were absolutely shitting ourselves. We also had to get to grips with the fact that it was the starting point for the Musicians Union and the BBC were making the bands that were performing on the show, make their own recordings of their hit singles. I’m not sure just how we did it but we managed to substitute a different mix of the song, Funny Funny, and we didn’t have to do the re-record.

Don’t forget that a Top Of The Pops appearance guaranteed you sales. However, if you did a bad appearance on Top Of The Pops, people might go ‘oh, I’m not quite sure about that’. So, the engineers managed to do a slight of hand shall we say when they handed over our tape to the guys at the BBC (laughter).

Does it anger you that you only had the one number one single here in the UK?

Funnily enough, I recently spoke to a few people about this, and we all said that Nicky Chinn would always be trying to find out when Slade would be releasing their latest single, together with Marc Bolan, (David) Bowie, together with he who shall not be named, Mr GG (laughter). It was all down to timing; and we were always trying to slot ourselves in. That is why we never released a Christmas single because there were too many other bands chucking them out at that time. Sweet always released their records in January, February and March, and that always guaranteed that we would get our biggest hits in that window, songs like Blockbuster, Teenage Rampage, Love Is Like Oxygen and Funny Funny, which was our first hit, were all released in those months.

So, as you can see there is a history there. I guess that yes, you have to say that there were two other songs that kept us off the number one spot. One of them was the Van Der Valk TV theme, an instrumental called Eye Level performed by the Simon Park Orchestra. That bloody thing kept Ballroom Blitz off the number one spot, in fact, it kept us at number two for around five weeks, and it wasn’t even a vocal. It was an instrumental which kept us off the number one spot.

You have mentioned Slade, Marc Bolan and David Bowie, and I have to ask, were the rivalries between bands real or was it hype manufactured by the music press?

That’s a very good question, and as far as Sweet was concerned, the only rivalry was for us to be higher up the charts than them. I knew the boys in Slade very well, which all started from my days in The Elastic Band, so I had known them for a very long time. And just after the 70s Don Powell was living fairly close to me and I’m sure that Don and I could tell you some stories (laughter). Don and I would often go out for an evening in the early 80s and its best left there, shall we say (laughter). The rivalry was just ‘can we outsell them and get further up the charts than them’. When you are there and you are on Top Of The Pops, you are all musicians; you talk, you have a chat. We would always go up to the bar after our performance on the show and anyone who we saw up there we would mix with.

You have briefly mentioned Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. What were they like to work with?

The evidence speaks for itself. Anyone who can write those kinds of, for want of a better word, nursery rhymes, make it sound convincing and get people to buy into it, they really must have something special. Sweet weren’t the only band who they sprinkled their fairy dust over. Look at Suzi Quatro and her very first single Can The Can, even she doesn’t know what it means (laughter). They were massive hits. We could see the split between the two of them coming, because Mike was a musician who probably did the majority of the writing whilst Nicky was more the businessman who probably tidied up some lyrics as much as anything.

Don’t forget that there were a lot of song writing duos around at that time that probably had a very similar partnership. Someone would be taking care of one side of things whilst the other one was taking care of the hatchets and the crotchets.

If I may, I would like to take you back to 4th June 2020 when Steve (Priest) sadly passed away. Were you and he back on speaking terms at that point?

Oh yes, Steve and I were speaking at that time. Steve went back out on the road back in 2010, and I have often wondered why, but I am learning a few things now. Basically, Steve was a bit lazy and he had met someone over in Los Angeles, as he had moved over there. He had met this guitarist who kept pestering Steve to get back on the road. He would tell Steve “you and I should be back out on the road as you really are a great guitar player”. Then this one time, as the story goes, and I have spoken to a very good friend of his, Steve went to see Eric Clapton play and he turned round and said “he’s older than me, why am I not doing it”.

When I heard that I was thinking to myself ‘you could have been with me for all of these bloody years’. He decided to let this LA guitar player put a band together around him which means that he is most probably not quite as in the driving seat as I am with my band. We kept in touch and I knew that he wasn’t well; in fact I don’t think that he was very well for at least eighteen months before he died to the degree of trying to work out what it might have been. There has been so much speculation that it could have been anything. I still don’t know what is actually on his death certificate, but it was obviously down to organ failure, together with respiratory problems. It could have been the dreaded virus, who knows.

I have spoken to his family, and his wife and she is starting to clam up. I don’t know why, maybe things are not settled yet. I’ve decided that the best thing for me to do at this moment in time is to keep my nose out of everything and that is exactly what I am doing. The thing is, the last time that I spoke to him, which was back in 2018, when I was actually in California, I was at a Paul McCartney rehearsal session, because he was playing at the Grammys that year. One of the guys who works for Paul is also part of the Rock Against Cancer gig that we do here in Wiltshire. So, I contacted Johnny and found out where Steve was staying. I called him and said, “why don’t you come down and meet the guys, have some lunch with us or dinner if you prefer” and he simply didn’t want to come. It was at that point that I realised that there was something else going on with Steve.

I knew that he had some problems with his knees and a hip, and I can remember him telling me once that he was in quite a bit of pain from time to time, and I don’t like to think of Steve like that. I have to say that I was, in fact, in touch with all of the guys before their demise and it is a very sad state of affairs that I am the one that’s left. It doesn’t sit a hundred percent with me because when there was somebody else around there was always someone to talk to about what we went through and things like that. I now find myself as the decision maker and the only thing that I can do for the families that are left is to make sure that the legacy remains the way that it is and that they see a fair share of record sales and profits which come through the production company. I must ensure that they are not being forgotten. It is the only thing that I can do.

Being the last surviving member of the classic Sweet line-up, does that bring with it any added pressure?

To be totally honest with you, I don’t think that it does now. To begin with it did. All of sudden I thought ‘oh my god’ but then, for me, it has been like that ever since Mick and I stopped working together back in the early 90s. So, the pressure has always been on me. For example record companies such as Sony always came to me to do any sleeve notes and putting together any compilation albums that they wanted to release. It’s never been Chinn and Chapman; they just sign off on the deals, but the record company always comes straight to me. For example, the last major release that was out there in 2017 was this thing called Action, The Ultimate Story Of Sweet. It was a double album and what they did was, they mixed in about six or eight tracks from my band.

So, there was a track from the 80s The Live At The Marquee era. We did a version of The Four Tops Reach Out (I’ll Be There) then there were a couple of things from the 90s and then a couple of more recent things from the covers album. And so, all of a sudden, they had joined all of the dots from the original band way back in 1971 all the way through to 2017, and the DNA has carried through with my band. It is almost as if whatever Steve did in America together with the dates where Brian would fly out and there would be a backing band provided for him, in Germany, Holland and Belgium, it’s as if that is just on the periphery and the band that is The Sweet is me; it’s my band. So, I don’t think that the pressure has changed that much, it has always been in my head most probably.

We have briefly mentioned Love Is Like Oxygen which you released in 1978. Later that year the song was honoured with a Song of the Year nomination at the Ivor Novello Awards. That must have felt good.

(Laughter) to be totally honest with you I am just looking at the certificate; it’s here on my office wall. It was such an honour to be nominated for the award and to be nominated together with such great songs and a fantastic group of artists.

You were eventually beaten to the award by Baker Street which was written and performed by the late Gerry Rafferty.

What can I say, what a great song. There is no doubt in my mind that there were a lot of great songs around that year. There was The Bee Gees songs from Grease and Saturday Night Fever. I think that Your The One That I Want actually won one of the awards. How Deep Is Your Love from Saturday Night Fever was also in the running together with Stayin’ Alive. There was a hell of a lot of damn good songs that year, and it is almost as if Baker Street and Love Is Like Oxygen were just slightly left field, and I am so glad that one of them won it.

You were in good company.

Yes, I was in very good company.

You have mentioned Don (Powell) and you have mentioned Suzi (Quatro) back in 2017. The three of you got together and formed QSP (Quatro Scott Powell). How much fun was that?

What can I say, it was fantastic. What we did was, we had been talking about getting this together for quite a while, but it took almost ten years for the project to come to fruition. Back in the late 90s I produced a couple of Suzi’s albums, and her husband Rainer(Haas) said “you and Suzi should be doing something together”. So, I do a couple of TV shows with her, and produced the track that we mimed to. We tapped Don up and said, “would you be interested in giving this a shot” and he agreed. The three of us then put together a list of the songs that got the three of us started from our beginnings; people like Elvis (Presley), Bob Dylan, together with various other things.

We each picked two tracks and went into Peter Gabriel’s studio, which is near to where I live. We were there for a few days and we came out with seven tracks, recorded, done and ready to go. I said, “right, we have got something here haven’t we” (laughter). We played it to a couple of people, and there was a vibe and then Suzi and I started to write; she had a couple of songs, I had a couple of songs, and we also collaborated on a couple of songs and we very soon ended up with the album which Warner Bros. took up straight away. Shortly after that we went on tour in Australia with Suzi. So, as you can see Suzi was, in fact, her own support band (laughter).

The reason why Don and I did it was, Suzi said to us, “if I tell you some of the dates that we are going to be playing in Australia, for example, we will be playing a couple of dates in the wine regions and we are also playing the Sydney Opera House” and at that point both Don and I said, “were in” (laughter).

Are there any thoughts on a second album and tour?

As you know, Suzi has been extremely busy, in fact, she is a workaholic. She has recently released a documentary film about her life and career. She released another album the back end of 2020, so in all honesty I have just sat back and waited for all of that to settle down. Suzi keeps sending me messages saying, ‘QSP 2’ and I keep sending back, ‘yes’ with a smile (laughter). So, when we finally come out of this lockdown, you can expect a new Sweet album, with new material, and hopefully we will be able to put another QSP album together.

Is Don still on board with the project because I see that he has recently put a band together?

Yes, Don is well and truly on board with the QSP project. Whatever we have, I have still got Sweet, and Suzi has still got Suzi Quatro. Whenever any of us go out on the road, it won’t make any difference because it is like, for want of a better word, it’s a bunch of super has-beens from back in the 70s coming together.

What was the first record that you bought?

That was the Frightened City by The Shadows.

Who did you first see performing live?

That would have been The Searchers. They came down to Wrexham where they played the cinema on one of the package tours.

Which song or piece of music last made you cry?

Funnily enough, that was a QSP track called Pain which Suzi and I wrote. When it all came to fruition, Mike Batt did us an orchestration for the song, and when it all got put together, we were in the studio mixing it without Suzi; she couldn’t be there for some reason. However, she rang me up and all that I could say was, “yes” as I was in tears (laughter). She knows that I tend to get a little bit tearful whenever I hear certain things.

Andy, on that note, let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been fantastic. Good luck with the forthcoming tour, and I hope to see you in Birmingham.

Thanks Kevin, you stay safe. And if the tour is happening, then I would have thought that you and I would be chatting again later this year. Bye for now and I will see you in Birmingham.

Sweet’s new single Set Me Free and new album Isolation Boulevard are available from

www.thesweet.com

Tickets for Sweet’s rescheduled November and December 2021 UK Tour are available from

www.thegigcartel.com/Artists-profiles/the-sweet.htm