ANDY SCOTT (SWEET): “We’ll Be Playing Some Of Our Heavier Album Tracks Amongst The Hits”

SWEET (Live at The Fire Station, Sunderland, U.K., December 10, 2023)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s almost 60 years to the day since Andy Scott, lead guitarist with Sweet, played his first show and now he comes full circle to start Sweet’s latest UK tour in the town where it all started with arguably his strongest lineup since the original 70s version. Mick Burgess called him up to talk about the tour, which sees the band in Sunderland for the first time since their legendary 1973 FA Cup win, as well as hearing about the forthcoming album, Full Circle.

You’re at Fire Station in Sunderland on 10th December. You’ve played in Newcastle and Gateshead many times over the years. Is this your first time in Sunderland?

This is our first time at this venue but we have played in Sunderland before, way back in the 70s at a place called the Locarno. We played there a couple of times and one of those times was the year when Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973. Brian Connolly, our singer had been to the semi-final at Hillsborough in Sheffield and a week later we were in Sunderland and the whole team came to our gig. After the gig we never saw Brian. We all went back to London and he was off with them to celebrate. Next time I saw him he told me that he was off to the final. I think the team saw him as some kind of talisman or something. On the day of the final I was watching the build up to the game on the TV. As the Sunderland team bus was going to Wembley, the cameras were filming the team being interviewed and there was Brian wandering around at the back. I couldn’t believe it. Many years later I was talking to his ex-wife and I mentioned “the lost weekend”. She rolled her eyes and said “Oh, you mean bloody Sunderland and the football team”. He’d disappeared for the weekend with Sunderland and came back afterwards in such a mess.

The last time you were up North was at the Northern King Festival in April. That was a nice eclectic mix of artists including Jethro Tull and Phil Campbell from Motörhead. That was a bit wet wasn’t it?

That field turned into a quagmire. We did manage to find the one bit of hard standing just as we got through the door. We got a lift by a pair of Land Rovers to the backstage area and went up to the stage in whatever footwear was mud worthy. I bumped into Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull on the way and he looked at me and then hugged me and asked “Why do we do this?” The audience were great that night, really good and that is exactly why we do it.

Obviously, you’ll play the hits that everyone loves but do you dig a little deeper into your back catalogue to play a few album tracks too?

There will be a couple of the heavier songs from the 70s albums and we’ll also be doing the last two singles, “Don’t Bring Me Water” and “Changes” that will be on our new album that’s coming out next year. The starting point and ending point are almost written in stone so it’ll start with “Action” and end with “Ballroom Blitz” and there’ll be all the hits in-between.

You’re joined on the tour by Sari Schorr. She has a great voice and will go down well with your fans. Was she someone that you asked for or did the promoter suggest her?

Last year we were going to have a band called Where Rivers Meet open for us but about a month before the tour they came to us and said that they couldn’t do it as they’d been offered their own tour and I couldn’t blame them for wanting to do that. Sari Schorr was the first act that joined us for the first part of the tour. I think she enjoyed the experience so much that she was literally knocking on the door of the promoter saying that she was available for this upcoming tour and wanted to do the lot.

Your tour is called The Full Circle Tour.Is this suggesting a farewell tour or is it more that the current band is coming back to the spirit of the original band?

It seems as though this tour has brought thing in a full circle for me. My first gig as a 14 year old was in a church hall in Wrexham at the end of November 1963 so it’ll be almost 60 years to the day since I first played there when I open the tour at the William Aston Hall in Wrexham on 1st December. Also musically it feels like I’ve come circle as the new album sounds like one of the commercial albums we made in the early ’70s. It has that Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard feel to it.

You’ve remained the one constant in Sweet over the years and the lineup has changed a fair bit over the years. You currently feature Paul Manzi on lead vocals, Lee Small on bass and Bruce Bisland, who has been with you for 25 years now, on drums. Is it important to you to keep the Sweet flag flying now that you are the sole remaining original member?

Very soon there’ll be very few bands with any original members. People need to decide whether they want the music to die or do they want to the band to continue in one way or another and carry on the spirit of the music. Do we want our music to be put in a box and left there or do we want it still to be thriving up on stage? I think with the numbers who come to our shows that speaks for itself. I think that this lineup is the best since the original band and has grasped the essence of what Sweet is better than any other.

Why did Pete Lincoln your previous singer and bassist Tony O’Hara move on?

A couple of years before Pete left he formed the Frontmen which took up more and more of his time and I asked what would happen if his involvement with the Frontmen clashed with Sweet shows and he said he’d review that at the time which wasn’t the right answer. Then it arrived, we had gigs booked and Pete had shows with the Frontmen so we had to bring in Paul Manzi as a keyboardist, guitarist and backing singer and moving Tony O’Hara to the bass and the lead vocals for a few shows but I just thought, why am I doing this? We arranged a final tour with Pete in 2018. It was around this time I had a final warning talk with Tony, who was having issues with alcohol. Tony said he wouldn’t let me down but he did just that at a festival in the Czech Republic. Pete had already left the band at this point and Paul ended up singing most of the set as Tony was all over the place so. That was his last gig. At the next gig Paul became the frontman and all of a sudden we had the best gig that we’d done in a long time. After that I knew about Lee Small and I just rang him up and asked him if he fancied joining us and he did and became our bass player and backing singer and here we are.

You mentioned a new album. When can we expect to see this released?

Our new album, which is called Full Circle, will be out in March or April next year. The reason it’s been delayed is something big may be happening that could be a game changer for us so I agreed to leave it until next year and have a proper go at it.

Sweet are on tour in the UK now. See for more details.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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