Retrace 40 years of Nazareth’s hard-rock glory

By  Martin Popoff


Forty years together… that’s a lot to catch up on, but as Nazareth vocalist Dan McCafferty says, he likes to look forward. So, it’s a bit of both old and new.

Ergo, the hard-rocking Glaswegians are out on tour right now celebrating their 40th anniversary, but it’s with a hearty new album in hand. The Newz is indeed a vibrant, gritty, quite rocking affair, and, says Dan, one can look forward to hearing four new tracks from it as the band swings through your town, along with hits like “Love Hurts,” “Hair Of The Dog” and “Razamanaz.”

“I just think it’s the chemistry of the guys in the band, Lee (Agnew), Jimmy (Murrison), Pete (Agnew) and myself,” offers McCafferty, asked why this record “jumps” so high. “It’s taken a step forward. We learn from each other, I guess. And we’re all enjoying it a lot; we’re all having a good time. I think that comes across on the record, and it certainly comes across in the live shows. And certainly a lot of writing was done for this album. So to pare it down to the 13 songs that we did, that was hard to do. I guess some will show up again, but these are the ones people took to at the time.”

Any big reason why you called the record The Newz?

“Well, we could always get the music together pretty quickly, but we always have a hard time coming up with titles for the albums. Actually, somebody said, ‘Any news on the cover and the title?’ and I said, ‘Well, what’s wrong with The Newz?’ I told the guys, and they said, yeah, that’s great. And we used the Nazareth ‘N’ and the ‘z’ thing, which is part of the logo.”

The grinding guitars of new(z)comer Murrison are all over the album, but nothing can compete with the milk-curdling voice of McCafferty. And he really goes to the ends of expressive here, prompting a question about whether he was concerned over being able to pull this material off live.

“No, I’ve never really worried about that that much,” responds Dan. “I don’t mean it’s easy; I just mean I don’t worry about it a lot. A lot of singers worry about it. They worry about smoky atmospheres and blah, blah, blah. I just tend not to worry about it. I just get on with it.

“These songs… I think they’re all pretty good to be honest,” continues McCafferty, back to reading The Newz. “There are a lot of good lyrics on it. I’m quite impressed by the whole thing pretty much. I don’t want to sound like I have a big head, but I do like it (laughs). Everybody wrote. I wouldn’t say anyone did more work than anybody else, but I think everybody got behind everybody. When Jimmy came in, with ‘Goin’ Loco’ and stuff, we went, ‘Oh, this is really different.’ And we got behind him to make it even better, you know what I mean? And he did that with us on different things, and Lee, and Pete obviously. ‘Liar’ (laughs). That’s probably the heaviest thing we’ve ever done. Like I say, it was a hearty, very productive album to make. And Yann (Rouiller), the producer, really helped a lot, too. We wanted it to sound like an album that was made today but keep the spirit of the band.

“Still, it was all done by computer, in Switzerland, which is where he works. He’s worked all over the world, but that’s where he’s from. It took six weeks basically, and maybe Yann did a couple of remixes for us, and that’s a couple weeks, I guess. It was done very quickly.”

“I wanted the energy level higher,” says Dan, summing up before heading back on the road to another Western Canadian town ready to party hard (Nazareth brings out the drinkers like you wouldn’t believe). “And I wanted it to be accessible; I wanted people to be able to understand the songs — think a little bit, but not like ‘War And Peace’ think about them, you know? I wanted them to entertain people.”

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