Friday, April 10, 2009


Originally published in: Monday Magazine
Random thoughts: Okay, alright, this was bound to happen sooner or later... My love for classic rock and old school "heavy metal" was bound to creep onto this blog at some point. Here's my recent piece on Nazareth, musical auteurs of quite frankly one of the most kick-ass hard rock tunes of all time, "Hair of the Dog."

After nearly four decades, Nazareth put the ‘class’ back in classic rock
By Jason Schreurs

Forty years. That’s a long time to be doing anything, never mind playing in a famous rock and roll band. As Scotland hard rockers Nazareth gear up to celebrate their 40th anniversary next year, they are happy to reveal some of the secrets to rock and roll longevity.
“You have to like what you’re doing first,” obliges gravel-voiced lead singer Dan McCafferty. “There’s lots of traveling, and hotels, and tour buses, but you do get to play every night, and that’s the price you have to pay.”
Reaching their commercial pinnacle in the early ‘70s with songs like “Razamanaz,” “Holy Roller,” and “Love Hurts” (once the wedding song for a failed Axl Rose marriage), Nazareth have kept their bluesy brand of hard rock alive through decades of relative obscurity. With two original members still in the band—bassist Pete Agnew’s son, Lee, replaced deceased original drummer Darrell Sweet in 1999—they’ve remained great friends over the years.
“To get on with the other guys in the band is pretty handy,” advises McCafferty. “Give each other space. Don’t go around thinking you must be buddies 24 hours a day. That doesn’t work in a marriage and it certainly isn’t going to work in a band.”
A new album will coincide with Nazareth’s big anniversary next year, but it’s coming along slowly due to their busy tour schedule, including a cross-Canada festival run which lands them in Victoria for a one-off gig on Thursday. Not content to rest on their past hits, the band has always insisted on moving forward with every album.
“I can’t imagine we’ll ever change that, because we didn’t want to do ‘Son of Razamanaz’ or ‘Great Grandson of Razamanaz.’ It becomes…,” McCafferty pauses, then chuckles, “you become Kiss. No offense to the boys in Kiss, you know.”
But classic rock fans can be a tough bunch as the quest for nostalgia often overshadows their need to hear new material. “Obviously we have a half a dozen favorites that we have to play every night out, and that’s fine, but we can do other stuff in there as well. It only becomes ‘classic’ when you play it for long enough,” jokes McCafferty. “And some bands stop believing, of course, so that doesn’t help. We have no shame in playing the old stuff because it still stands up and we’re still enjoying it.”
Every hard rock fan remembers the first time they heard the infamous “Hair of the Dog,” Nazareth’s most memorable (and banned) slab of rock. After all these years, McCafferty’s “now you’re messing with a son of a bitch” chorus scream still makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. “We didn’t think it was a bad thing to say…” he remembers, “we weren’t trying to offend anyone; we just thought it was kind of funny.”
Of course, 40 years later, the lyrics are pretty tame by today’s standards. “Yeah,” agrees McCafferty with a hearty chuckle, “now it’s just kind of wussy, actually.”

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