Joe Retta has been the lead vocalist of the US version of The Sweet, led by original Sweet bassist / vocalist Steve Priest for about five years now and it has also featured a certain Stuart Smith, the main man behind the excellent Heaven and Earth project.
Before Joe hooked up with Sweet though, he had been in some pretty seriously good tribute bands, that the video's on You Tube prove, are worth checking out!
Right now though, he's working on the latest Heaven and Earth album as lead vocalist, following some serious big name vocalists that have appeared on the last two albums and E.P., such as Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen, Sunstorm), Kelly Hansen (Hurricane, Foreigner), Bobby Kimball (Toto, Yoso, Kimball / Jamison), Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot, King Kobra) and Kelly Keeling (Baton Rouge, MSG, John Norum, King Kobra, George Lynch).
I do know that they already have four songs, pretty much there, a fifth needs a little more work and then the rest, well ... Joe will tell you more on, further on in the interview, so off we go!
There is a huge market these days for it and it’s taken me to India several times and toured all over Canada doing tribute shows. People love the old stuff and the 70’s were the f**king best!
Once I used a stick on mustache during a show and the thing started to peel off. Ridiculous!
But early on it was Edgar Winter and the ‘White Trash band’ playing ‘Tobacco Road’ on the double live record ‘Roadwork’ and all the early 70’s radio play. After that …? Wow, everyone!
AW: Has there been any discussion about Steve (Priest) recording any new material with you guys, towards a new Sweet album or is that considered kind of taboo to Steve?
You obviously recorded ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ as a bonus track for the ‘Are You Ready ... Live,’ album, how long ago did you get that done?
I’ll always be writing and playing. Whoever wants to play ...
AW: I thought the show last summer here in Michigan was fun, at least until that storm hit, but Stuart was telling me you guys were having a nightmare with the sound at the show. Being side stage, after the storm passed I couldn’t have a clue what you were hearing, so it was hard to tell. Was it that bad?
Those people stayed front and center. True Rockers I bow to them.
I mean with each of the other projects, you’re really guided to sing a specific way.
We are really focused. I’m staying away from clubs and parties these days.
There is always something going on out here, even on weeknights, so I have to remember what’s most important. So taking care of myself and doing a lot of healthy cooking.
AW: Now I know the main line up is yourself, Stuart, Richie, Arlan and Chuck, but you’ve had at least 2 special guests involved with Howard Leese (Heart / Bad Company, Paul Rodgers) and David Paich (Toto), anyone else you can tell us about? Richie (Sambora) maybe?
However, I will be playing percussion, harmonica and slide guitar on the record.
Richie Sambora is in! David Paich did a string arrangement for us and Howard Leese of Heart / Bad Company Is playing some guitar and co producing one of the tracks …, so far.
I love of all styles of music, so I'm just gonna follow my flow and keep on.
Joe: I love to cook, and I really miss drawing, painting and sculpting.
I love to scuba dive. I'm such a fish.
I still feel like I'm ten years old I'll play Frisbee for hours with anyone I can corral.
Love to water ski (I was brought up in upstate N.Y. right on a lake)
and snow ski.
My Mom still water skis and snow skis almost every day during the season,
I get my energy from her, anything physical and childish...I'm in.
Well, I raised two girls on my own when they were very young so I couldn’t really go head first into my singing career. The Hollywood scene, touring and recording took a back seat to my kids. I have zero regrets but got a late start.
Maybe they’ll even be a Joe Retta solo album down the road too, can’t wait!