Leo Sayer

Assembly Hall, Worthing

Saturday, May 18

LEO Sayer, who hails from Shoreham, is coming to Sussex in support of his new album. Jamie Walker spoke to him about his memories of growing up on the South Coast.

Hi Leo, how are things going?

They’re going fantastic, it’s really great to be back.

I’m busy, busy, busy at the moment.

Because as well as your upcoming tour there’s your latest album – Selfie was released last month.

Exactly, so there are two things to promote at the same time.

I’m really happy because when you get to my age and people still want to listen to your new music, as well as your old stuff, it’s really fantastic.

I made this record down in Australia over the last couple of years and it was a big project.

I built the studio and made the record myself.

Was this your first time releasing your own record?

I’ve done it before with demos and with a couple of other albums, like Restless Years [released in 2015].

For that album I took these almost fully finished demos to the musicians on it and we emulated it.

They added their own style to it but the style was dictated by the demos.

I’ve also done an anti-fracking song. I didn’t release it but I put it on YouTube and I recorded all of that myself.

Maybe it’s laziness but I think it’s also the feeling that I can do it by myself without having to call anybody.

For fans of classic Leo Sayer, what can they expect from your new album?

Already people are saying there’s some very recognisable lines and patterns of music that remind them of earlier albums.

Although it’s quite contemporary it also harks back to the past. We all have that kind of signature and way we express ourselves which makes it feel like the albums all join up.

And you’re heading back on the road as well.

Yes we are, we kicked it off in Swindon earlier this month.

We did some rehearsals the weekend before with the boys in the band and it sounded great. I’m really excited because it sounds so good.

I worked with the same band on a cruise earlier this year, following my last tour, and so it’s nice and familiar and we are ready to go with everything.

And of course we’re coming down to Worthing.

Of course, and given it’s a couple of miles between there and Shoreham it’s very much a hometown show for you.

It’s going to be great, but to be honest I wish we were playing Brighton as well.

Earlier in the year, when we were coming up with the plan for the tour, we nearly had Theatre Royal ready to play but it fell apart when it came to dates.

It was sad but obviously I love playing Worthing.

We’ve played there twice before so we know the theatre quite well. It’s a nice venue.

I really want to come back and play Brighton again, hopefully we can do that next year.

Does it still feel like coming home when you get to play these Sussex shows?

Oh absolutely.

I’ll be coming to do the gig but I’ll also be going to visit family and friends before and after the show.

I’ll visit my siblings and my parents’ graves, they are in Shoreham.

The roots are still there and it’s a great place to come back to.

Do you get a few familiar faces coming to see you when you do those hometown shows?

There certainly will be.

It looks like David Courtney will be coming to Worthing, he lives nearby.

I hope he’ll bring [Who frontman] Roger Daltrey with him because we are all great friends.

When you’re touring it can be tough to find time to explore the towns you visit, but when it’s Sussex do you try and make that time?

Making time is always a gamble.

Because I’m not a British resident any more I have a restricted amount of shows I can do per year.

They’ve dropped a little bit but you still need to watch how many days you spend in the country.

My partner is Italian so I always make time to visit her family over there.

So when you come back where do you like to go?

Well I’ll be crossing the Adur in Shoreham for sure, because I used to live on the other side of the footbridge.

And in Brighton I love seeing the piers and walking through The Lanes because there’s some fantastic memories that come back to me.

In Montague Street, that was the place of Moonlighting, in Worthing.

There’s always history for me.

What can fans expect from this show?

Well there’s two songs from Selfie and two from Restless Years but apart from that it’s all the hits.

It’s really a career-spanning set and it’s really rocking.

There’s plenty of ballads.

I have a great band to work with and it’s awesome playing with them.

I play a bit of harmonica as well which is nice because I started off with that.

And it must be nice revisiting that.

Absolutely. I don’t normally live in the past, but when the tour comes around I find each song evokes memories and their meanings.

I remember going to Roger Daltrey’s house and him asking to record some of my songs and me jumping at the opportunity.

I’ll be 71 on May 21 so I’ll be defacing my own posters making sure they only say 70.

What is it that still gives you that passion for touring? Some singers would have hung up their boots by now.

It never stops for me.

It’s a bit like having a gift and you realise you can bring joy. Musicians are always unsatisfied and that’s what spurs you on and keeps you going.

I’ll keep going all the way, that’s the ambition I have. That’s never left me.

Now I’m an independent recording artist and it’s still a battle.

So why is this the show to see?

The band is really cooking, my voice is better than ever and we are really enjoying it.

That vibe on stage transfers to the audience as well.

You won’t believe that I’m still as good now as I was in the past.