|CLOVEN HOOF (Lee Payne) - Interview 2012|
|Ter, 18 de Setembro de 2012 00:40|
by Eduardo de Souza Bonadia
CLOVEN HOOF born in the glorious golden years from called NWOBHM, in the beginning of the 80´s when many great british bands born or began their best days in different styles from the best heavy metal newest acts to new progressive rock bands. Many of the bands ceased to exist but many are active since then. This band always have as mentor bassist/main lyrist Lee Payne which keep the band on the way for all these years and here he talked with us and gave us many informations about CH´s past, present and future. Enjoy !!!!
Here it is:
1 - First Of all, let us to know about Cloven Hoof origins-when did the band began and which the first line-ups background? Which the band members influences then in the early days???
Right from the start I didn't want the band to be a standard rock act with an obvious name and music. I wanted to break new ground and be original, the music had to be epic and thought provoking and the name had to reflect this too. To show the cloven hoof means to reveal your evil side, to let it take over. The church of Satan call there church, followers of the cloven hoof, in short disciples who worship at the feet of the devil.
I had always had a fascination with the occult and horror movies, so I wanted to reflect this in the name and material of the band. The moniker of a rock group needs to be memorable and powerful, that a crowd could chant out easily, so I began by writing down all the things I could think of with occult word associations. The name that really grabbed me immediately was... Cloven Hoof!.
Mick Grafton was playing in a crappy cabaret band doing pop songs (...Ugh!) Never the less he was an old school friend of mine, who went to rock concerts with me and another guy. We used to watch any and every rock band that came to town. Rush, Lizzy, Sabbath, UFO and the brilliant Scorpions. I saw there UK debut, they were superb. Metal in those days was very underground like a secret society. Many people pretended they didn’t even like rock music, then you would see em at a Black Sabbath gig pretending they were true fans... Spineless bastards! You should be proud to be part of the greatest form of music in the universe, stand up and be counted... Metal is All!!!
Any case Mick played lead guitar pretty well so we started to rehearse songs like "Another Piece of meat" by the Scorpions, "Warrior" by Thin Lizzy, "Lights out" by UFO, we then put an advert in a local paper for a drummer. Kevin Poutney showed up and was superb, it was then that I presented my original compositions to the unit. Everyone thought they were cool and they were Passover, Gehenna, Nightstalker and Road of Eagles.
Finding a good vocalist was difficult, but we eventually got a guy in who talked a mean song. He was nothing special but we did a demo anyway. After we recorded it Kevin and myself knew the other two were not up to scratch, so we first booted out the singer and after a while the guitarist too. Grafton wasn't too bad, he just had too much of a blues style. We were heavy metal through and through, so we needed a versatile speed demon on the fret board.
After Kevin and I had got rid of the initial guitarist, in about 4 months a roadie nicknamed Bobby Klingon mentioned he had recently seen the greatest lead guitarist on earth playing in a local west midland band called Megellan. Kevin and I were eager to see if this was in anyway true, and got him to get the phone number of this would be genius. It turned out to be none other than 18 year old Stephen John Rounds. We told him to audition by learning Temples of Syrinx from Rush. He said fine as long as Kevin and I learn Cygnus XV and Xanadu! Wow what a cheek we thought, but were impressed by his spirit and taste. Duly we all complied and we played the three Rush tracks at Steve's audition. Someone who heard the rehearsal immediately asked us to do an open air festival as a Rush tribute band. We laughed and declined and said it was only our first day together much to the promoters amazement. My god all that seems a million years ago now!
2 - How did you forged CH´s sound in the beginning? Which was the inspiration musically and visually?? How was forged the band’s look using the four elements?
My taste never changes I still love Purple, Sabbath, Zeppelin, Rush, Thin Lizzy, I suppose they were a big influence on us back then.
We wanted to be the ultimate metal band with the ultimate music, concept and image. I hit on the idea of the four elements personified by the band members in the first instance, because in witchcraft the magic circle is guarded by the spirits of the watchtowers of the south east west and north, these all have an allotted element fire water ,earth and air respectively.
The sound of the instruments could also lend itself to this notion, the thunder of the bass, the earth quake of the drums, creative flowing melody of the vocals and red hot guitar playing.
Everyone is born under a star sign and these have the elements attributed to them also. Strangely enough each of the band members at the time matched there zodiac glyphs perfectly. I was Gemini so I was Air, Steve was Sagittarius so he was Fire, Kevin was Taurus and that was Earth and Dave was Pisces? It was uncanny that everything seemed to fit perfectly!
A logical conclusion to the concept lent itself perfectly to a comic book treatment. Each character would have suitable super powers and hold sway over the creatures associated with it. So the lords of the elements could have Sky citadels, Atlantian kingdoms, Stygian netherworlds and forest domains to hold court over. The scope seemed endless, and was a marketing dream. I even came up with a story line to suggest how four ordinary musicians came to acquire the power of the elements.
I'm sure you will agree the whole things was pretty inventive and had mammoth potential if given the Steven Spielberg treatment. Kiss was the only band that had come close to the full on comic book mythology angle, but I feel sure that the Cloven hoof concept was more coherent and had more depth.
Having a wild and crazy image is a double edged sword, it generates interest in a band with the media at large because it is out of the ordinary so worth writing about. The flip side is that image can take focus away from them writing about the music.
Cloven Hoof’s priority has always been first and foremost about the integrity of it's music. Image is just something to enhance it, we were a band that wrote about Horror and epic sci-fi. We had and image to match the music, but when all the press kept going on about the masks and costumes, we dropped the theatrical outfits. The band jumps off bandwagons rather than following trends.
We were way ahead of our time, just look at Slip knot, Cradle of filth etc. We played fast, technical aggressive metal in masks and costumes 25 years ago. It is good to get the acclaim now, people realise we were pretty innovative and influential.
3 - Please, talk to us about The Opening Ritual Ep and the first album on Neat Records-a true classic. Any chances to re-released also both officially?
5,000 copies of Opening were pressed and they sold out in 5 days putting us in the kerrang metal charts. We got to number 18 and then CBS records wanted to sign us and so asked for the master tapes. That still have them or Sony do, but our manager David Hemming’s died during negotiating the deal. It left us with a web of legal hassles that eventually ruined the deal and hampered the bands progress for years. That's rock n' roll I guess!
Neat records signed us on the spot after hearing our first session for BBC radio one, Tony Wilson was the producer and big credit must go to him too. We recorded the album in Newcastle at impulse studio's. That was where Venom and Raven had made there albums too. The producer was Chris Nichols and he had a thick Geordie accent, so we couldn't understand a word he said (Laughs). We told him of all the strange supernatural stuff that had surrounded the band because of our title track Cloven hoof. It contained an actual witches rune and strange things had happened when we played that song.
The songs on the debut album were great and they have become N.W.O.B.H.M classics now, many bands around the world cover songs off that album. Return of the Passover and Gates of Gehenna had very original time signatures and complex structures, we were very ahead of our time. Back then we were blazing a trail that power metal bands in Germany would take up, fast heavy songs with epic changes and occult based lyrical content. It is a great honour that the E.A game Brutal legend featured "Night Stalker" on it's sound track alongside Judas Priest, Ozzy, Motorhead amongst others.
Buried by time and dust re-released ‘The Opening Ritual’ last year on vinyl and the first run sold out in weeks so that was cool! Even as we speak I am trying to get the rights back for the debut album, when I do then it can be re-released. I know the fans really want that so I will keep trying.
4 - The live album Fighting Back was released in 1988, where did it was recorded and which line up recorded it?? Why CH original line-up disbanded?
The band was very impatient to record new material so we did a whole album of live new songs. It is very rare for a band to do that, but hey we are not like most bands anyway. It is probably not a good idea to do that in retrospect, but we did get some excellent reviews for “Fighting Back” Rob Kendrick (ex Trapeze and Budge) replaced David Potter on vocals, but I preferred Dave’s attitude.
There were some great tracks that we may well perform at a future date, like “Heavy metal men of steel”. We were going to sign for a major label after Neat, but the old legal problems got in the way once again. Fighting back was a way to keep the fans aware we were still alive and kicking.
The drums on the record were recorded badly so early triggered sounds were used instead. The result sounded weird at times, but there are some great tracks on it. It would have been a shame to have not put out those live recordings.
5 - With Dominator and A Sultan’s Ramson Cloven Hoof had a complete different linep up and different aproach (more powerful and speed songs), how did define their sound in that times and how did you found the right guys especially the excellent Russ North on vocals?
We put an advert in Kerrang for a guitarist and Andy Wood turned up, and I knew he was perfect right away. He recommended a singer who was in the same band, who already knew all the CLOVEN HOOF songs. Russ North was a huge fan of CLOVEN HOOF. He loved the first album and was a bit awe struck when he first joined. He even recorded the first radio one session we did and he asked me to sign the tape (Laugh).
TREDEGAR were an excellent band who were made up from ex-Budgie members. Budgie was an early influence on me so things have gone full circle!
“Dominator” fused progressive rock with pure power, in a concept album that was a metaphor for the dangers inherent in genetic engineering. I think it was a pivotal point in providing the blue print for power metal.
I have always been fascinated with sci-fi from an early age. In stories you can use future settings as a metaphor for today’s issues and problems. I wonder how far scientists will go in the name of science? Grafting an ear on a mouse, just to show it can be done... it is like something out of Frankenstein.
The military use science towards creating bigger and better weapons of mass destruction. How long before this gets all out of hand and they decide to create the ultimate life form? These notions were the foundations for the album.
In the rehearsal studio all the band loved playing the Dominator tracks with a vengeance. It is still Jon the drummers favourite album . The concept is all about the battle for survival against an evil inter galactic empire carved out by the Dominator an artificially created super intelligent dictator. It chronicles the tyrants rise and fall, but gives a warning to the very real dangers of genetic engineering. We toured extensively with Dominator, and it was some of the happiest days of my life.
“A Sultans Ransom” was an eclectic mixture of songs celebrating our fusing of metal and varied musical styles, from Arabian influenced time signatures to hard hitting thrash. It is very pleasing indeed to see some critics naming it in the top ten best ever power metal albums.
After ‘A Sultans Ransom’ we never really broke up, it was just to get out of legal hassles that have hindered us throughout the bands history. Every time we were about to make it into the big time, parasites would crawl out of the woodwork and try to claim money due to a rip off contracts I had signed in my younger days. New bands should be very cautious when starting off in the business, and get serious legal advice before signing anything.
6 - In the 90´s as many another metal/hard rock acts CF remained in silence. Besides the grunge crap, which are the another reasons for these forced rest? What did you do in that mediocre decade?
In the years of suspended animation regarding the band situation, I got a degree in multi-media graphics. A temporary career in this helped finance recording equipment that I needed to demo songs up for example. I became virtually unemployable because I had no interest in any of the firms that employed me. I was always designing hoof artwork or surfing the web on the companies time e-mailing our fans!
I was one day told to go into work on a Saturday afternoon, I thought I would be the only person in the office so I took my black Les Paul custom, a tape recorder, and decided to hell with graphics... I was going to write songs all day! The boss turned up and went crazy, so I hit the bastard over the head with my guitar and left him having a little nap! (It still has a dent in the back where it hit his bald head). I never went back after that!
After the contractual ties had run out, I immediately wrote an entire new Cloven hoof album and got the old band back together again.
7 - In 2006 we had CH comeback with the album Eye Of The Sun musically very different from previous ones bordering the thrash metal sounding more agressive (Inquisitor), more acessible songs,classy traditional metal (as christian I really liked Whore Of Babylon and Golgotha), with a modern production by Tom Galley and except by you with a complete new line up. Please, talk to us about these comeback, and EOTS in musical, production wise terms and the line up
I got together with producer Tom Galley and we agreed to work together. He loved the new tracks I had written so Andy Shorthland was recruited in on guitar, Matt Morton on vocals and Lynch Radinsky on drums. They had all worked with Tom before so I knew these guys would cut it in the studio. Everyone did a great job and we all jelled perfectly together as people and musicians.
The prime criteria that needed to be met was, the album had to have flawless production, and feature songs that bore all the classic Cloven Hoof metal hard rocking trade marks, and take up where A sultans Ransom left off. We wanted to give the album a lot of depth, both musically and lyrically. It covers a wide spectrum of material and concepts.
Eye of the sun is the best ever CLOVEN HOOF album without question. Every song is immediate and epic sounding. We will have to play virtually every song off it live because they are all awesome tacks. Tom Galley did wonders with the production too, it is crisp, layered and powerful as hell! The 2006 incarnation of CLOVEN HOOF has retained the musical essence of the past, but infused the current sound with modern attitude and production sensibilities. We were meticulous about what we wanted to achieve, because the expectations on us were so high. The band certainly didn't want to let the die hard fans down, and in certain areas on ‘Eye of the sun‘, I feel we surpassed ourselves.
Tom Galley was instrumental at stripping down and refining the sound to make it dynamic and hard hitting. At times I had a tendency to be self-indulgent, because I have so many ideas and progressions whizzing about in my head. Tom has reigned them in and emphasised my anthem like choruses to great effect. All the band have put in great personal performances too, it is one of those records that have had a lot of elements thrown at it, and it evolved like some kind of Frankenstein. The chemistry was amazing throughout! A special mention must go to Mika Jussila (HIM ) over in Norway, he did an awesome job in mastering the final cut, the guy is an absolute genius.
8 - Britain´s metal / progr in the 80´s was very diverse and rich but in the 90´s it´s was dead and for many years we heard only about that British alterna bands that sucks but seems to me in terms of bands and shows it´s growing up again...In your opinion which the reasons for so many great bands appeared in the 80´s?
The finest and most influential period of heavy metal history is what immediately comes to mind when they mention the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). It was a period of time when it became possible for occultism and full blooded metal to fuse in dark perfection. Exciting, innovative powerful metal music, played with passion and total conviction. Looking back it was a magical period and there were some incredible bands that came out of it.
Metal really did rule the streets in those days, denim and leather armies were everywhere. We would love to spearhead a second wave, and enable a new generation of true metal bands to get a break. If the British press would get behind real metal bands again then it is possible. All the metal kids were united back then and in the 80’s they supported metal bands to the hilt, it was like a religion.
Alas, it seems that in any type of music, the UK press is always behind when it comes to supporting its own. “When we play abroad the NWOBHM bands are treated with total reverence, the young kids know everything about British metal and are absolutely fanatical about it. It goes to show that great music always endures, but it’s a shame this isn’t reflected in the music magazines back home.”
9 - In 2008 CH released The Definitive Part One with re-recorded songs, all with excellent vocalist Russ North and again new drummer and guitarrist. Which are the reasons to recorded again these especific songs and new line-up changes. I think it´s a CH classic album and deserves atention for all metalheads!!
The prime reason we wanted to re-record our classic songs, was because the band sounding good live on stage. We wanted to show everyone how great the back catalogue sounds played by the previous line up. “The Definitive Part One” was CLOVEN HOOF stripped to the bone playing live in the studio with minimum overdubs.
We made a conscious effort to try to capture the live energy that the band have on stage. Because nothing was laboured over, the CD sounds fresh and dynamic. Because the band played dates all over the world a best of album seems the perfect way to introduce new fans to the hoof back catalogue. All the stage favourites are here and the fans helped choose the tracks on a web site pole.
Paul O’Neil produced “The Definitive Part One”, and Jon Astley who has worked with Led Zeppelin, The Who, Judas Priest, Eric Clapton, and the Rolling stones, mastered it.
10 - Very recently both classic albums, Dominator and A Sultan´s Ramson was re-released, how do you feel about it??
At one point I felt that the rights for the two albums would never be secured back from Heavy Metal records, that is another reason why “The Definitive Part One” was recorded. We were sick and tired of the fans being ripped off by bootleggers paying way over the odds for these albums. In the end I got together all the money I had, sold most of my guitars and brought the rights back from Paul Birch the label owner.
The fans deserve to hear the albums in their original context and I was very proud of them so the personal sacrifice was worth it. High Roller Records in Germany and Buried by Time and dust in America do a great job in re-releasing Metal classics so I got in touch with them as soon as I had all the copyrights back. High Roller did an amazing job on "A Sultans Ransom" artwork, there was a full colour booklet free DVD and is available on vinyl and CD. I recommend every Cloven hoof fan to get a copy of that album. I was so impressed by High Roller that to I agreed for them release the new album called 'Resist or Serve' also.
'Buried by time and dust' will soon be re-releasing the 'Dominator' album on vinyl and it should turn out great. So watch this space!
11 - Any chances someday in the future CH release a true live DVD, cause that concert from the 80´s doesnt´count cause the images are alive but the sound is from the studio version.
A full live concert would be a great idea and the band really would like that. It offers a chance to get the back catalogue archived and is a great keep sake for the fans. We have considered the possibility of doing a live internet concert, and it seems a good way to go.
12 - In 2010 you released Throne Of Damnation with two re-recorded versions from Night Stalker and Whore Of Babylon and three new songs again with Matt Moreton on vocals. Which were the release purpose??? It´s actual CH´s line- up?
For the record in my opinion Matt Moreton is the finest singer Cloven hoof has ever had. His voice has power and passion and above all growl and tone. It was a tragedy that his health was bad and a liver complaint nearly killed him so he could not tour after ‘Throne of damnation‘. If he was well Matt would have been truly awesome live, so we had to carry on with Russ in the band which was a terrible mistake. I let my heart rule my head because he was a close friend but Mr North was not up to the task sadly. His dedication was none existent and years of drunken excess had effected his voice badly, he couldn’t record or turn up for practices. I think what could have been if Matt had been available for live tours, that guy would of taken us to another level.
Still the fans have all of E.O.T.S and Throne to hear his proud legacy. ‘Freak Show’ and Running Man in particular show his astounding range and phrasing. ‘Whore of Babylon’ really kicks ass and is slightly more faithful to the original song demo’s. We wanted the fans to hear the song as was originally envisaged, but I think the ‘Eye of the Sun’ version in a lower key was slightly better. It is all down to personal taste really.
Matt was incredible in the studio too and would nail most the tracks in a couple of takes, so credit where it’s due the man is a fantastic talent.
13 - Which are the future plans for the band? Which is the future for the british metal and Metal in general?
Cloven Hoof are currently working on a new studio album entitled ‘Resist or Serve’ which should be released in March 2013 on High Roller Records. All the bass and drums are already down and it is sounding very epic, aggressive and magical. The style of the album is very much back to our roots as the 10 songs are very dark and evil very much like the debut album. Tom Galley is once again producing it so it will kick serious ass!
It is very hard for new bands to get anywhere these days in Britain. We would like to pioneer a new, new wave of British metal if we can. If enough people buy our new album then maybe we can make a difference.
14 - Anything to add?
We are proud to be an underground band that is not hyped, we are a peoples group that has gained it’s reputation by word of mouth. I think metal fans are the most loyal and intelligent music fans in the world. They make their own minds up, and no one can tell them what to like. They are not sheep like pop fans, true metal fans know cloven hoof are the real deal because we play music from our hearts and we believe in every note. Cloven hoof will never give in and surrender, we plan on touring the world more than ever before just to please our loyal fans. We are nothing without them!
We would love to play in Brazil and South America, so if there is a promoter out there please get in touch via the official web site www.cloven-hoof.co.uk. Thanks for your time and the opportunity to spread the CLOVEN HOOF message, it is an honour to be given the privilege Eduardo my friend.
Keep it true!
Lee Payne (CLOVEN HOOF)