Sunday, October 19, 2014

interview with NWOBHM band CLOVEN HOOF (part 1)

interview with NWOBHM band CLOVEN HOOF
Cloven Hoof (U.K.)
Cloven Hoof—the New Wave of British Heavy Metal band—here in this interview provides a wonderful explanation about the current state of the band. They have a new album in 2014 called “Resist or Serve.” If you support traditional heavy metal and its aesthetics, or if you are crazy about the madness, chaos and glory of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, I highly recommend putting Cloven Hoof’s 2014 album on your list, if you have not done so yet. The band is definitely rocking in 2014, as you will gather from this interview.
Secondly, this interview is really good because bassist Lee Payne went all out and truly answered the questions presented to him. I imagine that he spent hours answering the questions. His effort to answer the questions is very, very professional. Lee explains lots about heavy metal in the 70s as he lived it and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as he experienced it. In addition, given the nature of the written word, Lee’s explanations are multi-dimensional, with nuances that give much fuller elucidations on metal music, instead of just making inaccurate generalizations (like we often hear that “Sabbath invented metal music.”). Thanks to Lee for this wonderful interview.
Read it and get ready to learn much about Cloven Hoof and metal, including information that is often omitted in discussions about metal music. --
Lee, so what is Cloven Hoof doing in 2014? This summer of 2014 the band's new album was released "Resist or Serve." What type of activities is the band doing in 2014 and plans for 2015? How you would describe 2014 for Cloven Hoof? After all, it is an incredible amount of work putting an album together, lots of frustration, hard work, obstacles, inconveniences, but also fun in the creative process.
LEE: “Resist or Serve”is an album I am immensely proud of. I wanted to get back to our roots and capture the magic and energy level of our “Opening Ritual” EP (1982) and the debut album (“Cloven Hoof” 1984). It has an air of brooding menace and is very dark and aggressive sounding. That in part is thanks to the fantastic Patrick Engel whose production is masterful. He really understands totally what Cloven Hoof is all about. Every song has its own character and story line, Patrick brought out all the intricate dynamics perfectly. He is such a genius!
We did all the pre-production recording at Jailhouse Rocks!, a studio in our home town of Wolverhampton. We sent the files to be mixed, mastered and produced by the greatest metal producer of them all... Patrick Engel. I don’t know where to begin to praise him highly enough. Patrick has such amazing ears and his attention to detail is phenomenal. He is the real deal and a great authority on all things metal. He really did us justice and got the very best out of our performances. The playing is without doubt the best we have ever produced.
At our core I feel are very much a N.W.O.B.H.M band, but there is much more to us than that. Because we play complex song structures sometimes then the prog metal guys dig us. I think we are an important group because we are the link between Rush and Judas Priest. Cloven Hoof's music is a broad church and we have a large bandwidth. Sometimes we are speed metal, at others we are epic and melodic. There are always multi-time changes and lyrics that tell a story like in a movie. It is hard to analyse your music because everyone has their own perception and personal interpretation of it. That's what makes music so interesting don't you think?
After all the trials and tribulations you have to go through in a band with a 30-year history you have to really love what you are doing. It is true to say I enjoy being in Cloven Hoof more today then ever. I really appreciate the fans sticking with us all these years and our audiences are getting younger every day. That is the test of good music, if it can stand the test of time then that is how you can judge its worth. We are bigger now than ever so Cloven Hoof must be doing something right!
The hardest part about being in a band is getting the right musicians because the chemistry must be perfect. Everyone has to be great musicians because the songs are challenging to play, but you need all the other qualities too. A band has to have dedicated team players who get on like a family. Sometimes it feels like you are gladiators going into the arena and it is your little band of people against the world. When you take the stage everyone is all on the same side united in metal brotherhood and the feeling can be a magical experience.
We have had terrible contractual problems in the past. We have had to deal with rip-off managers and agents too numerous to mention. In the end, it boils down to your belief in your music and the genre. You just have to have an iron will and the heart of a fighter. Your audience will find you in the end if you stick around long enough.
2014 has been a fantastic year with us playing Sweden Rock festival with Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper, it was a dream come true. France was incredible too and the audiences went wild. “Resist or Serve” has sold so well that just a few months after release I have had to start work writing the follow-up album.
Joe, the singer, has been offered a part in the multi- million selling War of the Worlds musical by Jeff Wayne himself for the rest of the year, that is proof how far the band have come. We just have to be collectively careful of our own success and keep our feet on the ground.
You are working on a new album already?!
Yes, absolutely! Demand for the band has exceeded all expectations. I am writing at a truly prolific rate at the moment because I feel so inspired by the huge steps forward we have taken these past few years. The songs are flowing easily and our sound is now well defined. It is powerful and epic with anthemic choruses, but there is a certain darkness to it these days. I guess this maybe due to the return to our occult-driven roots. I am fascinated with this subject matter again and the nightmares I get dwelling on the supernatural, inspires me a lot in my writing.
Lee, would you mind telling us about the line up for the band? We know that you are a founding member from the band's beginning in 1979, but as you can imagine, we don't necessarily know where the other band members came from musically. For instance, who is Joe Whelan? He's been singing in the band since 2012, correct?
LEE: The present band have been playing together since late 2011 when Joe joined as lead guitarist after being highly recommended by Mick Brookes at One Way Music, musical instrument shop in Wolverhampton situated in the heart of the industrial West Midlands, England. Mick recorded the first Cloven Hoof demo back in 1979 and he has been a good friend of mine and the band ever since. Joe had visited the store and was on the look out for a new band to join. He mentioned to Mr. Brookes that he had seen an article that Cloven Hoof were searching for a new lead guitarist. He wanted a chance to audition for the band, but he did not know them personally. Mick phoned me up immediately and told him to forget auditioning anyone else, he had found the perfect man for the job who was truly world class. I got in touch with Joe and on meeting him instantly knew that Mick was right!
This would be a good time to introduce the new personnel:
Joe is above all things a born star! He has talent in abundance. He sings and plays guitar like a virtuoso, not only this, but he writes great songs and has the image of an Adonis. The girls love him with all the muscles and stuff. He has opened up a huge new female fan base for the band. That can’t be bad, can it? It is great seeing more girls at our shows. On the flip side of this, Joe is very humble, loyal and a down-to-earth family man.
Guitarist Chris is a perfectionist blessed with an upbeat 'can do' attitude. He is the type of person who never makes mistakes, even at rehearsals because he practices relentlessly. Intelligent and articulate Chris is very calm and level headed. Mr. Coss is a keep fit fanatic and enjoys rock climbing, wind surfing and mountain biking. Chris plays mean lead guitar on occasions, too. Mr. Coss is the cool surfer dude of the band with a strong sense of style and inner calm.
At 18 years of age, drummer Jake is somewhat of a musical prodigy. His incredible techniques were refined by playing in orchestras and jazz bands for 10 years. His love is for hard rock and Jake’s phenomenal double bass drums can be heard to devastating effect on the latest material. His jazz experience helps him pick up on complex time changes instantly and the band benefit enormously from this. Mature beyond his years, Mr. Oseland is totally dedicated to his art and is the quiet member of the group. Jake will undoubtedly become one of the finest rock drummers in the world, I have no doubt about it.
We have a new boy in our ranks, lead guitarist Luke Hatton. Like Chris, Luke was highly recommended to us by Simon Lees (ex-Budgie). Luke is a guitar virtuoso who has built up his relentless skills through years of practice and gigging. In contrast to his intense musical conquests, he’s a very laid back guy who is always up for a good laugh and you’ll never see him without a cup of tea near by. (the guys in Saxon are the same, Biff drinks tea by the bucket load. Did you know he started off as a bass player? He told me that once when we supported them, not a lot of people know that! lol)
THIS IS NOT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW, but we’ll stop here for now. I hope you go out and find out about Cloven Hoof in 2014. More of the interview is coming!
Cloven Hoof - Brimstone and Fire (Resist or Serve 2014)

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