Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cloven Hoof, part 4 of the interview: on punk, Priest, Van Halen, Montrose, and of course, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal

interview with NWOBHM band CLOVEN HOOF
Cloven Hoof (U.K.)
After this brief intro, below is the new part of the interview!
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.
What did you think about punk in the late 70s? Were you at all interested in those songs and bands? Different metal people say different things on this issue, but I wonder how you felt about it.
Personally, I think the punk thing gave the music industry a big kick up the ass, which was highly commendable. The movement brought attention to young people having something to say with music. The songs were short and energetic, so it left the way open to banish over long self indulgent crap that some bands were turning out. Above all the rebellious spirit was the best thing about punk and the working-class attitude, I loved that. They rattled the establishment and put two fingers up to the upper class snobs so for that I am in agreement. However, apart from the Sex Pistols, who were funny and The Clash and The Stranglers, I thought most the bands were musically useless. Motorhead had a lot of punk fans, but there were big fights at their gigs with the metal kids. The punks had the shit kicked out of them lol! The New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement gathered momentum at the tail end of punk so that was a great thing. People liked the excitement of punk, but needed better musicianship and songs with more imagination and substance: enter a new generation of metal masters!
The problem of the oversimplification of the history of metal
Do you at all recall anybody in your circle of friends taking notice of the first Van Halen album in 1978 and that type of guitar work? Did you personally like UFO and Dio-era Rainbow? What about Scorpions? Metal people often simplify things and make it appear as if Sabbath "invented" metal and forget to put things in context and end up dismissing Zeppelin and Purple. But the modern guitar tone in metal comes more from Priest, Scorpions and UFO, than the slow blues/garage rock of early 70s Sabbath. Is it correct to omit Eddie Van Halen (or UFO!) when discussing classic metal guitar work, in your opinion? So, that first Van Halen meant nothing to young metal musicians who dreamed of being the next guitar hero? We know that Van Halen soon became something else, but I'm talking about 1978, in that moment, not the silly glam image of the 80s videos.
I was into Van Halen from day one. I heard Allan Freeman a great Rock DJ play “Running with the Devil” on his Friday show on BBC Radio One. I was blown away so when they supported Black Sabbath on the “Never Say Die” tour I got to see them before they made it really big. I was eager to see how he played that tapping technique that revolutionised metal lead playing. As usual, I was down the front studying closely. Eddie was amazing and like Uli Jon Roth, had all the techniques, forced harmonics, whammy bar squeals and a killer guitar sound. I remember him playing some kind of Strat and having a white Les Paul supporting Sabbath at Birmingham Odeon on that tour, something he is not seen with too often.
I loved UFO with Schenker. I saw them three or four times during the “Obsession” tour and I saw the Scorpions debut in England, too. I had the honour of spending three weeks with Michael on tour a few years back, we got on like a house on fire.
Rainbow with Dio was my favourite band ever and Ronnie will always be my favourite singer and Ritchie my alltime favourite guitarist. Your observations, Mo, are spot on Purple and Zep are just as important as Sabs in the development of metal. Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash really pioneered the twin guitar attack, too. Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, Jethro Tull and Kiss made a huge contribution, too. All these bands are still a constant source of inspiration and their music is timeless. Certainly there would be no Iron Maiden without Priest. Rob Halford said Cloven Hoof is a bit Priest, and a bit Lizzy and then there's Rush and it's epic and “jeez you must have an original sound because I can't place what you are?” Nowadays they call us pioneers of power metal, whatever that is lol! I thought we were New Wave Of British Heavy Metal! Maybe our sound has refined and mutated over the years, but the essence remains the same. You can always tell its Cloven Hoof no matter who the vocalist is. I suppose it is my writing that defines us, a bit like Steve Harris does with Maiden. We both approach songs with lead bass guitar as a foundation.
Priest benefitted big time from the buzz around the younger metal bands because they already had the business structures to take advantage of the situation. Whereas a younger band like yourselves was simply trying to get started and get noticed. Saxon and Maiden also had been around in the 70s for years before they became famous. Do you agree with this assessment? Would you mind commenting on it?
LEE: I personally know Rob Halford well and he was a big help to us getting started and I toured with Saxon so I can give you a bit of an insight. It was tough for Priest until they got David Hemming, an ex road manager for Black Sabbath who got them a deal with CBS label. David also persuaded Rob to adopt the leather look on stage because he was already frequenting clubs that favoured that image. CBS were the biggest label in the world so they had big machinery behind them. Priest went from strength to strength, deservedly so and eventually ended up getting Bill Curbishley management. Bill also managed The Who and Robert Plant and he now has our singer Joe on his books. Bill had the publishing on our “Dominator” (1988) album when it was released also.
After Priest David Hemmings managed us, but tragically died in the middle of a deal with CBS for Cloven Hoof. This caused a lot of legal trouble for us because many people claimed they had a piece of the band based on David's negotiations. It was a nightmare, but we are free of those ties now, thank goodness.
Biff told me he used to play bass before being a singer and it was very tough getting a deal in the old days. He was from Barnsley, a tough Yorkshire town and they had to fight for years until Geoff Barton championed a new metal movement in the face of punk rock. It opened the doors to a host of new bands including Def Leppard and Iron Maiden. Without Sounds and Kerrang’s support it would have been almost impossible breaking through.
We had to do it the hard way because by the time Cloven Hoof were ready to gig the bubble had burst and the British music media were very anti anything resembling true metal. It is sadly true to this day the British media and music papers suck!!!! They never support British talent and are only there to promote pop and TV fashion trends. In a way I am very proud of being a cult band without hype or artifice of any kind. We are the real deal and the fans respect us for never selling out and sticking to our guns.
Even now there are offers for us to sign to a big label and become more commercial with Joe in the band. He has the looks that make the girls go wild and a killer voice. But I have told them Cloven Hoof are a metal band and always will be no matter how much they offer, they can stick their money where the sun don't shine. We belong on the High Roller Record label because they care about metal and nothing else. Some call me crazy to do that, but the music and the fans are all that matters. Money is not our god and the corporate labels can go fuck themselves. We will NEVER surrender and will always keep it true!
But I believe that is what is fantastic about true metal fans, they make their own minds up and are not mindless sheep. They know what is good and what's not, they are the most loyal and intelligent free thinking people in the world and I am proud to play for them. Without the fans Cloven Hoof are nothing and I will always push myself to be worthy of their love and respect.
Other bands have a safety net or a cushion whilst on a major label. They have lots of money and security, so do not care if they release a good album or not. We have no safety net and every song has to count. I try to give the fans quality and make every track have its own sound and identity. They are like little self-contained movies that tell a story. The reviews for “Resist or Serve” have been incredible and we have got nothing but 9 and 8.5 out of 10 right across the board. Some very intelligent writers have given us 5 out of 5, too, which has filled us with pride I can tell you. It is so good to get this kind of reaction because it makes all the hard work worth it.
Out of curiosity, did you ever listen to the Montrose debut back in the 70s. I have read the certain members of Maiden really liked that album from 1973. Nowadays, that album is almost completely forgotten by metal documentaries and musicians, yet it is a rocking, high energy heavy metal album. I guess the image of the party rock Sammy Hagar has made people dismiss that early Montrose, but it's a surprisingly metal album.
The Montrose album was incredible I loved it the first moment I heard it. Ronnie was years ahead of his time, too, because he had a great guitar sound and superb technique. I was disappointed with the “Paper Money” album, but the “Montrose” album is a classic. Space Station No 5, Make it Last, Bad Motor Scooter, Rock the Nation are all cool as hell tracks. It is criminally underrated, as you say it is high energy and a truly great metal album.
Ok, I will stop here. If I were rich, I would travel to the U.K. and interview you in person with a camera! I know it takes time to answer these questions. I appreciate you taking the time to read them and answer them.
LEE: If you ever do come to England, Mo, you will have to stay at my place, you are very welcome. Thank you for your kind words they are very much appreciated. Take care tell the fans in Washington, we hope to see them next year! Keep playing that metal LOUD!
Cloven Hoof - Brimstone and Fire (Resist or Serve 2014)
Cloven Hoof - Deliverance (Resist Or Serve 2014)
Here is some earlier Cloven Hoof.
Cloven Hoof - Astral Rider - A Sultan's Ransom (1989)
Cloven Hoof - Nova Battlestar

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