Tuesday, October 21, 2014

interview with NWOBHM band CLOVEN HOOF (part 2): a bit of history of Cloven Hoof

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.
www.clovenhoof.net www.facebook.com/clovenhoof1979 www.hrrecords.de --
On the history of Cloven Hoof
Cloven Hoof is founded in 1979. Would you mind going back in time to that year and how the band came about, as you remember it? From watching documentaries on metal music and reading interviews with bands talking about the period, we get the impression of 1979 as a sort of big bang explosion of modern metal music as we know it today. Yet, I wonder what it was like for you personally? What was happening in your life that motivated you to form a band?
LEE: Wow, 1979 was it really all that time ago? A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, but I remember it still. It was a fantastic time for me growing up in England at a very exciting time in metal history. Metal kids really did rule the streets in those days and denim and leather armies were everywhere. Everyone would go anywhere to see a live metal band and with the British music media supporting it was an inspiring time.
Geoff Barton, who later formed Kerrang magazine, was the most important writer at the time. He worked for a music paper called Sounds and all the metal kids bought it. Even before we had a singer I sent a tape to him asking what he thought of the music. He loved the fledgling Cloven Hoof sound and when we eventually got a singer I went down to London and got interviewed by him. It was very prestigious and we got respect even from day one thanks to Geoff. He tipped us for success in his ‘Breaking through in 82' article along with Motley Crew and Venom.
I was influenced by bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Rush. I used to spend every penny I had buying albums and watching live shows. Looking back, I suppose it was serving a musical apprenticeship because I was in the front row intensely studying the guitar and bass players. I was determined to study the chords and musical progressions of those metal gods. One day I vowed to try and make music that moved other people like the songs from my heroes had moved me. If I could do that, then I had touched the sun and my life would mean something. Cloven Hoof is the only band I have ever been in until recently when I was helping singer Joe out in his solo project. Even then it is just until he sorts out suitable replacements. The Hoof always comes first!
So, then, in 1979, you have a band. Now what happened? Did you all feel in competition with other bands? Did your band feel isolated from what happening or were you all very much playing concerts around town and the region and making friends with other bands?
I didn't feel in competition with other bands because I didn't care about what anyone else was doing. I just cared about Cloven Hoof and how far we could take it. I guess you are isolated and in a bubble because you need to have single-minded focus and not to be too influenced by other people. You have to have your own sound and identity, that was our strength. I was friends with Brian Tatler from Diamond Head and I liked what they were doing a lot. It was funny because we tried to poach each other, he wanted me to join him and I tried to get him to be in Cloven Hoof lol!
We are a West Midlands band from the heart of England and there is an inherent aggressive sound to our style Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin have all sprung up from the same area as Cloven Hoof and we all have a dark edge that is unmistakeable. It is true to say this band could not have come from anywhere else. Maybe life is hard in the concrete and glass industrial heartland. Bands from this area seem to sing about the harsh and depressing things in life. However, I like fantasy worlds more than harsh reality as subject matter, maybe it's a form of escape. JRR Tolkien lived in Birmingham when he was a young man, so we are in good company.
Cloven Hoof was originally formed in Wolverhampton, the heart of the West Midlands, England in 1979. The group went through various line up changes until spring 1982 when the band line up consisted of myself, bass guitar, David Potter, vocals, Steve Rounds, lead guitar and Kevin Poutney drums.
The first demo tape we did together was given the thumbs up from no lesser stars than Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) who took a copy of the tape into national Radio One and Rob Halford (Judas Priest) who got it played on a radio station in Phoenix, Arizona. The station was bombarded with heavy metal callers who wanted to know more about the band. Soon afterwards the group were taken under the wing of ex Judas Priest manager David Hemmings.
The Opening Ritual a four-track mini album was released in July of 1982 and the EP stayed in the Sounds and Kerrang heavy metal charts for six weeks peaking at number 18. Articles in Kerrang and Noise magazine followed by Geoff Barton tipping the band for the top in his prestigious "Breaking through in 82 feature" and play list.
The image adopted by ourselves during this period was worth noting as there were 4 band members, I came up with a concept featuring the names Air, Earth, Fire and Water. Outlandish stage costumes were donned and heavy Kiss-style makeup and masks. We wanted to be the band we always wanted to see and hear...total senses overkill. In a lot of ways I think we were ahead of our time because our vision of combining image and music were perfectly suited to the multi media sci-fi games market and remember we were doing the masks thing years before Slipknot and all the others. I suppose we must have influenced many bands in presenting themselves in a hard rocking theatrical way. We dropped this concept when the image was getting too much attention. It's the songs that matter most!!!
Metal Archives says that your demo is from 1982. Are there any recordings from 1979 or 1980? Why did it take so long for your first EP to come out in 1982? Did you personally feel very frustrated that you were taking so long to get the recording done? Were you sensing that it was time to strike while the iron was hot, so to speak?
It was very frustrating trying to find the right singer at the time. We didn't get Dave Potter until 1981 and before then we had made demos with various inadequate vocalists. Our music was years ahead of its time so getting the right musicians was very problematic. Most guitarists were too blues influenced at the time and they had no idea of the palm muting techniques so important in playing metal. Cloven Hoof had multi time changes and played fast and loud, so we had to get great players. That was why it took us quite a while to take off really. Also, I am a bit of a perfectionist and I wanted to be well rehearsed before unveiling the band to an awaiting metal public.
There are some old demos still in my possession and one day High Roller Records will release them, no doubt.
THE END of part 2. The next segment will go back into the 70s and the heavy metal of that time.

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