SHINE ON – the atmosphere is right for a new album say’s Cloven Hoof’s bassist Lee Payne

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On the eve of the release of their new album on the 21st April on High Roller Records, I spoke to Cloven Hoof bassist Lee Payne ‘We are just about to release Who Mourns For The Morning Star. This new album explores the full sonic width of the band. There are epic tracks next to more hard hitting numbers that build and cover a whole spectrum of moods and atmospheres.

The album combines all the best qualities of the trademark Cloven Hoof sound played with precision and feeling with a vocal delivery that is off the scale. I feel it is our best ever album that we have done and really stretched ourselves on this one’.

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Who were your first influences in music ?  ‘The 70’s was a very good decade for me and I spent every penny I had buying albums and listening to music. Over the years I saw hundreds of metal bands. The first live show I saw was Rainbow at Birmingham Odeon in 1975, then Black Sabbath on the Technical Ecstasy tour in 1977.
For influences I thought Cream were great and I loved Alice Cooper but I always go back to the old tried and trusted favourites like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Rush’.

Was there a defining moment when hearing a song or watching a band when you said ‘I want to do that’? ‘I got into music because of Highway Star by Deep Purple. I heard that song and it hit like a bolt of lightning. I was an immediate fan, no question about that. I knew I just had to learn how to play it! First I learned it on guitar then switched to bass because I wanted to play with Ritchie Blackmore one day haha’.

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‘I started Cloven Hoof way back in 1979. It was a fantastic time for me growing up in England at a very exciting time in metal history. Everyone would go anywhere to see a live band and with the British media supporting Heavy Metal it was an inspiring time.

Geoff Barton, who 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 was interviewed by him.

It was very prestigious and that gave Cloven Hoof respect even from day one thanks to Geoff. He tipped us for success in his Breaking through in 82 article along with Motley Crue and Venom’.

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What venues did Cloven Hoof play ?  ‘1983 saw Cloven Hoof touring throughout the length and breadth of the UK, earning ourselves a sizable underground cult following. In the summer of that year the band recorded a four-track session for Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show on Radio One and a similar session for a local radio station for DJ Mike Davies. Things were starting to happen for the band, we were really in the mix’.

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‘On the strength of the bands popularity Tyneside based Neat Records signed us to record the album Cloven Hoof. The album notched up figures of 24,000 units in 1984 alone. And off the back of some very successful overseas sales a European tour was organised. The tour was great and it culminated on the Shockwave Festival in Belgium.

The Dynamo Club in Holland was another good memory of the gigs abroad. These venues provided some of the most enthusiastic Heavy Metal fans we had experienced. The reaction from the crowd at the end of the set’s was astounding.
 A big highlight of our recent gig history was playing on the Sweden Rock Festival in 2014 amongst Heavy Metal greats such as Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper’.

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What were your experiences of recording ? ‘In the old days we used Mad Hat studio in Wolverhampton. I recently saw our old producer Mark Stuart and we had a great time reminiscing about A Sultans Ransom which we recorded in 1989. He agreed that it was a killer album and he was proud to be part of it, I think we all felt that. For our recent recordings we have used a variety of studios for putting down base tracks’.

‘We are with High Roller Records now and are really happy with the relationship, they care about metal and nothing else. They have some awesome names on their books Onslaught, Witchfynde, Exodus, Tokyo Blade to name but a few, we are in great company!

High Roller have been good to us, they were responsible for releasing Eye of the Sun for the first time on vinyl. The album was previously available only on CD but now it will be available on both formats and downloads. Through High Roller we also have access to one of the most respected audio engineers in the shape of Patrick Engel. He is an absolute wizard, when we got sent the final mix for approval – it was jaw dropping’.

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What’s next for Cloven Hoof ?  ‘We have a few gigs already confirmed this year, we can’t wait to take the new material on the road. On 25th August we’re playing at the Blast from the Past with Riot V in Belgium and the next day we’re at the Trueheim Festival in Germany. Then it’s the Britsh Steel Festival in October and we are hoping to get a few more confirmed for this year, can’t wait. Music is my life.

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Interview by Gary Alikivi March 2017.

Recommended:

SAVAGE: The Mansfield Four, 8th May 2017.

TOKYO BLADE: Under the Blade, 26th May 2017.

CLOVEN HOOF: On the Hoof, 21st August 2017.

JAGUAR: The Fast & The Fury, 24th October 2017.

THE HUNGER – Back on the Trail with NWOBHM band Warrior

Dave Dawson is Lead Guitarist of Newcastle based NWOBHM band Warrior. He started the band back in 1979 and called it a day in 1984. After a 30 year break Warrior got back together in 2014. 13576863_872181496219399_1889458279566840925_o

I’ve been playing a copy of their latest album ‘Invasion Imminent’ it thunders out of my speakers and keyboard’s have been added giving a subtelty to their sound. But don’t despair Warrior fans the band are showing no signs of slowing down, actually turning up a notch.

‘What we’ve done is add a more sophisticated sound to Warrior especially with Rise of the Warriors and Black Middens although you can never take away from the early stuff. We have a more mature outlook in our music and lyrics now. It’s great playing the old songs live, they still sound fresh and now with a diferent guitarist in he’s added a new modern rock sound. We’ve still got THE HUNGER’.

The current line up is D.D. on Lead Guitar, Ed Halliday on Vocals, Lead guitar is Gwaither Bloom, Bill Baxter on Bass with Drums and Keyboards by Elliot Sneddon.

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How did you get involved in playing music and who were your influences?
‘I started playing the Side drum in a military band when I was 11. This is where I met Warrior members Tony Watson, Rob Mills and Paul Atkinson. I first picked up the guitar age 14 and have played ever since and I just love blues, rock and metal.

In the really early days I listened to Slade and Mott the Hoople then it was heavier stuff like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and AC/DC. A massive influence was Michael Schenker, he still is. Then I listened to all the guitar shredding stuff, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen and Richie Kotzen’.

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Where did you rehearse and when did you start playing gigs? Warrior guitarist Tony Watson’s dad was a farmer, so he let us use one of the outbuildings on the farm. We could leave all the gear set up there, and use it as much as we wanted. Sometimes just to hang out, drink a few cans and listen to a tape. It was like a siege mentality, locked away for hours forgetting the world outside, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse until we were ready to gig. It was a perfect set up for us.

One of our songs Kansas City came from The Barn, it was from a jam I had with Tony, a riff came from it, we bounced off each other mixing the ideas then put some lyrics to it. The whole song came together very quickly. We eventually broke out of the Barn and started playing gigs during late 1980 and early 81’.

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What venues did Warrior play? ‘We done various local pubs, we played in the Newcastle College bar, there were three gigs at Newcastle Mayfair. Ken Booth our manager at the time sorted those gigs for us. That place was great to play but a bugger to load in. Carrying bass bins, amps all the gear from the entrance at the back of Stowell Street in through the kitchens, squeezing past the fridges finally onto the stage. Also played Sunderland Mayfair and Middlesbrough Rock Garden.

We done a couple of gigs with fellow NWOBHM band Satan, first one was at Billingham Swan and the other at The Beer Keller. I remember Lou Taylor from Satan gave me some nice words of encouragement and told me he liked my playing style – a bit Maiden-esque, which was nice of him to say. (Lou Taylor features in an earlier post ROCK THE KNIGHT) Also at The Beer Keller we played with Australian band Starfighters, Angus Young’s nephew played in them.

We went further afield to Blackpool, York and had some great gigs in the Lake District on Bank Holiday weekends. The pubs were filled with bikers from all over the country, that was absolutely brilliant, great memories’.

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What were you experiences of recording? ‘Our first demo recording was at Impulse Studios in Wallsend, we were in there all day and like the rest of the band I took my bait in, cheese and onion sarnies, packet of crisps bottle of pop haha.

First session cost about £120, second session about £200 we were all working and chipped in for the recording but it still blew a hole in our pockets. When we recorded Dead When it Comes to Love EP we recorded live in the studio with no overdubs just a few takes and went with the best ones. I even remember what I was wearing, a tight black t shirt with purple hoops on, black pants and a pair of cowboy boots – yes I was ready to rock !’

(Around the same time Dave had just seen Y&T at the Newcastle Mayfair, maybe Dave Meniketti had on some cowboy boots and he was going for that look. I was at that gig and North East Heavy Metal legends Fist were supporting. Harry Hill drummer of Fist talks about the gig in a later post TURN THE HELL ON)

‘I remember getting a call around 1981 from NEAT records owner Dave Woods he asked me if NEAT could include our song Flying High on a compilation they were producing called Lead Weight. Well I was really chuffed about that, of course I said yes when he listed the other bands who were going to be on. Fist, Venom, Raven just those three names were enough, they were THE Heavy Metal bands from the North East and to be in their company was fantastic for Warrior. Yes really proud of that.

In 1982 we recorded Live in a Dive in a pub in Gateshead. That sound was really rough, very raw we didn’t go for the slick polished style them days haha. No it was definitly a live recording no overdubs. Actually the recording of that gig is much sought after now, it was originally only released on a cassette’.

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Have you any stories from playing gigs ? ‘In 1982 we played JR’s Rock Club in Blackpool. I remember the dressing room was a dive, rubbish all over, empty cans, filthy chairs. The bouncers were selling dope in the toilets to the kids, the whole club was filled with smoke and playing our song Flying High went down well that night haha.
Quite often after gigs we didn’t have much to eat and one time we had to share a tin of beans and a loaf of bread.

One time our manager Ken Booth hired someone to do some flash bombs. We thought yes this will look good. But when they went off they blew me forward, all the gear turned off and ripped a gash in the ceiling. It made the local papers, but that might have been the only time we were in them like !

We once played out in the Northumberland area in what looked like a giant cow shed, there was a decent crowd there and after the gig we stayed and slept on the stage, wooden floor boards with rolled up coats for pillows, aye happy days.

Sometimes instead of paying for overnight digs we would save a bit money by sleeping on the floor of the Warrior bus. But one night someone had stood in some dog crap, needless to say nobody got much sleep that night!’

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What are you doing now and are you still involved with music? ‘Yes I am still very much involved with music. Although I never played in any bands for 30 years I had never stopped playing the guitar. It was at the 2014 Brofest gig in Newcastle where Warrior reformed. Brofest has such a diverse audience of ages and a lot of the crowd are from Europe’.

‘When we were on stage there were a few Spanish down the front along with Belgian, Italian and German, quite surprising to talk to them afterwards but really blown away that they come over from their diferent countries to see us and the other bands. We have played a few gigs in the UK since then including London and we’ve played over in Germany and Belgium’.

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‘German record label High Roller remastered and released our back catalogue Ressurected in 2016. We are about to release our new album Invasion Imminent that was a great experience to put together. Our drummer Elliott is the man responsible for production he is a very talented musician and has his own studio at home.

It’s great what can be done at home now compared to analogue studio’s back in the day. Although we hired a place to record the drums and vocals then brought that back to Elliott, who mapped the songs out and pieced them together. We’re really pleased with the final product’.

‘Really looking forward to the next gig at the Very Eavy Festival in the Netherlands on 22nd April with Holocaust, Tokyo Blade, Vardis and a few others. Should be a good ‘un’.

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Interview by Gary Alikivi March 2017.

Recommended:

VENOM INC: Hebburn or Hell, 28th July 2017.

TYSONDOG: Back for Another Bite, 5th August 2017.

ATOMKRAFT: Running with the Pack, 14th August 2017.

TO HULL AND BACK – with Salem’s Paul Macnamara

‘In 1983 we won a Battle of the Bands competition and the prize was to record in a Professional studio in Huddersfield. We were very pleased with the sound quality and I think it captured the developing maturity of our song writing. So we took this demo to several record companies but they all said “It’s good but not what we’re looking for at the moment”.

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Paul Macnamara, guitarist with Hull based heavy metal band Salem, who from 1979 to ’83 were part of the NWOBHM scene with Saxon, Tygers of Pan Tang and Iron Maiden. They reformed in 2009. I caught up with Paul when he came back from a Salem gig in Barcelona and asked him who were his influences 

 ‘Probably the biggest influences were Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore and American bands like Kansas, Boston, Sammy Hagar and Ted Nugent. I also listened to a bit of jazz and classical music that was my dad’s influence’.

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How did you get involved in playing music ? ‘Music was always on at home it was a big part of our lives, my dad played piano and guitar. Around 12 years old, I started learning a few chords on that guitar and I haven’t looked back.
I was taught classical guitar at school, which was great for picking up music theory and the technical side of things.
I had a band at school that played a few small gigs and at the same school was Adrian Jenkinson who is Salem’s bass guitarist and music producer. It was he who recommended me to the ex Ethel the Frog guys and so formed Salem in 1979’.

(Ethel the Frog had their song ‘Fight Back’ released on the compilation album ‘Metal for Muthas’ alongside Iron Maiden, Samson and Angel Witch)

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Where did you rehearse and when did you start playing gigs ? Salem started rehearsing in a garage in a little street off Spring Bank in Hull, then we moved to the Hull Truck studios on the High Street.
Our first gig? well that was in the Autumn of 1980 in Hornsea a couple of miles up the coast supporting a band called The Crack. It was in a venue called The Floral Hall the gig wasn’t very memorable, to be honest there was hardly anyone there, just girlfriends and the other band…you’ve gotta start somewhere haven’t you!

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What venues did you play ? ‘We played in pubs and clubs in the Hull area, we travelled all around the North we got to Leeds, Sheffield, Grimsby, Cleethorpes and even as far as Darlington!! In 1982 a friend put me in touch with Neil Jeffries who was a journalist at new Heavy Metal magazine Kerrang. He recorded an interview and got it published in the May issue so we got a great turn out for the Darlington gig. It made a big difference to sales of the single. That’s a great memory from those early NWOBHM days’.

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What were your experiences of recording ? ‘Our first recording sessions were in the well established Fairview Studios in Yorkshire, where many famous people have recorded great records there, so we were in good company. Notably in 1979 they had Def Leppard recording their EP – whatever happened to them haha.

Fairview also made records for Witchfynde and Tokyo Blade who were part of the NWOBHM scene.
The first time we went in the studio was on 4th January 1981. This was a massive learning curve for me, I thought I could play the guitar ok, but the discipline of the studio was something quite different so we really had to be focused.

That demo cost about £200 which was a small fortune to us, it was about two weeks wages for me!  The studio looked like an old garage from the outside, but on the inside it seemed to bristle with complicated gear and technology. We recorded four tracks there, Coming For You, Cold As Steel, Fool’s Gold and Make The Grade. We were there for the whole day and felt shattered by the end’.

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‘The next time we recorded in Fairview was April ’82, that was for our single Cold As Steel / Reach For Eternity. By now we had Simon Saxby in on vocals and second lead guitarist Mark Allison to create a fuller sound. Not that memorable apart from Simon keep getting the lyrics wrong. As we were recording the reverse chord on the beginning of Reach for Eternity, I counted the band in, then when I nodded my head, my headphones flew off ! (Back then Salem were selling the double A side single for £1.20)

Then in September ’82 we went to Adda Studios in Hull that was with a new drummer Paul Mendham who completes the current and well established line up. Adda cost us somewhat less than Fairview as it was, let’s say, not as sophisticated. But still we recorded six tracks that day. There was The Keeper, Fighting For The Cause, Coming For You and a few others.

The last demo was at September Sound in Huddersfield. This was a much bigger place because they normally had silver and brass bands there, but now they were hoping to get into rock music.  This time we recorded five fairly new songs: Rock Fever, Save The Night, The Other Side of Hell, The Hangman’s Noose and The King Trilogy III’.

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Have you any stories from playing gigs ?  ‘We supported a few touring bands when they came to Hull. There was Budgie, Magnum, Diamond Head and Tygers of Pan Tang who are still gigging now. The only time we got a mention on the front page of the local Hull Daily Mail was when we DIDN’T support the Alex Harvey Band, they turned up with their own support!

We used to experiment with pyrotechnics, thinking back, if the Health and Safety Executive had known we would have been in a lot of bother. I remember one gig we played in Sheffield there was so much smoke from the flash bomb it just hung around on stage so we couldn’t see anything at all!

Our ‘flash bombs’ comprised an old camera flash bulb wired to the mains electric, then flash powder poured on top and as we made our dramatic entrance to the Hall of the Mountain King one of our faithful roadies would throw the switch and BOOOM!! The crowd didn’t expect a mini nuclear mushroom cloud!

In hindsight, we could have travelled further, our horizons weren’t wide enough. So we never met with other bands apart from the touring bands we supported. One thing we could have done was have a manager to help promote the band, get bigger gigs and that illusive record deal. I tend to do all of that now!

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What are you doing now and are you still involved with music ? ‘Since re-forming Salem in 2009 we have been very busy, and have released two studio albums on the German label Pure Steel Records. We have played festivals in UK and Europe, gigged in places like Paris, Athens, Brussels, the Headbangers Open Air in Germany and we went to Sweden and played on the MuskelRock festival. We have just played the Brofest in Newcastle alongside Mythra, Tokyo Blade and really enjoyed that gig.

We’ve just come back from a gig in Barcelona, soon there’s gigs in Belgium, down to France then back to the UK and we’re looking to add more dates to take us through the year. We are also currently working on the next album which is sounding great! So, yes we are still very active, that is the plan to take it as far as we can’.

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Interview by Gary Alikivi 2017.

Recommended:

CLOVEN HOOF: Shine On, 20th April 2017.

SAVAGE: The Mansfield Four, 8th May 2017.

TOKYO BLADE: Under the Blade, 26th May 2017.

CLOVEN HOOF: On the Hoof, 21st August 2017.

SALEM: Increase the Pressure, 20th September 2017.

JAGUAR: The Fast & The Fury, 24th October 2017.