Cloven Hoof ( N.W.O.H.M , U.K ) Interview

Interview with Lee Payne

Hello and Welcome To Acier Doux Tunisia . What could you tell our readers to introduce the sickened sounds of Cloven Hoof ?

Hi Manef great to talk to you ! Hi all you Metal fans in Tunisia this is Lee Payne from N.W.O.B.H.M legends Cloven Hoof. We would like to check out our new album “Who Mourns for the Morning Star” because it is our best album yet and it got great reviews all around the world. We think you are all going to love it !

How do you personally describe the music of Cloven Hoof ? Do you have special words to tease the hears of wandering metallers ? Perhaps you have a special slogan to spell before every gigs ?

Someone called us a thinking mans Metal band. That is quite a compliment because there is many levels to our imaginative lyrics and musical structures. It implies our work is well thought out and conceived away from the norm. I totally agree with that statement. Every album we do is a little different from the last so we are constantly expanding our bandwidth. We never make safe albums and we are not afraid to break new ground. We always keep the essence of our music Heavy but we like multi time changes and varied progressions to make it more interesting. The live set has fast, songs, long songs, even short catchy ones but always delivered with anthem like choruses and soaring guitars. Sci-fi, horror and myths and legends provide most the subject matter for the band and my nightmares are a constant source of inspiration too . 

I ‘m familiar with your early albums While your music remains rooted in the NWOBHM , it seems your new songs have a more Heavy / Power Metal touchs… Do you agree and how do you explain this evolution? Is it about the coming of this world’s demise ?

The fans believe in Cloven Hoof because we believe in them. Our audiences believe in music as much as we do and Heavy Metal is our religion. We are all like brothers united in Rock and the more they go crazy the more we feed off it! Without the fans we are nothing so we love and respect them always. We always give 100% because they deserve nothing less and we thank them for fanatical die hard loyalty.

You recently released a copilation “The Definitive Part Two ‘’ on Metal Nation Records. How did this release came in the way ? Were you already in touch with the label ?

I was once given a silver cross blessed at a Sabbath by some witches in Holland. They told me it would protect me because Cloven Hoof is a very powerful occult name. It was made of solid silver so it must of been worth quite a lot and to give it me was very generous. They told me a little Rune to utter before a show and to keep it secret, so I can’t reveal it I’m sorry. But I whisper it it before a gig and we have a great performance. The only time I forgot to do so was our only poor gig in 40 years, maybe the occult really does work after all? A lot of people describe us as pioneers of power metal. We didn’t sound like other N.W.O.B.H.M bands around at the time, they were more traditional blues based and hard rock. Our sound was fast, heavy and epic almost like an aggressive prog rock band. Our songs were not the usual verse chorus verse chorus approach because tracks like Gates of Gehenna and Return of the Passover dispensed with that in favour of various musical movements that told a story. The format set us apart and was very original and adventurous at the time. I think we were an important band because the are the link between say a band like rush and all out Heavy Metal. We had the epic feel of Rush but we were fast and heavy like Judas Priest or Maiden. This was the blue print to what Power Metal became and we were doing that back in 1979. There is a lot of apocalyptic references in our music telling of the worlds demise, I guess we are just trying to say the world is a terrible place and we should try and change that. Man is obsessed by greed and that is destroying the planet. The money men don’t care about anything and anyone and they throw money at everything corrupting the planet. Polluting the atmosphere could eventually destroy us all and money is at the root of it. We just focus on the evil side because we want people to think about these issues and demand action against it. In the battle between good and evil the devil seems to be winning. Maybe we are heading towards the end of days ?

Where did you record and who handled / will be handling the mixing and mastering process ?

I agree the opening ritual was way ahead of its time. The compositions were adventurous and intricate. Steve Rounds on guitar, Kevin Poutney on drums and I were super tight as a band and we were pretty innovative for our years. We tried to fuse hard fast metal with prog rock complex arrangements right from the beginning and I used the bass like a second lead guitar. The EP for me too was our most ground breaking work because there was nothing like it at the time and so many bands were influenced by us. We just wanted to break the rules and we did that because we had a lot of musical ability. Starship sentinel is a track that explores the epic depth of our bandwidth and so did the Gates of Gehenna. For the definitive part one and two albums Jess Cox approached me with the idea he wanted to show the evolution of the band through the years. “Who Mourns for the Morning Star” was a milestone and epitomised the sound the band had been searching for throughout it’s career, so how about unreleased archive material that the fans could own showing the development? It sounded a good concept and we had good songs in the archive that no one had ever heard so why not? I also thought it would be good to release demos of songs from our forth coming album as a taster to what is coming too. Lee Small has an incredible voice and he demos songs up for me and I wanted everyone to hear how fantastic he sounds singing Cloven Hoof songs. Lee sings with Dennis Stratton (ex Iron maiden) in a band called lion heart. Definitive part two was a great opportunity to do that.

Do you think that by members going off and pursuing other projects that upon return’ each member also bring new ideas and perhaps treasures they have learned while away to the band ?

I have always been in Cloven Hoof I formed it back in 1979 and have never been in any other band. We have used a variety of studios through the years from Neat studio in Newcastle to the Old Smithy where Judas Priest record many of there albums. But nowadays we use a studio in the West Midlands to record the bass drums and guitars. There is a fantastic engineer/producer called Chris Dando who I work with exclusively. He knows exactly what I want and how to get the correct vibe, so Cloven Hoof songs always begin at this studio. From there the tracks are sent to Dallas Texas where the singer George Call records his vocals. Nomad studio is used over there and he has an engineer called Keith who George relies on to get a good take down. The sound files for the album is then sent to Germany where a producer mixes and masters the album. So there is quite a lot of logistics, and it takes 3 countries involved to get the Cloven Hoof sound just right. The current line up symbolises the end of an era in many ways. When I began the band I had a sound in my head that I have been constantly searching for. George Call has the voice I always wanted for the group and when the missing piece of the jigsaw fell into place I knew we would make a spectacular album true to what I always wanted Cloven Hoof to sound like. We have had really great singers throughout the years and they were all good at what they do. Everyone was unique but for me George had the definitive cloven hoof voice. All the musicians the band have had have helped the band grow in popularity throughout the years and I was privileged to have worked with them all. But sometimes people change as do there agendas so sometimes they have to move on for the good of the group for it to continue to grow. New blood is not a band thing, a change in line up can be fresh and vital. Some bands are very star keeping the same old guys going through the motions living on past glories. But for cloven hoof stagnation is not an option the band keep evolving and getting better. I think the best work is always yet to come or I would not do this anymore, I would never rest on my morals and people in this band are of the same opinion. We always strive for musical excellence that is our prime directive.

If you had the change to go back in time and change something in your career, i.e. a critical decision, would you do it ? If so, what would that change involve ?

If I had the chance to go back and change anything I think I should never have allowed an old singer we had to rejoin the band. Never go back the old magic is never there when you do. Whatever problems you had in past are always there to haunt you, and they will come back to kick you in the ass. My advice to new bands are 1, Never sign away your publishing keep copyright control always. 2, If a band member won’t give 100% then replace him, your audience and fans deserve full commitment so accept nothing less. 3, Play music from your heart and never follow fashion, your fans will find you in the end. These points will serve you well.

What is interesting in the current Metal scene in your local ? Do you think we can find some bands to be as good as those from the 80’s ?

There are a lot of good new bands coming through but it is very hard today as the big labels only hype rap and cheesy pop acts. The music from the 1980’s had a real magic as the metal of that era was fresh and exciting. It has got to be great music to stand the test of time. Over 40 years later Cloven Hoof is bigger than ever so we must be doing something right !

Tell us about your next projects with the band, and feel free to conclude.

We are currently working on a new album about to be released after our 37 date USA TOUR IN September – October. I then go back in the studio to start work on a solo album that I have been asked to work on that will be exciting. It will be a sci-fi epic concept album that I have had in the pipeline for a few years. Then next year another cloven Hoof and tour I guess. The road goes on forever and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Many thanks for the questions Manef they were very interesting indeed. Thanks for your continued support Cloven Hoof salutes you ! 
 Interviewer : SpeedSkullCrusher 

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