LEE ANDRE PAYNE - CLOVEN HOOF
💿 Hi, it's a pleasure for us to have on Hardrockheavymetal LEE PAYNE of CLOVEN HOOF!! Welcome!!
The pleasure is all mine my friend. It is an honour to spread the news about our latest and greatest album called "The Age of Steel"! Hardrockheavymetal kicks ass so best wishes to all the metal heads out there. Hope they are all keeping safe through this nightmarish virus hell!
💿 On April 24th will be out your new platter entitled AGE OF STEEL. We had the chance to listen to it in preview and we were really impressed. We loved WHO MOURNS FOR THE MORNING STAR but AGE OF STEEL shows another step ahead. Can you tell us somethin'about its composition process and style?
I always write from the heart and imagination, I never listen to what other bands are doing, I just let my mind compose mini film type scenarios and put them to music. All the Cloven hoof material start of this way as stories that are placed into lyrics and they imply a melody and structure to me. The subject story line matter dictates the atmosphere and I chip away at it like putting a jigsaw together, I suppose that is why the band has it's own unique identity, the material is created in a certain way.
I have always been influenced by a steady diet of Greek, and Norse mythology, old horror and sci-fi films and Marvel comic books. I suppose this amalgamation of things that inflamed my imagination is mixed up and synthesized into our songs. I have pretty vivid nightmares too, and many of our riffs are playing as a background track to these. I keep a tape recorder by the bed and I hum song ideas into it sometimes in the middle of the night. This drives my poor wife crazy, they must think I am insane singing away into a tape machine in the middle of the night. Lol 🙂
The album was produced by Robert Romanga and he is a great producer. He is meticulous and very patient to get it just right. George game his thoughts about the various rough mix's and Robert built on every point. He is amazing at mastering albums too.
I know the expectation is sky high so I had to dig very deep to top the "Who Mourns for the Morning Star" album. So far it WAS our very best I really believe that, but I feel I have raised to bar even higher with "Age of Steel". George Call our singer could not believe it when he heard the new tracks, he said "I didn't think you could do it but you have... Age of Steel has even better songs than Morning Star". As you know George is not one to pull his punches and he always speaks his mind come what may. Praise from him means we really have a great album in the bag
Right from the start I wanted the album to feature all the things we do well and please the fans totally. One side would be a concept piece about the Dominator's resurrection. The other side would feature songs that were self-contained in their own right. As you say it stayed close to our roots and trade mark sound but the tracks are heavier and faster than ever before. If the metal maniacs out there only buy one true metal album this year then make it Age of Steel it really is fantastic!
💿 On December 13th of last year was out your solo project, EAST OF LYRA, a progressive trio with CHRIS DANDO on vocals and keyboards and ASH BAKER on guitar. Interesting and clear sign that you're a complete and multi-faceted artist. Can you tell us somethin'
about this project?
The original Cloven Hoof band members and I were heavily influenced by the amazing prog rock band Rush and so I decided to test myself and write a song, that had inflections of their style but still had enough of the classic Cloven Hoof trademark sound. We were delighted at how the track finished up and so I began writing songs in a similar vein.
Over time the band sound evolved into a hard aggressive uncompromising form of heavy metal . Sure the music still had epic time changes and prog rock sci fi storylines but there were certain parameters that the band could not go beyond. True heavy metal had great bandwidth but to explore greater light and shade of grandiose musical themes then a new band would have to emerge in order to keep the purists happy.
I always had a dual passion for both the Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock genres. Chris Squire from Yes was always my all-time bass playing hero. Unorthodox time signatures and staggering musical passages of light and shade inherent of the music of Yes was inspirational. Black Sabbath of course were my heavy metal heroes so this duality of conflicting musical styles had always coloured my sonic landscape of taste.
In many ways the old Cloven Hoof could easily have mutated into what East of Lyra are today.
Over the years I had amassed a wealth of ideas that I considered too prog rock sounding for Cloven Hoof so I kept them to be used at a later date. The time and band personnel had to be right in order to bring these archived songs to fruition.
Over the last few years I had been working with Chris Dando, who has a studio in the Heart of the West Midlands, UK. Chris was responsible for recording Cloven Hoof album tracks and I found him to be an outstanding musician and fantastic studio engineer. Chris's work colleague Ben, was a fine multi-instrumentalist and they were both a joy to work with. As a keyboard player and singer Dando was a nigh on genius and it was these qualities that got me thinking about the all-out prog rock band idea.
I had the basis for a group right there and when Mark Bristow was used as a session drummer for hoof it all seemed to be coming together beautifully. Bristow was a human metronome and could play challenging time changes with ease. The missing piece of the jigsaw was to get an outstanding lead guitarist who could play with great passion and feel. Chris said he knew a guy who could fit the bill perfectly for Cloven Hoof so why not try him on the new project too?
This turned out to be Ash Baker. Ash really knew how to use the guitar to enhance a song perfectly. Not only that, he turned out to be a fantastic showman on stage too. I found that out on an extensive Cloven Hoof USA tour where he really shone.
After we had demoed up enough songs for the new album I immediately contacted Paul Birch at FM Revolver Records, Cloven Hoof's old record label. We had always had a fine relationship and he said that if I ever wanted to do a solo album then he would always be interested in having a listen.
We arranged a meeting and Paul introduced me to Calum Richardson the label Manager. They loved what they heard and we were offered a record deal on the spot. Not bad for a band that didn't even have a name yet! Eventually I came up with the moniker East of Lyra and as Rush fans will know it is a line from their Cygnus X1 song my homage to Alex, Geddy and Neil.
So there you have it the story thus far. This project is more than a solo work because it features a fine band of musicians who have expanded on my initial musical ideas in their own inimitable style and we have made the songs our own.
💿 AGE OF STEEL will be out, first the first time, on PURE STEEL RECORDS. Can you tell us somethin'about the birth of relationships with them?
Bob Mitchell and close friend of mine for many years approached me about signing for Pure Steel. He was there head A and R man based in the USA and he assured they were best placed to support us on tours of the States. We were quite happy with High Roller our last label because they too are a brilliant true metal label who worked hard for us. In the end Andreas the label manager for Pure Steel watched us at the Sword brothers festival in Germany and he saw us blow the roof off. We were headlining and he was such a cool guy we couldn't refuse to sign for him. We are part of a family and it is a pleasure to be with them. Being as the new album is our first with the label I wanted it to be a great record and I feel we have given them a true metal killer!
💿 Your line up in studio and on stage, with exception of you and GEORGE CALL, have seen some changes throughout last years. Do you think that the line-up of AGE OF STEEL will be more stable?
Today all the Cloven Hoof band members get on well as people and are great friends. No one dislikes each other and we work hard as a team on the road and in the studio. We have incredible experience and I think that is why we get better with age. Everyone is a total team player and there are no big ego's around at all. I love it how the whole band has time for the fans after shows and we go out and talk to them. We always pose for photo's and sign albums, whatever they want. Gigs are their special night.
The album benefits from amazing vocals from George, he really is THE perfect voice for Cloven Hoof. George was a big fan of the band as a kid. He already had all our albums growing up in Panama long before we met up. On the song called Bedlam I think he gives a master class on how to deliver songs with power and emotion. Yes we are very proud of this album indeed.
We have two incredible drummers one for the USA Danny White, and one for Europe Mark Bristow. That way we can play on both continents and keep our expenses down. Each one are amazing behind the drum kit and are dedicated to a fault. On lead and rhythm guitar Chris Coss is the longest serving member of the band and he plays super tight live. Ash Baker is an amazing player and a great showman on guitar, he was a sensation on our last headlining tour of America. Luke Hatton was with us on the last album "Who mourns for the morning star" and he is a young virtuoso shred master. Luke is still in the line-up too when needed so we have a pool of incredible musicians that give the band incredible stability. George and I can call upon these incredible musicians to play any gigs anywhere in the world, so at last we have the ultimate stable Cloven Hoof band.
💿 We love the cover of the new album..Can you tell us somethin'about that?
Thank you for the kind words I will tell the artist. Dimitar Nikolov painted it and did an awesome job. Initially he wanted to know how I imagined the Dominator character looking. I sent him as many reference ideas as I could and when he produced the concept sketches I was blown away. He nailed the tyrant's image perfectly, just how I imagined him.
Dimitar is a fantastic artist and he really captured the essence of the music with that cover image. Mankind has been conquered by a cyborg evil warrior race and its emperor duly takes his throne made out of human bones... the perfect symbol! I have written the next album which has the concluding part of the story. Will the human race fight back and be triumphant? Wait and see metal heads!
💿 With GEORGE CALL we can feel a great symbiosis..Is the the best singer involved in the history of the band?
Without question George Call is THE best singer we have ever had period. . In America we played 35 dates back to back with no nights off... real road warrior stuff. How many singers can do that, singing high and powerful every night yet still deliver a great set without a single break? George is phenomenal and a true team player in every sense of the word. After a show he was always meeting fans and signing autographs before packing the gear away and driving to the next venue thousands of miles away. It was unbelievable how dedicated he is, Mr Call is the consummate professional.
I think the addition of George and Danny has refined our sound and made it more polished and hard hitting. American bands do seem to be tighter and more professional than anywhere else in the world. European bands tend to be raw and more aggressive, so we have combined those elements with our Anglo-American unit. We have synthesized the best of both worlds and can now offer a product of truly world class status. "Who Mourns For The Morning Star?" combines all the best qualities of the trademark Cloven Hoof sound but it is played better and the vocal delivery is off the scale. The full band width of the band is explored and there are epic tracks next to more hard hitting numbers that build and cover a whole spectrum of moods and atmospheres. There is no pro tools cheating involved either so it is a real band playing tight but loose.
💿 The live activities are stopped, because of this mad virus; are you scheduling something for the last slice of the year to promote the new album or is it too early?
As soon as this invisible killer is stopped once and for all Cloven Hoof will tour none stop all over the world. The Hoof pride ourselves on our on stage performances and put a huge amount of effort to ensure the fans get a show, we firmly believe that by doing that, by showing our commitment to them, we get it back tenfold from the fans in the energy they put in to respond. Similarly, with the professionalism we show is about respect, the fans have paid for tickets to see us and by being professional, that means us being well prepared by rehearsing hard weeks before a show to make sure we are the best we can be.
We are already looking at an extensive USA tour next year with a huge amounts of dates and we will be up for as many festivals in Europe as we can. The metal fans will party like never before when the live shows are back on and Cloven Hoof love playing live more than anything. The Age of Steel songs work great live so we will be doing a lot of those songs in the set plus the old classic's so check us out next year... we will be back better than ever!
💿 Thank you so much for your time! See you soon on Hardrockheavymetal!
Best wishes to all the metal fans around the world. Stay safe and isolate to protect your loved ones. We are metal and it always triumphs in the end no matter what adversity comes in it's way. Together we are strong so see you next year and we will rock harder than ever before. Cloven Hoof loves ya so keep playing that metal LOUD!
...THIS IS THE AGE OF STEEL!
Lee Andre Payne