|Cloven Hoof was originally formed in 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 Lee Payne bass guitar, David Potter vocals, Steve Rounds Lead guitar and Kevin Poutney drums.
The first demo tape the band 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 the 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! Because 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 was 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 of influenced many bands in presenting themselves in a hard rocking theatrical way. But the music always came first!!! "The project drew huge attention and major labels were queuing up to sign the band, the high chart position was a big help too". (Lee Payne)
Over in America unbeknownst to us Rob Stradansky was championing the bands cause in his Metal Rendezvous magazine, and college radio stations were airing it on there play lists. A worldwide buzz was growing and international stardom seemed a formality. However bad contract advice and publishing in fighting put paid to a huge recording deal. The untimely death of David Hemmings the bands manager was another terrible blow. An independent label was the only alternative for Cloven Hoof to once again gather momentum without the support of a major label at the helm.
Undeterred the groups The Opening ritual attained air play on numerous radio stations worldwide, but it was not until Tommy Vance and Geoff Barton played tracks off the Ep on radio one in the UK that the Cloven ones carrier really began to break into a gallop.
1983 saw Cloven Hoof touring throughout the length and breadth of the United kingdom, earning themselves 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 Beacon radio for DJ Mike Davies.
On the strength of the bands popularity Neat records signed the outfit to record the album "Cloven Hoof." The opus notched up sales figures of 24,000 units in 1884 alone, and it became apparent that the bands gigging activities would have to stretch further a field due to success of sales overseas.
A European tour was organized that year culminating in the Shockwave festival in Genk Belgium. The Dynamo club in Eindhoven Holland was another highlight of the gigs abroad. These venues provided some of the most enthusiastic heavy metal fans the band had experienced. The applause at the end of these sets was astounding.
A Metal Hammer compilation album featured the track "Crack the Whip" from the debut album. Another compilation album entitled Metal Inferno contained 'The gates of Gehenna' and "Laying down the Law."
*Many more albums featuring Cloven Hoof are rumoured to exist, so if anyone out there can bring these albums to light we are eager to hear about it. We will feature your name in this section at a later date if you can give us the details.
The next album was a live album featuring a whole set of new songs called "Fighting Back", this was a very ambitious undertaking, with Rob Kendrick (ex Trapeze and Budge) replacing David Potter on vocals. The reviews for the albums were generally very good. Dave Ling of Metal hammer and Mike Davies of Brum Beat were particularly enamoured. Unfortunately after this record, contractual and internal problems forced the band to split apart, leaving only founder member Lee Payne to soldier on.
A new line up was eventually established, comprising of Lee Payne on Bass, Russ North on vocals, Andrew Wood on guitar and Jon Brown on drums. They signed a recording deal with FM Revolver, and a publishing deal with Trinifold. The artists Trinifold managed at the time included Robert Plant the Who and Judas Pries.
Dominator" a Sci-Fi concept album was released in 1988 on FM Revolver, produced by Guy Bidmead who worked with Motorhead, Cozy Powel and Whitesnake.
This line up played many blistering concerts throughout the Uk. Andy and Russ (both ex Tredegar) re-energized the band with there experience and enthusiasm. Lee and Jon provided a rock solid bass and drum onslaught that surpassed all previous line ups. So much so that many big name bands refused to give the band a support slot for fear of being upstaged or blown away.
*No matter how much money was on offer for us to open for some big acts, pathetic excuses were given at the last minute for us to be pulled from the tour. Usually after they had seen us rehearse. We can't mention names for legal reasons, but they know who they are! A little competition is healthy it should make band members work harder. When we play the Marquee or wherever, we always treated our support bands with respect and gave them equal lights and P.A. No one ever did that for us. (Russ North)
"A Sultans Ransom" the last album release from this period was considered one of the best British heavy metal releases of the year by Metal Hammer magazine. Chris Welch the editor no less gave the album an illustrious 4 star review and labelled it "A flagon of mystical metal."
The same year a further four track session was recorded for the Tommy Vance show consisting of... Night Riders on the Astral Plain, And Fox on the Run. Lee Jones another ex member of the band Tredger was added to the line up on duel lead guitar and his powerful rhythm work is heard along with Andy on this session.
Andy Scott the guitarist from Sweet who originally recorded was scheduled to play with the band at Media vale during Cloven Hoof's cover of the song, but an car accident prevented it.MIn 1990 however the band decided to shelve it's activities due to contractual reasons once again.
Cloven Hoof was sadly for all intense and purposes in a process of suspended animation... But one day the beast would rise again!
Which brings us to the Present Day...
"Eye of the sun"was a labour of love that began life in the summer of 2001 when Andy rang Lee and said "Well are you out of all the legal baggage now?" He was referring to the contracts and publishing of that had dogged the bass player relentlessly and hampered the progress of the band throughout it's carrier. At every turn when a lucrative break through was secured, past management and publishers would crawl out of the woodwork smelling money. Due to a fortunate loop hole those ties were now severed at long last. Free of contractual chains and able to compose and perform again the band could get back together and kick ass! "During this undertaking the group underwent various trials, tribulations and personal upheavals driven on by a single goal...to record nothing less than the best Cloven Hoof album to date.
The prime criteria that needed to be met was, the album had to have flawless production, and feature songs that bore all the classic Cloven Hoof metal hard rocking trade marks, but also incorporate new and interesting inflections of blues classical and jazz that were creeping into the band's playing. This back to roots Gothic edge also should appeal to old and new fans alike.
In order to make the Cloven Hoof resurrection possible. The band had to enlist producer Tom Galley of Phenomena fame. Tom had worked with Brian May, Scott Gorham, Glen Hughes etc and the end result was a Cloven hoof metal masterpiece.
"For the very first time with "Eye of the sun" we can hold our hands up and say".. "This is the first product we are entirely satisfied with. Personal integrity is all that matters...and the fans that believed in us! This is a testimony to them and the saying you can't keep a good band down!
Since the glorious reformation of the band, Cloven Hoof have performed to rapturous receptions playing live in Greece and Germany. The bands popularity is now larger than ever, and they now enjoy almost legendary status.
Andy Wood has since departed the Hoof ranks and Mick Powell and Ben Read stepped into the twin lead guitar roles. Jon Brown is as ever the man behind the drum kit joining Russ North on vocals and Lee Payne on bass. The line up is now complete and ready to take the world by storm.
A new recording label, Escape music has distributed "Eye of the sun" worldwide to great critical acclaim, and a deluxe boxed set album containing "Dominator" and a "Sultans ransom" will be released later this year! The band will record the follow up album "Throne of damnation" in early August 2007, and embark on a series of worldwide live concerts.
Now signed to the prestigious Alan Cottam Agency, Cloven hoof are back to take there rightful place amongst the heavy metal big hitters.