The Payola$’ Paul Hyde talks coproducer Mick Ronson and rock idols Ian Hunter and Alex Harvey

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 17, 1984

By Steve Newton

On the strength of their third album, Hammer on a Drum, Vancouver’s Payola$ have been nominated in nine categories of 1984’s CARAS -sponsored Tribute to West Coast Music. As well as Group of the Year and Album of the Year, the group has two tunes in the Song of the Year category, “Never Said I Loved You” and “Where Is This Love”. Guitarist Bob Rock has been nominated in the Producer, Engineer, and Guitarist categories, drummer Chris Taylor in the Percussionist section, and singer Paul Hyde, and Rock, are together in the running for Songwriter. Hyde has also been nominated in the Male Vocalist category.

I met with singer-songwriter Paul Hyde in the Vancouver offices of A&M Records recently, just prior to tomorrow’s (Saturday) concert with Darkroom at the P.N.E. Gardens. I asked the British-born artist about the Payola$’ development, their producer Mick Ronson, and idols Ian Hunter and Alex Harvey.

How are the Payola$ different now from what they were in the beginning?

Well, when we first started we were a bit ignorant of things like how to control volume and how to get melody into a song easily. So we were classed as a punk band by a lot of the radio stations because we just went out there and were so scared of performing in front of people. Absolutely terrified. We’d just put everything on 10 and scream and panic. And a lot of people went, ‘Awgh, these guys are an awful punk band, just terrible.”

Your second album, No Stranger to Danger, was dedicated to Alex Harvey. Is that the Sensational Alex Harvey?

Oh yeah, Bob and I are real big fans of his. He’s one of the best performers I’ve ever seen live in my life. I saw him about four or five times, and the first time was the only time I’ve ever gone absolutely out of my way to get backstage and meet somebody. I lied, and tried to fake a Scotch accent. I got right to the door of the dressing room and they asked me for ID, so I never actually did meet the guy.

He was backing up Slade at the time, around ’72. He just floored me, the guy was so magnetic and dynamic and completely in control. And it was a Slade audience–they were throwing stuff at Alex and booing–but he just stood there and delivered. I just thought it was fantastic.

About the new album, Hammer on a Drum. You recorded it in two stretches, with several months off in the middle.

Yeah, that’s just the way it happened. But as it happened, it was a good idea, because it’s easy to burn out if you take a month and a half and never see daylight. It becomes a bit hard on the system.

So breaking it up in two allowed us the leisure of listening to the first half for a while in the middle, and deciding if it needed changing. Also, when we went into the second half we had enough energy left to give it to the mix.

There was one song, “I’ll Find Another”, that you did a lot differently when you came back to it.

Yeah, it used to be called “Dancing With Another”. We did it for a year, and it just got so boring that the lyrics meant nothing to me anymore. I just couldn’t sing it with any sort of conviction. So when we found out that Ian Hunter was coming up we just changed it round completely, so that it was sort of a tribute to Mott the Hoople.

Hunter sang background on that song. You must have been excited about working with him.

Oh yeah, I’ve always wanted to meet the guy. And I’ve probably picked up more than I care to admit, vocally, from him. Because there was one period way back when I didn’t listen to anything else but Ian Hunter for a long, long time. His vocal style just went straight to my central nervous system, and I couldn’t help it. I probably wouldn’t do that with anybody else. It’s just that he sang the way that felt best to me, and I think my body said, “Take a little lesson from this guy”.

I see that on No Stranger to Danger you’ve got a song titled “Rose”. Ian has an old song called “Rose” as well.

He certainly does, and I think it’s one of the Top 10 rock and roll songs ever written. That’s why I called mine “Rose”, ’cause it’s about the same chick.

Mick Ronson produced the new Hammer on a Drum as well as No Stranger to Danger. Were his production techniques any different than on the previous album?

Mick tends to work through a sort of free-flow, grabbing-at-anything attitude–there’s no set plans for doing things. He goes by just whatever his heart feels is right.

Does that jibe well with the band?

Yeah. On the first album it was a bit of a problem because it’s hard to make a decision sometimes when you’ve got conflicting ideas. Like if Mick wanted to go one way, and Bob wanted to go the other way, and I didn’t know which way to go, then you’re stuck.

So we decided before the most recent album that the three of us have a voting system, and that the majority would rule. But we never actually disagreed to the point that we had to take a vote.

Do you intend on working with Mick on the next album as well?

No. We’re going to use somebody else. We’re in contact with about five people, but I can’t say who it’ll be yet.

How did you find Alex Boynton, alias A-Train, you’re new bassist?

When Barry Muir left the band we had auditions and tried out quite a few people, but nobody seemed to fit . And a friend fo mine suggested A-Train. As soon as he plugged in and started playing we thought, “This is the guy.”

Has he played in any other bands around town?

He’s done a lot of freelance stuff. And he plays with Downchld Blues Band when they come to town. He does a lot of jazz as well.

“Where Is This Love” on Hammer is concerned with child abuse. Were you at all hesitant about tackling that subject?

No. The only thing I won’t tackle in the lyrics is suicide. I’ll never write something about suicide because I wouldn’t want to be taken the wrong way by anybody.

As well as child abuse, there’s a couple of tunes about nuclear war on the album. It’s a pretty heavy record.

Well, we had to lighten it up a bit. That’s why the songs are interspersed–there’s a heavy one and then a light one. We tried to make it sweet and sour all the way across, and hopefully at the end you get a good cross-section.

How do you feel about the Payola$ being added to the roster of the Bruce Allen Talent Agency?

Feels fine to me.

Has that signing been a long time in the works?

No, I think it was a case of us needing Bruce, and he wanting to see what he could do with us. And we’re happy about it, because quite frankly it’s the only way to go if you’re going to break out of the stagnation that can set in in Canadian music.

 

To hear the full audio of my interviews with former Payola$ member Bob Rock, producer Mick Ronson, and Hammer on a Drum engineer Mike Fraser subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 275 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Simon Townshend, 1983
John Bush of Anthrax, 1993
Aldo Nova, 1983
Steven Adler from Guns N’ Roses, 2011
Mick Ronson, 1989
Tom Morello, 2011
Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers, 1993
Colin Hay of Men at Work, 1983
Mark Kelly of Marillion, 1986
Luther Allison, 1995
Lee Rocker from the Stray Cats, 2007
J. Geils from the J. Geils Band, 2006
Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, 1997
Jason Newsted of Newsted (and Metallica), 2013
Marshall Crenshaw, 2013
Dan Hartman, 1984
Sean Costello, 2006
Roger Hodgson from Supertramp, 1998
Tommy Stinson from the Replacements, 1993
Brian Blush of the Refreshments, 1997
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, 2003
Craig Northey of Strippers Union, 2021
Melissa Etheridge, 1990
Joe Jackson, 2003
Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity, 2001
David Ellefson of Megadeth, 1992
David Lee Roth, 2003
Grant Walmsley of the Screaming Jets, 1991
John Popper of Blues Traveler, 1991
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 2012
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1993
Ellen McIlwaine, 2001
Derek Trucks of Tedeschi Trucks, 2012
J.D. Fortune of INXS, 2006
Fernando von Arb of Krokus, 1984
Gary Holt of Exodus, 1985
Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, 1992
Scott Ian of Anthrax, 2012
Gary Lee Conner of Screaming Trees, 1992
Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, 1985
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 2003
Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions, 1992
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, 2001
Jeff Keith of Tesla, 1988
Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton of Arc Angels, 1992
Marc Bonilla, 1992
Mike Smith of Sandbox (and Trailer Park Boys), 1996
Dewey Bunnell of America, 1983
Robert Randolph of the Family Band, 2003
Keith Strickland of the B-52s, 2008
David Johansen of the New York Dolls, 2005
Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, 2003
Todd Kerns, 2016
Bill Payne of Little Feat, 2002
Robbin Crosby of Ratt, 1989
Tommy Shannon of SRV & Double Trouble, 1998
Alejandro Escovedo, 1997
Billy Duffy of the Cult, 1989
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

…with hundreds more to come

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