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:
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
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
…with hundreds more to come