Bob Rock brings his golden ears and guitars to Paul Hyde’s Living Off the Radar

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 16, 2000

Former Vancouverite Bob Rock is one of the most in-demand rock producers in the world today. The man who helped platinum acts like Metallica, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, and the Cult move mountains of CDs now lives and works on the Hawaiian island of Maui, where he owns a state-of-the-art home recording studio. But the wealthy knob-twiddler isn’t above lending a hand to an old buddy when he can, which is why he produced Paul Hyde’s latest CD, Living Off the Radar. In case you’re not from around here, Hyde is the former singer for the Payola$, the Juno Award–winning band that brought him and Rock—who played guitar in the band—local fame in the early ’80s.

“About three years ago he threatened to produce an album for me,” says Hyde, calling from a Kits sidewalk during a break from his construction job, “so I went over and did the basics for what was going to be, at the time, an acoustic album. The next free time he had was, like, a year later, but by then I decided it’s kinda dumb to do an acoustic album with him, you know, ’cause he’s the rock guy. So I just wrote a rock album and went back and did 11 songs, which we kept 10 of. Then a year later, when he had another week free, we went back and did another two.”

Hyde hasn’t made any huge waves on the Canadian music scene since ’87, when he and Rock, recording as Rock & Hyde, had a hit with “Dirty Water”, but several standout tracks on Living Off the Radar make you wonder why. “I Think You Hung the Moon”, “Any Day Now, I’ll Be Found”, and “This Is a Love Song” all exude a catchy, melodic rock vibe, and benefit from the vital guitar-playing of Rock, an underrated picker with a talent for getting the right sound for a song.

“It was really a good chance for him to play all the guitars that he’s got,” notes Hyde, “which he never gets to do with anybody else. We basically went in at 12 o’clock in the afternoon and worked till 8 at night, and that was it—we did one song a day. So it worked out good. We had a bit of time in the morning for the beach, and then a bit of time at night for the drink.”

The hardest-rocking track on Hyde’s new CD is “The Snake”, a particularly smoking number driven by the intense drumming of Loverboy’s Matt Frenette and the pulsing undertones of former Payola$ bassist Alexander “A-Train” Boynton. That tune is actually a leftover from a proposed Payola$ reunion that was in the works a few years back but that never came to pass. Hyde still has his hopes up for a regrouping of the guys behind “Eyes of a Stranger”.

“I know that Bob really enjoyed doing my album,” he points out, “and I think he would really like to do another Payola$ album, actually, but he’s such a busy guy. If he does another Metallica album he’ll be gone for two years in a row!”

Although Living Off the Radar is still a fresh entry on local record racks, it appears as though Hyde is more likely to be hammering nails than hammering out live dates to promote the disc. “It depends entirely upon airplay,” he says of the idea of getting a band together to play gigs, “how it’s received, blah-blah-blah. I’m havin’ a tough time sort of gettin’ it on the air. It’s gettin’ airplay in Toronto and Montreal and stuff, but nobody’s really gotten on it out here.”

That’s too bad, because a track like “I Want You”—a pretty ditty about the lure of imperfection—strikes these ears as ripe for commercial pop radio. When I suggest that the song might make a good choice for his next single, Hyde agrees; it’s his favourite tune on the album. But an artist’s personal preference doesn’t always count for much in today’s heavily controlled music industry.

“It’s such a weird thing, because, unfortunately, these are not the days when the programmers will just pick a song and go on it. They have to be sort of told which is the single, and then if your single doesn’t fit exactly the format of the station… It’s quite complicated, and it’s even more complicated for someone like me who writes songs in different styles and different genres. I’ve heard it said a million times that if all the songs had been like ‘The Snake’ it would have been easier for some people to figure out what to do with it. But I don’t give a shit, that’s what I do. I just write these songs.”

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