I was lucky enough to be chatting online to Clifford Hoad, drummer with KINGS OF THE SUN and THE RICH AND FAMOUS recently. He very graciously agreed to answer a few questions I sent to him and to allow the “interview” to be posted on the ROCK RADIO NI website.
(AUGUST 2013 - UPDATE - New interview posted with Clifford following the release of the new album "Rock Til Ya Die" - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/1292-ni-rocks-interview-with-clifford-hoad-of-kings-of-the-sun.html )
RRNI: Cliff, the Kings of the Sun played in Belfast back in October 1988 as support to Kiss. How did you feel coming over to Belfast during what we refer to as the “Troubles” and what are your memories of being here?
Cliff Hoad: My memories start with being all good! , from the trip in of the countryside, rolling hills, everything I imagined Ireland to be, like some kind of fairytale, that’s my first impression. In Belfast, we were staying at the Europa Hotel in Victoria Street, I think!!!, which had a big security fence around it, you had to have a certain password to get in. I remember our road manager saying "MAKE SURE THAT YOU PARTY IN THE HOTEL AND STAY AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE, THIS IS NOT A CITY TO WANDER AROUND IN!!!.
After hearing this, Jeff and I immediately took to the streets. Scared as we were, the armoured trucks drove casually by. It was a special time for me as I found a Rory Gallagher album Live Taste in a fire bomb sale, I'd been looking for, for years. What a place to find it!, love Rory!!!
The gig that night at Belfast Kings Hall was a real eye opener. On stage we received an avalanche of human spit, what we thought was a spin from the punk days. I remember Jeff turning to me with a mixture of sweat and spit all over him. I mentioned this to him the other day; he smiled and told me, there is still spit stains on his Marshall amps 20 years later. Whooo. He also said he should have never mentioned the "UNDERTONES". When he asked the crowd if there was any UNDERTONES fans in the audience?, the spitting started, just falling short of my drum kit.
RRNI: As well as Kiss, Kings of the Sun also toured with Joe Satriani, Guns N Roses and Lita Ford. Is there a favourite tale from the road that you can share?
CH: Yes I can. I can remember Gene Simmons having girl troubles in the motel; he would give them half hour each, down to the second. This all went astray when one of the girls decided she had fallen in love with him. I remember her screaming at him in a mixture of broken English and Hungarian, and him standing in the hallway sweating half naked with his bullet proof vest on signalling to me to get help!!!!. That gig was Belfast. When I asked him, “what was with the bullet proof vest"? , he said it gave him comfort, and for me not to worry about it. Quote "You’re not famous enough", ha ha. He was right..... Very funny guy!
RRNI : The best known Kings of the Sun tracks are probably Serpentine, Black Leather and Drop the Gun which were all singles and the videos are all on You Tube. What is your favourite Kings of the Sun track and why?
CH: From a drumming perspective, FULL FRONTAL ATTACK, it takes me in and out of the battlefield of rock, ever changing and committed. For a long time, we started the set with this song. By the end of it, I was already exhausted. I also love DROP THE GUN to play, it has a tick tock feel, even Lars Ullrich from Metallica loved it.
RRNI: Jeff famously got in trouble for bad-mouthing Axl Rose, but given what we now know and how much the press now bad mouth Axl, do you not think Jeff should really be seen as a bit of a visionary and given an apology by all those who criticised him?
CH: I don't think he cares about an apology, a visionary, yes. He could see very clearly through all Axl's bullshit from the start. I always felt Axl to be very insecure with anybody else from another band. When I mentioned the obvious influences that Guns and Roses had borrowed from Rose Tattoo, he hit the roof, taking his slander of us with him. He had our cords pulled out 4 songs into the set at the Entertainment Centre in Sydney, quite sporting of him don't you think? I've had this lasting impression of him in my head, tugging away like a drunk Leprechaun. Thinking in his head, I'm gonna solve all this. I can also remember him sending in his roadies into our rehearsal room passing on the message, "I was dead meat" in LA, and it was his town. I think he was just very sour at this point cause they just lost their drummer and all he could hear was me warming up. However I met Slash once and Duff, they seemed like great guys.
RRNI: After Kings of the Sun, you and Jeff formed The Rich and Famous, a band not as well known over here but one that I rate highly. Tell us a bit about The Rich and Famous.
CH: The Rich and Famous, my 2nd favorite band enabled us to continue playing without the expectations that everybody had for us and the KOTS. We could play all the stuff we wanted to without having to worry about someone’s judgement. Also Jeff and I were able to reinvent ourselves, Jeff playing keyboards and a chance for me to play my beloved Tenor Saxophone. This is all on the first cd self titled " THE RICH AND FAMOUS", which I think is a masterpiece and lots of fun we had making it. Rock came back to our amazement, Jeff dragged out the Marshalls and we tried to write up beat rock like never before. Love that cd "LIKE A SUPERSTAR". Next album, Marshall still out, taking No prisoners with our 3rd CD "STAND BACK PREPARE TO BE AMAZED" and we were amazed that we even completed them.
RRNI: Who writes most of the lyrics on the tracks by Kings of the Sun and The Rich and Famous?
CH: The Lyric King, Jeffrey Hoad pens 3/4 of them and myself, like Malcolm Young of AC/DC come up with the occasional gem, but all round we are the Jeff and Cliff Hoad song fighting team. Example, lyric "SHE LET ME SHAVE HER PUSSY LAST NIGHT" Jeff sings as a joke, I insist through lots of fighting and girlfriends frowning, it’s a keeper! You could call me a kind of protector of the arts.
RRNI: I love the Rich and Famous track “The Horse You Rode in On” from the “Like a Superstar” album. Have you seen the video someone (presumably not someone from the band?) has posted on You Tube that features Osama Bin Laden and this track?
CH: I love this track too, our knee jerk reaction to 9/11 and all the crap that the western world has had to put up with. It’s like back off jerks, you’re in the wrong back yard. I guess the message is pretty blunt, we won't be winning any Grammy’s with this one!!!, but tell it like it is I reckon, and quite a catchy little ditty.
RRNI: The most recent album by The Rich and Famous contains a drum solo that lasts for over 23 minutes. What made you want to record this and include it on the album?
CH: The young guy recording our cd, Govinda Doyle, (Angus and Julia Stone), talked me into the drum solo. I was very reluctant as I hadn't planned on doing one. When I was a kid listening to other drummers play solos, I never wanted the band to come back in. Just the sound of the drums on their own mesmerised me. He pressed record, I started playing, and all the things I had learnt over 30 years started coming out, I just could not have put it all into a 5 min solo, so, if you fall asleep through it, I forgive you. It was never intended for the cd, I commanded Govinda to erase it immediately and stormed off up to the studio kitchen stewing over a cup of tea. 2 days later, I heard him playing the solo, and I said," what the fuck is that", he said, your solo man! Thank God he didn't erase it, because of Govinda's own love of the drums, it exists for better or for worse. I'm really glad, cause I don't think I could play it again.
RRNI: It seems to be a great time for rock bands from the 80s to be back recording and touring. Are there any plans for a return of the Kings of the Sun or do you plan to continue with The Rich and Famous or develop other projects?
CH: It all depends on how much feed back we get Nigel, CLASSIC ROCK is a great magazine but hasn’t given us any feedback so far. So to come unannounced would be a bit of a gamble. Would really love to do a European Tour, as KINGS OF THE SUN, OR THE RICH AND FAMOUS, whichever band, it doesn't matter.
RRNI: What bands or artists would feature a lot on your stereo or iPod?
CH: Oh Dear...... I nearly avoided this question, but recently I'm dragging out all my old vinyl and rediscovering all my childhood idols with fresh ears. From Cactus "Carmine Appice", early "Steppenwolf", Montrose, Sammy Hagar, early Blue Oyster Cult "On your feet or on your knees", Thin Lizzy of course!, I love Zakk Wilde "Black Label Society" and reach for that Blessed Hell Ride, Shot to Hell, Mafia, everytime I need extra energy, however I have a soft cock side with a love for Roy Harper, Donovan and Dylan.
RRNI: Finally are there any Australian rock bands that haven’t broken internationally yet that you would recommend to people here?
CH: There are many new bands, Only 1 I truly love, a band called "ROLLERBALL" , classic Australian rock!!!!!!!!! Early Australian rock, please guy's & girls, check out "Buffalo" the first 3 albums, the greatest Aussie rock, here's where it all starts. Also keep your eyes open for an Australian blues act that does the pub scene in Ireland, "HAT FITS & THE BLUES BITS" Hat Fitsgerald, sensational rompin stompin hillbilly action, great guitar licks like your own legendary Rory Gallagher.
Thanking you Nigel for all your candid, thorough, interesting questions, they commanded my full attention, and Thank you, you folks in Ireland, for all your support over the years and not forgetting us as we certainly haven't forgotten our time spent there.
See ya when we get to Ireland!
CLIFFY VON ROCK YA BALLS OFF!!!!!!!!
Clifford Hoad, KINGS OF THE SUN, THE RICH AND FAMOUS.
RRNI : Anyone looking for the Kings of the Sun albums: “Kings of the Sun” will cost quite a bit on CD but can be downloaded from iTunes or Play.com. “Full Frontal Attack” is quite easily found on CD at the usual sites. “Resurrection” is pretty hard to find.
The Rich and Famous albums “Like a Superstar” and “Stand Back Prepare to be Amazed” are available on iTunes and can be bought or downloaded from Amazon. Cliff's facebook fanpage is http://www.facebook.com/CliffHoad.KingSun.RichFamous
I’d like to thank Cliff for being so willing to take the time to respond to the questions that I sent him. Now, go buy or download some albums by the Kings of the Sun or The Rich and Famous and maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see the Hoad brothers back in N Ireland sometime!
UPDATE - SEPT 2012
There's been a lot happening in the world of Cliff Hoad and Kings of the Sun since my interview almost 2 years ago.
For updates and links to their music check out the website