Fireworks Magazine Online 65 - Interview with Kings Of The Sun


In 1988 I remember coming home from Friday nights out, switching on the TV and enjoying Raw Power, a great Rock video programme which showed bands old and new, AOR, Metal and everyone mentioned had huge amounts of hair! Ah, those were the days!
I discovered many bands on that show, but one of the ones that stands out in my mind is Kings Of The Sun, an Australian band who I never in a million years thought I’d get to see, and certainly not in Sweden!
Having watched the band and met the very wonderful, talented and charismatic drummer/singer Clifford Hoad and his family, I thought it only right that we have a catch up with him and a chat about the album ‘Rock Til You Die’, which was released in October.


You guys look like you have been having an absolute ball in Europe?

I tell you what; I didn’t think Europe could be this wonderful. Most of the time in the past when we were here, we were just rushed in and rushed out as bands do and I didn’t get to see anything. I was just inside motel rooms and stages, then gone. This has been a great opportunity to check everything out in a slower time. 

Back when the first album came out in 1988 and you had two absolutely fantastic singles, you had a lot of success. What made you stop in 1996?

Well what happened was, during our third album RCA, which is the record label we were on, changed hands and was bought out by BMG. We were doing our third album for them and then during that album they got a new President and he wanted to change the face of the record company. So he started firing all the old bands. We had been on there for that period and we had no choice but to finish the album, (‘Resurrection’) which wasn’t released in the States but it was released in Australia. Then we had to go home, but by that stage music had changed so much. Rock was sort of a dirty word and then it turned into Grunge then Metal and the melodious Rock like we were...unless you were an established band like Aerosmith...we all sank. We had no choice but to go home, we came back to Australia and just started playing in Australia. At the end of about a year out there, Jeff (Hoad) and I were disheartened with it all and we had a break for a year or two. Then we resurfaced in a little project called The Rich And Famous, which we did three records with, and that took us up to about 2007; so we were still dabbling with music and still writing. There was a fourth Kings Of The Sun album that was never released called ‘Daddy Was A Hobo Man’ which we did when we came back from overseas. I only just put that out two or three years ago and it’s on our website. That’s a great album that never saw the light of day and I was going through my Mum’s boxes under the house and I found it. I dragged it out of the dust, cleaned the spiders webs off all these tapes and I recently just put it back out there because people had never heard it and I thought it needed to be heard.  That is basically what happens, you know, because KOTS had done their utmost with the three albums and then when music changed to Hip Hop and God knows what else, we felt we couldn’t continue like a lot bands did. We went into hiding for a long time and then as fashions changed, things come back around and now people are just loving Rock again. It’s been wonderful to have people’s awareness.

So you reformed in 2010, why did Jeff decide not to do that? 

I can’t answer for Jeff but he was probably as disillusioned as anyone could possibly be. He had given his all to music, just like I had, and we had only ever worked together as brothers; that’s always a volatile relationship but we were very, very close. I think it got to the point when nothing happened for us with TRAF, which was our second try; he just threw his hands in the air and went “I have had enough”. I said “well I’ve had enough too” but I went away and thought about it and I was a little bit more keen to get back out there and play my drums than he was to get back out on stage. I said “I want to do this” and he said “I don’t”...we had a few words and I said “I want to continue” and he went “good fuckin’ luck” ha-ha... 

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How has that been for you since you reformed? Have you only really been playing in Australia?

Yeah well I have had invites to go to the States and things like that, but I mean America is a very hard place to crack at the best of times and I figured we hadn’t done it back then with a record company and a great manager; Freddy DeMann who managed Madonna and Michael Jackson... But he didn’t really...I don’t think he knew how to manage a Rock band...let’s put it that way. So we eventually parted company with him. But he was fantastic and he got us onto the Kiss tour and a whole lot of things and if it wasn’t for DeMann, we would never have gotten over to The British Isles and done the gigs that we did in England, Ireland and Scotland and everywhere else. So everything happens for a reason and I’m back here. Sweden Rock Festival was like the start of the band bringing the old music and the new music back to the fans that saw us back then I guess. 

When did Sweden Rock contact you?

There was talk about whether we wanted to go into this competition and I sort of said well okay. Then people started voting and I put a thing up on my Facebook page saying if anyone wants to vote for the band, do it now blah blah blah. And there were all these other bands and I didn’t think another thing of it...I thought “yeah well that’s not going to happen”. Then all of a sudden the votes started coming in and all the people started coming out of the woodwork and surprise surprise...they said you guys can come over if you want. We said “we would love to” and that was it, we were in. The organisers have an uncanny ability to uncover interesting bands from the past like John English and now he’s looking at bringing The Angels and Heaven out which are two Aussie bands which I know very well from back in the old days. So, I think it keeps it interesting. If he hadn’t put that up, we wouldn’t be here you know, or we would just be out there playing in Australia trying to get the groundswell up for this new album which was what we were doing before we came out. 

How has the album been received so far?

Well it’s been received wonderfully as far as I am concerned because it was recorded in the vein of the classic sound. I wanted to make an album that was something out of...that had the feeling of the late 1970s and early 1980s. That’s a difficult thing to do because we now live in 2014 but I knew how to do it. I knew how to get the sounds and I had a great friend who helped me record the album and getting Dave Talon and Quentin Elliott in being the right guitar players for the sound I wanted; which was the old sound of KOTS...I wanted to get back to our classic sound. Eddie Kramer did our first albums so I learnt a hell of a lot of him; he did Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix...he went right back. He had something to do with The Beatles at one point. So I sort of knew how to pull it all together, I wrote the songs in about eighteen months. I had no intention of putting a live band together; I just wanted to make a great record.  Then once I made the record, a couple of DJ’s – Neil Rogers and Jeff Jenkins – heard that I had brought an album out and after not hearing from KOTS for such a long time, they put it on and ‘Switchblade Knife’, one of the tracks off it, everyone just sort of jumped and went “this is fantastic - let’s see the band” and I went “good am I going to do this?” Then other radio stations picked it up and then we got some great reviews by a couple of magazines. Hot Metal magazine claimed it was Number 1 and we got “Best Album of The Year Award” from them and we got Indie radio station Triple R saying it was the best Aussie Rock album to come out in twenty-five years. So when I heard that I thought all my efforts were not in vain. So with the strength that gave me, I went and did some shows down in Melbourne and that gave me the confidence to actually say yes to Sweden Rock. Because, of course, my brother used to do the singing and I used to the harmonies so it wasn’t that hard for me to start singing. I thought I didn’t want to get another singer in because no one could really replace Jeff, he was so flamboyant and such a fantastic presence on stage...I thought I am going to sing just out of respect for the sound of the band and maybe our old fans will accept the brother singing and I will try and sing and drum at the same time which is kinda unique. But that’s what I have been doing and people have been observing us pushing the kit up the front and it’s different; it’s sort of like Don Henley of the Eagles or I suppose even a Phil Collins sort of thing. People are loving it you know.

So you are in good company.

I had another drummer who was a friend of mine and had been a friend for a long time.  He did some gigs with us in Australia, so occasionally, if I got him in, I could come out the front and do a little bit of know get into the crowd and do that and that’s what I’d ideally like. But he couldn’t make it to Swedish Rock so I had to do it on my own and get it up the front and sing all the songs from behind the kit. It’s fantastic, its different but its...when you drum like me...and I am over the top, I am sort of an extreme drummer like Keith’s hard to sing and play at the same time. If I just sort of drummed like a normal drummer I wouldn’t have any problems with it. So I have got to be ultra fit, so I have been running up and down the hills here and getting my lungs and my voice happening. That’s been good but it came as a shock, especially when I got to Sweden Rock, ha-ha. The old me came out which is like over the top drumming and then I realised I had to sing amongst it. Then like second or third song in, I went “hang on I am running out of steam here” and I have got all this time to go to finish the set. So I pulled back and then I tried to pace myself; I came out the front and said a couple of things and got my breath back then went back to the kit, ha-ha. But it’s all’s all good. 

Were you surprised at the reception that you got from people from all over the world as opposed to what it’s like in Australia?

Absolutely, because those people that I got a lot of interest from hadn’t even heard of us first time round. There were new fans who had just stumbled across the band as it was, so that for me was wonderful. Then the old fans, we were like a cult band with a cult following of people. I have got plenty of records myself at home and there’s a lot of bands in there that no one would know but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. They may not see the light of day but they mean the world to me. You don’t have to be one of the giant bands for people to love you...people just find you and love you and that’s the beauty of the internet now. They can search and they can put on the things that they might just accidentally stumble across; a lot of that has happened too. But this new album, it’s barely nine or ten months old now; we released it last September/October so it’s not even a year old and it’s still pretty fresh and exciting. With the wonderful response I have had to that, I have started to write some new songs hopefully to record a new album...definitely going to record another album because I have enjoyed so much making this last one. But I would love more than anything to come back over to the U.K. I have great memories of the Hammersmith Arena with Kiss, the Marquee Club, Edinburgh, Belfast, driving up the coast. I would love to see it again and I would love to run into the people that we meet all that time ago when we toured with Kiss. 

Well, it all seems to be stacking up nicely for Cliff and the guys. Here’s hoping there’ll be enough interest for them to come back to the UK after such a long time. I’m sure they’d be pleased to see each and every person who turned out.

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Sven Wigren said:

Great interview with a great band. Good to see that classic rock never dies!
August 20, 2014
Votes: +1

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