By Keith Sharp
Payolas’ rock icon Paul Hyde had drifted into semi-retirement, passing his creative banner on to his kids, Danni & Lizzy Nelson (Hyde’s real surname) and rapper son David, who goes by the handle, Emotionz.
Yet even though Hyde had long given up the idea of reviving The Payolas with ace producer partner Bob Rock, the Harrogate Yorkshire native wasn’t prepared to totally sit back and watch his offspring capture all the spotlight.
A regular Tuesday jam session in a Vancouver rehearsal space with fellow musicians Mark Chernoff (guitar), Larry Hennessey (bass) and Rick Eden (drums), had created a number of songs over the years, Hyde had last released a solo project, `Peace Sign’ in 2009 and when the labours of the past three years produced 10 more tracks, Hyde moved forward to release a new recording, `No Gods Just Men’ released on Ralph Alfonso’s Bongo Beat insignia.
“I’d be mucking around on my guitar, If I got a good lick then I’ve got to go there and complete something,” Hyde explained over the phone. “Obviously, the success my kids are achieving had an effect on my own creativity, I really worked on the melodies to keep up with them,” Hyde allowed.
Having retired from touring to instead work first, as a landscaper and then as a stucco plasterer, Hyde has released four solo albums since dissolving his Rock & Hyde relationship with Bob Rock, and although the pair teased Payola fans with the 2003 release of `Langford Part One’ an Ep of new material, Hyde allowed that a Payolas revival is not in the cards.
“Bob would do it in a heart beat but the problem is with me,” Hyde explained. “I have a problem with a fear of performing. I never really enjoyed it. Going on stage always made me nervous. Apparently, as you get older, stage fright gets worse, you just have this fear of screwing up. I think the last public performance I gave was for a food bank charity gig with Colin James about four years ago and I totally hated that experience.”
With virtually no record sales or radio exposure to push any new project, its tough to achieve any level of success without touring to promote a new recording. Yet Hyde is content to record his latest creations as a vanity project and hope that the odd track gets picked up for a movie soundtrack, a television show or commercial or even gets covered by another artist.
“Alan Doyle just picked up one of my songs (“Forever Light Will Shine”) for his `A Week At The Warehouse’ album and he let me sing one of the verses so that was good. But I’m honest enough to know that there isn’t the demand for me to go out on tour so I am happy just record new music at my own pace and see what happens.”
A gifted story teller who still has the knack of recording a punchy pop song, Hyde’s work on “Davey Boy’s Song (“When The Flag’s Unfurled”) is a irresistible sing-along anthemic track reminiscent of vintage Payola hits.
An ode to British Bulldogs’ WWF wrestling star, Davey Boy Smith, the song reflects Hyde’s love of pro wrestling. “In England, I was big on British wrestling stars like Mick McManus and Billy Two Rivers and The British Bulldogs (Smith and Tom Billington) who moved to Calgary and became WWF stars. (as part of Stu Hart’s legendary Hart Foundation wrestling stable). “He used to come back stage and meet us when The Payolas’ played in Calgary. He was like the perfect physical specimen. His ankles were bigger than my arms.”
“A lot of my stuff is about “The Man” and how I view life in general,” Hyde allowed. “I’m still, for the most part, a pop song writer but my song topics can be a little eclectic.” One song “Okanagan Lake” reflects many summers on the beaches of Kelowna, the home town of his current wife and the home of his father in law.
Both “The Ladybirds Are Back” and “The Slippery Slope” involves vocal contributions from his twin daughters and rapper son and his late dad (who passed away January 1st of this year) even gets into the act with a tap-dancing intro to “That’s How I Feel Around You”
The title track “No Gods Just Men” is a not so subtle stab at U.S president Donald Trump and Hyde agrees the current U.S political climate is ripe for comment “with America going down the toilet”.
Hyde takes a fatherly pride in the recording success generated by his two daughters, Dani and Lizzy (their “Dancing In The Sky” track has racked up over 20 million you tube hits) recording on the Vancouver-based 604 label and son Dave is showing promise as a rapper. Yet he is surprisingly complacent when it comes to his own recording career.
Yes The Payolas enjoyed amazing early success with a major single “Eyes Of A Stranger” pushing their second album “No Stranger To Danger’(1982) into the charts and Hyde displayed his song writing prowess with haunting songs like “Where Is This Love” on their follow-up `Hammer On A Drum’ release. Yet internal politics with their U.S label, A&M over their name resulted in their fourth album “Here’s The World For Ya” (1985) being virtually ignored and although Rock & Hyde bounced back with an EMI debut for `Under The Volcano’ their momentum had been lost.
Rock split to forge a highly successful career as a successful record producer (Metallica, Aerosmith, Loverboy, The Tragically Hip, and more recently, Jann Arden and Michael Buble)) while Hyde attempted a solo career with two EMI releases (`Turtle Island’ and ‘Living Off The Radar’) before winding down his musical activities to pursue more traditional forms of employment.
“Do I feel that there is unfinished business with The Payolas, may be,” assessed Hyde. “We did what we did and it was cool, I am proud of most of what we achieved. But there is no desire on my part to initiate any comeback. I don’t see a point in taking it any further.”