Out of the blue, a bloke named Peter Pis (thanks Peter) on Facebook sent me a message after I had interviewed Jesse Fink (Author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built ACDC) and Toni Currenti (Session drummer on all but 1 track on ACDC’s debut album) suggesting I should try and get an interview with a bloke named Clifford Hoad who had resurrected a successful 80’s band, ‘Kings Of The Sun’. Now, I knew a little of Kings Of The Sun with their hit ‘Serpentine’ – but the band had not really been on my radar (sorry Cliff). I had a spare night coming up on my radio show ‘Purple Haze’ so I thought lets see what Cliff has got – so I contacted him, he agreed to an interview, sent me a link to download the new album ‘Rock Til Ya Die’ and I set about doing my research. This is where complacency sometimes comes in – I had been interviewing such Australian greats as Richard Clapton, Grace Knight, Rick Springfield, Beeb Birtles, Graeham Goble, Jeff St John, Diesel, John Swan and many others, so who the hell was Clifford Hoad? Cliff turned out to be my most successful interview at that time. He is one of the most genuine persons that I have ever interviewed – we had a great time, and I instantly made a friend. He was honest. He called a spade a spade. He deserves to be considered one of Australia’s finest purveyors of Rock. He had some fantastic stories and was more than happy to discuss his career as sticks-man for ‘Kings’ during the 80’s and beyond – but more importantly now as frontman, lead singer and drummer for ‘Clifford Hoads Kings Of The Sun’.
Up until 2013 Cliff’s life was like a highway, strewn with the highs and lows of a music career, with lots of musical roadkill along the way. Something clicked inside of him – with a bucket load of help, love and enthusiasm from his partner (and soon to be wife) Lisa Marie that made him go back to his rock roots and produce the finest Australian rock album that I have heard. Since getting this album it has not been off my iPod in my car, or my iTunes on my computer. It is an instant classic. As my wife says – ‘there is something about Cliffs voice that is soothing’. Heavy and hard rock soothing? Maybe Cliff has found the answer and cure for depression and anxiety. (and no – that is not a joke).
So now to the album ‘Rock Til Ya Die’. Opening with the brilliant ‘Fire On The Mountain’ this collection starts on a high and never comes down – not once. The thumping drum work – the raunchy almost distorted guitars. Cliff knows how to construct a song that just keeps you rocking – and this one carries a nod to our fire-fighting heroes.
The rock keeps coming at you with ‘Rock Pile’. Cliff has been on the rock pile – but now he is on top again and it is a view he likes. This song is almost prophetic and great rock advice for anyone looking to the music industry as a career. The words ‘Rock Came Back Today’ are wrong here Cliff – the Rock never left you.
‘Switchblade Knife’ draws again on life experience for Cliff. Taking back his life from the demons that would destroy or deprive you from aspiring to your goals. At this point you are about 12 minutes into this album and the tempo is exhausting – but a very good ‘exhausting’.
‘Rock Town’ starts off slower – but only for a short respite. Until the growling guitars and Clifford’s thumping stick work come in. Only Cliff could get away with the line ‘Lets All Get Shit-faced’. I am sure he sings it with a trademarked grin.
It is not until track 5 that the attack on your senses slows up. ‘Geronimo’ is brilliant and still my favourite track from this album that could be a ‘Greatest Hits’ exercise. An Aussie band singing about an Apache Indian? Why not? It works – and kicks some serious arse. Cliff may just be the new ‘revolutionary’ of Oz Rock.
‘Reach For The Bottle’ sounds like a live take late at night- full stomachs, empty bottles – this is a great anthem for any late night rocker trying to forget all their woes, or create new ones. Mescal 109 could be the new elixir of life! (please use responsibly and according to directions).
Cliff counts in ‘If I Follow You Home’ which is a classic rambling rock song. The mood for this album is now set – there is no room for ‘fillers’ or under-performers. Each track has to stand on its merits and it does not falter at all.
‘Hearts Ablaze’ is a brilliant rock anthem about the Vikings. Opening with a howling wind moving into haunting guitars, this track will become a show stopper when performed live. I can imagine the audience joining in the chorus – fists in the air – Hearts Ablaze! You get so lost in this track that you don’t even realise it is over 7 minutes long.
‘Never Too Late’ is tributed to Cliff’s Mum Judy. This song shares an affinity with my own wife – it is never too late to search for love and happiness. Love knows no age or barrier. It is never too late to love somebody. Wise words.
Title track – ‘Rock Til Ya Die’ – this one is destined to be the show closer or encore. It is Cliff’s life story – listen very closely. This is not just words put together randomly to a formula, it is carefully crafted by a word-master to get his point across.
The album is closed out with the acoustic ‘Tighten Your Grip’. This one holds a special spot in Cliff’s heart as he recounts a celestial moment involving his son ‘Zen’. You realise that no matter how tight you hold on to life – it is never tight enough in the end. This may be the perfect closer – actually giving you time to come down from an intense rock high and roller-coaster ride you have just been on!
Cliff may be ‘new’ to the frontman business – but I swear you would not know it. He carries off this album with sincere creativity and a heavy dose of rock. His voice works incredibly well, and he should have done this a long time ago but maybe the time just was not right. It is now.
Cliff has surrounded himself with some magnificent musicians that make this album rock –
• Clifford Hoad – lead vocals, drums & percussions
• Quentin Elliott – lead guitar
• Dave Talon – rhythm guitar
• Govinda Doyle – bass guitar
You can listen to my 2 hour podcast featuring Cliff talking about and playing the entire album here – http://www.southernfm.com.au/general/clifford-hoad-from-kings-of-the-sun-on-purple-haze-podcast/
Kings Of The Sun Website – http://www.kingsofthesunband.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CliffHoad.KINGS.OF.THE.SUN
Purple Haze Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/1962purplehaze08
Ifyou think you have the best Rock Album collection – it ain’t complete till you have this one. Rock Til Ya Die!