Paul Hyde emigrated from Britain to Victoria, BC in the mid 70's, bringing with him the punk that was the main music in the UK at the time. He began playing in local clubs where he met Bob Rock in 1979. Together they performed as a duo and exchanged musical ideas before drummer Terry Nelson Little and bassist Gary Middleclass, a fellow Brit joined up. Payolas' early sound could best be described as punk meets Cyndi Lauper, a culmination of Hyde’s British influences and the trendy pop that was all the rave in Vancouver at the time.
As they played and wrote together more, their sound began riding the new wave movement of the day. They quickly became staples of the Vancouver area scene and cut a pair of 45’s, & Money For Hype& on N B Records and & China Boys& on their own Slophouse label. The band was selling the records at their shows and in local stores when they caught the attention of A&M Records. Unsure of the band’s potential, they told them to prepare 4 songs for a demo, of which & China Boys& made the cut. The tracks were remixed and released as INTRODUCING PAYOLAS in 1980. The attention received convinced the label to embrace the band as a potential leader in the new wave – punk crossover sound that was becoming mainstream.
With new members Lawrence Wilkins on bass and drummer Christopher Taylor, they brought famed producer Mick Ronson to Vancouver’s Little Mountain Studios for their first full album. This was also when Rock would begin his on-the-job training as a studio master, eventually working with the majority of Canadian musicians at one time or another. IN A PLACE LIKE THIS was released in the spring of 1981 to rave reviews. Containing remakes of &Jukebox& and &China Boys&, it also had the upbeat &Too Shy To Dance& and &Whiskey Boy&, about an underprivileged youth who grows up in a family stricken with alcohol abuse – a sign of Hyde’s conscientious writing style he’d later become renowned for.
After a cross Canada tour which also took the band into the States, they returned to the friendly confines of Little Mountain to begin work on the next album. Altering the band’s sound & focus led to Wilkins leaving and being replaced by keyboardist Christopher Livingston. Without actual bass, the sound was had more of a pop feel than the rebelion evident in the first one. Again Ronson was brought in to oversee production.
NO STRANGER TO DANGER was released just over a year later, again gaining instant critical acclaim. The smash &Eyes Of A Stranger& was also featured on the soundtrack to the movie &Valley Girl& and TV’s &Miami Vice& a couple years later and won ’82’s Juno Award for ‘single of the year’. Their second single &Romance& again hit Top 40 and helped keep the record on the charts for the better part of the year and earn them 2 more Junos, including recognition for Rock as Engineer of The Year.
HAMMER ON A DRUM was out by the summer of ’83 and became their pinnacle release. Backed by the huge hits &Where Is This Love&, &Wild West&, the lead-off &I’ll Find Another&, a number of 7& singles were released over the next year to capitalize on the band’s popularity in the clubs. The record also featured cameos by Ian Hunter and
Bruce Fairbairn – and a smash duet with Carole Pope Rough Trade on &Never Said I Loved You&. Not just trendy tunes which happened to also gain a lot of video airplay, Hyde’s songwriting showed its the socially-conscious side with &Hastings Street&, a tale of a down-and-out person on the outside looking in. Again a number of dance-club singles and carefully tailored videos helped push Payolas to the forefront of the Canadian pop scene.
Despite their critical and commercial success, however, execs at A &M were getting antsy for the break-out hit in the US which still seemed to elude them … then there was the image issue. Though their ‘look’ seemed tailor-made for video, the name was causing a stir south of the border. The phrase for radio personnel accepting bribes to push certain artists had been dubbed ‘taking payola’. Now known as Paul Hyde and The Payolas, they teamed up with mega-producer David Foster, whose common background of living on the BC Coast helped the chemistry. In an attempt to go back to their raw roots, Livingston’s keyboards were replaced by Alex Boynton and his bass guitar.
In the spring of ’85 HERE’S THE WORLD FOR YA came out. Three singles were released – the title track, &Stuck In The Rain& and &It Must Be Love&. Also on the record was &It Wasn’t You&, which Rock & Hyde collaborated on with Foster, Jim Vallance and
Bryan Adams. Unfortunately, though, the record execs had lost faith in the band and they were released from the label. Outside projects ushered in the band’s breakup later that year.
A&M released BETWEEN A ROCK & A HYDE PLACE in 1987. A collection of hits spanning the group’s five records, it also contains the only copy of &You’re The Only Love& on disc. The album’s release was due in part to offset any publicity that Rock & Hyde were about to receive, as they released their first ‘solo’ venture called UNDER THE VOLCANO on Capitol that same year. Though the 2 wrote the album, Taylor and Boynton are also featured – making it a Payolas’ record without the actual ‘name’. Also featured are guest appearances by Howie Vickers formerly of
Chilliwack, Bruce Fairbairn and John Webster, formerly with Red Rider. Later the same year saw Rock also have a disc put out by his other pet project, Rockhead. But by 1990 outside projects were getting in the way so the band called it quits. Another compilation was released in 2000 in Capitol’s 20TH CENTURY MASTER SERIES, which also featured the ROCK & HYDE track &Dirty Water&.
Bob Rock has continued several outside projects since Payolas’ demise and has subsequently become one of Canada’s most sought-after engineer/producers and whose career pretty much peaked with Metallica’s BLACK ALBUM. Paul Hyde went solo, releasing his first of four solo albums in 1990. His most recent, 2002’s BIG BOOK OF SAD SONGS, VOLUME 1 is an all-acoustic album that has brought back the critical praise Payolas enjoyed during the 1980’s.
Rock and Hyde got back together in 2006 for a series of dates, then quietly skulked back into the studios, releasing an EP called LANGFORD a year later.