Break-ups, reunions, reformations and a phoenix resurgence; Punchbowl-bred punks Hard-Ons are exploding into their 40th year.
Following the departure of founding, and long-term floating member, Keish de Silva, due to a sexual misconduct allegation earlier this year, fellow Hard-Ons originals Peter ‘Blackie’ Black and Ray Ahn – along with their 2011 appointed drummer, Murray Ruse – faced the tough task of considering their continued existence as a band.
Opting to re-frame the narrative and further solidify their status as cult punk classics, the rockers recruited national treasure, You Am I frontman Tim Rogers, to lead them into their next decade.
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Their instant chemistry, mutual admiration and infectious banter was undeniable within seconds of joining the Zoom interview; a connection parallel to a lifelong friendship and cemented from their first rehearsal.
From fanboy to frontman, whilst a slight apprehension was there on Rogers’ part, their synergy was undeniable.
“When I went to the first rehearsal and we swapped letters and mails and stuff and I thought ‘This is exactly right, I can do this and stop being such a fanboy and get involved,” Rogers explains.
“But I hadn’t met Murray yet, and Murray is so cool and calm in his face on stage, but he’s so ferocious as a player. He can either look like an axe murderer or an extraordinarily handsome Newcastle restaurant owner – which he is – so when I turned up at the first rehearsal and we saw each other parking the car, we didn’t say anything to each other. We just went up and hugged each other and he was like ‘Get in there Rogers’ or something and I thought, ‘Right here we go’.
Black echos, “In all seriousness it was almost like it was scripted – it fit in so well. Pretty much from the first song we jammed on. We did send Tim some very embryonic demos but as soon as we started jamming, fuck, it was insanely seamless. It was fucking awesome. And then by the fourth song it was like I can’t wait to play live.”
With Blackie backed as the primary songwriter for the outfit since their ‘81 inception, the addition of Rogers with his charismatic flair (including bold pant flares) and undeniable songwriting talents was sure to shake things up.
Thankfully, Blackie was keen to have Rogers input for Hard-On’s thirteenth album I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken.
“That happens with every new member. You wouldn’t get someone in if you didn’t think it was going to be awesome. You wouldn’t be like ‘let’s get that guy in, it’s going to be really average’,” Black laughs.
“One of the biggest things is Tim’s vocal ability shits on what we’ve had before either with Keish’s or my voice so it makes me feel a little bit giddy knowing we can do some pop and harmony things at a whole new level that we weren’t able to physically do before.
“And then as the band keeps playing and gelling together more and more, who knows what the fuck will happen. I can already tell you from the six or so months we’ve been together, I’m just excited for the next six years.”
Check out our quick take on the new album here.
So far, this collaboration has been written by the Australian musical gods and a real novelty for all parties involved. But both Blackie and Rogers are backing the longevity of the partnership.
“That’s my fantasy and I’m sticking with it okay,” says Black.
“You told me your fantasy involved ABBA,” Tim jokes.
“I’ve got many fantasies – bare with me,” Black laughs.
“It’s not only given me a new enthusiasm for music but for living as well. I feel like I have a real purpose, or porpoise or dolphin as well – I’ve got a porpoise! What the guys have told me is that as long as we feel it’s a good thing it’s sticking,” admits Tim.
“If it doesn’t continue and the guys want to do something else, my purpose, apart from having the best time of my life and living out a dream, is for people who haven’t heard the last seven or eight Hard-Ons’ LP’s – their just so important to me and so life affirming to me – to hear those and this record that we’ve done together as well.”
You heard it from the man himself. Take a deep dive into the Hard-On’s catalogue including the latest drop, I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken.