Why Hard-Ons are still Australia’s most unrelenting punk rock band

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Why Hard-Ons are still Australia’s most unrelenting punk rock band

Words by Joe Hansen

The Sydney natives just don’t stop… ever.

Nostalgia is a funny thing. On one hand, seeing a band that has been playing for decades and still delivering a solid show can be fantastic, yet there often remains certain concessions and allowances for some bands to rely on past-glory and nostalgia to fill in the gaps of an otherwise past-their-prime operation. In terms of raw business and ticket sales, the reliance on past glory and reliving the days of yore is a prime money-maker in today’s live music scene. The amount of reunions, revivals and reminiscence of “the good old days” brought into the promotion of live performances continues to stagnate the evolution and natural progression of the art. Even beyond the obvious Barnesy/Farnesy never ending careers of playing the same songs Gold 104 have been flogging for the past 30 years, every week there seems to be an old punk rock band trying to profit off the aimless attempt to revive the mythology of old music being better music. Since forming in Sydney in 1984, Hard-Ons have toured almost every year since, and have no such concerns or ambitions of the sort.

I first saw Hard-Ons in 2011 at a free show at The Espy front bar. The band were operating as a three-piece (since original vocalist/drummer Keish De Silva’s departure in 2000), and largely tore through a hardcore-verging-on-grindcore style set, playing little, if any, of their early hits. Although many of the songs in the set were either unreleased or from the band’s newer and under-appreciated albums, the set was raw and confident, and the band were completely comfortable and content playing exactly what they wanted to be playing. While such a description seems like a simple and straightforward premise on paper, the overarching “expectations” and “demands” of regular punters would paint a different story. At least in Melbourne, as Hard-Ons shows at this time were not particularly well attended, while other older Australian punk bands of the same era such as Cosmic Psychos were gaining a strong resurgence and revived attention. While the musical differences between Hard-Ons and other bands at the time are a matter of personal taste and opinion, the unrelenting ambition of a band that only cares about doing exactly what they wanted to do meant far more to me as a fan than seeing another band play nothing but their old songs.

Hard-Ons have since reunited with their original member and continued producing new music. Yes, they’ve added some older fan-favourites back into their set, yet the drive and focus of the band has not changed at all. I can’t think of any other band, Australian or otherwise, that has so confidently transitioned from pop-skate punk/thrash metal/grindcore and everything in between and stayed completely true to their established ethos of playing what they happened to think is good and playing it damn well. Every time I see the band I’m given a refreshing reminder that there are still long-running bands that have not, and will not fall into the death trap of relying on past hype and nostalgia to maintain ticket sales and popularity.

Key Albums:

Dickcheese (1988)

Love Is a Battlefield Of Broken Hearts (1989)

Yummy (1990)

Very Exciting! (2003)

Peel Me Like a Egg (2014)