The Hard-Ons at the Link and Pin Cafe, Woy Woy, Dec 10 2021. Pic by Mark Fraser
If there’s one consistent reaction to the live shows that The Hard-Ons have been performing in the last year with new frontman, Tim Rogers, it’s that the band have been on fire.
“Man, for me personally, it’s been amazing,” says guitarist, Peter ‘Blackie’ Black. “To me, it finally feels like we’re a four-piece. All four of us are really gleeful when we get up onstage. It’s a magical unit. It really unreal together, we really connect.”
It’s now embedded in Australian music history that Rogers joined The Hard-Ons in early 2021 to record the excellent I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken album, following the departure of Keish de Silva, due to a combination of issues pertaining to his personal life and perhaps not sharing the same fire as his ex-bandmates.
“Look, it is difficult to talk about,” ponders Blackie. “And personally, I don’t want to speak on anyone else’s behalf as well. People grow up together and then nearly 40 years later, they feel very differently about certain things. I think Keish thought he liked being back in a band but he kind of forgot that it isn’t just rocking out, there’s actually a ton of fucking work that’s gotta go into being in a band. And I don’t think he was as enthused as we were.
“So it kind of felt like he was really, not ho-hum… but it was like, ‘ah, that’s a drag’. It’s like, ‘yeah, but man, you gotta work it’ – because you know, The Hard-Ons are a band that has never sat still. We’ve always wanted to write better songs, be better players, be better everything. It’s what we do. We love this shit to death. I think as soon as you stop getting better, as soon as you start resting, then you become one of those bands that starts start to suck, you know?
“And with this line-up, all four are really, really into it. When we bring a new song in, all of us jump on top of it. We give it everything and that definitely carries over when we play live. It really gels.”
In a previous interview, Rogers told this writer that for the first couple of shows with The Hard-Ons he’d pre-planned moments on stage as he was fronting the band onstage for the first time and doing so without a trusty guitar around his neck. Once the first show (in December 2021 at the Link & Pin Café in Woy Woy) kicked in however, all ‘pre-plans’ went out the door and simply being in the energy of the moment was everything.
“I guess everyone performs differently and everyone has different ways of getting themselves ready,” Blackie considers. “To me, I never ‘perform’ you know? I never know what’s gonna happen. When I get up on stage and switch the amp on and we’re getting enough drums out of the monitors that sort of tells me how the night is gonna be. I don’t like thinking about it; I just love that first rush that you get.
“It’s not just the tunes and playing with these guys, it’s also that awesome excitement of the volume that you get to produce. Like, I can turn right up now and that is really enjoyable. That’s the physical aspect of the volume. And then obviously, there’s also the killer energy that you get from people who have come to see you and they want to loosen up as well so they’re yelling back at you and we’re yelling back at them. And it’s like this constant to-and-fro exchange of energy and that’s kind of how, for me, a show goes.
“But I know what Tim meant, you know? Like he was really intimidated by it. ‘What are your fans gonna think of me?’ And we’re like, ‘man, we think the world of you, and we know how strong this is. It’s like, don’t worry about it. Let’s just go out there and do it’. That’s exactly how it went – he got offstage and went, ‘yep, that was something else!’.”
Upon joining The Hard-Ons, Rogers presented the band with a wishlist of 70 songs he was keen to perform. It turns out his choice of gems was right up their alley.
“Man, that’s what I really liked,” Blackie says. “I reckon – especially that album Peel Me Like An Egg – we’ve had so much bad luck with some of our last few records. In terms of Peel Me Like An Egg, which I was stupidly proud of, but then it fell on the back of our 30-something-or-other anniversary. So it’s like, ‘I don’t want to do that shit. I want to promote our new record’. And it’s like, well, ‘it’s kind of rude not to acknowledge the fact that you’ve been around for this long’. So I say, ‘oh alright’.
“In a lot of ways, a lot of the stuff that Tim digs are the records that kind of got forgotten. So picking up these songs was like, ‘shit yeah! We played this maybe twice’. So getting to play them again, has been a buzz.
“You know, whatever’s new is the most exciting thing and you’re proud and want to show it off and all that. But I’m not a dick. Man, if I went to see Slayer and they didn’t play Reign In Blood I’d be pretty pissed off. So of course we’re gonna play old songs as well, but the thing that sometimes people have to understand is, you might still dig a song that we might be a little bit bored with at the moment. If we attempted to play it, and we’re not into it, it probably won’t be a stellar performance. So you’ve got to sort of balance it. So we rotate old songs and you know, you play something for a while and go, ‘well that was fun, but let’s give it a rest. Let’s pick out some more’.
“So it’s been pretty fun having Tim and Murray as well, when he joined, he was like, `Man, I’d love to try this and that and that’. So… mix it up, make a call.”
While a new 7-inch single and video clip for Needles And Pins (backed with a non-album track, Spider Tree) has been released just this week, Blackie has been working on demos for the next Hard-Ons album which is set to be recorded at a studio inside MONA in Hobart in December. And, according to Rogers, the guitarist/songwriter already has his ears and eyes focussed on the one after that.
“People think it’s strange, but it’s actually not. It sounds like a lot, but I really like writing. So that’s all I do all day long. I remember reading an interview with Pete Shelley not that long ago. And he goes, ‘I probably write I don’t know, maybe 200 songs a year, but it doesn’t mean that they’re 200 good ones it means that of 200 I might get 30 that will go on a record’.
“So it’s not so much so I’m planning the next record. I am seeing what this record is shaping up to be like and might think, ‘I love that song, but there’s too many songs already with the same vibe. So put it aside for the next one’, or maybe do it solo. Whenever I’m blessed enough to get an idea, I just fool around with it and do a demo and wherever it goes, it goes.
“So yes, I am, but I always do that. I can’t help myself, it’s fun!”
THE-HARD ONS WA TOUR DATES
Thu Aug 4 – The Prince, Bunbury (Leeches + Ocean Drive) –TIX
Fri Aug 5 – Amplifier. Perth + Seawitch + Leeches – TIX
Sat Aug 6 – Indian Ocean Hotel, Scarborough + Seawitch + The Secret Buttons – TIX
Sun Aug 7 – Mojo’s, Fremantle + Rinehearts + The Shakeys –TIX