The Hard-Ons return for their 30th Anniversary Tour, playing at the Prince Of Wales, Bunbury, this Friday, May 30; Augusta Margaret River Football Club on Saturday, May 31; the Railway Hotel on Sunday, June 1, and the Astor Rocks on Monday, June 2. SHANE PINNEGAR chats with vocalist/guitarist, Peter ‘Blackie’ Black.
Hailing from Punchbowl, in Sydney’s Western suburbs, the Hard-Ons have spent the past three decades – they played their first official gig on June 20, 1984, and released their debut 7-inch single, Surfin’ On My Face, in 1985 – wilfully defying categorisation.
An ultra-fast blast of hyper-riffy, super-catchy punk energy, it also had a surf-rock vibe and some of the sweetest melodies since the ‘60s girl groups like The Vandellas and The Supremes.
Hyperactive, hyper-addictive blasts Girl In The Sweater and All Set To Go followed in quick succession and it seemed like there was no limitations, musically, for the band at that time.
“No, none whatsoever,” Blackie agrees. “We just liked music so it didn’t matter what sort as long as it was good. But obviously you can tell from what we play that we basically like rock ‘n’roll.”
The band’s stew of influences hooked many instantly – punk attitude, metal riffs, pop melodies, pub atmosphere and a sense of humour. It was like everything to love about music all wrapped up in one sweaty package.
“We loved it all,” Blackie notes. “We just wanted to be a part of it. We were enthralled by it and wanted to do it too.”
It wasn’t long before Blackie started experimenting with feedback and noise, incorporating more metal riffs into the Hard-Ons’ sonic attack. As the band’s sound evolved, their attitude stayed exactly the same, and they enjoyed a run of 17 consecutive #1 singles on the Australian Alternative charts, from the metal psych-out (and signature cue for Blackie to go wild on his axe) Suck & Swallow, to their collaboration with the mighty Henry Rollins on a cover of AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock, to later walls of noise Crazy, Crazy Eyes and She’s A Dish.
“I would like to think we evolved,” Blackie says, “but I think even from our first record we’ve had sort of straight ahead pop with quite elaborate metal like Made To Love You. So, we feel we’ve done that sort of shit from day one. Sometimes you’re feeling melodic and other times you’re feeling abrasive.”
Blackie says that childhood friendship with his bandmates, bassist Ray Ahn and singer/drummer, Keish DeSilva – who left the band in 1991 and now only performs with them sporadically, but will be onboard for this tour – is key to how they’ve put up with each other for so long.
“We just know each other really well,” he explains. “So even when someone’s at their worst, the other person knows how to deal with it. We are probably friends more than we are bandmates, but we’re also very musically close bandmates, too. We met at primary school – not just at high school but primary school. To me we just seem like the same old farts.”