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About Hard-Ons

One of the most popular and enduring bands on the Australian independent scene, the Hard-Ons specialized in fast, loud, and tuneful punk rock with strong melodic hooks that balanced out their fondness for rude adolescent humor, often rooted in sex and bodily functions. (They once described their approach as "Motörhead playing the Beach Boys.") Despite (or maybe because of) their cheerfully obnoxious side, the Hard-Ons achieved a degree of popular success few Aussie punk bands could match, landing 17 consecutive singles at the top spot of the Australian independent charts. Their earliest albums -- 1986's Smell My Finger and 1987's Hot for Your Love Baby -- capture their sound in all its primitive glory, and while they gained a bit more precision and heaviness with time, they never succumbed to the negative aspects of maturity; the 2009 compilation Suck and Swallow: 25 Years is the ideal overview of their career. Guitarist Peter "Blackie" Black, drummer Brendan Creighton, and guitarist Keish de Silva were three friends attending Punchbowl Boys High School in Western Sydney who had their heads turned around by punk rock and were eager to form a band. Originally calling themselves Dead Rats, Creighton dropped out of the group after a year, de Silva took over on drums, and Ray Ahn was brought aboard to play bass. After playing a few shows under the name the Plebs, by the end of 1992 they had changed their handle to the more straightforward banner the Hard-Ons. Initially, the group played parties and school dances as they were too young to play bars (one of their first gigs, a year-end party at their school, was prophetically shut down for being too loud), and didn't play their first club date until June 1984. Once they made their way into the Sydney club circuit, their live show won them a loyal audience, and in August 1985, the Hard-Ons released their debut EP, Surfin' on My Face, through the local punk label Vi-Nil Records. The disc sold well enough to make it onto the Australian indie/alternative charts, and the Hard-Ons were on their way. The first 12" release, the eight-song EP Smell My Finger, came out in 1986 and was part of a short-lived deal with RCA, as was the single "The Girl in the Sweater" b/w "I Heard Her Call My Name." By the end of 1987, the Hard-Ons had accumulated enough singles and compilation tracks that they issued Hot for Your Love Baby, which brought together 11 stray performances. The American branch of the Australian label Bigtime Records also assembled a compilation, issued in 1987 as Hard-Ons, that became their first release in the United States. In 1988, the second proper Hard-Ons album, Dick Cheese, made its way into stores through the independent Waterfront label, and fared well on the Australian charts, while 1989's Love Is a Battlefield of Wounded Hearts expanded their international following, reaching the Top Ten in Spain and Top Five in Greece and the U.K. Consistently prolific between 1990 and 1995, the Hard-Ons put out two full-length studio albums (Yummy! and Too Far Gone), a studio EP (Dateless Dudes Club), a live LP (Your Choice Live Series), and collaborations with the Stupids and Henry Rollins, in addition to plenty of live work (including an appearance at the first Big Day Out Festival). By the time the live disc arrived, the Hard-Ons had split up, citing a loss of interest in playing the same material. The split didn't last very long. In late 1997, they returned with a new EP, Yesterday & Today, featuring two unreleased tracks from the group's early days and two new numbers produced by Ed Kuepper of the Saints and the Laughing Clowns. Touring followed, and the album This Terrible Place appeared in 2000. By the time their next studio effort appeared, 2003's Very Exciting!, the Hard-Ons experienced their first lineup change when drummer and vocalist Keish de Silva left the band and Pete Kostic took over the drum throne. In 2005, 21 years after they played their first official gig, the Hard-Ons celebrated with a major tour with de Silva tagging along as vocalist with Black, Ahn, and Kostic. They were back to a trio for 2006's Most People Are a Waste of Time, and a companion album, Most People Are Nicer Than Us, came out the following year, though de Silva contributed to the sessions for both. The Hard-Ons teamed up with "America's Funnyman" Neil Hamburger for a 2009 EP, American Exports, which included a memorable cover of Black Flag's "Six Pack." In 2009, following the release of the album Alfalfa Males Once Summer Is Done Conform or Die, the band launched an Australian tour to celebrate 25 years together, and a limited-edition collection of demos, rarities, and live material, Eat Shit Listen to Horrible Music, was sold exclusively at the gigs; a vinyl edition became available in 2011. 2011 also saw the departure of Pete Kostic from the group, and Murray Ruse joined as drummer. In May 2012, Black suffered a skull fracture when he was struck in the head by a skateboard, and the Hard-Ons played several benefit shows to help pay for his medical care, with Keish de Silva returning to sing and play guitar. Once Black was healthy enough to return, the group stayed in touch with de Silva, and after contributing to Peel Me Like an Egg, he signed up as their full-time lead vocalist alongside Black, Ahn, and Ruse for 2019's So I Could Have Them Destroyed. ~ Mark Deming

Sydney, Australia

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