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One of Australia's most popular, most enduring, and most defiantly independent punk bands, the Hard-Ons have been around on and off since 1982. In that time they have been an influence on more than one generation of punk fans while earning respect from musicians around the world. Their own description their mix of punk, pop, and metal is "Motörhead playing the Beach Boys." Peter "Blackie" Black was one of many musicians inspired to form a band by the Sex Pistols. Unlike members of Joy Division and the Buzzcocks who got their inspiration from seeing them in the flesh, Black saw them on TV while he was a Sydney high-schooler. After rushing out to buy their album, he visited his friend Keish de Silva and told him they were forming a band, no questions asked. Black learned to play the guitar and de Silva the drums. They were joined by a fellow student of Punchbowl Boys High, Brendan Creighton, on vocals for their first gig at the school's end-of-year party. Prophetically, the police had to shut them down for being too loud. They first called themselves the Dead Rats, then the Plebs, before finally settling on the Hard-Ons for its ability to annoy adults. Creighton left and later formed the band Thrust, and the Hard-Ons were joined by Ray Ahn on bass while de Silva took over the singing. A three-piece punk band with a singing drummer, made up of underage kids from migrant families, wasn't the norm for the western suburbs of Sydney, but their sound and their violent stage antics impressed the crowds. Their debut, the 1985 EP Surfin' on My Face, featured Ahn's cover art as part of their do-it-yourself ethic, which also had them promoting themselves, personally choosing their support bands and even managing their own merch stand. It also marked the beginning of the love affair between the Hard-Ons and Australia's independent charts, making it to number two. A brief flirtation with the RCA label produced their first album, Smell My Finger, in 1986. Friction between the band and RCA, which wasn't impressed by the album's title, ended with the Hard-Ons returning to their independent roots for the rest of their career. Broadening their sound with dashes of power pop, psychedelic rock, thrashy metal, and a healthy dose of humor lead to successful tours of Europe and a constant string of albums from the hardworking Hard-Ons. In 1987 they released their self-titled album as well as Hot for Your Love Baby and The Worst of the Hard-Ons The next year they released Dickcheese and a split 10" with Brit band the Stupids, called No Cheese! Their final release from this prolific period was 1989's Love Is a Battlefield of Wounded Hearts. Touring Europe and the U.S., where they supported the re-formed Buzzcocks, the Hard-Ons found they had fans on the other side of the world. One of these fans turned out to be Henry Rollins, who met with the band in 1990 to record a cover of AC/DC's classic "Let There Be Rock." Other fans included the Ramones, who asked for the Hard-Ons to be their support act during their 1991 tour of Australia. That year they released the album Yummy!, named after a sign they passed while arguing over a title. For the first half of the '90s they remained prolific, releasing Dateless Dudes Club in 1992 and Too Far Gone in 1993. They toured for two more years before calling it a day, ending the band to follow other projects. The breakup didn't last long. In 1997 they were playing gigs as the re-formed Hard-Ons and a Best Of was released in 1999. Their 2000 release, This Terrible Place, was to be the last featuring Keish de Silva. Black took over the vocals in his stead and they were joined by Pete Kostic of the bands Regurgitator and Front End Loader on drums. The new lineup released Very Exciting! in 2003.
Rumours of a double album were quelled when the Hard-Ons instead released two more albums back to back. Most People Are a Waste of Time, their 2006 release, focussed on their old-fashioned pop-punk sound, while Most People Are Nicer Than Us, their 2007 release, focussed on their thrash metal sound. ~ Jody Macgregor
- Sydney, Australia
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