Published on January 19th, 2015 | by The Beige Baron


Live Review: The Hard-Ons, Lansdowne Hotel, 17th January 2015

—Review by The Nazzarene

I am a latecomer to the Hard-Ons (no pun intended). Living in Sydney during the ’80s and ’90s of course I knew they were out there, but somehow I had never properly heard their music. A couple of years ago it impressed me that they were STILL around recording and playing music, and so out of curiosity I downloaded one of their best-of albums. From the artwork on their albums and posters I had always imagined their music to be fairly abrasive, and contain a lot of screaming and carrying on. I was surprised by how melodic and catchy the songs were.

Soon after I saw they were playing a show down at the now deceased Fisherman’s Club at North Manly just down the road from me. Due to being a tired parent and other trials of life I had completely lost touch with the local pub music scene over the ’00s, and was really missing it. I went down expecting to hear them playing some of their classic hits like Sorry and Where Did She Come From. Instead, they delivered an hour of pure noise punishment to the 30 or so of us in the audience. I was pretty surprised, but being a metalhead from way back I was happy to cop it.

The god that drives cabs and wears KT-26s.I was impressed at how animated and technically proficient each of the players was. They put in 100% despite the poor punter turnout. Powerful and precise drumming at the back (Kostic), and two middle-aged long-haired men in shorts, white socks, and KT-26s at the front. They removed their t-shirts after an appropriate number of songs, and they continuously underwent violent spasms whilst playing. The singer had a good accent and sense of humour. “Yeah sorry, my muscles aren’t as impressive as usual—no time for the gym lately.” Very entertaining indeed.

When I got home I looked up their biography. I had seen the bass player working at record shops over the years, but I didn’t realise that the guitarist was a cab driver. When I read this I had a flashback about getting into taxi some years prior with a long-haired driver who looked like him. Dunno if it really happened. I was upset a year or so later when I heard he had been attacked in his cab up in North Sydney and had gone to hospital, so like many others I made a small donation to aid his recovery.

Since then I’ve seen them a couple of times, but not in the last year or so. A few days ago I heard they were playing at the Lansdowne, so I contacted various friends to see if they were interested in coming along. There was mild to high interest, but in the end the 10.30 pm start time proved too hard for each them. They were home cuddling their pillows.

I don’t think anything will ever beat the sound of a ’70s Gibson through a ’70s Marshall (or similar variants), with Boss Heavy Metal for overdrive.

After saying goodnight to the wife, I drove into town at 10 pm, listening for the first time to the excellent new album Peel Me Like An Egg at high volume. Having prepared a stiff alcoholic beverage in a thermos for my arrival in town, I slammed it down and hurried to the venue. I got a schooey and went up the front to listen to the sound check. I don’t think anything will ever beat the sound of a ’70s Gibson through a ’70s Marshall (or similar variants), with Boss Heavy Metal for overdrive. This combo is undisruptable and the equivalent of a Stradivari or Guarneri from the 17th century.

After a while they came on and started playing Peel Me… in its entirety. This album has a good amount of variety. Some very catchy pop tunes, some fast, heavy and dynamic metal songs, and one song with an introduction that uses a plucking method that harks back to For Those About to Rock….

Peel me.

Peel me.

After the first song started a few other punters joined me at the front, including one young lass with blue dreadlocks, and her smiling long-haired boyfriend. I felt nostalgia for the early ’90s. The crowd started to build up after a few songs. I guess there were about 100 punters enjoying the show.

Their old drummer/singer came up for a few of the poppier songs, which sounded great due to some fine vocal harmonisation between him and the guitarist. The latest drummer gets the thumbs up. I really enjoyed the whole show and was pretty disappointed when they stopped and didn’t come back for an encore.

I am out of the loop but I imagine programs like Spotify are controversial amongst punk rockers. I also imagine 1,000 stories have been written about this program so forgive my ignorance. Having recently signed up to it, and finding it pretty farking good, I was interested to know what members of the band thought of it. A number of their albums are on there. I had heard Spotify pay artists, but I didn’t know much about how it works.

I asked the bass player after the show what he thought about it, and whether they had registered with Spotify to get royalties. He said he didn’t know much about it, and that he couldn’t be bothered for the small amounts of money on offer. He said he was completely uninterested in money matters, and seemed kind of offended that I had brought it up.

As I walked back to the car, I looked up how much Spotify pays artists for each stream. The calculations are a bit complicated but it turns out to be about $AUD0.01 per stream (although this can vary). This means that after 100,000 streams an artist will be paid about $1,000. Spotify claims to give 70% of their profits back to artists as royalties (apparently totaling about $US1 billion in royalties in 2014).

I could then see why the bass player might not have been interested. But later I looked up the number of streams the Hard-Ons had in Spotify and it totaled well over 100,000, and on YouTube they have a lot more. All tolled it wouldn’t add up to much money, but still it is something. The number of users worldwide is continually growing, so there is potential for increased earnings.

PS I am not being paid by Spotify! I would have thought an established and respected band like them could end up doing OK. Obviously they are not in it for the money, but they work hard and deserve to get something for the quality service they provide. Of course Spotify could end up being replaced by some other platform, but given how convenient it is, I reckon there is a good chance it will hang around.

The Hard-Ons are underground heroes, and we’re lucky that they are still out there doing things the admirable way in which they do them. I look forward to next Saturday night for the next chapter of the Lansdowne residency.

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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

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