1981 – present (36 years)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
* Keish De Silva - vocals, drums (1982-2001)
* Peter "Blackie" Black - guitar, vocals
* Ray Ahn - bass guitar
* Pete Kostic - drums (2002 - present)
The Hard-Ons are a band from Sydney, Australia formed in the early 1980s by three students from the Punchbowl Boys High School. The multicultural trio of drummer/vocalist Keish De Silva (of Sri Lankan descent), guitar/vocals Blackie (Yugoslavian heritage) and bassist Ray Ahn (Korean ancestry) were initially too young to play in licensed venues, but honed their skills playing at parties and school dances. After turning 18, the band made its first 'proper' live debut in June 1984 at Ultimo's Vulcan hotel. Quickly gaining a considerable following, the band released its debut EP (Surfin On My Face) the following year.
Subsequent recordings like Smell My Finger, Dickcheese, Love Is A Battlefield Of Wounded Hearts and Yummy! were well-received by fans and set the blueprint for the 'Hard-Ons sound': messy pop-punk with metal and psychedelia elements. The band also showed their independent punk spirit: recording, booking and promoting themselves, creating their own artwork, choosing support bands and even managing the merchandise desk whilst on tour. The Hard Ons stayed with a single independent label, Sydney's Waterfront Records for their early releases. This independent image combined with powerful live performances and a healthy sense of humour earned the band a large following in Europe as well as their native Australia.
1990s: Split and reformation
Following the release of 1994's Too Far Gone, the band members announced that they were breaking up, with an interest in pursuing projects outside the Hard-Ons' style of music. This break was interrupted by a 'reunion' gig in October 1997, which was followed by the release of a new EP (Yesterday And Today) and a Best Of compilation. Following This Terrible Place… in 2000, the band's first line-up change occurred, with charismatic drummer and singer Keish deciding to leave the band. To accommodate this, guitarist Blackie took up full-time vocals with the group and drummer Pete Kostic (Front End Loader / Regurgitator) was brought into the line-up. This new trio released Very Exciting! in 2003.
A 1987 BEAT Magazine article described the Hard-Ons' sound as "Motörhead meets the Beach Boys"; a quote that goes some way towards describing the band's take on the punk rock genre. Though originally inspired by punk bands such as Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, The Damned, Ramones and The Saints, the band also blended pop, psychedelia and metal elements; "death-pop" as once described by Ray Ahn. The band were also noteworthy not only within punk, but also within rock music for having their lead vocals handled by Keish, the group's drummer. The physical challenge of drumming to the band's fast punk rock songs as well as singing (as opposed to shouting) made for charismatic live performances.
Major recurring lyrical themes range from girls, love and relationships (e.g.: "I Do I Do I Do", "Just Being With You", "Girl in the Sweater") to toilet humour ("I Farted", "Oozin' for Pleasure") as well as other variations, particularly in the post-Keish line-up of the band.
Although not as widely known as some classic punk and independent bands, the Hard-Ons have carved a notch into the world of punk rock with a genuinely global following. Said to be Australia's most successful independent band ever they have sold over 250,000 records sold worldwide and had 17 number one hits on the Australian alternative charts. With a particularly strong following in Europe the band also has a number of prominent fans such as Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins (with who they recorded a cover of the AC/DC song Let There Be Rock in 1991). In Australia they have been specifically requested to open for such acts as The Ramones, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Butthole Surfers.
In 2005 the 21st anniversary of the band's first pub gig was celebrated by an Australian and European tour as a four-piece, with Pete drumming and Keish front stage, centre on vocals. Although technically still a three-piece band, it is clear that Keish De Silva still shares a close relationship with his old band. The album Most People Are A Waste Of Time was recorded with contributions from all four members, and released in 2006, with subsequent tours following.
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