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Hard-Fi - An exclusive IndieLondon interview

Interview: Jack Foley

HARD-Fi are the product of their suburban West London environment; the sound of twenty-something gun-slingers on the minimum wage.

It's the sound of a band weaned on the heady concrete glamour of The Clash, The Specials, Curtis Mayfield, and Happy Mondays.

In love and in debt - the raw materials required to soundtrack a life of box-fresh Adidas, Berwick Street vinyl, and the black economy.

New single, Tied Up Too Tight, is set to follow the success of Hard-Fi’s debut single, Cash Machine.

In an exclusive interview with IndieLondon's Jack Foley, the band's lead singer, Rich Archer, talks about their story so far, the forthcoming debut album and their plans for the future.

Q. Hello there, it's proving to be an exciting year for Hard-Fi, what with new singles, an album on the way, and a host of tour dates coming up. How does it feel your end?
It's all a bit surreal right now - this time six months ago we were scratching around trying to record and release our own record - and now everything's gone a little crazy, but crazy good. We just can't wait to get out on the road.

Q. New single, Tied Up Too Tight, is another corker, how did you feel to have Zane Lowe describe it as 'the hottest record in the world'?
It was really great, though to be honest he has a 'hottest record in the world' every week - it's all a bit unreal though, until someone living in, say, Birmingham has gone out and bought it cos it's their 'hottest record in the world'.

Q. The track is described as being about the desire to escape the mundanity of hometown boredom? Is that aimed at Staines in particular? I grew up in the same area, living in Stanwell Moor and regularly venturing out into Staines with trepidation!
You're from the manor!! It was written about Staines but it applies to any satellite town of any city anywhere in the world.

Q. And yet you set up your own Cherry Tree recording studios on an industrial estate there? How often are you there? And do you get many other bands in? How easy was it to set up? And what prompted you to do it?
Having no rehearsal studios in the area, it made more sense to rent our own room and we ended up recording some demo's with borrowed equipment and they sounded really really great. In the end we've recorded our entire album there.

Q. Staines' proximity to Heathrow probably played a big factor in securing 'access' to Heathrow's runway for the Cash Machine video. What inspired you to do that? And what was it like filming a video with planes landing overhead? Did you get into much trouble afterwards?
We couldn't afford to film an expensive video but we wanted to make an impression; Heathrow is on our doorstep so we had a good idea of what we could get away with. It was difficult hearing the tape machine playing the track when you have a 747 30ft overhead. No trouble as yet.

Q. What do you think of Heathrow's expansion plans? Is it something that you view as beginning to get out of control?
There was a public inquiry into T5. When they gave it the go-ahead all the materials were in site within days - slightly suspicious???

Q. Let's talk about the forthcoming album a little bit. You mention that, like the band itself, it is the product of its west London environment and of being in love and in debt. Care to elaborate?
We just talk about where we come from and what effects us and that's being in debt and in love (amongst other things) in West London - but that could be anywhere in the country...

Q. What are your favourite tracks and why?
Stars of CCTV and Unnecessary Trouble - the way they came together; for instance, Stars Of CCTV is the original demo version. We used it cos it had a quality that felt just right.

Q. How much of Stars of CCTV will be incorporated?
Only a few people got hold of Stars, so we're gonna re-release it with five or six new tracks as a full length album.

Q. The original Stars of CCTV itself is apparently now going on Ebay for about £50 a pop. Does that bring an enormous sense of satisfaction? How easy was it to get made?
We made the album ourselves and we just begged and borrowed to get it made, but I think that's what gives it its sound. When we licensed the album we carried on the way we started. It's not about big studios, just will power.

Q. How was South by Southwest recently? And how has the reaction to you in America been thus far? Is it somewhere you would like to crack?
It was a great trip and even before we went we had emails and calls flying in from the USA. It's been kind of surreal when your sat in Staines.

Q. What have been your favourite gigs so far? Any extra special memories or anecdotes you'd care to share?
There's been some real special shows. Recently, at Frog in London, our first show after licensing to Atlantic, the whole of Staines was there and it went off, lots of 'too cool for school london' types looked on in disbelief...

Q. The rest of the year looks like being a busy one with live performances, which are you most looking forward to?
All of them really.

Q. What is the grand plan for Hard-Fi? What would you like to achieve/bring to the music scene? A. We are not ashamed to say we want success; it's not about money, it's about people respecting you for what you've sweated blood and sacrificed things for.
Also we wanna see the world - aside from doing that in Hard-fi, the only other way we could afford to do that would be by joining the Armed Forces.

Q. Thank you and good luck for the future.

Related stories: Read the album review

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