Pinball Punks from Punchbowl : Hard-Ons Live at Garageland

I asked Ray (Hard-Ons bass player and their in-house artist ) a few questions in preparation for the Hard-Ons gig in Cairns on Sat June 11.

Hi Ray. I bumped into you in Utopia Records 6 or 7 years ago and I asked if you’d ever play Cairns again. You said you’d been racially abused in Cairns and therefore no it wasn’t likely.

That was true, I really didn’t feel like going back there. After all, it’s not as if we have any shortage of places to play. We can play in Europe, Japan, USA, South America, and never cop racist stuff but to cop it in your own country is pretty pathetic, from your own countrymen. On top of that we only ever got asked once ever to play Cairns – until just now.

Sorry that Cairns fucked you around like that and thanks for giving us another chance – what changed your mind?

We got asked by a promoter and you can’t hold a grudge for that long.

Goatsound Records recently released a compilation of various artists re-interpreting your album Dickcheese – what do you think of it?

I am a huge fan because a lot of these bands have big differences stylistically with the Hard-ons, so for me it is very very flattering, to think that these bands would bother doing something like that. In almost all cases, the Goatsound versions are superior to ours.

So Keish is back!  Should we expect a sharing of vocal duties between Blackie and Keish, or has Keish learned all Blackie’s lines?

Keish is basically doing all the vocals – Blackie probably enjoys the extra freedom. He sings lead vocals in a few other projects so it’s not as if he will stop singing lead altogether.

My first awareness of the Hard-Ons was seeing the She’s a Dish cassingle at my local record store. At first I was drawn to it by the awesome artwork. Your art seems to have always been a huge part of the Hard-Ons. Was it always the plan for you to be the band’s artist?

Before I became bass player for the Hard-ons, I was doing some artwork for covers of demo cassettes, drum skin art and whatnot, for Blackie and Keish’s high school band THE DEAD RATS. When I joined the Dead Rats as bass player, after they kicked out their bass player Peter Bransgrove for not being into punk rock enough, the band changed their name to the PLEBS, that was from 1982 January till 1982 October, in October we changed the name to Hard-ons. Being inspired by punk ideology we decided to try to do most things ourselves including teaching ourselves how to play our instruments, and all the art as well. So I was the band’s artist before I was their bass player.

Speaking of art in music, was Raymond Pettibon or anyone else that you can think of an inspiration to you for your art?

I like Pettibon stuff but I can’t draw like him at all. My biggest heroes would be Carl Barks, Jack Kirby, an old Japanese comic called TIGER MASK, MC ESCHER, Hieronymous Bosch and Robert Crumb.

I’m a podcast geek, I listened to one called Depth Perception where Rusty from You Am I mentioned at some point in the late 80’s there was potentially going to be a Hard-Ons featuring him on drums and possibly Joel Silbersher on vocals. Can you tell me anything about that?

Yes Keish quit in 1988 after our Europe/USA tour.
We asked Russell to come jam with me and Blackie, he was in Cremator at the time, we’d done lots of shows with them in Perth. We knew him from a lot earlier when he was in Vicious Circle. Joel we mentioned because he is a great vocalist but I called him and he wanted to finish high school. After two jams it started to sound pretty good with Russell on drums so we said yes let’s do this, start working towards a new line-up. Keish after a few weeks declared he wanted back in and we could not say no to a friend whom we’d known since the mid 70s in Primary school. This left Russell with no band at all because the Cremator guys had already moved on without him. It is still one of my biggest regrets in life we did that to Russell. But to this day we are really good friends and to be honest, things worked out because he moved back to Melbourne and ended up eventually in YOU AM I who are doing really well.

Blackie is in the middle of his Song a Day adventure at the moment, have you had any involvement in that, and has there been any band chats about any of the tracks morphing into Hard-Ons songs?

Yes one song was given to the Hard-ons. It is pretty cool and Keish has been singing it well. Blackie mentioned me playing on a song or two but to be honest my daughter is 3 and my son is 11 weeks old, so I am extremely tied up with family stuff.
LINK

I heard you talking about what support bands had to do in the 80s – lugging the main band’s gear, getting treated a bit shit. Do you see that still happening now? and anyone that you want to name and shame?

In general bands did not behave badly towards each other, there was a lead guitarist of an 80’s band in Australia who was a bit of a tool but that was it. It was just how things worked, the crew of the main bands used to be pretty brutal at times but I have not witnessed anything recently.

Nunchukka Superfly (Ed note: One of Ray’s other bands, also featuring Blackie) supported Grinspoon (who are very nice guys) back in 1999 for three shows. We were suddenly taken aback at how fucked some of their crew were and we thought- holy shit- how old school- haven’t seen that for years. But me and Blackie, we were no babes in the woods so we just found it comical. Blackie thought about smashing one of them though, when he threatened to throw his guitar across the stage to hurry him up when we were setting up.

MORE TALES HERE

You’ve teamed up with Dave Faulkner and James Baker a few times as the Television Addicts (playing songs from the Victims). How much did the Victims influence you as a music fan back in the day?

It was incalculable.

and was it daunting to play with dudes like that?

It wasn’t daunting. I’d been friends with them for so long, it was just like forming a band with great mates, except the songs had great history to them. It was a total honour but it wasn’t daunting at all. I thought I could do the songs justice, I had a pretty good gauge on my own ability at playing songs like that on bass.

Do you have any favourite bands / records you’re into at the moment worth mentioning?

Yes I am listening to Rockin’ Bones: 1950s Punk and Rockabilly – LINK

I find the great thing about music is that it allows time travel. When I hear rockabilly music from the 50’s I am fascinated not only by the songs but the technique. I have learnt a lot of bass playing technique from this compilation. Things such as dead notes for example. There is just too much cool music. It is not necessary to just look out for new releases. I tend to go back and forth into time finding new sounds. Rockabilly music sounds fresh to a lot of people because we don’t hear it much nowadays.

Metal bands often get censored with brown bags, etc. for there intense artwork, hip-hop cops it a bit too, and Walmart censored Nirvana (“Rape Me” was re-titled “Waif me”) – Has there ever been any Hard-ons releases that were censored in relation to any artwork or text /lyrics?

GIRL IN THE SWEATER single back in 1986 had to be sold in Brown paper bags in Queensland because of Sir Joh. SMELL MY FINGER in USA had to be called “HARD-ONS” with a different cover – which was mind-blowing- the pressing plant at RCA records went on strike over SMELL MY FINGER.

Ummm, I guess I should ask more Cairns/live specific stuff ….

ummmm – What should Cairns expect from this gig? (that sounds like a pretty hack question sorry so feel free to skip it)

It will be lots of fun.

Hard-Ons play Garageland (at the Grand), on Saturday June 11th
with Swamp Donkey, Meat Bikini and Tropic Roots.
RSVP HERE

TICKETS AVAILABLE AT THE GRAND BOTTLE SHOP AND MAKIN’ WHOOPEE STORE (IN THE CAFFIEND ARCADE ON GRAFTON ST) +

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