At the beginning of 2011, Hard- Fi were a band that weren’t on many peoples lips, the group had not released a new hit track in nearly three years but finally they are back again. On top form with their blinding set at the Glastonbury festival and their new album 'Killer Sounds', Gigwise talks to frontman Richard as we uncover the stories behind their long absence and the new album.
So Richard, how has this year been for you so far; any particular events that have stood out for you?
A lot of this year we’ve spent so far has been in the studio and mixing the album, but going to Glastonbury was great as it’s a nice vibe there and really friendly. We didn’t know what to expect as there were quite a few big bands playing at the same time as us and the response was great, there was people packed in the tent and a few thousand people outside of it. That was a really cool thing as we’d only been playing club shows to hardcore fans but it was great to connect with that many people and to see that people were still interested in what we do.
So playing a set like that at Glastonbury with all its prestigious history must have been a big confidence boost to the band?
Yea it was, the tent itself is pretty small and like I said we didn’t know what to expect if people really gave a s**t anymore but it was not only good for us but also the people that we work with as well and it was just a good chance to remember all the other great gigs that we’d played in the past as well which was a great feeling overall for all of us.
You recently had a rushed together performance at the iTunes festival (due to Jessie J having to cancel her headlining set) and had a chance to drop in some of your new songs; did you feel they went down well?
I think it did yea, it was kind of a weird one as there was only about a hundred odd people there and we felt that we would never get a few thousand people to fill the roundhouse; but as it turns out when we were speaking to the guys at Apple, they had got so many applications for that gig that we would have comfortably done it. But, we thought lets not take that chance and still go ahead with a small intimate gig and so about half of the fans there had already heard the new stuff due to Good for Nothing played on the radio. I think that the reaction has been good, I know its not the same as when we play Living for the Weekend when it all goes nuts but I hope when the fans get a chance to listen to it all that it will go down well.
What is the story behind your new album name Killer Sounds?
Were it came from is I was looking for ideas for songs on the internet and looking through all kinds of different news articles from all over the world, and I came across this story about a guy in Columbia who takes guns that have been used in the drugs wars and he turns them into guitars. I love that idea of taking something destructive and turning it into something creative; for example, one of the guns was an AK47 with the barrel of the gun being used a fret board and the knobs where the ammo clip is. The article for that story was called ‘Killer Sounds’ and I really liked that title as it reminded me of those old 70’s reggae compilation albums and when I had finished looking up other ideas and came back to this article I wrote the song Killer Sounds and I thought why not call the album that.
This new album has been a good 18 months in the making, are you glad you’ve had that amount of time to make it?
Yes and no. One of the reasons it took so long was that we had worked with a couple of different people on some of the tracks on the record and we always try to work with the best people we can, and we when we were talking to producer Stuart Price we were a bit adamant about it as we know he’d worked on a lot of dance albums so will this work out? And when I met him it was a very good experience because he had so much knowledge of music and he really got the vibes up, So I gave him a demo CD of the ideas we had in mind and even with his busy schedule the next day he had emailed me with a really in depth critique of all the songs and he we got talking about getting into the studio with him in the next month, but unfortunately 1 month became 9 months and although with the amount of time that we had and we didn’t want to rush it, it does start to make you overthink stuff along with the people around you. The amount of times we had a song we would think maybe this or that would make it sound better but at the end, it was just better as it was when we had originally thought it up.
In this album, you’ve had a lot more people to work with, do you think that made the band sound better on this record?
In some respects. Two different people did four of the tracks on the album. Two with Stuart Price and two with Greg Kurstin. The track we did with Stuart were pretty advanced before we went in with him and although he definitely added his touch to it, if you listen to the demo of Fire in the House its not a million miles away from the album version and with Greg one of the tracks that he helped re do we liked so much we’re going to release it on the bonus edition of the album as it’s a really cool disco version. I think we did learn a lot from those guys and helped us evolve, it was a real collaborative effort.
Now your band has had a good connectivity with your fans about how they can relate to your songs, do you think there will be some songs on this new album that again fans can definitely relate to?
I think so, there’s a track called Sweat that is about getting through that daily grind of life. Also Good for Nothing for me was always about people saying that you’re this or you’re that but me saying why should I let these people run my lives? f**k them! I don’t care; I guess that’s the vibe behind that track. I do hope people do like the songs as when I write songs I write them mainly about my life but as I do feel that I owe it to the fans I hope that they can connect to it as well.
Does the album’s upcoming release feel like a big weight off your shoulders?
Its really exciting! it does almost feel like when we put the first album out (Stars of CCTV) as we had no idea of how it was going to be received and times have changed since we put that out as well and we’ve been away for a long time, so it’s the almost nerve-racking feeling and we’re just looking forward to getting out there and reminding people what a great time they can have at a Hard-Fi show.
You have your upcoming tour in September and already the London date for that is sold out; are there any particular songs that you are looking forward to performing?
We still really look forward to doing songs like Hard to Beat and Living for the Weekend and people ask do we ever get bored of playing them and we say no we don’t because people goes nuts its brilliant! And with new material like Fire in the House its quite challenging to do live but I think we have it nailed down and hopefully tracks like Excitement and Sweat will be great as they’re big rocking numbers, there’s a lot of work to be done but we’re definitely up for it as we’ve been sat on our arse’s for 18 months eating biscuits!
In between the time you’ve spent making the new record, have you been keeping your ears to the ground listening to new bands that you are looking forward to hearing from in the future?
The bands that I’ve been mostly getting excited about are bands that haven’t been signed yet. I always like Friendly Fires and the different elements that they put into their songs so I really like what they do. I recently went to see a band called the Patrick James Pearson Band who are really exciting to watch live and through our label mates there’s a band called Dirty Goods from Wales and they’ve got this really cool indie style band with a slight Prince influence to their sound and I generally like to hear what other people are getting into as I don’t like the whole gatekeepers saying you should like band or this song and hopefully we can get those two bands as our support on tour.