The Hard-Ons hailed from the Sydney (Australia) suburb of Punchbowl. With Korean, Ceylonese and Yugoslav-Australian backgrounds they made for a potent and volatile cultural collision.
Formed in 1981, this group of suburban misfits had to change their name before most venues would even book them and their unabashed suburbanism rubbed a raw spot with inner-city radio stations.
And their impassioned hymns to teen sex would have shocked most Porky’s (1981) fans rigid. But they also played rock & roll like they invented it, a feat that was guaranteed to impress Sydney’s jaded rock audiences.
Peter “Blackie” Black, Ray Ahn and Keish de Silva were young – late teens to early twenties – but their track record was amazing. Their first gig was at a suburban scout hall. It was broken up by the police.
Their second gig was at a birthday party held in a church hall. That one ended with the hostess in tears, her parents incensed and the band being beaten up by the guests. The legend of this energetic, fast and funny band grew like a lotus . . .
Along the way, there was a Hard-Ons singer appropriately named Mad Dog, but he left after five shows “because he cut his wrists while stage-diving,” according to Ray. Although, “he did come back from the hospital and finish the show in bandages”.
The Hard-Ons listed their influences as AC/DC, Kiss, Deep Purple, Hendrix, Black Sabbath, The Stooges, The Ramones, Motörhead, Motley Crue, RATT, The Who and a Swedish thrash metal band called Bathory. In short, they were young, fast and loud.
Their debut EP, Surfin’ On My Face (1985), sold well, and their originals (with titles like Coffs Harbour Blues, Been Had Before, Squathouse and Suck ‘n’ Swallow) proved popular.
While maintaining a solid underground following in Australia, the Hard-Ons proved particularly popular in Europe, scoring a Top 10 hit in Spain and a Top 5 slot in Greece with their 1989 album Love is a Battlefield of Wounded Hearts, which also made the Top 5 in the NME chart in the UK.
The band called it a day in 1993, although they reunited in 1997 for a series of gigs and a new EP, Yesterday And Today (1998).
The band reconvened again in the new millennium (with drummer Pete Kostic replacing de Silva) and released the Very Exciting! album in 2003. De Silva returned in 2005 (on vocals) and the band celebrated their 21st anniversary with Australian and European tours as a four-piece.
Recordings were made in 2006 with the intention of releasing a double album of material. This project was eventually released as two separate albums – the poppy Most People Are a Waste of Time (2006) and the heavier Most People Are Nicer Than Us (2007), with subsequent tours around Australia.
Peter “Blackie” Black
Keish de Silva