Interview: PT’s John Baker speaks to Hard Fi frontman Richard Archer who is pretty certain he’s been to Peterborough before - he just can’t remember the exact time.
Update, please note: Peterborough Festival finale in Central Park cancelled due to rain, 7 July.
We leave the interview below live for music fans:
It’s seven years since the Staines-based four piece indie rock group, the main attraction of the Peterborough Arts Festival in Central Park on Saturday, released their first album.
But Richard said: “I’m pretty sure that before Hard Fi happened, and I was a member of a group called Contempo, we played in Peterborough when we were touring.
“That would have been about ten years ago but I can’t remember much about it, I’m sure it was a very nice place!”
Of course, much has happened since then: three albums, Brit Award nominations, appearances at Glastonbury, SXSW, and the Milton Keynes Bowl.
So it’s no wonder that Hard -Fi - Richard (lead vocals and guitar), Ross Phillips (guitar and backing vocals), Kai Stephens (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Steve Kemp (drums and backing vocals) are a little hazy about their early exploits.
Hard-Fi’s musical style is described as a mix of post-punk, indie and a Clash style of punk rock.
But Richard said that Peterborough fans should expect something a little different when the group hits the stage on Saturday night, particularly as the group is working on new material.
He said: “Most festivals only happen at the weekends, so we get the chance to have two or three days in the stuido every week and trying bits and pieces.
“We have got lots of ideas and some are quite different.
“Sometimes those ideas are not the sort of things you would hear from Hard-Fi’ on Radio 1, sometimes they are something else.
“So in the week we can try things and on the weekends we can test them out.
“That’s what we can do for a few months now, and then when the festivals end we can really get out heads down for our next project”
“Everywhere is different and every venue has its plus points and things that make it great.
“With some of the bigger events you’re straining to see things on a screen, and one gust of wind and you can’t hear anything because you’re so far back.
“In the ‘smaller venues’ there’s that laid back festival vibe and it just feels more intimate.”
Hard-Fi formed in 2003, after Archer’s previous band Contempo dissolved at the start of the decade.
At least some of Hard-Fi’s sound was based on his experiences of moving back to Staines of which he once said: “There’s no record shops, there’s no decent pubs, there’s no venues, there’s no decent clothes shops.
“Look around, it’s quite pleasant but if you’re a young person living here then you’re into a certain type of music - chart house - and a certain fashion, and if you’re not into that there is nothing here for you.”
The unconventional sound was recorded in bedrooms, in pubs, and played back in their producer, Wolsey White’s, BMW.even putting a microphone in the corridor to pick up atmospheric background noise.
That sound proved popular, as the initial run of records of debut album ‘Stars of CCTV’ sold out, receiving critical acclaim and radio play, proving a lot more successful than the band had imagined.
Hits such as ‘Tied Up Too Tight’, ‘Cash Machine’, and ‘Living for the Weekend’made that summer one to remember for indie rock fans.
The NME described the album as “the album of the year” and gave the album 9/10 in a very positive review.
That was 2005. Two years later came the second album Once Upon a Time in the West, and last year Killer Sounds was released.
The group is still in touch with their roots, as can be seenon their official website, which indulges Richard’s other great passion, football.
Go to their website and you will see links to both Staines FC and Brentford.
Richard predicts The Bees will make the playoffs, despite the addition of clubs such as Doncaster, Coventry and Portsmouth, relegated from the Championship last season when Posh and other expected strugglers survived.
As for the band, they have dates in Nottingham, Devon and Bingley among their upcoming tour.
Their music is not the sort of music that climbs the charts, and you might go months without hearing them.
Does it matter? Is the group where it wants to be now?
Richard said: “If you look at the charts it’s all one-way traffic of r’n’b acts.
“But when we started it it was never about getting into the top ten anyway.
“It’s not about getting in the charts.
“It’s about good tunes, and the excitement of getting in the studio and creating something. We still have the thrill of doing that.
“We’ve just re designed our studio.
“When it’s taken two weeks longer than you thought, and there’s cups everywhere you regret it.
“But then you just get excited about playing some songs, trying some new tunes, and hitting the festivals.”
Factfile: “Hard-Fi” is the name given to the sound produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry, a reggae and dub artist, at his Black Ark recording studio. The band were admirers of his work.
Hard-Fi’s first live performance was at Manchester’s “In the City” music event in 2003. They later played London’s Brixton Academy making them one of the few bands to play five consecutive sold-out nights.
In February 2006, the band were nominated for two BRIT Awards, Best British Group and Best British Rock Act, alongside international superstars such as Gorillaz, Franz Ferdinand and Oasis.
Hard-Fi have their own video podcast, which is known as Hard-Fi: Rockin’ the City, available on their website, iTunes, Myspace page and YouTube channel
In 2007 Once Upon a Time in the West went straight in at #1 in the Album Charts, giving Hard-Fi a second #1 album
Hard-Fi’s single “Good for Nothing” was premiered on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show last year receiving airplay as the ‘Hottest Record in the World’.