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Albums Of The Week: The Hard-Ons | I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken

Australia's trailblazing punks return with a new singer, but the same fire in the belly.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Record-breaking, trail-blazing Australian outfit The Hard-Ons — who have been cranking out their own brand of punk rock for nearly 40 years now (yes, they started young!) — have announced the addition of a new member, one Tim Rogers, as lead singer on their 13th album I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken.

Rogers, who recently celebrated his best chart debut in 20 years when You Am I‘s new album The Lives of Others landed at No. 2, is not only a long-time friend of the band, but a long-time fan, having caught them numerous times in his teenage years and bought their records from the start. Never happy with less than a full plate, Rogers will of course remain with You Am I, and will no doubt keep doing all the other things he does, but as of now he is also The Hard-Ons’ frontman.

The Hard-OnsRay Ahn says, “I’m thrilled to have Tim on board, and I am loving his contribution!” Bandmate Blackie concurs, “How fucking good is this!!” Tim himself has said, “I was already the luckiest goof in rock ’n’ roll, and I get asked to make a racket with my heroes? Strewth. Wake me up sometime, will ya?”

One of Australia’s most loved and influential bands from the mid-’80s through to now, The Hard-Ons came out of the multicultural South-West Sydney suburb Punchbowl and quickly won a large following nationally with their irreverent attitude and catchy, noisy high energy sound. Appearing on the Radio Birdman-influenced scene of the early ’80s and preceding the punk-pop boom of the ’90s, The Hard-Ons were a musical bridge and became a punk and alternative music sensation, blowing open doors by incorporating disparate elements — including a range of metal styles from glam to thrash — which were previously unheard in Australian punk. All the while, they were forced to push through other barriers; barriers that appeared because of their mixed ethnicity and their wilfully transgressive and irreverent nature, which was typified by their name and by Ray’s outrageous artwork.

In their early days, The Hard-Ons shared bills with the likes of The Ramones and Nirvana. They scored a never-bettered 17 consecutive No. 1s on the Australian independent charts and in 1989 were the only Australian band still based in Australia to hit the top 5 in the NME charts (the only Australian artists to have achieved that — Nick Cave and The Go-Betweens — were U.K.-based). Despite breakups and the formation of other bands (Ray & Blackie’s other ongoing Nunchukka Superfly) and, in Blackie’s case, a solo career, The Hard-Ons undertook their 19th European tour in 2018, when they played the massive metal festival Hellfest alongside Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Joan Jett.

Over the years, The Hard-Ons have won the vocal support of artists like Dave Grohl, Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra. They’ve influenced subsequent generations of punk bands from The Meanies to Frenzal Rhomb to Private Function, as well as a wide-ranging groundswell of Australian alternative artists from You Am I to Spiderbait to Silverchair to Regurgitator to Magic Dirt to Powderfinger to The Dirty Three to The Chats.”