Hard-Fi singer Richard Archer has revealed to NME that the band are likely to play more shows, after their comeback gig at London’s O2 Forum sold out in just three minutes on Friday (April 29).
The concert on October 1 will be the Staines four-piece’s first gig since 2014, when the band went on hiatus after three Top 10 albums. Now, it looks like more gigs could be on the horizon.
“After the reaction this show has had, we’d like to do more,” Archer told NME. “What that might be, right now I’ve no idea. We need to sit down with our promoter and work it all out.”
During their time together, Hard-Fi scored six Top 20 singles including ‘Cash Machine’, ‘Hard To Beat’ and ‘Suburban Knights’, as well as seeing their albums ‘Stars Of CCTV’ and ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ reach Number One. Final album ‘Killer Sounds’ made it to Number 9 in 2011. Speaking to NME, Archer admitted that he suffered imposter syndrome throughout Hard-Fi’s fame. The Forum show is now chance for the band – also including guitarist Ross Phillips, bassist Kai Stephens and drummer Steve Kemp – to finally enjoy their success without any pressure.
To find out what inspired Hard-Fi’s comeback, the possibility of new material and looking coked up on Later…With Jools Holland, read on for Archer’s exclusive thoughts.
Hi, Richard. Congratulations on the Forum show selling out immediately
Richard Archer: “Thanks! It’s insane. I didn’t know what the response would be to the gig, but one reason for doing it is that more and more people on social media and in the street were asking when we’d do something again. I was really nervous when the pre-sale went on sale. I was getting messages from friends saying: ‘Something’s wrong, I can only get seated tickets… No, there’s nothing at all now’. I thought there was some typical Hard-Fi problem, so I phoned the promoter who told me: ‘No, it’s all sold-out, you went in seven minutes.’ The rest went in three minutes. I thought: ‘Wow, this is weird!’ The whole of Staines is already asking me for tickets.”
Did you need much persuading to return?
“No. We’ve never fallen out, it’s not like we weren’t friends. We met up before last Christmas and we were all up for it. We did think maybe we should save it for the anniversary of something, but the timing feels right to do it now. So here we are, celebrating 17 years since ‘Stars Of CCTV’. The vibe in the room in rehearsals has been really nice and warm.”
Why is the time right to do it now?
“We only stopped because it was time for all of us to try other things and it felt like it was becoming a struggle. It had got so hard, we thought we should have a break, and that break became eight years. Also, a lot of the things we were talking about in our songs are happening more than ever now. I get frustrated and angry, and surely the current shit-show can’t go on much longer. If someone wants to start a riot and they need some bodies, I’ll be there; so long as there’s a school pick-up time so I can collect my kids.”
How will it feel to sing ‘Living For The Weekend’ aged 45?
“I still remember the feeling when I wrote it. When you see 2,000 people jumping up and down to it, you’re going to react. After we did a livestream show last week, we asked the fans for merch ideas. Someone suggested Hard-Fi slippers. Obviously that’s a joke that we’re all past it, but it’s a brilliant idea. I’ll have Hard-Fi loafers if someone does them.”
What are the chances of new Hard-Fi music?
“I’m always coming up with ideas. I started another band, OffWorld, a couple of years ago. We’ve made an album I’m very proud of that I want released. Something needs to happen with it and, now Hard-Fi doing this, maybe people will start to return my calls. I’m trying to decide what songs are for Hard-Fi and what are OffWorld’s, but maybe I’m over-thinking it. ‘Stars Of CCTV’ was just the best songs I’d written about my life at that time, celebrating a life that was pretty boring and wanting something different, but which was still fun because I was making music with my friends.”
How much did you enjoy success at the time?
“Another reason for doing this show is that we can actually get to enjoy it with no pressure. If a rehearsal isn’t working, we can just go out to dinner and talk about something else. Before Hard-Fi, I’d been in a band, Contempo. We got signed and it hadn’t worked out. I couldn’t believe I was getting another bite at it, so I was always like: ‘We cannot fuck this up.’ Every gig was crucial.”
Any stand-out memories of feeling that pressure?
“On our first Later…With Jools Holland, we were on with Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire and The Black-Eyed Peas. That’s a heavyweight line-up. People thought we were coked off our heads, but we were just terrified. Foo Fighters were very friendly, but they were so effortlessly great, while we were going off a shitty laptop that wasn’t working properly. Jools Holland introduced us going: ‘And now – Hard-F1.’ Thanks Jools, you’ve just confirmed you have no idea who we are. We were actually pretty good, but that was typical. It was an amazing experience, but also sheer terror, being stressed out and great joy, repeated for 18 months.”
Did you feel part of a scene with the other bands breaking through around that time, like Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand?
“Through no-one’s fault except mine, I felt a little apart from it. We knew Kaiser Chiefs after touring with them, but I wish I’d made more effort to stay in touch with other bands. I’d think: ‘Why would they want to talk to me? They know what they’re doing and I don’t.’ We were just the toe-rags from our hometown who hated the world and were into guitar music at school rather than chart house.”
“Imposter syndrome never stopped. It still hasn’t. I do some writing and production for new artists and our platinum discs are on the wall at my studio – not to show off, but to remind myself when I’m working with them: ‘Why would you listen to me? Oh yeah, those discs: we did do alright.’”
How did the pressure change once ‘Stars Of CCTV’ took off?
“When we started, we were trying to get in NME and on the bill at certain festivals. Then, suddenly it was: ‘Now you need to compete with Rihanna and be pop stars’. Rihanna could quite rightly have a team of writers to help , but we were told we had to be authentic and true to ourselves. That hasn’t really changed.”
What was the maddest moment in it all?
“The first time we played Ibiza Rocks, at Manumission. I’d never been to Ibiza and we didn’t go on until 5am. People were offering us all sorts and I looked over and, woah, it’s Bianca Jagger! Absolutely bananas.”
Hard-Fi last performed live together in 2014, the same year that they released the greatest hits album ‘Hard-Fi: Best Of 2004-2014’. Their next gig will be at London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town on October 1, 2022.