Silent Uproar: So you guys played SXSW last year, and you’re playing it again this year. Is this your first actual tour, multi-stop of the States?
Ross: No, we’ve done, I recon it was about six months ago, it’s a bit hazy, but nah we done another tour like this one – start in Boston, New York and then working our way through the middle and then up the West Coast. Going through a few different cities this time.
I think it’s more fun playing the sort of smaller cities where fans don’t really go cause the crowd seems to go a bit more mad there. Know what I mean, like, in New York, they’re standing there with their arms crossed. Like in middle-America, they’re like, don’t give a fuck – put your head down and have a laugh.
SU: Yeah, I think maybe in the big cities they get jaded cause they get to see everybody, whereas those of us in the smaller places, we just go nuts.
Ross: Yeah, man, it’s cool. Have a party down there. I think we’re back for SXSW, and then we’re staying around for a little while longer.
SU: You guys have been getting a lot of airplay on London stations like XFM, but what’s it like to come over to the States and have to start over again?
Ross: It’s very strange, really. Playing back at home, we’re selling out sort of 3000 capacity venues, like 3 of them in a row. So it’s like coming out here is starting again, and it’s good. It’s cool. Just going to have to do it all over again, like gigs with people right up to the stage where you can see the whites of their eyes, know what I mean? Bit more up close. I like little gigs. I like big gigs too. They’re all good.
SU: There are a couple of bands who were big in the UK, like the Manics and Space, who were pretty open about not really caring if they made it in America, but how do you guys feel about that. Is it important to you to make it here?
Ross: We want to come back and fuckin’ make it out here. We’re willing to put in the hours as well. We want to go to the top. To be a massive band you’ve got to crack the States. I want to make it.
SU: Well, we need something besides Coldplay, don’t we?
Ross: Right, well, it’s kind of got people a little scared. They don’t want to come and do the States cause it’s so hard; it’s such hard work. And to fail, people don’t want that, but we ain’t really that bullish, to be honest. We’ll give it a go. If we get it, then great. But if not, the fuck it, so what? We’re enjoying it. But it is a big deal to us.
SU: I have to ask you a question, but I’m not sure how you’re going to feel about it. The NME awards nominations were announced yesterday (1/26/2006), and it looks like you guys got snubbed. It’s pretty much inconceivable to me, but one of the DJs on XFM said that he wasn’t surprised. So what’s that all about?
Ross: I don’t quite really know what’s going on to be honest. We snubbed a show. We were asked to play the awards, and I think we snubbed the offer for some reason.
SU: Well, your US tour is going on right now, so it seems like maybe you were just already scheduled to be over here.
Ross: Yeah, and it may be that. But they’ve nominated Rich [Richard Archer – lead singer] for fittest male. So, but anyway, no I don’t know why, but whatever. It’s all about the punters, man, doing great gigs and playing some great tunes. That’s all we’re worried about.
SU: You covered “Seven Nation Army” on the Cash Machine EP, and I was wondering how that came about, if Jack White’s talked to you or if you’ve gotten any feedback from him on that?
Ross: I don’t know if he’s heard it. No idea. But it came about just by rehearsals. We just mess about for a little while – just jamming, and for some reason we just started going through that. And sort of changed the rhythm of the bassline a little bit, kind of dubbed it up kind of thing messing around. And we was off to do a radio session with Joe Wiley [Radio 1], and they said do one of your own songs and a cover. And we thought, well, fuck it, let’s try it. And it went down well; people were texting in going ah yeah, yeah – great! And we started playing it live and recorded it. It was originally a B-side and then the American record company just put it on the EP. So cool.
SU: So what other songs do you think need to be Hard-Fi’d up?
Ross: Well, we like…Rich really likes soul and shit like that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them turned up at some point. But it’s really good – doing more covers. We’ll have to play it by ear. There’s quite a few tunes around that we could pull out. There’s a lot of good tracks we could make our own to be honest.
SU: Tell me about the X-rated version of the “Cash Machine” video?
Ross: The fellow who done it – he’s like this bloke who’s been sort of knockin around. He’s just been filming us doing like doing gigs and being backstage, all this shit, and he wanted to do it. Basically, what it is is it follows the life of a 10 pound note. Rich pulls it out of a cashpoint; someone robs it off him or something like that and ends up going into a strip club. And it comes out the club in the club owner’s hands and then folded up someone’s nose.
SU: Sort of like “Smack My Bitch Up” from the money’s perspective.
Ross: Yeah, kind of. Yeah, so basically it’s got a couple of naked girls in it.
Hang on, someone’s trying to steal my cup of tea.
SU: Well, we can’t have that.
Ross: Oh yeah. Sorry…
SU: S’ok. So some of the obvious influence on Hard-Fi are The Clash and The Specials, but who are some of the artists that people might not expect as being influences?
Ross: We like a lot of reggae, and that’s apparent in our music. Dub and Lee Scratch Perry. But we all love loads of stuff. Like old soul and stuff. I like AC/DC. I’ve never seen them. If I could see any band, it would be there. I love it. I like hardcore stuff – your Bad Brains and Minor Threat and that kind of shit. Steve [Kemp – drummer], he likes country and like Johnny Cash. We love everything, man – as long as it’s good.
SU: So if you could pick a fantasy tour mate, who would that be?
Ross: Angus Young, man.
SU: Haha! Just Angus right? In his little shorts and all that?
But wait, are you a Bonn Scott man or a Brian Johnson man?
Ross: Well, I’m not that old, so Brian Johnson is the first one I heard. But I know that’s a very controversial thing to say. They’re both fuckin great.
SU: “Middle Eastern Holiday” is like an anomaly on the record. Everything else is sort of ordinary life, day to day stuff. But I was wondering how that song came about.
Ross: It came about, this is Rich’s story really cause he wrote it, watching the news and seeing these poor soldiers who died in Iraq, had just got blown up or whatever, and it shows their poor faces on the TV. And they’re just fuckin boys, like me, know what I mean – in their early 20s. and it’s like, that could be you – could be me. And we’re all sitting there doing what we’re doing back at home – down at the pub, chasin girls, know what I mean? And you don’t even think about it. It’s like that’s over there – it’s like it’s another world – like a parallel world. Know what I mean? And that’s what got it started. It’s not an anti-war song or pro-war song; it’s just about the boys and girls that are out there.
SU: Ok, so this last thing, you’re going to pick your favorite out of the two bands or artists I mention here. You tell me which one you like better.
The Jam or The Police?
Ross: Aaaaaaaw, man that’s bad. Both are fucking great. (after a long pause) I’ll go with The Jam…
SU: Well, hopefully you won’t run into Sting and have to explain yourself.
Charlatans or Stone Roses?
Ross: That’s an easy one.
SU: Clash or Sex Pistols?
Ross: Both? Ok Clash. I do like both though, but The Clash are a clear winner for me.
SU: “London Calling” is probably the best rock song ever written.
Ross: Yeah, that’s fuckin great. We’ve jammed that one before, just gone around it a few times. It’s cool.
SU: Well that would be a fun song to hear you guys do. I’d like to see that.
Ross: Don’t know, maybe. You never know.
SU: Ok, now I’ve got a weird one that you may or may not even recognize.
Cliff Richard or Tom Jones?
Ross: Oh it’d have to be Tom Jones. Cliff Richard is a fuckin…yeah, got to be Tom Jones.
SU: And here’s one ripped straight from the headlines, our good friend Indie-git Pete Dougherty or Carl Barat [both ex-Libertines]?
Ross: Oh, I don’t fucking care to be honest.
SU: Thank you! That is what I wanted to hear.
Ross: (laughs) Yeah, couldn’t care in the least.
SU: Thanks for continuing to keep calling when the phone cut out and have a great rest of the tour. Take care and good luck!
Ross: Alright – cheers!