Peter Black and Tim Rogers explain how the new Hard-Ons revigorated both of them

RESTRUNG: The Hard-Ons in 2021 features, from left, Murray Ruse (drums), Peter Black (guitar), Ray Ahn (bass) and Tim Rogers (vocals). Picture: Michelle Young

RESTRUNG: The Hard-Ons in 2021 features, from left, Murray Ruse (drums), Peter Black (guitar), Ray Ahn (bass) and Tim Rogers (vocals). Picture: Michelle Young

TIM Rogers laughs that finally his teenage dream has been fulfilled - just 35 years later.

The adolescent aspiration the You Am I frontman is referring to is joining legendary Sydney punk band The Hard-Ons as their new vocalist on the forthcoming album I'mSorry Sir, That Riff's Been Taken.

"I was one of those kids, the first 20 times I saw the band, standing in front of [guitarist Peter Black] Blackie or [bassist] Ray [Ahn] mouthing the words hoping they would look down and notice 'whose that kid who looks like Geddy Lee of Rush mouthing all the words of our songs' and ask me on stage to sing," Rogers says.

Rogers' older brother Jaimme, who was You Am I's first drummer and was immortalised in the song Jaimme's Got A Gal, was also a massive Hard-Ons fan. In the late '80s Jaimme bought a Hard-Ons t-shirt, which his mother made him return because she didn't want him wearing a crude shirt around the suburban streets of middle-class Baulkham Hills.

So how did Rogers' mother react to the news her boy was a Hard-On?

"I think she's always worried I'll join a band and I'll get on drugs again," he laughs. "I just let her know that I think I'm in the right band. I'm safe here.

"She knows the You Am I guys really well. My mum is my accountant - I take her out for dinner once a year to pay her fees - and her conversations with Ray [Ahn] are hilarious.

"Mum is suddenly the biggest Hard-Ons fan in the world after being so skeptical for decades. I'll buy mum a t-shirt for Christmas this year."

It's clearly evident through the Zoom call with Rogers in Melbourne and Black in Sydney that the new addition to The Hard-Ons is cause for celebration for all parties involved.

It's also been a positive outcome after The Hard-Ons were rocked earlier this year by allegations of sexual misconduct against founding member and ex-vocalist Keish de Silva, who's been in and out of the band since they emerged from Punchbowl Boys High School in 1981.

The Hard-Ons - Hold Tight

De Silva was sacked from the band and a planned Hard-Ons documentary was scrapped.

Black says he, founding bassist Ray Ahn and drummer Murray Ruse, who joined in 2011, always intended to continue despite de Silva's departure.

"He's left before and there's a whole bunch of things I can't talk about, but I'm not done with music yet," Black says.

"I'm a massive music geek. I constantly get excited by stuff and it hasn't left me, touch wood."

When Black and Rogers weren't swapping funny stories about their shared obsessiveness for keeping their tour rooms clean, they were articulating in their individual ways, what the new Hard-Ons means for them personally.

"The best way to describe it with my vernacular is to say it's shit hot having Tim in the band. It truly is," Black says.

For Rogers, joining The Hard-Ons has been a life-affirming experience. The 52-year-old admits he'd become "skeptical about my own place" as a touring musician with "24-hour drinking" binges leaving him depressed.

Despite being one of Australia's most celebrated songwriters, he was living a quieter lifestyle working as a bar tender.

There's nothing like cleaning toilets at the end of a long shift to make you want to be in a rock'n'roll band again.

Tim Rogers

But the release of You Am I's critically-acclaimed and Australian Music Prize-nominated 11th album The Lives Of Others in May, followed by joining The Hard-Ons, has Rogers re-engaged on multiple levels.

"There's nothing like cleaning toilets at the end of a long shift to make you want to be in a rock'n'roll band again," Rogers says.

"Making The Lives Of Others and finishing that, it was just a kick for me and when You Am I got back to playing again, I felt like the luckiest guy in the world and I'm never going to be that ungrateful.

"Then I got the call from Ray. And my partner said 'you're listening to records again', and I said. 'that's what these people do to me'. They make me want to investigate this again. We're all nerds together.

"It hasn't just revigorated me to make music again, it's revigorated me to want to live again."

I'mSorry Sir, That Riff's Been Taken is The Hard-Ons' 13th album. It's a frenetic and fuzzy mix-mash of punk and metal riffs, blended with surf-pop melodies, for which The Hard-Ons are renown for on tracks like Girl In The Sweater and Don't Wanna See You Cry.

The first two singles have whet the appetite. Hold Tight is a '60s-inspired slice of garage-pop driven by Ruse's pounding drums and an effervescent melody, while Lite As A Feather drenches an angular guitar punk riff in sunny psych harmonies.

Black had 70 per cent of the record written before Rogers joined the band.

"Tim slotted in perfectly," Black says. "Whatever needed to be done for the other 30 per cent he dug in and you'll hear the results."

However, the best might be yet to come. Black and Rogers are keen to co-write together for a future Hard-Ons album.

The Hard-Ons album I'mSorry Sir, That Riff's Been Taken is out on Friday.

The Hard-Ons play the Eltham Hotel (March 19); Narrabeen RSL (March 25); Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle (March 26); La La La's, Wollongong (March 27) and The Basement, Canberra (March 31).

This story Tim Rogers living teenage dream as Hard-Ons singer first appeared on Newcastle Herald.