One of the hottest new bands around is without a doubt UK's Hard Wax! Delivering that old school, bovver rock sound, these lads were already turning heads with their debut single "Kings Of The Weekend", but with their upcoming full-length on Rebellion Records and Contra Records they're going for the kill! Time for an interview with "Diamond In The Rough" Tom!
Hi Tom, thanks for taking the time to do this interview… finally! Sorry it took so long mate, but how are things going with you at the moment?
Really good thanks mate, busy as hell with various bands, family and work but it’s all good, I don’t like downtime! I have just finished editing the new Hard Wax video which was a bit of a challenge but was good fun filming it!
You truly are a jack-of-all-trades when it comes down to bands, music and the diversity of instruments you are able to play! Did you already had an interest in music at a young age, or do you come from a musical family? Where is this coming from and how did you find out?
My family wasn’t really that musical, but through a few records at home and tapes from friends at school, I got into rock and metal like Iron Maiden, Slayer, Anthrax and Queen at a fairly young age. All I wanted to do after that was play guitar and we had an old acoustic knocking around which was my Grandads (which I still have now and have passed on to my daughter). I had a few lessons to get me going but because my parents couldn’t really afford it, I mainly learnt myself by listening to songs and trying to play along. In secondary school, I wanted to have a crack at drums so again just used to crash around with some mates on a pretty fucked old kit the school had. That’s when I started getting into punk, hardcore, oi and ska, a real mix of everything which I thing is why now I love playing various styles. I have played a bit of bass on the first Hostile Minds recordings but realized there isn’t really my thing and also taught myself trombone in my 20s and ended up playing in a ska band!
You are currently active, at least that I know of(!), in three bands, namely Arch Rivals, Hostile Minds and Hard Wax. What did you do on the musical front prior to these bands, what is your history?
Yeah, I have those 3 bands on the go at the moment plus the first stages of playing drums in a new hardcore band, Brawler HC. I started off mucking around in bands from the age of about 13, playing a mix of punk and metal, but starting getting in to more seriously in my twenties. I toured in a ska / punk called NoComply for a while, played in ska band Too Hot and played various instruments or sung in other bands, Wishlist, Seven Year Itch (which was kind of the beginnings of Hard Wax, me and Matt playing more rock and roll style stuff), Upsurge and various other bands! I had wanted to play in an oi band for years but finally with Arch Rivals found the right people who wanted to do it. So it has been a really mixed bag of stuff but think it has all helped to lead it to where my different bands are at now.
I am sure we’ll get back to Arch Rivals and Hostile Minds later on in this interview, but for now I’d like to focus on Hard Wax, who you are about to release your first full-length “Diamond In The Rough” with! Excited?
Yeah, its really exciting mate! To be releasing a full length album and working with 2 great labels like Rebellion and Contra, is awesome! We put a lot of time and energy into the whole process of recording the album because wanted something that we really liked so it was great when both labels liked it as well.
Though “Diamond In The Rough” being your debut album, you actually debuted last year with the single “Kings Of The Weekend”. The response on that 45 was massive! Did it come as a surprise to you that the feedback on this 7” was so positive?
It was unbelievable to be honest, the initial tracks were recorded during a Hostile Minds session as I had those 2 songs written and just wanted to record them and see what they sounded like. They kind of sat there for ages before I went and finished them off and got them mixed and mastered by Pat Collier. I put Kings of the Weekend on Youtube and the response was great! Then you and Wouter wanted to do a 7 inch release on Rebellion which was also well received so yeah was all a bit of a surprise!
Would you say that the feedback on the single motivated you to immediately head back into the studio to record the upcoming full-length? Did you already had new songs ready and good to go, or did you wait on the reactions to the single first?
Definitely, there wasn’t really an intention to do anything much with Hard Wax other than record the first 2 tracks. After the response, Matt and I decided that we should make a proper go of it and record some tracks. I already had a few songs roughly written but sat down and wrote a full album. I was writing new tracks right up until the day we hit the studio for the first time. The good thing was, as we use a local studio we were able to slowly record and add to the tracks, we started it in August and only finished in January. But that gave us the chance to sit on the songs and come up with new ideas. A good bit of credit should go to Andrew ‘Doc’ Collins who recorded the album, who not only had the patience of a saint but came with some great ideas along the way (including adding various bits of tambourine!)
What would you say the people can expect of “Diamond In The Rough”?
Hopefully a bit of return to some older sounds but with a fresh approach! There is such a wide range of influences when I write that hopefully little bits of everything come though, the oi, punk, glam and rock. It was really fun to record the album and hopefully that comes through as well. We tried to do something different with each track to keep it interesting while keeping a consistent sound throughout the album, 11 tracks of good time bootboy rock and roll!!! There is all the usual topics in there, drinking, having a good time with your mates with a bit of agro chucked in for good measure! If people liked the first couple of tracks, I would say this is the bigger and better version!
I remember when you first let me hear a demo of Hard Wax you described the band more as a project than an actual band. A story quite similar to your other outfit Hostile Minds. Both have a full line-up now, ready to give it a go live. At what point do you say to yourself ‘okay, this is not a project anymore’?
Ha ha, yeah both started out as studio projects as I really enjoy recording new stuff and seeing how it comes out. With both bands, when there was offers of gigs, I decided it was time to put a band together. Hostile Minds was easy as it was Tom and Kev from Arch Rivals and my mate, Matt on drums. Hard Wax has been slightly different as initially I asked Matt to play some bass on the first tracks as we had played together in more a rock and roll style band before. After the response to the single, we decided to do an album together and although I wrote all the tracks, Matt had a big influence with ideas and vocals. We have a few HW gigs lined up in April with Arch Rivals so Rivals drummer Alex is playing those. After that, we will see where it takes us, I really enjoy playing drums in the studio as think it gives it that rawer feel as I am a pretty basic drummer!
Along with a band come the band mates, meaning you have to give some of the instruments out of hand. Is that tough to do within the ideas that you created, or are you easy to work with?
Its been really easy to be honest, with Hostile Minds the guys had the album to learn and we jammed a few times before our first gig and it all came together pretty quickly. We had also recorded 4 new tracks together so everyone had written their parts for that. They also brought a new energy (and talent!) to the songs. With Hard Wax, we have started practicing ready for live shows and its sounding great! Matt and I have played in various bands together over the years and are best mates so when we jam together it usually falls into place pretty easily! But on the whole it’s been really easy and definitely brought something new to both bands.
Not all, but definitely some of the songs you have written could have either been a Hostile Minds or Hard Wax song. How do you decide which song you will use for which band?
There is one of the newest Hostile Minds tracks, All Our Lives that sounds like the crossover of the 2 bands. There is also a song on the Hard Wax album I wrote for Hostile Minds, tried it as a Hard Wax song with more of bovver rock feel and really liked it! It has become harder recently when writing music to tell whether it should be Arch Rivals or Hostile Minds, I would like to take Hostile Minds back to the rawer sound of the first 7 inch to keep things different between all bands. We have recently recorded 2 new Hard Wax tracks and I have started writing for album number 2 and there is a definite sound coming through so I know they are HW tracks!
Aside the Hard Wax album, Arch Rivals will have an EP out on Randale Records soon and from what I understand you were also back in the studio again with Hostile Minds! You like to keep yourself busy aye? Can you tell a bit about what is coming up?
Yeah, everything is a bit mental at the moment! We have the Arch Rivals Outlaws 7 inch coming out on 27th February, then the Hard Wax album followed by shows with all 3 bands in Europe. We have 4 new Hostile Minds tracks that have been on the go since July last year that we need to find the time to just finish and mix. We are also writing the second Arch Rivals album, so it’s getting back in the rehearsal room to jam ideas out, we already have a few on the way and sounding pretty good! Like I said, also about to finish 2 new Hard wax tracks that will hopefully see the light of day at some point this year! Got some great Arch Rivals shows lined up for later in the year and a little Euro tour in July with Hard Wax! So it looks set to be a pretty busy 2017!
With Hostile Minds and Hard Wax you are in two, still new bands, that are in my opinion killing it. But what are some of your favorite new bands?
It’s a great time for new music at the moment with so many good bands coming through! Some my favourites would have to be Crown Court, Top Dog, Grade 2, B Squadron, Brassknuckle, Hard Pressed, Rude Pride, Haymaker Stanley from Italy, looking forward to hearing more from Those Rat Bastards from Australia and the album from Jamie and the boys in Tear Up. Loving the new Sweet FA album as well! Probably some I have missed as well as my playlist changes daily!
Alright, I’m about to wrap it up, but since it seems like you always have something going on… what will the future bring us from both you and your bands?
Hopefully, more gigs with all 3 bands, really looking forward to getting Hard Wax out on the road and seeing what the reaction is and drinking some European beer!! Can’t wait to get the HW album and new Arch Rivals single out there as well and getting recording with all 3 bands again! I like keeping busy and makes getting through work each day that bit more bearable!!
Okay, that’s it! Thanks again for your time. If there is anything you would like to add to this interview, feel free to do so! Cheers!
Thanks again mate for all the support you have given all 3 of the bands! Cheers to anyone who has checked us and we’ll see you at the bar!!!