Once upon a time, Hard-Fi were one of the biggest bands in the country but now they’re back with a ‘Best Of’ celebrating their 10th anniversary.
Formed in the unfashionable London suburb of Staines in 2003, their debut album, Stars Of CCTV, was released two years later and went on to sell around 1.2 million copies worldwide, with about half being snapped up in the UK alone.
There were sell-out tours - their first major UK tour sold out in 15 minutes according to reports at the time - Brit and Mercury Prize nominations and appearances on the soundtracks of huge films and video games.
No one’s more aware of how the music world’s shifted than the band’s frontman Rich Archer, who’s had plenty of time to deal with the facts.
“I blame broadband internet,” says Archer, 36. “I remember the days of dial-up internet and it was basically not worth having. When everyone got broadband, it just meant that music was available for free to everyone, and that was the end of the industry.
“The sales were falling off, which is bad, and there are a number of reasons for it in our case. That’s like a slap in the face on its own, but what comes after is an extra kick in the nuts, which is the general perception that the sales have fallen off solely because no one wants to buy your record.”
However, he and his bandmates Kai Stephens and Steve Kemp - original guitarist Ross Phillips left last year - have been busy recently, compiling tracks for their forthcoming ‘Best Of’ collection.
“We’re feeling really good at the moment,” Archer says enthusiastically. “The really exciting thing has been going through all our old material, B-sides and things like that, songs no one would ever imagine were by us, and some of them I haven’t listened to in six or seven years and had forgotten about,” he adds. “But going back through, I’m incredibly proud of what we did.”
He’s especially proud of ‘Stars Of CCTV’, which as well as being nominated for various awards and selling so well, genuinely seemed to capture a mood at the time.
Singles such as ‘Living For The Weekend’ and ‘Cash Machine’ were, as Archer calls them, anthems, detailing the feeling of dashed hopes, and being trapped in a mundane job that paid just enough to get by and afford a night out of a Friday evening.
“I love records that conjure up a time and mood, and our debut definitely does that. Our timing was great, by luck not design, but we came out at a time when lots of people were going through the same thing, almost the build-up to the financial crash and recession,” he says.