For those of you who follow what I do you'll know how highly I rate the Australian band the Hard-Ons. Not only for their music, but also as people and for what they have done for the alternative Australian music scene over the last thirty something years.
I won't go into their history (that's written elsewhere) but I will say that their dedication to doing it their way, and promoting Australia while doing is probably second to none. If there is a band that demonstrates one version of punk, it's the Hard-Ons.
I have worked with them in the past on 7"'s on my label and skate decks and T shirts and it's always great to catch up with them when they come through on tour. They are some of the loveliest people you could meet.
Blackie, the bands guitarist announced at the beginning of 2016 that he was going to do a "Song A Day" project where he would write, record and release a new song every day, for ALL of 2016 ....... and it's a leap year.
While part of me thought this was a noble and honourable task, part of me thought "what the hell are you thinking ...?" A song EVERY DAY, for a WHOLE YEAR !!!!
Blackie has been relying on subscriptions to his Bandcamp to fund this amazing project but as the year drew on, things were getting tight. Even though he has a group of very supportive and giving friends, it's a mammoth undertaking and, like music in general, isn't a means to a financial end. This was Blackie doing what he does. Writing and recording songs.
So, I decided to do what I always do when I need to help a friend out. I make something.
I don't have a lot of money to give to these people but I can make things that people want and use them to help people do great things like this project.
Blackie was hesitant at first but after thinking of things I could do I came up with this idea.
I wanted to use leftover Tym records covers from a Hard-Ons 7" re-issue I did for RSD2016. I had re released The Girl in the Sweater 7" on RSD2014 with original full colour artwork, stickers and in a paper bag it originally came in in Queensland (where I live) because the cover was deemed too controversial at the time.
All Set to Go was the Hard-Ons second single and these two songs were a HUGE influence on me growing up. Songs about girls wrapped up in two and half minutes of pure pop punk glory.
I made one pedal and sent Blackie a picture and said "this is my idea" ... He LOVED it.
The process was time consuming. I would epoxy the cardboard cover onto the stainless steel enclosure. Roughly trim around it when it was set. Spray a coat of clear acrylic lacquer onto the cardboard. Trim it closer. Add more clear coats with wet sanding between coats. After 4-5 coats I could drill and trim everything up and then add more coats until everything was sealed.
I decided to build my "Marshall 800 in a box" as that has been Blackies weapon of choice since the late eighties, along with a HM2 and an SG.
This circuit is one I made for a friend to send to a friend once and I've always loved it. It's based on my ODP666 with different clipping and an active tone control added for more versatility. When I was mucking around with it originally I found a sound that was very Marshall and as you roll the gain up, starts to break up like a nice 800.
So .... There will be FOUR of these available on my site tomorrow with proceeds going to Blackie to help him with his Song A Day project.
Each pedal comes with a copy of the Tym records All Set to Go 7" which has an extra song, copies of the original stickers and an insert by Ray, Keish and Blackie, and the covers are signed by the band.
It's an honour to work for everyone I work for and with but people like the Hard-Ons hold a very special place in my heart. Maybe it's because they were from Australia. Maybe it's because they were genuine outsiders. Maybe it's because they wrote crackin' great songs about girls. Or maybe it's because of all of this and the fact they are genuinely good people.
If you can't afford one of these pedals, or you don't play guitar, go to Blackies pages and support his silly idea.
PS: I recently put a picture of this pedal up on one of my social media pages and it was "removed" after complaints were made of it being "inappropriate".
I find it amusing and slightly infuriating that a cartoon drawn by a Korean teenager thirty years ago depicting three minority kids making fun of racists can still cause controversy. I'm sure Ray Ahn, who did the artwork would also feel the same way.
The knee jerk reaction of these people to actually be offended by something so inoffensive is hard for me to fathom.
Maybe next time spend some quality time to educate yourself, understand what it is you're angry about, and if you still have the energy to be upset, use that to volunteer at a charity, refugee or indigenous centre, shelter or old aged care.