HARD-ONS - Mr Cab Driver - X-Press, May 2006

Following the release of their self-proclaimed pop record, Most People Are A Waste Of Time, Punchbowl's legendary Hard-Ons find themselves back in WA this week (see Upcoming Tours for dates). MIKE WAFER spoke with guitarist/vocalist Blackie on the eve of the tour.

Requiring a day job that can pay the bills, but also be flexible to allow for priority number one - the band - Hard-Ons' guitarist/vocalist Blackie saw himself needing to become his own boss.

As he found out, few jobs offer the kind of malleable hours and conditions that his current role as a cabbie does. Well, few of those things have enough of a sense of adventure to them at least.

"I've had a few fuckin' weird experiences, that's for sure." Blackie begins with a knowing laugh. "I picked up this one working girl… I won't call her a prostitute 'cause that sounds harsh… and anyway she was really funny, and really young, and she was telling me about this politician she was called out to service.

"She was telling me he was a top political advisor, and I ended up talking to her for a while because this dude had to pay for the cab and he'd forgotten his wallet, so he had to go back upstairs… anyway, she was like 'fuck, this guy always hires me for a couple of hours but falls asleep after 15 minutes, and he's got a breathing problem, so he has to sleep with this mask on'.

"She was saying that she'd just watch telly while this guy was asleep, but he'd forget to put his mask on and start making all these full-on choking noises, and she'd have to try and get his mask on, and I'm pissing myself laughing going 'man, I'm going to Who Weekly with this!'

"Sometimes the job is fucked because I have to pick up yuppies or fucked businessmen or whatever, but the good people make it worth it."

Plus there's the fact that Blackie can take as long off as he needs to in order to take care of Hard-Ons duties, which he refers to as his 'real work'. Occasionally the two lives cross over, when Blackie will pick up a fare who recognises him, but for the most part he speaks of cabbie work as being a means to an end with a few wacky stories.

Over the course of nearly 22 years the Hard-Ons have pretty much seen and done it all, so for Blackie to not really care about fame, or the status of his band, is admirable. He does, however, care about the music… so much so that he is willing to sacrifice anything to keep doing what he loves.

"I don't care what I have to do," he says, "because music is my life. I'll do whatever it takes for me to sustain my music. I don't fucking care what it is." Calling the band's latest album a pop record raises some interesting points that Blackie is more than happy to wax lyrical about, for he - as a music fan as well as a music maker - sees the tainting of the word 'pop' as being an avoidable, or rectifiable thing.

"I listen to this Britney Spears shit, or whatever, and that's not pop music. It's just fucking rubbish. It's not catchy. To me, pop music should be catchy and simple, and have a big fucking chorus that you remember forever after the first time you hear it.

"Just having some chick shake her arse and sing over the top of some crappy dance music isn't pop. You know, The Beatles were pop music, the Ramones were pop music, and the Hard-Ons are pop music. I love metal and punk, but my biggest love is always gonna be pop music… and pop music can be in any other kind of music."