How do you feel once Upon a Time in the West differs from Stars of CCTV?
I think it’s a lot bigger. We wanted to make some massive sounding tunes so we got in string sections, brass. I think a lot of the topics are similar to the first but we’ve seen a lot more since then, travelled the world. So it’s grown from there. It’s darker, more down tempo, and more personal to Rich – about losing his parents and what’s happened in the last couple of years. It’s not as brash as the first, really bang bang bang in your face. It’s a bit more matured.
Do you think that maturity has come from seeing the world?
Yeah. I guess the furthest we had been was on a trip to Spain with our parents or whatever, and we’d seen fuck all. So it’s been a big part of it, to see the world and meet new people. Like you’re in the middle of America and they seem to know exactly what you’re singing about.
Stars of CCTV was done for £300. Did you consider the same bare-bones recording technique?
We actually did it in the same place. It was a unit next door. And there was an old guttering company there and they had moved on so we got some builders in, knocked through and extended it. We bought some decent equipment and a sound desk and we did it in the same way as we did the first. We got some sofas, running water and so on and it’s our studio. We can record in there, rehearse in there, throw parties, whatever we want.
Sweet, your own little Abbey Road.
Yeah, exactly. And we used the same producer as the first one.
You came out in 05 with a lot of other bands. What are your thoughts on the London indie scene in general?
It’s never been my scene. We’ve never been involved in it. We live far enough out of town not to get caught up in that kinda shit. When we made the first album we weren’t listening to the bands that they were listening to. We just made music we wanted to make. That people have liked it is amazing. We’ve always been pleased with it. So I haven’t been bothered with people who hang about in little pubs and play in shitty bands that sound the same – it’s not really our thing at all.
A few years ago you were due to play Glastonbury but at the last minute Richard’s mother died. How was it taking the stage this year?
It was amazing. We had unfinished business. It was the first gig we played in eight months so we tested the new tunes. It went down really well. It was also a secret show, which we may have kept a little too secret – the tent was only about half full. But people started to turn up. It was part of the Music Hates Racism cause, which we do a bit for.
And you got up with Damon Albarn as well?
That was his African Express stage where a load of African bands turned up and just jammed. So we did a couple of songs with them. It was amazing to play with these musicians that were out of this world. We must have looked like fucking jokers – and they thought ‘who the fuck is this lot?’ I’ve never seen anything like it, an amazing experience.
Your album art has copped some flak for its anti-commercial statement. What would have been wrong with a band photo?
Just ‘cos we like to do things differently. Our last sleeve won awards, it was an amazing sleeve. We wanted to beat that. We were looking around and everyone was doing the same thing and we thought, we’re not going to play that game. It definitely ruffled a few feathers. It’s raised the issue that people aren’t interested in artwork anymore. We love artwork but there hasn’t been any decent ones recently. It’s raised the point. And people are saying look at the shit artwork and we’re often in the shit category of late, but at least we’ve brought it up.
Most people buy the CD, put it on their computer and throw the disc in the box, with just a thumbnail print on the bottom of the screen. So we just wanted to do something different.
Hard-Fi play The Metro Sydney on Wednesday 3 and Prince of Wales in Melbourne on Thursday 4, tix $50 at www.ticketek.com.au.