Music interview: Hard-Fi

Richard Archer.

Richard Archer.

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Once upon a time, Hard-Fi were one of the biggest bands in the country.

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.

Along with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs and Razorlight, also big deals in the mid-Noughties, Hard-Fi highlight how much the industry’s changed.

2013 was the first year in recent memory where no band or artist sold more than a million copies of an album. Should Hard-Fi’s debut have been released at any point in the past 12 months and sold 600,000 copies in the UK, they’d be on a par with current industry sales behemoths One Direction and Emeli Sande.

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.

“At the same time as that, there was a cyclical shift away from guitar bands back to pop music and dance, which is all about singles and not albums.”

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.

“I love records that conjure up a time and mood, and our debut definitely does that. Our timing was great, by luck not design.”

* Hard-Fi Best Of 2004-2014 is released on January 27.

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