INTERVIEW: HardPack – Punkier Than Thou

Punkier Than Thou – Hardpack

You’d all better make sure that you’ve got plenty of cotton for your poor ears this Saturday.

Why?

‘Cause Underground Heavy #4 comes up this Saturday, the 31st!

And, in anticipation of this, we have talking for you one of the bands that’s going to assault your ears – Hardpack. With their razor sharp, barb-laden brand of punk rock, we tried to get beneath the punk to the core of their musical philosophy. Here’s what that attempt begat…

Q. What, to you, is the spirit of punk rock?

A. To us, the spirit of punk rock is simply about self-expression without hidden agendas or ulterior motives. It’s about sincere, selfless, brutal honesty.

Q. So, would you say it is still alive today, or has it been diluted by the various forces drawing from it?

hardpack1.JPGA. The punk spirit will always be alive and there will always be those who want to jump on the punk bandwagon without really considering selfless reasons for doing so. Punk rock, particularly pop punk, is very accessible and marketable just based on its innate energy and melodic hooks. Where there is a trend, there will be those that want to exploit it. No genre of music will be immune to dilution particularly when that style of music is the flavor of the week.

Q. So which punk storyline do you follow – with whom did punk begin, and where did it end?

hardpack2.JPGA. Punk rock will never end. It will continue to evolve, as will other genres of music. The whole idea regarding the origins of punk is highly debated and subjective, and it’s a topic we’re not too concerned with because we’re just happy this whole genre exists in the first place.

Q. Is there a favourite kind of punk that you have (eg. First wave, west coast, etc.)?

hardpack3.JPGA. As cheesy and predicable as it may sound, we actually like all kinds. Individual members of the band will like certain subgenres more than others, but overall, we’re punk junkies in general.

Q. Do you try to stay away from a more hardcore sound, or do you just not think in those terms?

A. I guess you can say we don’t think in those terms because it could get too analytical. And when you get too analytical in music, it may cease to be music anymore. Sometimes playing a heavy riff with a heavy sound would be the best way of conveying a particular emotion and we wouldn’t want to deprive our music of that just because of music limitations or rules we place before ourselves.

Q. How far (or not) had punk in HK come along, do you think?

hardpack4.JPGA. In terms of widespread acceptance, punk still remains in the minority on many levels in Hong Kong. But then again, you could probably say that about rock in general over here. Could you say that there is an audience for rock music Hong Kong? Yes. Could you say that there is a large audience? No. There are some good bands here – bands that we would love to see succeed. But there’s no disguising the fact that it is still an uphill battle for us punk bands in this city, but we won’t let that stop us from trying.

Q. You’ve said that you write lyrics to mock certain people and situations you deem deserving – mind letting us in on the skinny?

A. There are times where we may have had less than favourable encounters with certain people. However, rather than get childishly physical, we’d prefer to vent our frustrations through the magic of song. It’s just a way great way let it out and have a little fun at the same time. It turns a negative into a positive.

Q. You’ve been involved in quite a few collaborations – what is it that drives this trend?

hardpack5.JPGA. We’re fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some talented artists. I guess when you’re in a band that has been able to stick around for almost 10 years, it’ll be inevitable to meet more people over the years. Relationships take time to nurture and we’ve been able to develop some sincere friendships over the years. Some people have been interested to collaborate with us and vice versa.

Q. Finally, what’s changed the most for the band through your existence (sound, belief, etc.), and is there something you hope will change in the future?

A. We’re constantly learning about the technical aspects of music production. Our sound has and will continue to evolve as we learn more and dare to get a little more experimental. What we hope will change in the future is a general wish for all bands in Hong Kong – To be able to survive doing what we love. We don’t know if or when Hong Kong’s music culture will develop and mature to a point that this becomes possible for any aspiring band. It’s not impossible, but it would require a fairly monumental change on a social and cultural level.

Interview questions by Shashwati Kala

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