Living artfully with Hard Girls

San Jose’s Hard Girls have had a busy 2014, showcased perfectly by their well-deserved position on the Fest schedule. Although that’s to be expected considering several of the members are also in Shinobu, Pteradon, Classics of Love, The Bruce Lee Band, Marathon States and November Trials.

In June they released their debut full length album ‘A Thousand Surfaces’ on Asian Man Records. Mike and Morgan sat down to talk to us about women’s soccer, modesty, swearing at children, and upcoming secret gigs.

You’ve been described by many people (myself included) as a San Jose supergroup. How do you feel about the label?

MIKE: It’s flattering, but I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate. We played for years in the area and isn’t like either Shinobu or Pteradon had legions of fans. I think that’s kind of a prerequisite for being a supergroup. Half the shows we played were either to each other or to our mutual friends. Really, this is just the band that has clicked the most between all the members, with the songwriting, and with the people listening.

MORGAN: It’s nice that someone would say that, but I don’t think that’s really true, we never really had too much interest in any band we were in up to Classics of Love. I think Sleep would probably be my San Jose supergroup and now they are playing again which is awesome!

How does the song writing work with being in so many bands? Do you ever start a song, and realise it would suit one of your other bands more?

MIKE: I’ve had a couple song ideas that I tried out with Hard Girls and then quickly realized they were really Shinobu songs. Other than that, there aren’t really a lot of bands that I actively write for besides these two. Most of it is collaborative or helping to develop someone else’s song idea. Or, in the case of Bruce Lee Band, it’s a distinctly different type of band so the songs written for that one were pretty purposefully written for it.

MORGAN: Most of the stuff I write goes into Hard Girls, it’s by far the most active of any of the bands I am in/have been in. I tend to write music on acoustic guitar as well as bass and sometimes the acoustic stuff won’t really fit, maybe it will see the light of day at some point…

‘A Thousand Surfaces’ is a lot, shall we say, noisier than your previous stuff. Was this a conscious decision, or did the songs just evolve that way?

MIKE: I don’t know. I feel like we’ve always been pretty noisy, but I’m glad that people like it. It’s definitely our best record, and one of the best ones I’ve personally ever made. I think we just went into this one with more to prove due to where we are were (and still are) in our lives. Misery and constant anxiety can be pretty good motivators.

MORGAN: I think both Pteradon and Shinobu were definitely more noisy live than on recording, I think maybe now we are consciously trying to record more the way we play live.

As well as ‘A Thousand Surfaces’ you’ll be releasing ‘Hard’, a collection of previous EPs and unreleased songs, on Asian Man Records. Was this always part of the plan, or was it only after ‘A Thousand Surfaces’?

MIKE: Mike suggested it not too long after the record came out, and it sounded like a good idea. Not exactly the most original concept, but I have a lot of these types of records that I love. The Op Ivy record is basically this same concept and that’s still one of the best punk records of all time. But I don’t think we had too much of a plan – just tour, tour, tour. Go at it for real. Stop trying to be both a real human adult and a musician at the same time. They’re very different things.

MORGAN: Yes Mike at Asian Man suggested we do a collection of our older stuff, it seems like some people want to hear it so now it’s easier to find! Mike, I think that’s a great point, attempting to work as a real musician can be pretty difficult, there can be a lot of uncertainty.

What does the rest of 2014 have in store for you guys? Either in Hard Girls, or one of your other bands? I see you’re going to have a very busy couple of days at The Fest.

MIKE: Yeah, we’re playing Fest and doing a lot of touring around it. We’re touring out there with Pup, which is probably going to be awesome. They’re a great band and one that actually seems to approach music in a similar way to us, which isn’t that easy to find. Then after Fest, we’re touring up the East Coast with Jeff’s band Antartigo Vespucci. Something else pretty cool is happening in December, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about it yet. It won’t be Hard Girls, but it will involve all of us. And it’s not another Classics of Love record. Uh, and there’s a show that we’re opening in October in LA that we’ve been told we can’t announce yet. It’s already sold out anyway, so I’m not sure what the deal is with not announcing it, but there you have it.

MORGAN: Yeah Mike is playing 3 sets back to back to back at Fest! Shinobu, then Hard Girls, then he is playing in Jeff Rosenstock’s band, all right after one another. I just want to see the Melvins at Fest, I love them.

Lars Frederickson has recently called San Jose Earthquakes the most punk rock soccer team. Do you guys agree with this, or are you not soccer fans? Are you a fan of any other San Jose sports team, and how much do you hate the LA Kings?

MIKE: Morgan likes soccer. I don’t really care for team sports. I could never figure out why you should care about one team more than any other. They’re all pretty much the same, just with different lineups and logos. Baseball is cool because of the sounds and the way it kind of shapes your day. It’s almost like drone music, just the sound of the crowd and the babbling of the announcer, and then the occasional sound of a bat or mitt. And I love seeing the floodlights come on during a summer night. It’s a beautiful thing. But I don’t really care who wins the game.

MORGAN: I like soccer, I usually just follow the women’s and men’s world cups. My girlfriend plays in an indoor soccer league and I get really pumped up and excited watching her play. I think women’s sports need more coverage in the media, it is just as exciting, especially in soccer where the US women’s team is much better than the men’s. I think Lars may have said that because he just wrote the new theme song for the Earthquakes. I am more into baseball, San Jose has a great single A minor league team – the San Jose Giants, their games are really cheap and fun to go to. Maybe someday the Oakland A’s will move to San Jose that would be great, there is a lot of controversy over that. I don’t really follow hockey at all but San Jose goes crazy when the Sharks are in the playoffs!

Finally, my workmate accidentally synced ‘A Thousand Surfaces’ onto her daughters’ Ipods. I haven’t heard anything bad from her yet, so do you have anything to say to your potential fan base of six-year-old Israeli girls?

MIKE: Listen to whatever strikes a chord with you, don’t judge people, and don’t forget that art means more than money. Life can be great but it can be really hard too. Live artfully if you can.

MORGAN: Except for the near constant swearing in the song “Screw”, I think it’s not too inappropriate…

– Alex Ryan

Check out the band at the following links:

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