Victorious Festival returned to the south coast of England this weekend, a tremendous three-day extravaganza that featured a plethora of spectacular performances. Our writer Emma Harrison was on the ground, and popped backstage for a catch up with Richard Archer and Ross Phillips from Hard-Fi who made a very welcome return to the UK festival scene after a ten year hiatus.
Performing at the revered Sunday afternoon slot at the Southsea-based festival, this was the band’s exclusive UK festival appearance of 2023, but the band are back with a bang.
Opening up about their pre-show nerves, their forthcoming UK tour, standout gigs, and why a new Hard-Fi album might well be on the cards!
Congratulations. This is the first time that you have performed here and as you mentioned in your set, it was the first time you played a festival in over ten years. How did you find it?
Richard Archer: Excited, man! Big stage. Big crowd!
How does it feel to be back performing together again? I know you did your reunion gig in Kentish Town last year as well as a gig in Manchester.
Richard: It was great! You know, there was never a conscious decision that we’re going to take some time out or whatever, it just kind of happened. But, we got in the room and it’s great fun being in the room. It felt like old times!
To be honest with you, I found this (Victorious) quite nerve wracking because it’s been a long time since we did something like this. There are people that maybe might know who we are and it was like we felt the need to win them all over again. But, it was great, I really enjoyed it! It’s a really nice festival, it’s quite chilled.
Ross Phillips: It’s a great mix of acts, a nice crowd – the crowds up for it and I like the whole vibe of things. It’s an affordable festival as well.
Are you sticking around for the rest of the day? If so, who are you looking forward to seeing?
Ross: Well, I’ve got to get out of here actually, so I am not hanging around which is a shame.
Richard: I think it depends on when my kids burn themselves out, but I’d like to see The Vaccines and Johnny Marr.
I definitely want to see both of these acts too! So, tell me about the tour – what can we expect? I know you’ve got a new track that you were performing at the gigs last year. Any plans for any more new material?
Richard: I think we definitely want to do some new stuff. We’ve been writing things. In some ways, we’ve been focusing on just getting back to where we were. We want to do some new stuff. Obviously, the other thing we’re conscious of is that we played London and Manchester last year.
It’s the first time we’ve played in a long time. A lot of places we’re going to this time on this tour, we haven’t played there for at least 15 or 16 years. So, we know we are going to play the ones that people want to hear. We don’t want to go there and go ‘this is our new stuff’ and play random jazz, we want to play a banging set and everyone has a good night out.
Your debut album ‘Stars of CCTV’ turns 18 this year – did you ever envisage how successful that album would be? It went double platinum and went to number one in the UK charts!
Richard: We were literally just hoping to get into NME and maybe get a play on BBC evening radio. We had a clause that if we sold silver, which is like 60 or 70,000 records, we’d get to make another album and that would be amazing. So, when it kind of kept going, it was just kind of mindblowing! It’s funny because a lot of the sentiments of the songs on it are more relevant now than they were then.
What’s inspiring you musically right now who you are listening to?
Ross: Ooh! The usual suspects really!
Richard: He likes a bit of drum and bass and heavy metal!
Ross: Heavy metal man! Yeah soul, I am getting older these days, love a bit of soul just to chill. I am a little bit out of the loop with what’s current. Kai (the bass player) has his finger a little bit more on the pulse. He knows what’s going on! I need to know what’s happening!
Richard: I’ve been getting into loads of things, hence my tee shirt (Richard is wearing a snazzy ‘Cumbia is the new punk’ tee shirt)
I did wonder what that was all about!
Richard: So cumbia is like this crazy Latin American music. I saw this band from Mexico and it was amazing – they were great! I just love it. The tempo is slightly laid back and it’s got really deep roots from Africa and it ended up in South America and informs all different types of music.
You’ve got these young kids who are doing it who are all inspired. It just makes you feel like you are on a holiday.
That’s all you want! Have you guys got any holidays planned?
Ross: I have three kids! It’s too expensive. It cost me like five grand to take them away. So this is a holiday today!
What’s your earliest memory of music?
Ross: I remember, I was very young. I remember getting ‘Jive Bunny and the Master mixers’ on cassette for my birthday – I remember that!
Richard: One thing I have always remembered, actually it’s two things! Christmas day, my dad would buy himself a new album. We’d be up in bed or opening our presents and we’d have it on loud and start making Christmas dinner.
But that wasn’t the earliest one. We got the John Lennon compilation album and I’d already got this little record deck with a six inch nail for a needle. I would have all these seven inch records and me and my mate would do radio shows and make cassettes like DJ’s!
So did you guys always want to be in a band and be musicians?
Richard: It was actually my cousin. She was always into guitars and stuff and I was always in awe of her. She was and is really cool. And her daughter now is super cool – and she plays everything. She’s doing her own stuff as well. My brother played guitar and my nan played piano too.
So, it’s always been in the family?
Richard: I had piano lessons as well and I just wanted to try and write my own songs rather than learning someone else’s. I thought I could blag my way into someone taking me seriously!
Ross: It was a little bit later for me. I got into the guitar at like age 12 to 13. I’d been listening to Metallica and I just wanted to do heavy metal, so that was it from there!
What’s been your favourite gig that you guys have played?
Ross: We did five nights at Brixton Academy back in 2006. They were amazing each night. We had different people playing with us each night.
Rich: We had Professor Green supporting us one night.
Ross: Yeah, we had Suede, Billy Bragg, Paul Weller, Mick Jones come in and did a number. It was just one of those nights that was just amazing. Every single night was so good!
Catch Hard-Fi on tour this Autumn:
5 Cambridge Junction
6 Sheffield The Leadmill
7 Leeds Beckett University
9 Glasgow SWG3 Galvanizers
11 Newcastle NX
12 Liverpool O2 Academy
13 Birmingham O2 Institute
15 Bristol O2 Academy
16 Oxford O2 Academy
17 Brighton Chalk
19 Norwich UEA
20 Nottingham Rock City
21 London Troxy
Main Pic: Mark Thompson
Victorious Pic: Steve Stringer