Hard-Fi are an English indie rock band formed in Staines, Surrey in 2003. The band's members are Richard Archer (lead vocals and guitar), Kai Stephens (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Steve Kemp (drums and backing vocals). Founding member Ross Phillips (guitar and backing vocals) left the band on 6 May 2013.
They achieved chart success with their third single, "Hard to Beat" and then followed by other successful singles such as "Cash Machine" and "Living for the Weekend", which all reached top 15 in the UK Singles Chart. Their debut album Stars of CCTV was released on 4 July 2005, and although receiving critical acclaim (NME called it the Album of the Year and it was nominated for the Mercury Prize and two Brit Awards; Best British Group and Best British Rock Act), it didn't reach No. 1 in the UK albums chart until six months later on 22 January 2006. It originally entered the charts at number 6. Their third album Killer Sounds, which features the singles "Good for Nothing", "Fire in the House" and "Bring It On", was released on 19 August 2011 and debuted at number 9 on the UK Album Chart.
Although Hard-Fi are generally considered part of the indie rock scene, they have stated that they are heavily influenced by soul and dance music.
1997-2001: ContempoRichard Archer decided to return to his hometown of Staines, crushed by the lack of success of his former band Contempo and the death of his father after his struggle against cancer. He said "I moved back to Staines because I ran out of money and it was quite a shock."
Archer claims that music business insiders tried to dissuade the band's manager Warren Clarke from managing him. When Archer asked his publishers for some money to record the new songs that he had written, they terminated his contract instead. "People told him, don't bother with Archer, he's damaged goods, you're wasting your time."
2001-2004: Formation and early successWhile Archer was making demos to produce an album, he went into the Staines hi-fi shop where Ross Phillips worked, simply so he could listen to his latest demos on the shop's best equipment. Philips apparently asked Archer who had played guitar on his demos and Archer said that it was himself. Phillips said it was "shit" and was therefore recruited to play guitar for the new group. Steve Kemp was already an old friend of Archer, while it took Kai Stephens little persuasion to leave his job as a "pest killer" at Rentokil.
The band were signed to newly formed independent label Necessary Records, owned by Clarke. The majority of Stars of CCTV was recorded in a variety of unusual acoustic environments - in bedrooms, in pubs, and played back in their producer, Wolsey White's, BMW. 1000 copies of this record were pressed with only 500 going on public sale, and the initial plan was to sell 1000 each time. However, it quickly sold out, receiving critical acclaim and radio play, proving a lot more successful than the band had imagined. Most of the album was recorded in a disused mini cab office, which cost them about £300 and is known to this day as the "Cherry Lips" Studio. The band used to try to make their music sound more atmospheric by putting a microphone in the corridor to add echo; listening closely to the record reveals that this also picked up passers-by humming and whistling and the occasional aeroplane flying overhead.
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