The long awaited hard copy of Hard Queen is here! I was able to have a sneak listen to Holiday and a few minutes to talk with Brad Ferguson, producer and promoter for the band, who are celebrating the release of their EP this Saturday night at YuYinTang (I’ll be there dancing for sure!).
Layabozi: This is a pretty cool project, very INDIE indeed, since you completed the entire work all on your own, without the aid of any companies. How was the whole experience for you and the band?
Brad Ferguson: The overall experience has been good. The recording and production process really focused the band’s energies and helped solidify their ideas about their sound. All the support from the scene leading up to the release has been great, too. It’s given the band and me more confidence and the desire to keep doing what we’ve been doing.
LYBZ: I’ve seen Hard Queen categorized as indie-pop. Can you give me some more specifics and influences? I hear and see lots of ska reference, especially in the artwork on Holiday.
BF: Hard Queen are somewhat difficult to categorize. Whereas a lot of other bands will say, “We’re a punk band so we have to sound like this,” Hard Queen just make the music that they like and don’t worry about what genre it might be perceived as belonging to. Where you might hear ska, other people hear techno-pop, and still others hear garage rock. Their influences are pretty eclectic, but a few that they cite regularly are the White Stripes, Dresden Dolls, and Holly Golightly.
LYBZ: The recordings are crisp and sweet sounding and that happy beat resonates throughout the whole CD. Was there any reason for song choices or ordering of tracks?
BF: Hard Queen have written about a dozen original songs, and we recorded eight of them, then picked five that we feel best represent the band. Their songs are generally upbeat and happy, and so “Holiday” seemed like the best choice for a title track. This EP is like a 15-minute holiday – just throw it on and dance around the living room.
LYBZ: It’s especially interesting to me that all the songs are in English, since I don’t believe that is the native language of any of the members of the band. Would you like to respond to that?
BF: English may not be her native language, but Sheena says it’s easier to express her ideas through English lyrics. To be honest, I only understood about half of her lyrics before reading the liner notes, but I still enjoyed the music. Reading the lyrics, I was really impressed by how poetic some of the songs are.
LYBZ: Though “Loser Yeah You’re a Loser!” is quite catchy and entertaining, “Fat Girl Slim Boy” seems to be the most memorable and gratifying, with that great layering of vocals and tight accentuation from the drums and bass. I couldn’t stop singing it in the shower this morning! Which is your favorite track on Holiday and why?
BF: My favorite track is “Holiday”. It’s always been one of my favorites from their live show, and it was the one song where I felt like I had a vision for how I wanted it to sound before we even recorded it. The band members all have their own favorites, but I think they’re all pretty catchy.
LYBZ: What’s with the bonus-track at the end? Is it called “Hide and Seek”? It’s really different from the other songs on the CD with its carnival flavor. Is this a Sheena solo project? Can we call this your B-side?
BF: I wanted to keep the bonus track a secret, but I guess it was bound to come out sooner or later. “Hide and Seek” was a song that the band wasn’t really happy with, and they’ve re-arranged it several times since we recorded the original version. Since I knew it wouldn’t make it on the album, I used the track to try out some lo-fi electronic ideas I had, and the band ended up liking the result. It’s all Hard Queen playing, just modified some.
LYBZ: So as producer of this EP and promoter of the band, how do you feel about the direction Hard Queen is heading in, and where exactly do you wanna go? When can we look forward to a full album?
BF: I want to go wherever the band wants to go. As long as they enjoy making music I’ll help them out with the production and promotion. We’re planning to do a few shows around China throughout Spring and Summer, then hopefully get back into the studio to record a full-length album in the Fall.
LYBZ: For Saturday night I’m assuming there will be lots of skanking to live performances of the songs on the CD, and what else might be in store for us?
BF: Good music, free CDs, and cheap drinks … what else do you want? Hard Queen will do all the songs on the EP, as well as a few more you might not have heard before. Boys Climbing Ropes are playing, too, and they’re always great. I think it’ll it be a fun night out.
LYBZ: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I look forward to seeing you on Saturday night to celebrate this great contribution of original music, one that really seems to be a free expression of the artists. Its an inspiration to us all to be true to ourselves!
BF: Thank you!