Hard Stare: Scottish Group Rides for Crossover Thrash on Debut Release

Photo: Tommy Lee Photography

Hard Stare is a Scottish crossover thrash band featuring musicians who you might know from such musical outfits as Kingpin, Tempered, and Disposable. "Billy (bass), Chris (guitar) and I all play in broadly thrashy but still very different-sounding bands, and we kind of tossed around the idea of taking some ideas that we all had that maybe didn't quite fit for our individual bands and bringing those ideas together to use them for a new band," says Lev, Hard Stare's vocalist.

"The whole thing was kind of accelerated by the pandemic putting a halt on most of our usual band activities as well, leaving a lot of free time to share ideas and work on something new. When we were looking for a drummer to complete the package, I suggested George as he's a long time friend of mine and in my opinion one of the best metal and hardcore drummers in the whole country.

"Hard Stare, in my head at least, became a vessel to use the free time in what was a pretty dark, miserable time in our lives (and everyone's lives, generally) to create something that was a way of releasing anger, of course, but was also meant to be kind of fun... So using anger to convert negative energy to positive energy and come out the other end of this thing with something that actually made you happy."

This past August, Hard Stare released their self-titled 4-song EP:

Lev breaks down his feelings on the EP: "The most appealing thing about the Hard Stare EP, for me, is that it's not really a group of people with one unified vision trying to do one very specific thing—we're all bringing our own ingredients to the stew, and we might use a very prominent genre-specific thing on one song and then never use it again or have it define the whole band.

"With the mindset that we wanted to come out the other end with something that was fun, we took the philosophy that no idea was a bad idea. One song can have guitar harmonies in it. One song can have a blastbeat on it. One song can have a sample from a movie you just watched, have a guest vocalist, a riff lifted from 'Spirit pf Radio' by Rush, a rowdy football chant style gang vocal. Every time someone suggested something, everyone else just immediately said 'yes' and just trusted each other to make it work.

"The EP is definitely essentially crossover thrash, we're not reinventing the wheel, but we're fine with colouring outside the lines now and then. Maybe the next release we do will be something entirely different! We're just throwing together ideas we like and having a good time with the process together."

When it comes to lyrics, Lev keeps things blunt: "I'm not corny enough to have written any songs about the pandemic, as such, but a lot of the lyrics on the EP are inescapably about the general sense of unease, uncertainty, paranoia, and loneliness during this time and finding the mental strength to just get on with it regardless. That all sounds very fucking serious, but I was pretty fucking annoyed sometimes and just wrote some words that rhymed about that annoyance," the singer laughs. 

Photo: Capacitor Photography

The subject then turns to Scotland and some of the other bands No Echo readers should be checking out in addition to Hard Stare. "Glasgow hardcore: Divide (old school legends still at it, undisputed greatest Scottish HC band of all time); Kingpin (that's my other band, sort of like Hard Stare but not as fast and more breakdowns); Vent (newer young band who take a similar approach to hardcore as we do to our music in that they don't try too hard to be anything too specific).

"UK crossover: Pest Control; Soul Harvest; Inhuman Nature; Road Mutant; Asidhara; Mere Mortal; Overpower; Drawn In. UK death metal: Coffin Mulch; Mortuary Spawn; Cryptic Shift. Other Hard Stare members' other bands: Gendo Ikari (George, drums); Disposable (Billy, bass)."

The Hard Stare EP is available on cassette via Nuclear Family Records.


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