The Hard Richards' Breakup After Twenty Years of Music, Calling It "Gut-Wrenching"
The original lineup
Palm Beach County show-goers come in all ages, shapes, and sizes. But you would be hard-pressed to find one that hasn't seen the Hard Richards live. Performing locally for a staggering 20 years, this gnarly Boynton Beach crew has played their hearts out and is calling it quits on its own on terms. Going out Seinfeld style, the group is disbanding at a high point, before any outside forces can weigh in on the matter. It's nothing short of the end of a legacy, and the crater left in place of the Hard Richards will be near impossible to fill.
The band played its last show and Propaganda's Summer Daze, day one, last week. Jager shots were consumed, tears were shed, and moshing commenced for one last time. To reflect on the past two decades and look toward what the future might hold, we talked with original frontman Steve Abbott, who's seen it all. He started this band right out of high school and it's consumed half of his lifetime, so this news is equal parts heartbreaking and relieving. Read on to get a peek into the mind of a lifelong Hard Richard, coping with the decision to put an end to a band that meant everything to him.
New Times: How special was the last show as the Hard Richards?
Steve Abbott: It was gut-wrenching. It was really hard. Before we started, I had some serious nerves -- I never have nerves! I just go out and have so much fun generally. But this time, it was so intense, and then the added fact that my big brother was there for the first time ever seeing a Hard Richards show. It all compounded on me pretty quickly.
It took a few drinks to get my nerves back, and I'm never like that. It was funny. It really made for a great show because that just turned into energy. And I felt like I was 22 again, up there jumping around, instead of going on 39. It was pretty intense. It was everything I wanted to be. I was very happy.
After a successful 20 years, what made you decide it's time for the Hard Richards to hang its hat?
It's been a long time. It's been a big portion of my life. Me being not just the lead singer, but also the band mom, the manager, the go-to guy for a long time. It would always fall on my shoulders because I was not only the oldest one in the band, but one of the more responsible ones. It would come to me. After all that time, some of the fun just isn't there. Instead of imploding one of these days and people finding out the Hard Richards broke up, and I'll never get to see them play again.
I figured why not go out on a high note? I think the Hard Richards deserve that. To come in the way we did and go out the way we did, on our own terms. We played the music we wanted to play, we did it how we wanted to do it, and when the time came to end it, we ended it the way we wanted to end it.
What about the Hard Richards let you guys persevere for 20 years?
I think it's the diversity. Even when we were just a four-piece band, there was a lot of diversity in our music and the music that we individually liked. We're not reggae but we do some reggae. We're not punk but there is something punk about it. We're not heavy metal, but there are times where some of that shines through. We aren't rap but you can say it influences us. We don't let our songs fall into a formula. The albums change, the styles change, but the end result was always clearly the Hard Richards. So all different people like our music. That's how we survived.
Will you keep on making music? What will your next project look like?
I want to play music again. I think everyone in the band wants to play music. I don't know if they will all be involved. I know the Hard Richards, as that local band that was always rocking, will be gone. We are going to move forward from there.
My influence in music has always been a little bit raw. I like Bad Religion and Operation Ivy. There is a chance I would like to swing back down to like a three or four piece. I want to do something back to the roots of where it started and see what happens. It could be all eight of us back together in another band. Because I know of one of them says, "Hey, you are playing again. Can I play?" I can't say no.
Hard Richard's final lineup
Do you think the last show was your final, or will you reunite every once in a while?
I am friends with a lot of people in the scene, and if something were to come up where the was a reason for us to play and if it could benefit someone, we can probably do something like that later down the line.
What do you hope the legacy of the Hard Richards is?
I want the energy to be remembered. I think that's something that describes us. There was an energy when we played, even at our worst shows. And our best shows, we could light places on fire. That's what we did it for. We loved the feeling of playing. We loved the reaction from the crowd. We loved to see people enjoy it. When I got off stage at Summer Daze, I was done. I couldn't give any more. That's energy and that's an amazing thing.