STAR SCENE: Peter “Blackie” Black

Check out our interview with Peter ‘Blackie’ Black

Photo by Alec Smart Photos

Legendary Hard-Ons guitarist Peter Black presents the first singles from each of his forthcoming two solo albums.
“Safety Net” is the obvious hit – a great pop song with ’60s inspired melody and a bit of ’70s-style crunch.
“Is That A Hint of a Cough” shows off Peter’s quirkier side, and his incredible vocal arrangements and harmonies.

Stream and share “Safety Net”

Stream and share “Is That A Hint Of A Cough” 

“Beautifully produced pop.. and pop with a capital P too. I don’t know why anyone should be surprised because everything Blackie has done is quality – from the Hard-Ons up till now. But the addition of acoustic and harmony has taken Blackie into classic rock territory.. and if that means joining the likes of Brian Wilson and The Byrds why ever not. I’m sure there’s still some thrashy punk left in the guy but for now this is absolutely bloomin’ marvellous!”

– Captain Sensible (The Damned, Sensible Gray Cells)

“These two fantastic albums are simply bursting with ideas and, both lyrically and musically, there are surprises at every turn. Peter Black has outdone himself. As a songwriter, he has never written better songs than these, and as a performer/producer he has never sounded better than this. The albums feel like musical conversations and listeners will be constantly amazed at where that conversation takes them. Fascinating, entertaining and bloody brilliant!” – Dave Faulkner (The Victims, Hoodoo Gurus)

Peter Black is an legend of the Australian alternative/independent scene, although a lot of people won’t recognise his name.  There are thousands who do know him though, as Blackie.

As Blackie, Peter Black has been wielding his Gibson SG in Sydney’s pioneering multicultural pop-punk phenomenon the Hard-Ons since the early-‘80s. Since he was 13 in fact. With the Hard-ons, Peter Black has had a hand in classic alternative hits like “Girl I the Sweater”, “Where Did She Come From”, “Just Being with You” and “Don’t Wanna See You Cry”, released over a dozen albums and over twenty singles and EPs, played the inaugural Big Day Out, toured Australia, Europe and the US countless times, built a legion of fans and influenced generation after generation of subsequent musicians.  You can ask everyone from Spiderbait and Regurgitator, You Am I  and Magic Dirt, through to Frenzal Rhomb and current chart breakers Private Function, and they’ll confirm that last point.

“It’s no surprise that Blackie continues to follow his own vision of what constitutes solid songwriting, be it loud or soft or somewhere in between. Obviously the comparison will always be made to the thrashier punk rock origins of Hard-Ons, but at their core of anything written (and presumably enjoyed) by the one and only Blackie has the same level of detail and understanding of the mechanics and mystery of all music at its core. The world may have a few too many punks with acoustic guitars in this day and age, but if the 35+ years and counting of Blackie’s musical legacy proves anything, it’s that his music follows no trends and answers to no-one but his own creative ambition and outlook.” – Joe Hansen (Private Function, Clowns)

The Hard-Ons of course were, and still are, a bunch of very naughty boys. In their own goofy way, and in the true punk tradition, they’ve courted controversy and inspired outrage, for decades. They were always fun though, and they always had great tunes, so when latecomers like Green Day  and the Offspring started topping the charts (playing in a style that was just one of a number of styles the Hard-Ons had already mastered), the Hard-ons were unlucky to miss out. They were committed to their music though, and after a period in the mid-‘90s when Blackie and fellow Hard-on Ray Ahn shifted attention to a new band called Nunchukka Superfly, the Hard-Ons picked up where they left off. Nunchukka kept going too, and then, in 2006, Peter decided he wanted to be a solo artist as well.

“It’s great how far reaching and ambitious Peter Black’s solo stuff is. Great vocal melodies. The Hard-Ons were – still are –  amazing. Musically, but also for what they were. This multi-cultural band. I remember Ray telling me stories of their encounters. Blackie must have seen a thing or too. They were fearless. Ray and Blackie always came to Dirty Three shows in Sydney early on, and I always felt that we were somehow aligned attitude-wise. They were awesome live, with that power that only a trio can have. They also wrote the best singles! Beyond that, they always did whatever they wanted. And Blackie continues that. Neither of these new albums are what anyone would expect ….  “ – Warren Ellis (Dirty Three/Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds)

Peter released his first solo album Break Bread With The Mono Brows in 2010 and his 5thMaybe If I Took My Headphones Off, in 2017. He has toured Australia as a solo act, as well as Europe and Japan. In 2016, he not only undertook but – incredibly – completed the endeavour of releasing a song a day for the entire year. Not acoustic solo home recordings, not covers; this was fully fleshed original material, with a drummer and occasional guest instrumentalists and it was properly mixed and mastered. The Hoodoo Gurus’ Dave Faulkner helped out on occasion, and Jay Whalley from Frenzal Rhomb and Neptune Power Federation helped him record every track. It was a crazy feat that ate up countless hours and thousands of dollars, but that’s how much Blackie loves making music.

“Blackie is one of the hardest working people in showbiz. Back in 2016, while the music world was reeling from downloading and dodgy record labels, Blackie recorded a song for EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. Now in 2020, while we’re all whinging about masks and viruses, he’s put out a new Hard-Ons record and not one but TWO solo albums! (He was also whinging about viruses before it was cool). AND, as a bonus, his music is bloody great!” – Lindsay “The Doctor” McDougall (Frenzal Rhomb, ABC/Triple J)

There’s always been a thread in punk rock that was inspired by classic pop – not for nothing did Phil Spector so desperately want to produce the Ramones all those years ago – and the Hard-Ons always carried that thread with more conviction than most.  So it should come as no surprise that Peter Black’s solo stuff is very pop. Pop like Brian Wilson is pop. Pop like Paul McCartney is pop. And at times difficult like the music of both those artists can be.

“My biggest hero is probably Paul McCartney,” says Peter. “That guy does it all and his sense of melody and experimentation in the form is wild. I love the 60’s a lot. I love Michael Brown’s writing in all his bands the Stories, Left Banke etc … And all the classic power pop – Raspberries, you name it… In many ways I don’t see what I do solo as that different as its still POP but wanted to present it in a much more gentle fashion / format. I was given an acoustic at a party eons ago – “you’re a guitarist, play something”  – and cause I only knew power chords I thought “man I know so little of what this instrument can do, I can’t make this thing sound any good!”. That was a big thing that got me on the path .. Also, seeing someone like Brian Wilson play “Surfs Up” on the piano or Paul play “Black Bird”;  realising that just one voice and one instrument can be so powerful if the song is THAT good; that made me wanna try as well…”

Peter Black is set to release his 6th and 7th solo albums, IF THIS IS THE HAND THAT I’M DEALT and I’M GONNA CHEAT AS MUCH AS I CAN on November 27. They’re a perfect pair; one acoustic based, one electric. Both full of great tunes. Both were again recorded with Jay Whalley of the Frenzals and Neptune Power Federation, who also contributes some keyboards and vocals to both albums. Jay’s partner in Neptune Power Federation, Lauren Friedman, contributes some vocals to both as well, and other musical pals like Heather Shannon from the Jezebels,  fellow Hard-On Ray Ahn and former Nunchukka Superfly drummer Joel Ellis (Peter’s regular drummer) also help out. The acoustic one utilises strings and really highlights some outrageous vocal arrangements and harmonies – Blackie perhaps thinks he’s all three Wilson brothers and their cousin all in one – and the electric one, while a bit louder, is similarly textured and just as pretty.

Blackie has just finished his Personal Trainer course and in between getting people in shape he’s keen to get his new music out there, so stay tuned for more announcements regarding more singles, live dates, and more in general. In the meantime, please enjoy the first fruits of Peter Black’s most recent musical labours.


“Both discs offer a melodic salve for our weary times, while delivering with enough trademark bite to make it clear there’s plenty of fight left in the belly.  Blackie thank you for making these records, we need them right now!”

           –  Steve McDonald (Redd Kross / Off!! / Melvins)

About Mary Boukouvalas 1614 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.