While Backseat Mafia’s northern hemisphere headquarters in the UK swelters in the extreme heat wave (a relative term given 40 Degrees Celsius is now a normal Sydney summer), down here at the Backseat Mafia’s far flung southern outpost there’s snow in Hobart (renamed with much excitement as Snowbart) and much need for some warmth. And to deliver this for us this morning, we are very pleased to premiere a pulse of radiant energy by way of a track and video emanating from Sydney band Thunder Fox.
‘Hard Times’ is a refreshing blast of funky goodness delivered with style and panache. The lyrics, however, form a dark counterpoint to the dancing notes:
Someone’s walking with her keys between her fingers after working don’t want no one to come close Causing her harm
Gotta be a certain body shape to love yourself these days she stays residing in the mirror crying all night
Finding ways to stop the tears just long enough so people look at her straight
Waiting for depression to subside
Finding ways to lock the doors that guard her identity ways to block the windows that just shatter in her eyes
Sam Dawes from the band says of the track:
‘Hard Times’ is a song of catharsis. I was feeling pretty down and out at the time, growing tired of the bad news, bad people and bad jobs sucking all the joy from our lives. The song tells the story of two people who are struggling with 21st century issues like the effects our media has on body image, the fear women can feel for their safety when walking home at night or working a shitty job and still not being able to pay for rent.
All of these issues I’ve experienced or know someone who has so they’re close to home but, there’s a twist. I wasn’t feeling the idea of writing a depressing track so I had to find a silver lining.
When I really thought about it, almost everyone has experienced one or more of these problems; I’m really just singing about average people like myself or my friends. The idea that we’re not alone in this was the inspiration that tied the track together and where I found the hook. There’s a pumping beat to boot so we’re all gonna listen to this track and get down to it thinking, “Oh well, I guess we’re just living through hard times”. (but also let’s take action on these issues after we dance away our frustration).
These dark themes are transmogrified into a powerful paean to resilience and self-empowerment that is joyous and abandoned. The funky beat is as tight and taut as stretched steel wire with splashing cantering instrumentation that evokes shades of Prince.
The video for the track, directed by Jesse Tachibana, is a stylish and enigmatic performance piece that is utterly mesmerising. Dawes is a striking figure, the band louche and cool and the pace a heart bursting frenetic explosion that warms the heart and unfetters the feet. Tachibana says of the video:
For the ‘Hard Times’ video I really wanted to lean into the synth driven, high energy vibe of the song by showcasing some incredible dancers in a neon lit studio. A lot of our previous videos have had a large focus on narrative and I thought it would be fun to depart from this approach a little and really focus on aesthetic, but carefully curating lighting scenes, costumes and movement. Huge shoutout to the incredible team that made it all happen, with special props to Nick Allen our Director and Jess Ines who came up with the choreography.
The video captures the restless motion and the hyperactive rhythms of the track – funky and sibilant – while the dancers capture the zeitgeist with their masked dynamic motions: blanked out, anonymous but utterly compelling. The rich colours create a transfixing aura with the strobe flashes adding to the restless momentum, but at the heart is the striking and immersive images of the band performing with a dissociated coolness:
‘Hard Times’ is released on Thursday, 21 July 2022 and available to pre-save here. It is the first single since the release of Thunder Fox’s album ‘Sanctuary’ last year.
You can catch Thunderbox setting fire to the floorboards at the Lansdowne on release day – details and tickets here.
Feature Photograph: Romon Yang