The Hard Times – Early Reggae from NYC

Redstar73 Blog: Please introduce your band.
Bob: We are The Hard Times. We started up in NYC in early 2009, with the goal of getting out there with some new sounds with a heavy early reggae influence. We’re a five-piece rhythm section: drums, bass, 2 guitars and keys. We strarted out playing a lot of Upsetters covers and stuff from the Trojan archives and along the way we’ve developed our own sound with a lot of original stuff that ranges from reggae and dub to soul and samba. In that way, we are pretty typical NY/Brooklyn band. Whatever “style” bands begin from, it’s almost impossible to resist influence from differents cultures and sounds you encounter day to day, block to block, or gig to gig. Brooklyn is a fun place to play music in that way.

Redstar73 Blog: You guys are an instrumental Reggae band but working live sometimes with guest singers. are you planning any recordings with singers?
Bob: Yes, we’ve had the same core 5 players from the beginning but have done a few special things with different singers, whether it’s the special live shows we’ve done with Vic Ruggiero, or running some classic covers with different people. We had a few great shows this year playing a singer from Kingston, Jamaica, Elizabeth Goffe. She was in NY through but is back home now. All our recordings so far have been the main band instrumentals, but we’ve got plans to take some of our rhythms and run version specials with different guests. And we’ve got one samba-influenced tune we’re working on a release for, that will feature some vocal and percussion parts from a couple of bands we are good friends with.

Redstar73 Blog: Your first EP is available as download only. any chance for a proper vinyl release?
Bob: We’d love to get some stuff out on vinyl. Any physical product obviously requires some additional dollars to produce, so unless you have a solid tour or other plan to drive the sales, it’s tricky. We’re not a touring band, so selling our stuff online is just a better starting point for us. We’re happy to be working with Brooklyn label, Whatevski Records ( They put out a lot of quality stuff from The Slackers and other reggae bands, so we’re proud to be in that mix.

Redstar73 Blog: Whats going on in NYC? Any other amazing new bands?
Bob: Something’s always going on here. Brooklyn has its own regular reggae network, so at least a couple of times a month, there are great nights with DJs like Agent Jay from The Slackers, Jah Point, or Grace of Spades. The Forthrights are making a lot of good noise, getting out on the road with the Brooklyn sound. At home, we’ve also got The Frighteners, a frighteningly tight reggae band with a great rubadub sound. Also look out for bands like Top Shotta, The Facts, and R-Tronika. They run the range from reggae to punk and cumbia; those are just a couple of favorite bands we’ve played with.

Redstar73 Blog: Last words!
Bob: The reggae will not be televised! One of the good things about the current reggae/rocksteady scene is that nobody really expects or gives two bits about whether the mainstream pays attention or involvement with labels. There’s a good network of bands and fans across the country so that for the bands that are serious and do things right, there’s a self-sustaining support system. I don’t think anyone’s getting rich, but I know some people who seem to be happy living under the radar and just enjoying making music. And then there’s the rest of us with one foot in Babylon, who aren’t relying on the music to pay the rent, just out there for the music itself. Hard Times often brings good music. History will back me up on that.


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