Broadband sounded death knell

Hard Fi performing on stage. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Photo

Hard Fi performing on stage. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Photo

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Once upon a time, Hard-Fi were one of the biggest bands in the country.

Formed in the unfashionable London suburb of Staines in 2003, their debut album, Stars of CCTV, was released two years later and went on to sell around 1.2 million copies worldwide, with about half being snapped up in the UK alone.

2013 was the first year in recent memory where no band or artist sold more than a million copies of an album. Should Hard-Fi’s debut have been released at any point in the past 12 months and sold 600,000 copies in the UK, they’d be on a par with current industry sales behemoths One Direction and Emeli Sande.

No-one’s more aware of how the music world’s shifted than frontman Rich Archer. “I blame broadband internet,” says Archer. “I remember the days of dial-up internet and it was basically not worth having. When everyone got broadband, it just meant that music was available for free to everyone, and that was the end of the industry.”

While sales did drop off dramatically around the time their second album, Once Upon A Time In The West, was released in 2007 (it sold around 70,000 copies in its first year), it did go straight to No 1, something it took its predecessor six months to achieve.

But by then, the rot had set in.

2011’s Killer Sounds, their third album, managed to reach No 9, although the first two singles charted at 51 and 170, the third failing to chart at all.

Archer and his bandmates Kai Stephens and Steve Kemp have been busy compiling tracks for their forthcoming Best Of collection.

“We’re feeling really good at the moment,” Archer says enthusiastically. “The really exciting thing has been going through all our old material. And going back through I’m incredibly proud of what we did.”