HARD Aches frontman Ben David knows first hand how lonely and ostracising mental illness can be. He found his personal salvation in music and its supportive community.
Therefore when his Adelaide emo-punk two-piece mapped out the follow-up to their breakthrough 2016 I Freak Out EP, David knew he wanted to create a positive narrative about mental health.
“Most of this record came from looking outside of my own little box and seeing I’m not the only one, it’s a bigger problem than me going through these things,” David said.
“It’s everyone I know. There was a time when all the strong people in my life were really struggling and I kind of wanted to bring all those experiences from my point of view and other people’s points of view together and put it on a record.”
The result is Mess, released next week. The album presents The Hard Aches at their most melodic.
This is particularly true of the tracks Happy and Friendship, which feature Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq and influential US punk artist Jeff Rosenstock respectively.
“It’s definitely the best presentation of where we want to be as a band sound-wise, production-wise, songwriting-wise,” David said. “Everything we set out to achieve we managed to.”
There is a real positive feeling in The Hard Aches camp leading into Mess and its upcoming tour.
However, that’s the result a good management, rather than luck. The past two years and the relentless touring schedule was beginning to take a mental and physical toll on David and drummer Alex Upton.
Last year they took a six-month break from music and it proved a blessing. It’s a message they promoted in Mess’ title track.
“In our situation it’s easy to not stop and burn yourself out and rather than recharge your batteries,” David said. “I feel like that doesn’t just resonate with what we’re doing, it resonates with everybody and what they do in their lives.
“It’s so important to make sure that you’re happy with what you’re doing and you’re happy with where you are. For me, that song is a friendly reminder to stop and recharge and it’s OK.”
The band is also gathering famous admirers. Last month US country musician Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted a picture of a Hard Aches’ tour poster to his 1.67 million followers and wrote “great band.”
David was as surprised as anyone to read the Achy Breaky Heart star’s tweet.
“For all the people in the world to say that about your music, you probably wouldn’t pick Billy Ray Cyrus in a million years,” he said. “Whether he likes the band or whether he thought the name was funny and similar to his big hit, who knows?”
The Hard Aches play the Cambridge Hotel on April 19.