Let’s start by saying that we know the title of the new single from Ben Leece & Left of the Dial is confronting, but sometimes you’ve got to hit people between the eyes (and ears).
Swastika Kids is inspired by Australian punk rock royalty, the Hard-Ons. Hailing from Punchbowl in Sydney and with members who are Sri Lankan, Korean and Croatian, starting out in 1980’s Australia meant that they faced racism at every turn. The Hard-Ons fought back with art and humour, with one of their most infamous record covers featuring the trio dressed in Ku Klux Klan outfits. As a result, they would go on to inspire generations of punk rockers, as the lyrics suggest, like 3 modern-day Elvis’.
According to Leece, “the song came about after a conversation with (Hard-Ons bassist) Ray Ahn. We got to talking about the backlash the Hard-Ons copped after the announcement of their 2019 tour with Rose Tattoo. Angry Anderson had been in the headlines over some outspoken opinions on immigration and spectators were confused as to why a band comprised of immigrant heritage would partner with Angry’s. Ray’s response was, Why wouldn’t we? They’re a great f**kin band. He then went on to tell the story of a Neo-Nazi skinhead that had harassed him in the 80s that became a fan of the Hard-Ons, turned his life around and credited Ray and the band as the catalyst.”
Ahn’s words hit home with Leece… “For me personally, I choose to believe that few people are inherently evil and most of us are capable of empathy. I’ve seen this firsthand working with inmates in prison. Whilst the men I’ve worked with have committed some horrific crimes, most show remorse and have back stories that could only ever lead them to gaol or death. I believe people should be accountable for their actions, but I also believe that we should have a right to redemption. Cancel culture divides into us and them, redemption stories have the power to unite.”
Swastika Kids is the second release for Leece under his full band title and continues to showcase an edgier, heavier sound, full of angst and attitude.
As for the Hard-Ons, 40 odd years later, they are still together and still inspiring generations. Swastika Kids is a powerful example of that inspiration.
Swastika Kids is out now on all Digital platforms.