An Interview with Bill Conway of The Hard Times

0 0
Read Time:7 Minute, 12 Second
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Logo-Preview-2-1.png

Image result for bill conway the hard times

The Hard Times is a satire website with a direct focus on Punk Rock and millennial culture. Even though it seems as if they’ve been around forever, in truth they were founded in 2014 by Bill Conway (whom I’ve got with us today) and Matt Saincome. In an age of darkness filled with people who tend to take themselves way too seriously, The Hard Times reminds us to laugh and learn to take a joke once in awhile. It’s relatable nature and ability to poke fun at, and even down right rip into basically anyone and anything brings a certain levity to the Internet that you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere. So, if you’re looking for a laugh, head over to The Hard Times website here– Punk News Comin’ Your Way! Once you’ve done that, give this interview with Bill Conway a read. Enjoy.

Andrew:
Bill, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. This last year has been rough, right? How are you holding up during this seemingly ever-raging dumpster fire?

Bill:
I’ve been in a rather lucky situation where I already worked from home and alienated all my friends so this year barely felt any different to me, other than the fact I had to cover my handsome face whenever I went outside. Most anti-maskers are actually mad at the fact they can’t see my face.

Andrew:
Tell us about your backstory. What first sparked your interest in music and comedy.

Bill:
As far as music is concerned, I had an older cousin that introduced me to some “cool” bands, and mix that in with skateboard videos, and I was locked in. Most things I know are through skateboarding in some way. You could probably trace the comedy back to skateboarding as well with the CKY, CKY2K, and Big Brother videos, even though most of it does not hold up and it’s barely “comedy.” But I started doing stand up because I always loved watching it and wanted to give it a try. Journalism is the only thing I never had an interest in. The Hard Times is a mix of Matt Saincome’s journalism experience and comedy voice and my comedy experience and joke-writing structure.

Andrew:
The Hard Times fuses Punk with satire. Tell us how the website came about. How did the idea develop? 

Bill:
The Hard Times is the brainchild of Matt Saincome. Him and I met through a podcast I was running. Eventually, he put out a Facebook post that said, “I want to start a satirical Punk comedy website” and I responded saying, “I’m all in” and I wrote up about 100 headlines that night. Then he and I got together to shape the site and figure out what the hell we were going to do. We didn’t ever expect it to become “a thing.”

Bill Conway, left, and Matt Saincome, co-founders of The Hard Times website, thehardtimes.net, start recording for their podcast network The Hard Times at their home studio in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, on Tuesday, March 05, 2019. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Contributing Photographer)

Andrew:
As far as The Hard Times is concerned, who/what are some of its biggest influences?

Bill:
For me it’s very simple: The Onion is number 1. I obsessed over The Onion. Their early 2000s stuff was incredible. They still do great work, but I loved picking up hard copies of The Onion at newsstands. Also, bands like Charles Bronson and Spazz had a big influence on me. They were bands that sounded serious, but a lot of times their lyrics and subjects were less than serious.

Andrew:
What does your process look like? How do you go about creating your content?

Bill:
We have an online pitch group and our contributors will pitch a headline idea there. Ideally the other contributors see what someone else pitched and if they think it’s funny, they hit the “like” button. After a certain amount of “likes,” it heads to the editorial meeting where the fate is decided. If a headline is approved the contributor that pitched it goes and writes it and then one of the editors edits it and gets it ready for publishing. Pretty straightforward, semi-democratic, process

Andrew:
The Hard Times sort of knows no bounds. You guys touch on Punk, Alt, Culture and Politics. Actually, some pretty serious to semi-serious topics shrouded in satire. Are there any topics you consider off limits per say?

Bill:
I don’t think there is anything that is expressly off limits. But we always want to make sure we are have a good angle and that the target is worthy of derision. 

Image result for bill conway the hard times

Andrew:
The funny thing about your articles is they’re relatable. Yes, they’re satire, but they’re loaded with truth. I think a lot of us have actually lived through more watered-down versions of these articles. What’s your goal with each piece? To entertain? To be relatable? Or is it both?
 

Bill:
Yeah, it’s definitely both. When people can relate and see themselves in an article about being the grumpy person at a show then it gives you that sense of community in a way and you can think back on your experiences and get more from the article. But at the end of the day, if it’s not funny then nobody cares. So we always want to make sure there are plenty of jokes for people to latch on to.

Andrew:
Are any of the stories and articles put out by you guys based on you or your writers’ real life experiences, or can they be boiled down to works of fiction?

Bill:
I think a lot of the headlines are inspired by real life events, and often times we can tell if one of our contributors might be having a fight with their significant other because suddenly they are pitching headlines like, “Man Sleeping on Couch Wishing He Did Better Job Cleaning Up Puke” or something like that. Then us as editors are thinking, “Looks like trouble in paradise for him again.”

Andrew:
What are some of your favorite pieces The Hard Times has released?

Bill:
Last year we did a lot of anti-cop articles and I think some of the best stuff came out of that:

Cop Shoots Klansman in Suicide

Conservative Food Blogger Gives Police Boots Five Stars

Think Being a Cop Is Easy? I’d Like To See You Get Called an “Asshole” and Not Commit Second-Degree Murder Afterwards

Police Horse Unaware He is One of the Bad Guys

Image result for bill conway the hard times

Andrew:
What other passions do you have?

Bill:
I’ve been skateboarding since 1996. And as a 36-year-old, it certainly hurts more but it’s as fun as it’s ever been.

Andrew:
Are you into records? Tapes? CDs? Digital? Where do you like to shop for music? How big is your collection these days?


Bill:
My wife and I have moved a lot, so I’m constantly reducing what I own. I actually just sold most of my records and only kept a handful. I’m full on digital these days

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most you and why?

Easy answer is Minor Threat – Complete Discography. I mean, come on. It’s the most important collection of music ever.

Engine Down – To Bury Within the Sound. Engine Down was the band that opened me up to more than just straight up Punk/Hardcore.

Saves the Day – Through Being Cool. Best album of all-time to listen to in your car.

Andrew:
The Hard Times has been around for awhile now. It’s become a real part of the popular landscape, I think. Looking back, what are your thoughts regarding how far you’ve come? How have things evolved for you? Moving forward, where do you see The Hard Times heading?

Bill:
I never expected The Hard Times to be more than small project to make a few friends laugh. The fact it’s grown as big as it has and that it’s my full time job is absolutely crazy to me. I expected to work in a warehouse until I eventually died in a freak accident. I never take it for granted. As far as the future, that’s always tough to say. We are always working on new things and just want to keep moving forward and progressing.

Image result for the hard times bill conway

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Social profiles
%d bloggers like this: