Its been several years since we last saw Raging Speedhorn and with them playing a string of new shows a number of questions need answering, so i sat down with vocalists John and Frank to find out what’s been going on, why now? and where things are heading; but things take a different turn as stories from the road surface and we go all the way back to their first show.
Looking at this tour schedule its ten days in a row, with no day off.
John: We used to do 38 with no days off.
Frank: I was looking at someone’s tour shirt last night, an old one and I was thinking “Fucking hell how did we manage that without killing ourselves”
It’s like six years since your last full tour…
John: Yeah six years since we last played, eight since we played with Frank.
Is there a part of you that’s thinks, “Ten dates in a row, can we do it?”
Frank: Course we can, how many have we got left-five? I think we’re going to go a bit crazy tonight.
Well that’s what the days off do; means you can have those naughty ones.
John: We just have them anyways and wake up feeling like shit the next day.
I love that the reason for doing this, the mentality is “For a bit of giggle and it’s enjoyable”
John: We were fucking bored.
You just didn’t want the stock answer for when a band comes back, “We thought the timing was right”
Frank: “The timing was right, the fans wanted it” Fuck off, you were bored, you wanted to do it again, that’s all there is to it.
Why does there have to be a reason? Like when you’ve had line up changes, do you think people get stuck on that? On band changes and line-ups?
Frank: I don’t think it matters as much these days. People have their favourite member of the band and when they leave I think maybe it spoiled it for them, if you like the music it shouldn’t matter.
Surely the band and the songs overshadow all of that though?
One of the last people to interview you, was a massive fan, and the reason I mention that is that you have people who listened to you then, and then there’s been a gap of six to eight years yet they still remember because that meant something to them.
Frank: A lot of people that have come up to me have mentioned a point in their life or time that they associate our band with. It’s good for us because it means something to people.
John: People remember it; it makes it more of a cult thing you know? People have got something they associate with us, to do with their lives, so they’ll always remember us and they will always come back to the shows.
Listening back to your albums I forgot two things: how massive you blew up in quite a short period of time and that’s its still heavy. Like when you listen to Pantera, you think and I think that transgresses time, I don’t know how you feel about that? Our did you just go “Fuck it’s just a riff”?
Frank: Yeah, it’s just a riff.
John: We were just fucking drunk in a practice room, pissing around with guitars.
Frank: The actual music doesn’t mean that much to us really, in the terms of their just songs.
Rather than in a historical sense?
Frank: Yeah. People seem to enjoy us playing them.
John: To us their just our songs.
Frank: Id rather people come and have a good time, not film us with their cameras.
In the seventies we put a peace sign up, in the eighties we put the horns up, and now we hold a phone up.
Frank: It’s modern technology. Back in the day, in the seventies people would sneak into gigs with boxes this big and microphones that would probably cost thousands now, to record a concert, and now they can just do it on a phone, and maybe the quality is worse on that than it would be from something from back in the day. That’s one thing that lets them (Phones) down is the quality of the sound.
There’s that and also the immersion in the moment.
Frank: You don’t capture the atmosphere really.
The vibe of the show. Is that’s what’s maybe missing in live music anyway?
John: That’s what killed live music because people see it on their phone and they go “ I don’t like that group” so they won’t go out to the show, when they will see a clip of a show in London, and the next day that bands up in Liverpool, they won’t go and see it because they “Sound fucking rubbish”
The first time I saw you was at Ozzfest 2001 that was pretty eye-opening, this was pre Face book and Twitter, someone told you about a band.
Frank: Cassette tapes, you used to have to borrow cassette tapes.
Yeah, someone told you.
Frank: Or if you saw someone wearing the t-shirt.
I remember seeing your bands logo before I saw you.
Frank: That’s what I mean; our band came from before all that shit started, Face book, Twitter.
Then I got to see you again at Download 2005.
John: That was fucking insane.
Do you remember those shows?
John: Scarily enough I remember quite a lot of those shows.
Do you remember the explosion you had?
John: I remember us literally going from playing little fucking pubs to getting a phone call going “You’re going out on tour with Biohazard round Europe for six and a half weeks”
What goes through your mind when you get that phone call?
John: I was at work doing driving lessons, and our manager was just like “Cancel everything” so we did, and that was it.
Frank: We came back for a few weeks and then we went back out with Amen.
John: We had six and a half weeks with Biohazard, come back had four days, two of those days we were playing shows in Ireland, and then we went out for five and half weeks with Amen, then did another four shows in Ireland.
They are not quiet acts..
John: We were playing anywhere from a thousand to four thousand a night.
Did you acclimatize to it well?
John: I think our first night on that tour was what sort of got us into “Right we can learn a lot from these guys on tour”. We met on the ferry and got fucking wrecked. It was crazy night, and then after that we were just like “They are nice guys were going to get on with them” and we did learn a hell of a lot for them.
Frank: They took us under their wing a little bit; we had a bit of romance between bands. Were we got on really well.
That has to happen though doesn’t it?
How the hell are you going to get acclimatised to playing a pub then playing almost arenas?
John: You’re playing to ten people then playing to four thousand.
Frank: You can be the best band in the world but shit it on stage doing something like that. You won’t go down well and then that’s it.
John: Our fourteenth ever show we played the Astoria with Ministry.
Frank: We weren’t that great that night.
You had a bit of a rough time, but then Al (Jourgensen) took you under his wing. Now you’ve been through that and have a very healthy distrust for the industry, which you’ve worn on your sleeves, are there bands yourself you have taken under your wing?
John: If we take a band on tour and within about two or three days if we get on with all of them, we’ll take them under our wing, we’ve got no fucking problem with that at all. Any band that’s willing to work hard and not be complete fucking arseholes to the other band they are on tour with we’ll take under our wing because we know how fucking hard it is; you do it from scratch you get on the tour, and you think “Right I’m on this tour, that it should be alright” and then the bands a compete fucking arsehole that’s it, it ruins the tour.
Frank: We were doing gigs with a lot of American bands, some of them were completely lovely, or the techs would be shit, or it would be the techs would be cool and the bands were wankers.
The bands that have been around the longest, Motorhead etc, their crew are on side because they know having one arsehole on the tour bus is going to cause mayhem.
Frank: It can ruin your whole shit throughout Britain because everybody knows each other, and all the techs, especially the older guys they have been out with everybody, and if your dicks to them they all speak to each other. Just be polite, say please and thank you to the right people, it makes a big difference.
John: For instance we did a show with Motorhead in Ireland, I think it was Belfast, we played the show anyway and the next thing there’s a knock at the door, “Who the fuck is that?” open the door and there’s Phil Campbell standing there “Lemmy’s said you guys are good to party with? Do you mind if I come in?” and were like “Do we fucking mind?” It ended up in a big food fight and being kicked out of our dressing room, five minutes before we went out on stage, and then we had a massive argument with the bouncers, ended up throwing beer kegs at them from across the street.
So what was the first big show?
Five minutes before you walk out there, what’s the feeling?
John: I was in fucking agony in the van with gout.
Frank: We had photos just before we went on, obviously girlfriends are there, I was hung-over to death, but as soon as you get on stage that all goes away, and that’s it.
John: It had been a heavy weekend. We got asked if we would play the VIP bar, it was just press and VIPs’ and they were like “Oh we want you guys to play it, just come up and do five songs that was the night before, just come out and do five songs” so we played that, and we were like “Aww fuck, it’s going to be great, let’s just get wrecked” and woke up hung over as fuck.
And then Damnation was afterwards, and I love the fact that it was a couple of emails and you’re suddenly playing it.
John: We got the line-up almost sorted all we needed to sort was one more guitarist, and I know Gav quite well, I’ve talked to with him, I’ve played Damnation like six times.
Frank: They were in the pit in Glasgow! He came over the barrier and hit the monitor with his back.
John: I messaged Gav on Face book and said “We might have some good news for you soon, and he was like “I fucking want it! It’s Speedhorn innit, I fucking want it”. Gav was one of the guys that was on our websites forum when we first started and twelve or sixteen of the people who do Damnation, twelve of those met on our website, and asked us if we’d headline the first ever Damnation.
I love that it was that relaxed.
John: It was literally just that I mentioned to Gav that we might be getting together; not even directly it was a completely indirect comment just like “We might have something nice for you soon”
Once you had done those two big shows, and then you announce a tour, did you change much?
John: We played a different set for Sonsisphere and Damnation. We change it most nights anyway. Just to keep it fucking interesting, bear in mind we’ve played like three thousand shows in this band, we’ve played our songs a lot, you get fucking bored.
But here must be for you certain songs that still get you…
John: Thumper and The Gush I fucking hate them, sick of hearing the bastards, don’t get me wrong, soon as it kicks in and the crowds starts going mental it’s like “YES!”
How do you keep it fresh?
John: Just get slightly more drunk each night. People always say to us “How the fuck do you go onstage and play as drunk as you do?” well we fucking wrote the songs drunk, we used to get wrecked at practice.
Is it that “I don’t know my way home but when I’m drunk I do”?
John: Yup. Honest to God if someone stopped me in the street and went “Right see in that second verse of High Whore what’s that lyric?” You ask me when I’m on stage and I’ll fucking sing the fucker for you.
Frank: Yeah I have moments like that.
John: Some nights the mic’s up to my lips and I’m like “Bbbllarrrraahh” it just comes out.
Frank: We just make it up.
A lot of people held you up when you first came out as an underground band i.e. you didn’t really give a fuck for trends. That it’s got to be clean and clinical and it was just like “Look we’re just these guys from Corby” I think people were refreshed by that.
John: Our attitude from the start has always been “If people like it fucking brilliant, if they don’t fuck ‘em”
Frank: it’s like we want our high on stage to extend into the crowd, everyone having a good time, no seriousness, come the gig have a few drinks, be with your mates, have a few punches, go home.
John: It’s like mixture of Billy Connelly and music you know?
Frank: Can be sometimes yeah. We’ll take the piss out of ourselves on stage.
Some people are divorced from their fans.
John: You can’t be a fucking band that tours and makes money doing that.
Frank: They are your bread and butter.
John: I think that’s why our fans feel such a connection with us, because we haven’t got that attitude of were not fucking special, were no different to fucking you, we are exactly the same we just play music for a living instead of working in a factory.
Frank: Well we don’t play music for a living!
John: Not any more.
Frank: You probably could again, but it would mean being away from home I’ve got two kids, a wife.
Is it annoying then when people say “You’ve got these ten dates, when’s the next dates? When’s the next album? When’s the next U.S tour?
Frank: Yeah. We’ve only got one more gig booked for next year, at the minute, and then we need to get the record done. Don’t get wrong only of these gigs have been sold out. We’ve got to try to win everybody back.
John: A lot of people don’t even know we are fucking back. That’s the whole point of doing all this press.
There are people who don’t even know who you are, 6, 7, 8 years is a long time. How is success going to be measured for these shows?
John: As long as people are fucking enjoying it.
Frank: As long as everyone has a good time.
John: Success is having more than one person in front of us.
Frank: And that was our idea of fun before, go play somewhere, win over some fans, the next time you play there there’s more people.
John: You might have one person in that crowd that likes you, but they’ll tell ten of their mates, and the next time they’ll come down, and then they’ll tell ten people, and then you’re playing to a hundred people.
It’s how it should be, its grass-roots. Are you both a cautionary tale in so much as you had a lot of trouble with contracts and also a success story because your still able to come out and people will still give a fuck.
John: It’s nice to be able to have that, it’s nice to be able to go away for so long just come back and people still remember us, still come out to shows, there’s still a demand for us. That warms our hearts.