Friday, August 27, 2010

No. 9 - Los Angeles

Number nine on the list is a show from Los Angeles, at a venue called the Key Club.

This show is really a representative for a group of other shows that we played in the United States in early 2005. We were on a package tour that was being headlined by the Egyptian themed death metal band, Nile. Yeah...I know. We'd chosen to accept the tour offer because in truth, we knew that a chance of travelling around the United States might never come our way again, and it was an offer we just couldn't refuse. Even if, as usual, it would mean playing on a bill where we fit like a square peg in a round hole.

Speedhorn had been through an extremely turbulent period in the year leading up to the third album being released. Tony had left after touring was completed for the We Will Be Dead Tomorrow record and then Frank, after threatening to do so for the best part of two years, finally quit the band. Although it was on the eve of our first tour for the How The Great Have Fallen album, we accepted his resignation willingly. Having someone constantly threatening to leave the band had weighed us down for too long. We needed to move forward.

Jay had replaced Tony on guitar in early 2004 and had been a part of writing the new record, although he had hardly played a show with us due to the long absence from the road between albums two and three. In extreme contrast, Bloody Kev had arrived in the band to a baptism of fire. He'd rehearsed with us twice, at the very last minute, before we went out on a headlining tour of the UK. We weren't even sure at the time if he wanted to play in the band permanently. Cancelling the tour was simply not an option, and Kev had saved the day. As it happens, the final show of that tour was the Download Festival at Donnington, and would go down in our own personal history as one of the band's greatest ever shows. After that, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Kev was staying.

Unfortunately the wave of excitement that followed the Donnington show crested out on to the beach, and the next wave didn't follow it as boldly. I had hoped that from there on we'd be back out on the road, with a new album and the support of a new record label, getting back to work as we had for the first two albums, but it just didn't work out that way. We played a couple of other festivals in Europe during the summer, but not much else happened. We soon learned that a year away from the hype, is a long, long time...

The remainder of the year would see only one short spate of shows in the UK, sometime during the late autumn. So when the chance came along to travel the entire USA on a tour that would span five weeks, we didn't need too long to debate it. So what if it was supporting Nile? We were going to the US of fucking A!

We'd arrived in Houston for the first show with a renewed energy and enthusiasm flowing through the veins of the band. Everybody was getting on with each other for the first time in years it seemed, the new album was going to be the first official release in the States, and we were travelling the entire country in the back of a Winnebago. What the fuck more could you ask for?

Well, it soon became obvious, from the evidence of the first night in Houston, that these shows were going to take some work. The crowds were big, at the very least four hundred a night, sometimes a lot more. The trouble was, the majority of the shows, especially the larger cities, were attended almost entirely by staunch death metal fans. Raging Speedhorn was definitely not a death metal band...

These death metal scenesters, like the bands they adored on stage, were serious types. Not that we weren't serious about our music. If there's one thing we were serious about, it was our music. Always. But we came from a completely different background to these guys. They were all unbelievable musicians who played fast and technically and made a big deal of trying to sound angry. We couldn't play for shit, if the truth is told. Well, not like those guys anyway. Our roots were in punk and hardcore, where nobody gives a shit about being able to play a sweep scale on a guitar. We just didn't give a fuck about that stuff. But the death metal guys were so concerned with the technical side of their show that they didn't seem to realise just how fucking boring their show was to watch. It was more like to going to a fucking guitar seminar than a gig.

Of course, the people in the audience loved it.

Thankfully for us, we had some allies on the tour, in the form of Soilent Green. We'd met up with them a while before at a festival in Japan and had got on spiffingly with them. Although these guys played a lot of blast beat stuff, they mixed it up seamlessly with elements of punk and Sabbath-esque riffs. And as technically gifted as they all were, they still kicked the shit out of the audience every night. We became good friends with them as the tour progressed. They were the only people on tour with us who seemed to get us.

The band line up on the tour was as follows: Without Passion, Decapitated, Speedhorn, Soilent Green, Hypocrisy and then Nile.

We were quite generously placed as third on the bill. I retrospect, playing after the very talented and very popular Decapitated only served to make our job twice as hard. Without Passion were more of a mathcore type band, and their singer looked cool, so everybody hated them. We liked them, they were good guys. Then Decapitated went on. In truth, if they been on tour as sole support to Nile, they would have blown them off stage every night. Although, that kind of technical death metal isn't really my thing, Decapitated are a fucking good band.

So then we would go on stage.

In all seriousness, not every gig was an uphill battle. We had some great shows, San Antonio and Sacramento spring to mind in particular, and New York City was one of the best US shows we ever played. But for the most part, we had the crowd on our backs before we even played a note. We could gage how bad our show was going to be, by how good Decapitated's was. If the crowd cheered and whooped and gave the metal horns every time Decapitated played a guitar or drum solo, then we knew we were doomed...

Of course, we were never in the habit of making things easier for ourselves. We'd nonchalantly walk on stage, hungover to piss and looking at the members of the crowd with nothing but contempt. It was a kind of pro-active defence. We'd look completely disinterested in being there as we tuned up our guitars in silence, and then we'd blast suddenly into the set, going fucking wild in the process. The crowd just didn't get it. They had obviously weighed us up with one look and presumed we were some boy band, what with our tight clothes and our short(er) hair. It just didn't match the music we played or the way we performed it. It was almost that, once the surprise had subsided, they grew only more agitated with us. They hated the fact that we were a really heavy band, playing with an energy and determination on stage that was bordering on violent. Self inflicted injuries during gigs were common place with us. The danger of being hit in the face with a guitar, or a microphone, or John's fist, was very real...

Kev and Jay were always at it. One night Jay would accidentally catch Kev in the head with his guitar, the next night Kev would “accidentally” catch his microphone lead around Jay's throat in a strangling motion.

The more the crowd were agitated, the more we did to wind them up. It was us against them and that's just how we liked it. So even though these gigs were what you would call hard work, they were also a lot of fun. From our point of view at least...

It was quite obvious after a week or so on the road, that the Nile guys didn't really get us either.

Luckily for us, their stage manager loved us. We were nothing but professional and polite when it came to dealing with him. He had the job of making sure that the six band bill ran on schedule. He was used to dealing with big bands with big egos. So he was no doubt delighted to meet us guys. I remember the first time of many, when he came to us before we went on stage, apologising in advance, but asking if we could possibly cut our twenty-five minute set down by a song or two. He was shocked when we gleefully told him that it wasn't a problem, that we could cut it down to fifteen minutes if he wanted. After that night, he took a big shine to us, and he, along with the Nile tour manager, regularly supplied us with booze.

Like I say the show in Los Angeles represents a number of gigs on that tour that could have easily filled the number nine spot on my list.

The show in Chicago for example, were one audience member who was stood right up front in the centre of the stage, turned his back on us before we started the first song, and flipped us off for the entire show. He literally held his arm aloft, erect and proud for twenty-five minutes.

The show in Denver, where we were spat on and had empty beer bottles thrown at us from a bunch of “hard-nuts” hidden in the shadows of the balcony, could have easily have made the list. As could the show in San Francisco, were various members of the public shouted “Wankers!” at us, followed by, “Fuck off back to England!”, again, before we'd even started.

The show in Los Angeles has, for reasons more comical, the slightest of edges over those other gigs though.

We'd played the Key Club a couple of years before and it had been a good show. For that reason alone, I'd allowed myself into thinking that the crowd this night would be good for us. Of course, I was wrong. When we'd played here previously, it wasn't on a predominantly death metal bill. In a place the size of Los Angeles, where there are shows happening all over the city every night, no hardcore kid is going to pay thirty dollars to see one band they like, play for twenty-five minutes.

We walk on stage to the familiar look of mass disapproval from the audience. Grins start to appear on faces, peeking menacingly through long curtains of greasy black hair. We burst into Hate Song, by no means accidentally starting the set with John screaming the words, “I hate you all!” We're going full out on stage, but our epileptic fit-like performance is going down like a fart at a funeral.

We're about half way through the show when I notice a guy down the front, right in front of Kev and John, laughing his head off. It's not a fake laugh designed to mock us either. It appears quite genuine. The cunt is almost slapping his thighs in bellyaching laughter. He's got one hand on his forehead and the other hand is pointing at us, and the fucker is pissing himself. It's like, he truly can't believe what he's witnessing.

I can see John is getting annoyed with him, but Kev seems to be a bit tickled, as am I. We play into the next song, and by now this guy has taken a pen and a piece of paper from somewhere and is writing furiously. When he's done, he proudly holds aloft the paper in the air to show us. He's made a sign that simply reads, “GAY” on it. Kev gives him a big thumbs-up. Happy with this, he pulls out another piece of paper and starts scribbling again. This time he's drawn an arrow and he's pointing it at Jay. Now Kev is starting to love this..

Throughout the rest of the show, the guy writes note upon note, all the while giving them to Kev. “Your guitarist wears very tight t-shits”. “Your band is very gay.” “You're band is a joke.” They just keep coming. The guy never tires of it. Either does Kev. It seems to make his night, especially since the majority of the guy's notes seem to be intended for Jay. Just before we play the last song, Kev sincerely dedicates it to Mr. Joker down the front. We play through it and as we're putting our guitars down and heading off stage I see the guy has his arm around Kev's head and is shouting something into his ear. At first I wonder if it's a fight kicking off, but I notice Kev smiling before shaking his hand and leaving the stage.

I asked Kev afterwards what the guy had said to him. He told me that the guy, in all sincerity, asked him to pass on a message to the rest of the band. “I think your band is absolutely shit but I genuinely respect you guys for having a good sense of humour and not jumping me.”

What the fuck can you do but laugh? It's either that or get in a fight. Some nights it goes one way, some nights it goes the other...there were rumours that the guy who flipped us off in Chicago eventually got Kev's foot in the back of his head...I'm not sure if that's true though.


  1. Lovely. Here's hoping for a Speedhorn reunion!

  2. First of all,RSH are one of my all time fav live and studio bands.I saw you guys live with Mudvayne in 2001 I think in germany.we drank a lot of jägermeister together and it was awesome.
    now you split up and it just makes me fucking sad....

    BUT for my question: I collected almost everything from the orange vinyl version of the st album with autographs to various 7 inch stuff (hate song/fuck the voodooman etc.) I have over 7 tee shirts with different designs.
    But still there are some things I cant get my hands on one thing is the RSH demo,the BBC session(s)?,and a japanese bonus track for HTGHF called "Giant Fucking Penis's (live)"
    ( ) is this legit?where can I legally get this stuff? any answers would be awesome and since you are the perfect source for my problem I just ask you.

    thanks for all the awesome music man!REALLY