Roomthirteen talks to Raging Speedhorn guitarist, Gareth Smith, over a pint in the local...

R13:Raging Speedhorn have only just reappeared recently, what have you been up to?
GS:Fuckin' around for too long unfortunately. By the time we'd finished touring for the second record we'd pretty much been on tour constantly for four years. We were pretty much all ready to kill each other and it was like if we don't have a break now we're going to split up. Everyone was just exhausted and disillusioned with things for a while, just broke and constantly on the road. So we took a bit of a break and went to do some side projects. Then as per usual we had some problems with the record company and ended up changing record label. We had a label that was based in the UK (ZTT) that used to license our album out to different labels around the world. Things fell through, not the best terms which we weren't completely innocent for I've got to admit. Then the label who put our first two albums out in Europe, a German label SPV, wanted to take the band on worldwide solely through them. So that was great. Unfortunately these things take months and months to work out. We hadn't been on tour for six months and by that time you're missing it again. In the middle of all of that as well we parted ways with Tony, our original guitar player. He went to work for our management, he's like our manager's assistant and still very involved with the band, which is cool. I mean to be honest he didn't really take long to replace because Jaye (Thompson) who came in was a really old friend of ours and knew all the songs anyway as he'd hung around with us for years. So then there was just a bit of fucking around basically for six months on top of the six month break. Then we got into writing the new record really and then just for good measure there was an extra six months delay on the album coming out [laughs]. So it ended up being like two years but it's finally out, it came out last week and we're back on tour and it's nice, at last.

R13:Frank's (Regan – vocals) left.
GS:Yeah like a week before the tour, cheers Frank.
R13:Is he OK?
GS:Well to be honest things have been kind of hard for him since he had his kid about two/three years ago.
R13:Sounds like he's grown up then?
GS:Yeah he has. We don’t make that much money but at the same time we're above a certain level where it's not a hobby anymore and you're on a label that expects you to work a lot and go on tour, we're not huge rock stars making lots of money but a lot of the time we're expected to work like huge rock stars anyway. That's fine when you're twenty, you can just do that. Seven years down the line responsibilities come along and everybody lives with their girlfriends or their wives. If kids come along into the picture, all of a sudden you can't just do it for the fun of loving it anymore, it doesn't matter how much you want to. I think things for Frank just got a bit too much for him and it all started hitting home that we were going to be busy again he just realised he couldn't handle it. I'm not going to pretend the news was taken well. He's been my best friend for fifteen years and sadly it's put a 'thing' between us now. I just wish he'd told us a long time ago because he'd obviously been thinking about it. A week before the album's released and we go on tour is not the best time. But as usual we just get on with things.

R13:How's Bloody Kev (new vocalist) working out?
GS:He's like a hardcore legend. Bloody Kev comes from the band Bloody Lovely that were a mental band from Nottingham in the early nineties and he's been known as that ever since. It's cool because he did guest vocals on the first album. He came down the day before the tour, we'd sent him the lyrics but with the pressure of just an eight hour practice he blew his voice out a bit. But luckily he's still mental on stage so no-one cares anyway. It's just the last couple of gigs he's got his voice back again. He's been cool I don't know f he's going to be permenant but I'd like him to be.

R13Your new album 'How The Great Have Fallen', which is your favourite track and why?
GS:The title track because it's a really powerful riff, typical sort of Speedhorn, it's all about the big riff. But then we've got a real cool choir thing over the little break that appears a couple of times and that was a bit of a development for us. Then 'Infidel is dead' which is the last song we wrote for the album. We had the record pretty much written but we wanted one more song, we pulled it out and for me it's probably my favourite song I've written for the band.

R13:How much do you personally contribute to the song writing?
GS:We start every song with a guitar riff which normally me, Darren (Smith – bass) or Jaye (Thompson – guitar) come up with and we build it from there. But I mean once there's an original riff everyone gets involved. It's been like seven years now so as soon as I write a riff everyone's into then immediately Gordon (Morison – drums) starts playing exactly how I thought he would anyway. We're democratic about it, everybody's opinions count but maybe some people like myself fight a little bit more. As far as I'm concerned if you want your opinion to count you've got to fight for it [laughs].

R13:How does this album compare to your last two?
GS:I think it's evolving in general but we've stepped up the songwriting. I think it's natural, the more songs you write together the better you get at it I suppose. This one we wanted to be a bit more hardcore, a bit more metal, we really went to town to get the feel of the energy of Speedhorn on stage over on to record which we've been trying to do from the start. Speedhorn at its best is Speedhorn on stage. We recorded everything on two inch tape and when we mixed it Joe was actually cutting the tape with a razor, actually cutting and pasting! That’s how old school it is. We had a couple of problems with the label at first hence the delay of the record coming out because they wanted it to be remixed but our friend Joe Baresi, who's a big guy in the music industry, argued with them saying 'For fucks sake just for once can you get behind a band who are trying to do something original and not trying to sound like every fucker else and you might actually be surprised that you'll get respected for not trying to be like everyone else'. A lot of the reviews from the States and Europe especially have been praising the production sound on the album and how it's honest balls out hardcore. When I got these reviews in I forwarded them to the guy at the label and surprisingly he didn't answer back for ages and then he just wrote 'OK' after a month.

R13:I heard the new video for 'How much can a man take?' caused a few bruises.
GS:It's a performance video. We're all playing around John (Loughlin – vocals) who's in the middle. There was all these big cables on the floor and John tripped and went flying, first take and the director was like 'that’s amazing'. He'd caught it on camera and John had to do it every single time. We couldn’t keep the first one because as soon as he'd done it we were laughing our heads off. So he had to throw himself on this hard concrete floor about fifty times! He had a lot of bruises that day but he's a big boy he can take it.

R13:Cardiff Barfly tonight and for the most of the tour you're playing smaller venues than you're used to. Do you prefer more intimate venues?
GS:Definitely, I love them. When we started we were playing venues this sort of size but to nobody. We were playing to five people, five nights a week. It was a dream to play these places packed out with a really good atmosphere. We've done bigger tours and bigger venues, headliners. It's great but there's just something special about these shows.
R13:Like fitting six people on a tiny stage, that's special?
GS:Three times this tour Jaye has belted Bloody Kev with his guitar, he's got cuts all over his forehead, it's just ridiculous. The only thing I fear for is my guitar getting smashed because I’ve smashed two of my three guitars. When we played in London it was so packed, the sway of the crowd meant people were just falling on to the stage all the time. I hit two people on the head with my guitar, I was just playing and saying sorry at the same time. It's been mental.

R13:So you're playing on Friday at the Download festival?
GS:Yep, played there a couple of years ago on the main stage and it was like an ambition achieved. This one will be cooler because it's later at night, a smaller tent and Napalm are playing after us who are really good friends of ours. When we were in Birmingham, the first show, three of the Napalm guys were at the gig. It's going to be really good fun.
R13:Anybody you're looking forward to seeing?
GS:I'd like to see Mastodon again. I've seen them at this tiny club in Stockholm a few moths ago and it was fucking incredible. I'm going home on Sunday, I want to spend as much as my free time as possible at home because I'm going to be away and busy for a lot of the next year. But I'm not going to be leaving till I've seen the Dwarves and the Truants!

R13:Who are the best and worst bands you've played with (I heard you didn't get on with Rammstein)?
GS:The best band was probably Will Haven. We supported them years ago and for us at the time it was the biggest thing we'd done, there were like three hundred people a night. Everyone in Speedhorn loves Will Haven so it was a real big thing for us and they were just the nicest guys you could meet. Biohazard. I'd loved Biohazard since I was a kid and we had seven weeks of absolute madness with them in Europe. It was incredible.
It has to be Rammstein as the worst band. For a start it's not my bag, they suck. We didn't get to meet the band, but the crew! I mean, we turn up to the first show which was Glasgow SECC, the first person we meet is the tour manager who comes up to me and prods me in the chest saying 'Right. Germans stay on this side, English on that side and if we don't clash there'll be no problems.' What the fuck's going on here? You can imagine our reaction to that. Then we were at sound check. I was standing at the side with my guitar and one of their fucking techs comes up, grabs me by the back and says 'Don't fucking stand there.' He starts placing me where I'm allowed to stand on stage. Fuck off! It just went downhill from there. We kind of treat people like they treat us.
Three years later I'm doing local crew work in Stockholm and it was a Rammstein gig. There's me unloading trucks and carrying things to the stage. This guy, I swear he recognised me as he was giving me the eye all day - 'I know you, you fucker.' All my mates who were the crew, I told them the story and they were like 'Let's fuck these bastards up!' [laughs]. It's a small victory.

R13:What's in store for Raging Speedhorn?
GS:Get back on the road. Get to tour the States for the first time. Japan. Travel the world again.

R13:Does your tour van still have 'TITS' written on it?
GS:Not this one [laughs]. It's Viking Skull's van.