Name Game

The former REO Speedealer learns you can't fight the feeling or a big-name band, but with a reissued record and a new label, the group is rolling with the changes

"We're hoping for a limited vinyl release along with the CD run this time. The album was never really released properly in the first place," Hirshberg adds.

For his part, Schmidt has high hopes for the disc's second coming, which is scheduled to hit stores on September 12. "When we play shows, people come up to us and ask about the record, and we just have to tell them it's coming. But those people tell us that their friend has a copy of the first run of the album, that it never leaves the CD player. So it's still circulating. We've gotten really good responses everywhere we've played."

On this tour, in fact, Speedealer has fattened its playlist with about 50 percent new material, in addition to the 17 songs on Here Comes Death, which clocks in at just over 37 minutes with titles like "Hit It and Run," "Nobody's Hell Like Mine," "No More," "Tweeked," and one epic track, "California Tumbles Into the Sea." Like British punk minimalists Wire, Speedealer's talent lies in writing short, memorable songs that resist verse-chorus-verse structure, getting the point across and finishing at precisely the moment they should.

Speedealer: From left, Rodney Skelton, Eric Schmidt, Harden Harrison and Jeff Hirshberg.
Speedealer: From left, Rodney Skelton, Eric Schmidt, Harden Harrison and Jeff Hirshberg.


Opening for Fu Manchu. Friday, September 1. Showtime is 8 p.m.
Bash on Ash in Tempe

"We're gradually getting away from the shorter songs, though, the quick-blast stuff," says Harrison. "We're branching out to two- or three-minute songs."

The evolution of material is due, in part, to the near endless road grind the band has endured over the last two years. "We're playing out pretty much every day. In a month of touring we'll take maybe two days off, and when we get off the road we're practicing or writing. We're planning on going into the studio in January for the next album, but we don't know where we're going to record or who's producing or anything like that. Right now we're doing a lot of writing. About half the new album is written at this point."

Harrison's enthusiasm to return to the studio no doubt stems from the extensive time Speedealer spends touring with very little in the way of support; however, the band doesn't seem to be too anxious to leave the road behind just yet. Plans immediately after this leg of the tour are up in the air, but there's been talk of a European jaunt with Mötorhead and a short U.S. tour with either Lemmy and Co. or Nashville Pussy, both of whom Speedealer has traveled with before.

As you might imagine, given the acts they've been paired with, Speedealer's live shows are generally raucous and sweat-drenched affairs. "Not a lot of punks, really," says Harrison. "The music is really mostly guitar-based hard rock."

Schmidt concurs. "Blue-collar hard rock. Loud blue-collar hard rock. We're using Fu Manchu's equipment on this tour, since the breakdown time between bands can get a little long, and we always turn all the levels way up. Usually Jeff's guitar and mine double the riffs, so the guitar work is really layered. My parents used to wear out the needles on all that guitar rock: Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, ZZ Top, all that stuff. But we listen to a lot of different stuff; Jeff, he mostly likes classical music" -- Hirshberg himself reports that he's been listening to a lot of Bach on this tour -- "but we listen to pretty much anything: '80s metal, country stuff, jazz, some European space rock, everything."

"Not that you'd necessarily hear it in the music we play live, but that's what I love about being a musician," continues Schmidt. "If you switch out a guitar part, or move the drums around, you'd hear a country rhythm. It's all there. Everybody lifts from everybody else."

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