By Andy O'Connor (TX 666)
Our love of Denver thrashers Speedwolf is quite established by now. They played our SXSW Pizza Party back in 2010, we premiered "Up All Night" from them back in October, and we gave them a stellar live review not too long ago. In addition, I put their debut album, Ride With Death, on my Best of 2011 list. If somehow, you missed all of that, you're wondering what our infatuation with them is. We have to ask you: do you like Motorhead, high ABVs, John Elway, and kicking ass? Moreover, are into whiskey soaked vocals, riffs for days, and flying double bass? They're the band for you, especially if you live in the too-friendly-to-jam-bands Rockies.
I spoke with Speedwolf's vocalist, Reed Bruemmer, about biker culture, Denver, KISS, dealing with Boulder trust-fund hippies, and more. Read it after the jump, and stream Death below as well while you read this and sip a fine Colorado craft brew (or shotgun a Coors, we won't judge).
Crustcake: What was the songwriting and recording process like for Ride With Death?
Reed Bruemmer (vocals): Hey Andy. Thanks for the interview. The songwriting process for that album was over the span of 3 years, 2 7"s, and a demo cassette. It's hard to narrow down. Half of RWD is old songs, and half new, but all fully re-recorded in one session. A lot of riff-studying and hours of rehearsal hours away from anything, before everything came together...
Crustcake: Speedwolf is definitely good-time drinking/smoking/fucking music, but avoids many of the pitfalls of "party thrash." What differentiates you from the boogie-board set, in your opinion?
Bruemmer: Well, that's good to hear! When we started the band, we had all actually come from playing in different thrash bands in and around Denver666. Needless to say, we were all natural speedfreaks from the get-go and also fans of classic metal. So, it was simply agreed upon that we play older-styled metal in the vein of classic bands like Motorhead, Venom, Tank, Angel Witch, etc. It was more of a, "Let's try doing what all these killer old bands did!" rather than a, "Let's do what no one else is doing, so we seem different!" Haha! None of us really have a problem with thrash, whether it be considered 'retro' or 'old school.' I enjoy Municipal Waste just as much I do Sodom. Never really understood how metal fans become so fair-weathered when one band gets 'too much' attention. Bands like Municipal Waste inspired a whole new generation of kids, most likely born in the 90s, to look back and check out older metal bands from before their time. Would you rather have a 1,000 maniacs waving the flag of 'party' thrash or simply listening to the radio and walking around in their Slipknot one-zee everywhere? Haha.
Crustcake: In particular, Ride With Death features a solid drum performance. So, what did you give Richie?
Bruemmer: Weed, Pepsi, and Desaray.
Crustcake: And on that note, what's the prescription to get your vocals?
Bruemmer: Prescription? Ha! At that time, a consistent diet of whiskey/tequila/beer and a billion cigarettes, with a dab of cocaine and amphetamine from time to time. Late hours, multiple jobs, constant stress, and years of yelling in bands might have also contributed, although the first answer probably sounds cooler.
Crustcake: Is there a particular bender that inspired "Up All Night?" Or is it really just a promotion for the NBC show of the same name?
Bruemmer: Wow, this goes to show how much TV I actually watch.I'm not even sure what show that is. But the answer is no, it is not a promotional plug for anything that has to do with NBC. Unless, NBC could stand for Nocturnal Buying of Cocaine (Clever? Not really.). And yes, this was a cocaine-bender-inspired song. Simply put, drinking and drugging keep you up all night.
Crustcake: "Denver 666" has become a favorite amongst fans. What makes you proud of your hometown? What perceptions about it would you like to debunk?
Bruemmer: Glad to hear it! We do our best to spread the gospel of the Denver666 Elite and other Satanic Bronco's Force associates. Maybe you'd have to live here to understand, but Denver's a transient town. Everyone here is from somewhere else. It's always kind of been that way, since the time of the Gold Rush and all that. Funny thing is, most people in town don't think it's "cool" or "hip" to be here. They prefer to start bands that emulate the style of something from LA or NYC, talk shit on everything, and draw lines in the sand with words like 'scene' and all that nonsense. We took the high road and wanted to write a song that unified everything we love about our hometown, like an anthem I guess. Was worth a shot. Shit. It's not like Denver has another one, haha.
Crustcake: I've spent some time in Boulder, and in short, I had to go to Denver to have fun. What's the preferred method for a hesher to deal with a Boulder trust-fund hippie?
Bruemmer: Ha! Good question. We don't really deal with those folks usually. They're busy snowboarding or spending their parent's money on a weekend of Widespread Panic shows with a suitcase of drugs that my friends sold them, haha.
Crustcake: Speedwolf draws a heavy influence from biker culture. What attracts you to it? And does being a 1%er make you a part of the 1%?
Bruemmer: Oh boy. Well, I ride and work on motorcycles with friends here in Denver. All of us, some way or another, grew up around motorcycles and bikers alike. In Colorado, its history is described through times of the Wild West. Cowboys and horses and all that shit. Wayward folks that tend to wander on their own terms, ya know? The horses of old translate to the Iron Horses of new. Maybe that's a little more romanticized than one would like to believe but it makes sense to me. So it goes without saying, Colorado has one of the largest populations of bikers in the country. It's hard to deny that influence in a place like this. But for my own enjoyment, I just think motorcycles are cool as shit, and I like going fast. As far as the 1%er aspect of that goes, riding a bike and fucking with club politics can be two separate things if you want them to be. I'll leave it at that.
Crustcake: Live, Speedwolf love themselves a KISS cover. Any chance we'll hear a rendition of "Calling Dr. Love?" Or maybe even "Lick It Up?"
Bruemmer: Haha, I'm down to play both of those songs. Although I don't think our fans would be too stoked on it. For Halloween 2011 we did a whole KISS set, full make-up and everything. Played 5 songs ("Cold Gin," "Strutter," "Black Diamond," "I Stole Your Love," and "Detroit Rock City"). I don't think I've seen more blank stares in my life, haha! But in general, we fucking love cover songs. Only 1 per set, unless otherwise permitted for more. Let's face it. In this day and age, your band will never be as cool as the favorites that influenced you. Might as well give em a nod when you can. Plus, people love covers.
Crustcake: Colorado is known for its proliferation of breweries. If Speedwolf were to have their own beer, what kind would it be?
Bruemmer: Amphetamine-infused Wolf Ale. It would blow that Red Bull vodka shit out of the water! Made in huge batches. Hand numbered. First pressing only. Comes with actual wolf, and photo of John Elway.
Crustcake: What's next for Speedwolf?
Bruemmer: As I'm writing the answers to these quesitons, we're one week out from going on a month long tour of the South, East Coast, and Midwest [Ed. note: Check the dates at Speedwolf's Facebook page.]. Our biggest effort yet! Hopefully afterwards we can do another West Coast tour in the Summer, play some fests, release another full length, and eventually make it to Europe (fingers upside-down crossed!). Thanks again for the interview!