Speedealer at Rockit (120 Church), Sunday (October 5). $12. 416-306-9922. Rating: NNNNN
Being a member of Texas rock 'n' roll outfit Speedealer can be a precarious situation, not cuz of rock 'n' roll things like debauchery and headbanging, though I suppose those too might be concerns, but because the other members might just suddenly decide they don't like you any more and kick you out. I've heard they've been through, like, a gazillion members since the original formation in 1992.
"Well, there have been more than 10," says vocalist Jeff Hirshberg, speaking on a cellphone in a tour van from somewhere in North Carolina. Hirshberg has been around since the beginning.
"There was one guy we left in San Francisco."
"He was a piece of shit. And a junkie. No, wait. We left two guys in San Francisco. Not at the same time - at different times. One was a bass player, and the other was a drummer. Oh, yeah (it sounds like he's just been reminded by someone else in the van), and we left a guy in Detroit, a guitarist. He's actually a good friend."
So, the States are pretty much littered with stranded rockers. I like that image.
"The rest of the stories are just us telling guys, 'Hey, you gotta go. '"
And why, pray tell, does the band go through so many members?
"It just doesn't work out, or there's something wrong with them." With them?
"Yeah! It's never us."
Of course not.
Well, you may be able to call 'em fickle, but you sure can't call 'em lazy. They've been chugging out the rock for well over a decade now in one form or another, releasing six records and suffering two label collapses and a forced name change from the original REOSpeedealer. And they do a hell of a lot of touring, with some unbelievable record of 340 shows in one year or something, if that's even possible.
"We're stupid," says Hirshberg of the ridiculous touring schedule. "It's the only thing we know how to do."
Often referred to as stoner rock, though Hirshberg uses the terms "sloppy" and "lo-fi," Speedealer's sound incorporates metal and punk into the mix with massive riffs and rock-hard rhythms. I've also found such descriptions as "trailer-trash rock" and "working man's rock" used in reference to the band, but Hirshberg doesn't mince words and get all precious. Like Lemmy - an obvious influence on the band, with whom I saw them at the Docks last year - he sticks to the good old rock 'n' roll description in all its glorious simplicity.
"If you don't like sloppy, lo-fi rock 'n' roll," he says, "don't buy our record."
Their latest, Bleed, due November 25, was produced by JD Pinkus and recorded in a day and a half of one-takes.
"We had limited time and money," is all Hirshberg offers as explanation. It clocks in at only about 30 minutes, so you don't have time to get sick of it.
In other news, drummer Harden Harrison is having surgery. "He's got a tumour (benign) on his head. It sticks right out. If you come to our show you'll see it."
The current lineup includes Harrison, Hirshberg and Eric Schmidt on guitar. They've managed to stay together since 1998.
"But there's a new bass player (also known as Jay Gavin). This is his first tour with us. We're using his van, so if we leave him somewhere he's doubly fucked."