H aving weathered the threat of a legal shitstorm from REO Speedwagon over their band name, the collapse of their first record label and the stinging indifference of GWAR fans, steamrolling Texas rock squad Speedealer -- né REO Speedealer -- are now ready for their close-up.
With that, one hopes all the misplaced trailer-trash associations continuously stapled to the group's balls-to-the-wall metallic roar will go, leaving Speedealer's succinct (often a minute or less), high-octane bruiser anthems to stand for themselves.
For the record, Speedealer singer/guitarist Jeff Hirshberg swears that no one in Speedealer drives a painted van. The Dallas-based musician doesn't even do barbecue -- he's vegetarian.
Not that Speedealer are anyone's idea of sensitive flowers. Their Here Comes Death disc -- given a second lease on life after being re-released by Ryko/Palm -- is a twisted knot of machine-gun drums and twin-engine guiterrorism garlanded with half-sung, half-puked vocals. There's a reason Mötörhead fans dug their stuff on their last tour.
"We are totally not comfortable with the trailer-trash tag we always seem to get," Hirshberg says sleepily from Edmonton during an early-morning conversation. "I think maybe that's owing to our first album, which had this truck on it. It wasn't supposed to represent the white- trash thing, but...."
Hirshberg can take comfort in knowing that the fortunes of Monster Magnet, Nashville Pussy and Fu Manchu didn't decrease based on any lingering southern-fried perceptions. Besides, at the rate Speedealer play -- logging an estimated 300 live shows last year -- pretty soon all fans of hard rock will have seen them, by accident if not by design, and will be free to make up their own minds.
Certainly, getting to a level where they're headlining and not supporting will be a position of grace. Maybe next year, after Speedealer record the follow-up to Here Comes Death. In the meantime, they're at the mercy of other people's fans.
Nasty kids "Misfits audiences tend to be made up of a lot of young kids," Hirshberg sighs, "especially in the States. It's a bit different up here in Canada. People up here are older and they get what we do.
"One of the most dire tours we did happened last year, when we went on tour with GWAR and the Misfits together. We had a good time, but there were some really disheartening moments, such as playing to a completely sold-out place with 2,500 people and hearing dead silence between the songs. I mean dead silence. It got to the point where it was funny.
"Our songs are short because of the type of songs they are. They're supposed to be short bursts," Hirshberg explains. "Some of the new stuff we're playing now is a bit longer. Our current set is half new material that will likely be on the next record and half old stuff.
"We've been playing these songs live for a year and a half, and now Here Comes Death is coming out in Europe, Japan and Australia, so we have to do shows there. Not that I'm complaining. But we hope to get in the studio by the end of February. For now, we'll do what we have to do."
SPEEDEALER, with THE MISFITS and GUY SMILEY, at the Warehouse (1 Jarvis), Friday (October 13). $20. 870-8000.