It’s a joyous occasion knowing that Raging Speedhorn are once again touring. Even though I discovered them and became a fan during their hiatus, I always hoped I’d see them live. I saw them at Bloodstock last year and the Underworld this year and both times they blew me away. I spoke to guitarist Jim Palmer in 2014 and it ranked as one of my favourite interviews of that year. When I told him I sent him those questions he replied; “Ah, those were excellent questions,” I internally screamed. This time when I spoke to him at The Black Heart in Camden, I was chatting with original member Dave Thompson (bassist) before their Underworld show to talk about how things have been going for the band lately.
Jack: So how are you doing?
Jim [Palmer, guitar]: Very well, so home tomorrow.
Dave [Thompson, bass]: Woohoo!
Jack: How’s the tour been going so far?
Dave: Brilliant. We sold out last night.
Jim: It’s been busy, every night has been wild.
Jack: You kicked off your tour at the Colchester Arts Centre, how did it that go?
Jim: We were a bit worried at first as ticket sales weren’t great, but it seems to be weird these dates as people just seem to wander up to gigs these days and decide on the night. Ticket sales weren’t great but when we got there it was rammed.
Jim: It’s like our local venue in Stoke, The Sugarmill. They had High on Fire there and sold 20 tickets on pre-sale but on the night it was sold out. I guess it’s how it works these days, it does make you nervous as a band though, you don’t know what you’re walking into.
Jack: Colchester Arts Centre is a former church; a lot bands playing there say it’s a little bit of blasphemy, and say playing in a church adds to the show. Do you think it adds to the show?
Jim: Yeah totally. To be honest playing in any old sort of building for me personally is cool as you get all these wonderful acoustics as well, it’s not just what it was used for or what it was built for. Certainly in Colchester you can almost hear yourself again and above your head as it because of the natural reverb. But yeah also it’s also good for the blasphemy aspect. [Laughs]
Jack: I was told that Clutch supported Speedhorn in Colchester, is that true?
Dave: Yeah Clutch did a whole tour supporting Speedhorn.
Jack: How was that?
Dave: Well I was working at the but time but yeah it was good. A band like Clutch, obviously everyone supports their music and having them support Speedhorn I thought was bizarre. But it worked out alright and they were great guys. It was a real good tour that was, really good tour actually, I really enjoyed that one.
Jack: Have you noticed any major differences in touring since you came back?
Jim: Well first of all what I mentioned about tickets, people don’t tend to buy tickets now, they just tend to walk up. But life in general is just like that now, people can decide more what they want on the spur of the moment if you get what I mean. I don’t know, not really.
Dave: It’s not really changed a lot. But the way we have done us, before obviously there were buses and things like that but we do it in a van now which we prefer. It’s more together.
Jim: The major difference for us is that people don’t realise it but we’re a DIY band. We do everything ourselves, we’re not on a label and that’s easier in many ways. It’s harder work for us running it, but easier when we’re playing gigs as we’re in control of everything. If we make a balls up it’s our fault, but when we do something right we get all the praise. [Laughs]
Dave: Yeah definitely.
Jack: On this tour you’re supported by Stoneghost and By Any Means. Did you know them before the tour?
Jim: We already knew By Any Means as we’d known them for years. Stoneghost we’d never met or heard before. So yeah we’d discovered them because of this tour.
Jack: Have you enjoyed watching them on this tour?
Jim: Yeah, when they’ve played. [Laughs]
Dave: They missed a few shows due to an injury.
Jim: But we also had Burden of the Noose who came and stood in for them at the last minute. At Birmingham, we gave them an hours notice before the gig to see if they could do it, and hats off to them massively anyway as they’re a great band, but also hats off them for somehow getting enough gear to come and do the gig and then do two more nights.
Jack: You’ve played the Underworld a few times, what do you like about this venue?
Jim: It’s just ace. The crew are ace, the venue’s ace and the people and the crowd who come are ace.
Dave: It’s always a pleasure playing here.
Jim: No totally.
Dave: You’re not greeted with the normal guys who you are putting them in an inconvenience by doing a gig. But with the Underworld they’re happy to see you.
Jim: The first comment we got when we walked in there was an old guy, who I can’t remember the name of, but as soon as he walked out was “I’m so happy to see you boys.” Especially at the end of a tour when you’re tired.
Dave: It’s a good sort of bond we’ve got with the Underworld and the crew. They look after us and we love it there.
Jim: And it’s an amazing venue.
Jack: You played the Underworld again for Desertfest in April, how did that go?
Jim: Just amazing.
Dave: Absolutely brilliant show.
Jim: Again, we were kind of worried about that as especially looking at the Desertfest line up on the day, a lot of ‘stonery’ kind of bands and that kind of ilk. But we sit in that weird world between metal, hardcore and other elements that doesn’t sit in with that. Although we’re massively honoured we’re playing Desertfest as we all love that festival and have attended it as punters ourselves. But yeah it was just amazing, really special and we were enchanted before we came on.
Jack: Last year you played Bloodstock. How did it feel, not only to play the festival, but to play outside in front of such a large crowd?
Jim: Well for me it was insane as I’d never done anything that big before, you guys had.
Dave: Walk in the park mate.
Jim: He just waltzed on! [Laughs]. But no it’s weird but also amazingly enjoyable. It’s weird as there’s so much room, especially between stage and crowd. I’m used to people in my face and literally on stage in front of me. Then there’s ten foot in between stage and the beginning of the crowd and then there’s probably thirty foot from the beginning of the stage to your amp and you’re like, “Oh fuck.” But once we got going there was nothing like it.
Dave: It was a bit nerve-racking, I think I had a little bit of nerves before, but it’s one of them things where the adrenaline takes over as soon as you walk out and boom!
Jim: It’s one of those things where you walk out and everyone is cheering and it helped us feel well received, which helped us do our thing.
Jack: Raging Speedhorn returned to Download, did the rain and mud cause any problems?
Jim: Not really as I went home after we played [Laughs].
Dave: Personally it did, but I don’t think for attendance. We had a good crowd.
Jim: I think everyone was prepared and also I think with any festival people understand we live in England, or Great Britain and that could be a factor. I think people are generally prepared for it and Christ if you look at festivals like Glastonbury I think people just cope with it. If it was in other festivals in Europe I think maybe it would be different, but I think that’s good old fashion British spirit.
Dave: It’s expected I suppose.
Jim: But from our point of view it was fine as we got transport to the stage and it was a short walk from the stage and a short walk to the stage. Apart from Frank [Regan, vocals] who fell out his dressing room and landed in a pile of mud before we went on. [Laughs]
Jack: This tour has been in support of your new album Lost Ritual, are you happy with the response?
Jim: Yeah totally man.
Jim: Again it’s kind of a nerve-racking thing as not only is it a reformation of the band, but there’s new members of the band like me and maybe people were expecting an original line up. We weren’t sure ourselves what we were going to come out with. Eight songs of the ten were written the weekend before we recorded it, just because that’s what we’re used to doing, spontaneous. But I don’t think we could be any happier with what we’ve written and we can’t be happier with how it’s been received. I can’t think of a negative review we’ve had. I’ve seen one but that was one confusing as they gave it 3.5/5 but pretty much slagged it off. I don’t really understand that but there we go. Everything I’ve seen has been positive, but for me personally it’s not about that. We’re happy, we love it and the fans at shows love it.
Jack: A lot of fans feel that the album picks up where We Will Be Dead Tomorrow left off. Do you agree?
Dave: I’d say so but we never really got in a room and said, “Let’s make a follow up to We Will Be Dead Tomorrow.” It just happened and we just wrote what we wanted to write and that’s what we did. It wasn’t conscious.
Jim: I think probably because Frank kind of went, not recording but, during the process of PR and stuff for the third album (How the Great Have Fallen), he was kind of ‘lost’ on that album a bit if you get what I mean. For touring and everything else he wasn’t there, I think. That’s why people don’t attach that album to the first two. They should do as I listen to that album and to be honest there’s as many decent albums on there that sit with the first two as anything else. But I think with Frank being back and people associate Frank and John and the first two albums.
Jack: With the album you funded it with PledgeMusic, and you not only hit your target, but went over it. Was there ever a point when you thought you wouldn’t make it?
Jim: From the beginning to be honest, we were all dubious.
Dave: It’s one of those things, we never really knew how it’d go and we were all quite surprised that there were still people who actually wanted to be part of the band. Basically they’re part of the band as it’s their record as much as it is ours. We were all quite surprised, in a way I kind of never expected that we would reach the target and that’s how I looked at it and we did. We could not have been happier with everyone who supported us and were interested and bothered enough to pledge with the record.
Jim: The way we looked at it was that we had no choice, we didn’t want to go with a label and didn’t want anyone else involved. We wanted to do it DIY and so that was the only option we had. So we thought whatever we raised would go towards it, we’d still do it. But it’s that thing with social media, it’s how you get those hits out there. There are still people now who are getting in touch with us saying, “I didn’t know they were back together.” Which is mad when you think about it as we’ve been back together for two years, we’ve been pushing it out everywhere with PR and there are still people who don’t know.
Jack: On Lost Ritual you had a song called ‘Motörhead’ – is it about Lemmy?
Jim: It wasn’t originally. It was never written about Lemmy originally and it wasn’t even called ‘Motörhead’. As I say we wrote the songs, recorded the songs and Frank and John were writing the lyrics and Lemmy had died in the middle of that process. I think Frank just kind of… well I think we all just kind of, without sitting down and going, “Let’s do a tribute.” Instead it just felt right to call that song ‘Motörhead’, and it was written around that idea. But it was never written originally as a tribute to him but now it is definitely a tribute to him and we play it like it is, and drink like it is.
Dave: Oh yeah.
Jack: When I interviewed the band A Horse Called War who played with you at Riff Fest…
Dave: Yeah we know them.
Jack: They said they were influenced by Raging Speedhorn and Charger. How does it make you feel knowing that you are an influence to bands and musicians?
Jim: I think it’s amazing, and I don’t mean this to sound big-headed but I find it embarrassing in the way that I don’t see anything that I’ve ever done as being that influential. So when people do I feel a bit embarrassed, but it really fucking makes my heart warm as it means all those years of slogging and working hard really means something when someone says that. It’s the same thing with signing things; I used to carry a book with me and get people to sign the book. So when I sign something for them it’s like they’ve signed the book. You kind of get used to it, but when amazing bands like that say they’re influenced by you, you can’t do anything but be chuffed.
Jack: When you reformed, were you worried you’d be forgotten about at all or didn’t it matter?
Dave: The thing was…I think it came about because the thing was that we wanted to do it and we were happy that people still remembered it and were still into it. It was a shock that there were so many people that were still proper into it which is a good thing.
Jim: I don’t think there was any conscious thought in it initially. We were offered a few gigs and we thought we’d do those few gigs to see how it goes, and those gigs turned into other things and we kept going. There was never a plan, it was never ‘let’s do this that and the other’, it was just ‘let’s have some fun.’
Dave: I think that’s how it will always be man.
Jim: That’s what makes it so easy now, because there’s no pressure.
Dave: We can do what we want.
Jack: Is it hard fitting the band around day jobs and families?
Dave: We can do what we can do basically and we can do what’s in our means. People have got families and jobs and stuff, we’re not twenty years old anymore so we have to put these things into account. We’ll do as much as we can and we’ll go from there. We’ll do what we want to do ourselves, not against people who come to the shows, we will do shows it’s just when we can. It’s difficult and it’d be great if it was full time but it can’t be like that. We’ll just work everything around it, but families are a big part of it.
Jack: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Jim: We’ll be going to Ireland in September for three dates, Dublin, Cork and Belfast. We’re doing the London Tattoo Convention with our old friends Orange Goblin.
Dave: We’re doing Hard Rock Hell and Stoner vs Doom in Sheffield.
Jim: Then to be honest, for the rest of the year it’ll be one-off bits and pops like that. There is some other stuff in the pipeline but we can’t really say when.
Jack: Do you plan to return to Europe and go abroad at all?
Jim: That’s the next plan, to get to Europe.
Jack: Well thanks very much for your time and I look forward to seeing you on stage.
Jim: No problem, thank you very much.
Dave: Now let’s get drunk.
Raging Speedhorn are on tour with Skindred in November and play the Orange Goblin Christmas party in London with Witchsorrow and Vodun in December. The dates are below:
November 1st -Wakefield, Warehouse 23
November 9th – Exeter, Lemon Grove
November 10th – Northampton, Roadmenders
November 11th – Cambridge, Junction
November 12th – Oxford, 02 Academy
Orange Goblin Christmas Party:
December 18th – London, Koko