Intro: I wanted to write about a couple of guys involved with hardcore whose work ethic and musicianship have blown me away time and time again over the years. Niesh has kindly lent me her blog to use as an outlet for this purpose. Here is part 1. – Sean McKee, October 2013.
If you’re been around UKHC for more than thirty seconds, you may be familiar with Justin Taylor aka Speedo from Resurrection. But if you aren’t, then I can explain why.
Most hardcore bands have a couple of members that become the contact points, organisers, persons most likely to respond to messages, general gobshites etc. In the background are often more modest musicians who let their skills do the talking. Speedo is the textbook example of the latter. He is an unsung hero in South Wales underground music scene.
As much as I’d love to take credit for some of Speedo’s riffs and songwriting (I’ve been in a couple of bands with him along the way), alas I cannot. I can however claim a little bit of responsibility for making him pick up a guitar in the first place. When myself and our mutual friend Stuart Butcher decided we needed to do our own hardcore band in Cardiff in 1995 and needed a guitarist, Speedo was nearest. He bought some clapped out plank of a guitar, every bit as terrible as the nasty bass guitar I’d bought from a guy at college for £40 at the same time, and we jammed until we had things that could be called songs, if only by technicality. We scrapped the lot and started again, quickly getting a solid line up locked down and booking in to record our first demo. That band recorded four times – two demos and two MCDs. Each recording session was roughly a year apart and you could hear our influences clearly. But by the time we’d properly nailed our sound, we ran out of inertia. Member changes, jobs that required working shifts and weekends, adult responsibilities, blah blah blah all contributed to things fizzling out in late 2000. For Speedo these were merely early fumblings.
I moved away from Cardiff and stayed gone for 5 years. On my return in 2005 I went to visit a band in Cardiff called Twist The Knife who were just starting out. They were 19 year old kids, they had a drummer, a singer and a bassist and were trying to write songs without any guitars. A frustrating situation for everyone. As I’d just picked up a new guitar – and they wanted to do the NYHC thing – the inevitable happened and within a month I was playing guitar for them. But as much as I can recycle old New York Hardcore jams and make them sound semi-convincing, I am not a prolific songwriter and do not have that knack for churning out flawless riffs all day. While the younger guys in Twist The Knife seemed happy simply to hear some loud guitars over their stuff – and were digging my own cack-handed efforts at songwriting for them – I knew it was lacking something. It was time to make a phone call.
Two days later I was sat in Speedo’s flat in Cardiff Bay, relieved to see that he still had a guitar and an amp rig. He fired it up, and unleashed a seemingly endless backlog of five years worth of unheard riffage and song ideas. I was completely floored. The awesomeness of what was being cranked out of that Marshall stack made it a no brainer. I didn’t even call the other guys, it was a done deal. Speedo was in. Executive decision. Me pulling rank over a bunch of 19 year olds. Call it whatever you want. Soon, new and better tracks with Speedo’s DNA all over them replaced the previous Twist The Knife stuff, and with a new recruit on bass (Jammo aka James Donne) they truly found their stride. My involvement quickly became surplus to requirement given the enormity of Speedo’s input. Somehow the songs sounded more vicious with just the one guitar rather than the pair of us trying to match each others downstrokes. So I left them to it and they went on to record several times as a four piece. Track down that shit if you can, it is HARD. In fact. here’s one of their best tracks right now, ‘Can’t See What’s Right’. It’s like being spitroasted by Set It Off at one end and Systems Overload at the other.
Further personnel changes resulted in Twist The Knife morphing into Chains Of Hate. Early C.O.H recordings were leaked to Rucktion Records by an unknown third party (apparently. I obviously know nothing whatsoever about that) and the London label went on to put out the band’s utterly flawless Cold Harsh Reality MCD. Frontman Tommy’s Lord Ezec meets Freddie Cricien vocal style was imposing enough but musically this thing was like being clobbered straight in the face by the blunt end of Speedo’s guitar. With second guitarist Matt providing equally monstrous guitar work, and a production straight from the Motörhead camp of ‘everything louder than everything else’ (they record with Todd Campbell dontcha know) the CD is inescapably heavyweight. By now it was obvious to anybody with ears that Speedo was Cardiff’s equivalent of Matt Henderson, Todd Jones or Mike Dijan, able to turn the most simple guitar work into impossibly hard and imposing hardcore. And there’s more…
Another reshuffle meant that Chains Of Hate was dead, and the aptly named Resurrection was born, re-uniting Speedo with the frontman from his first band, Stu, and putting Tommy back behind the drum stool. Resurrection have an MCD out now and it is no surprise to those that are paying attention that it rages. Speedo’s riffs are pretty much chiselled out of granite, with Matt still on the other guitar ensuring maximum heaviness, and there’s some furious weightlifter bloke on vocals. Here’s a track from that MCD:
The Cardiff hip hop kids have a saying “fuck Dre we got Che”, referring to producer Che Ahmed aka Metabeats who has reaped a ton of praise and put Cardiff on the map of that particular genre. That’s pretty much the same opinion I have of Speedo in terms of hardcore. He is THE MAN. I’d put him up against any of those powerhouse NYHC guitarists. And I hope he is still cranking out the riffs when he’s fifty, in a full length leather Bobby Hambel coat and bandana.
Resurrection played Ninjafest 2013 (Oct 26th – 27th). Go and check out Speedo in his natural environment.