Speedealer is a band that's never been afraid of the hustle. From the early 90's when they were known as REO Speedealer to today, the band has seen multiple lineup changes and record deals, cease and desist orders and played hundreds upon hundreds of shows. We caught up with vocalist Dan Barron, guitarist Eric Schmidt and drummer Harden Harrison to talk about the history of the band, how their sound has progressed over the years and being a working band in the middle of a global pandemic.
Hi guys, thanks for taking time to talk with us. What have you been up to since the pandemic started, and live music basically came to a halt? Has much been happening with the band?
ERIC: Not a lot of band practice but, like a lot of bands, especially full time musicians that that's their livelihood, you know, I'm sure they're sitting at home and writing all kinds of stuff, getting ready for hopefully when things open back up, we're all just kind of meandering, writing, but separately, you know, still not taking the chances of cramming into some little practice space and and fucking each other up with anything that might be going around. I've been lucky to keep busy with other work, but it is frustrating not to play music. That's the big outlet for all of us that are traveling musicians or in bands. It sucks that that section of your life gets cut out, and it's kind of a beat down. But luckily, work has been keeping my mind rolling.
DAN: Also, right before the pandemic started Harden injured himself and had to get surgery done but he's healed up from that so we're getting ready to start practicing again.
It looks like you guys have a handful of dates lined up right now, but you also had to cancel a lot of shows that were supposed to be in support of your new album, including a tour with Fu Manchu. Any plans to reschedule those shows or are you still waiting things out before you commit to anything?
DAN: Everything from last year has been rebooked for next year. Just trying to see what happens. The Fu Manchu 30th anniversary tour has already been rescheduled, starting in March. But we'll see what happens there. And we were supposed to do some tours this year, around the country and also in Europe and that all got pushed to next year. A couple of festivals. Come November, we were supposed to be in the Netherlands and that got all pushed off to 2021. Speedealer used to have a reputation for keeping a pretty intense tour schedule, with one-year clocking in over 300 dates.
Is that something you'd like to be able to get back to?
ERIC: Yeah, I wouldn't think so. But that was the case for four years or so. Especially when Harden and I joined the band it really kicked up. I think the year before that, with the the earlier lineup, it was like 250 shows. And then it was 300 plus shows, like, four years in a row. But as you would imagine, that's a young man's game (laughs). That's a lot of effort, and in our our ripe old ages, we've got day jobs and stuff like that. Kind of, sort of. So, yeah, unless we had a radio hit or some sort of backing that's the only way that would happen. Back then, we were just young and dumb and jumped in the freakin van.
Do you think it's still necessary for bands to tour with that kind of intensity?
ERIC: Well, I know times have changed a little bit, but wouldn't you imagine, Dan can chime in on this too, you know, what it comes down to is that a lot of our income is merch and playing a lot of gigs. So, there's full time musicians that are definitely hating it right now, because that's their income. And so, if we were ever in that position, which I guess we were back then I don't know, I still went to work after every, you know, the couple of weekends I had out of a year, I went to work. I think we all did. But I don't know, with today's technology and just the way things are, and especially as many venues that shut down in the last couple of months, to be able to play those schedules again, it's gonna be really weird. I think a lot of us are just waiting in the wings to find out exactly how this all plays out for a functioning live band like that. We're all nervous as hell about it. Unless we're all just doing pay per view stuff from here on out like the thing that (Mercury Lounge) has got going on, which is cool with me, man.
DAN: 2020 looked really good. We were were planning the year, and just right when you get the album out and get all this vinyl ready and merch ready and then, you know, 2020 happens, and now we're selling everything online, like the rest of everyone else. Well you guys seem to be in good spirits despite the circumstances. Hopefully, knock on wood, we'll all be able to kind of pick up where we left off soon.
Any plans for new material or anything in the meantime?
It's always possible, I'm sure. Jeff's got some material rolling around in the head for whenever we get back together.
Alright, well thanks for your time guys, I really appreciate it and I'm looking forward to the show.
SD: Thank you, and thanks for giving a shit.
Catch SPEEDEALER for a limited capacity show at the Mercury Lounge on Saturday, December 12, 2020. Tickets on sale at https://www.mercuryloungetulsa.com/shows. Hear their music and pick up some merch, including their new album Blue Days Black Nights, at https://speedealer.bandcamp.com