So Speedealer consists of the three of you guys plus Ricky (Pearson, bass) and Jeff (Hirshberg, guitar/vocals), who are not on with us today. Jeff doesn't actually play live but is still a pretty central part of the band as a songwriter and studio musician. Seems like kind of an interesting, if not slightly unusual dynamic there.
DAN: Yeah, I guess it is a little bit different, but it worked out the best for us that way. I think it's probably happened a lot over the years where the touring band isn't necessarily the one that writes all the stuff, but we do help write and we collaborate with Jeff but, Jeff doesn't like touring at all and when we get together, we actually have a pretty good time so it's actually better this way because there's no one on the road with us that's miserable and doesn't want to be there.
Speedealer has had a pretty consistent sound over the years but listening to the records, there’s definitely been a progression in terms of feel and willingness to explore different things. How have you approached maintaining the sound you're known for and trying new things, especially given that the lineup of the band has changed so much since the early records?
ERIC: Well, the first record was the Spanish Fly release, the one with the two boys kissing on it and there's the Brown record, which is really the second record, but for a lot of people that might be the first record because that first one was really hard to find. And the band had changed dramatically from that very first one to the Brown record and then the Brown record had a different line up on it, except for Jeff and Rodney the bass player, and right when that record was released was when Harden and I became a part of the entourage with Jeff and Rodney. But our different abilities, I think, sparked a lot of Jeff's imagination, and Jeff's just an amazing songwriter and he also has a gift for lyrics, too. When he is singing, sometimes he just was just scatting on those records, he was just yelling noises and it just came across and still worked great. But now Jeff is, um, just Jeff. He's a full-time professor, of some sort so he's very book read, and his mind just is wide open now, as far as the lyric avenues and stuff. So, we're kind of spreading our wings that way. He is for sure. And then as far as music, our abilities, I think, keep growing as with any musician, any band, I'm sure if you're in it long enough, if you last long enough, I would assume your ability should be progressing too. And so, when you say the sound hasn't changed much, it's largely because Jeff's ideas pop up, he has, like a great blueprint for a song structure and then once me and Harden and Ricky, because Ricky's an amazing talent. He's a monster when it comes as a musician, he plays drums, he plays guitar, he plays bass, he's one of those guys, so his input and mine and Harden's, our abilities attack Jeff's great blueprint and it’s been evolving in becoming what Speedealer is today
I think that's what's been happening from the progression of the early Speedealer to present Speedealer, and I think most bands do that, I would like to think, unless they became millionaires on one particular song and they're afraid to stray from it, then they just keep writing that song over and over again. But we never graduated past a fucking Econoline van so we're still experimenting and trying different stuff and we keep trying to push ourselves a little bit, too, because nobody's tying us down and telling us you have to write in this way. And we like continuity, you know, Jeff has a certain thing that keeps the continuity there. That's why he's still a part of it, even though he's not on the touring side of it. But, you know, gear changes and stuff so maybe the sound is a little bit more more aggressive or maybe in our old age we're still just as pissed as we were before, I don't know. There's a certain continuity, but we're still growing, I would like to think.
Eric, live you're the only guitar player on stage but when Jeff was a part of the live act Speedealer was a two-guitar band, right?
ERIC: Yeah, it was always a two-guitar band when this thing got started but when the second half got started with Dan and Ricky and we just kind of fell into it. It really wasn't that serious, some close friends wanted us to play their wedding reception and Jeff was like, “I'm not doing it,” you know, we just kinda slapped it together, but then we had so much fun doing it, and there was a lot of excitement I guess for people hearing these songs again and even in our one less guitar version of it, I think the songs are still strong enough to be represented that way. And then also because we are still in that van It cuts down on some, you know, the there's one less chef in the in the kitchen and it saves space and all. So, we just kinda fell forward that way. Live, you know, I'm sure there's definitely a a thing missing, but Ricky's such a monster on bass that we're trying our best to still represent and present the music in that big way. But yeah, we just haven't gotten that far. We haven't picked out another guitar player, if we even do that or not, I'm not sure.
As a guitar player have you had to adjust your technique at all? Obviously, you have a great bass player behind you, which definitely helps, but has it changed the dynamic for you at all?
ERIC: Mostly in just the endurance level. Just feeling like I'm trying to fill that space. But for the most part when it was me and Jeff, we didn't do a lot of fancy harmonies or anything like that. You know, we didn't do a lot of Thin Lizzie or Mastodon type stuff.
DAN: You've added to you gear and pedals and stuff to kind of try and compensate.
ERIC: I started running two different heads, but basically Speedealer a lot of these songs both guitar players played almost exactly the same thing. I'm having to, you know, throw in the solos so there's not a rhythm guitar underneath the solos, but other than that, not much has changed. The only thing I do is I run two different heads and a cabinet on each side of the stage because when Jeff would start a song it would just be a singular guitar. So now (with the two amps) I just hit a pedal, and then the sound comes out of one side of the stage. And then once the whole band comes in, I just kick on both amps, and then and then you get that wall of sound. That's basically it, just do a little extra double time. I sweat a little bit more, probably.
DAN: It's just, Eric's a real good guitarist, you know? And he works a lot more. I mean, I'm the singer now so I watch him a lot live and, you know, I can always tell when he didn't hit that pedal. You know that a/b switch to kick them both in because there's something missing And I look at him and he remembers, you know?
ERIC: Like, shit I missed a button! (laughs)
DAN: Yeah, but it's funny to watch sometimes.
Speedealer rocked the Mercury Lounge stage for a live show on December 20th. While they were in town, the also recorded a high definition, multi-cam show earlier in the day. This show is set to air on Saturday, January, 9th at 8PM CST. Check the preview video below and grab a ticket here.