Some things will never go out of style — like a hard-hitting rock and roll style with DIY punk attitude to spare — exactly the things that make Devon, England, band Landspeeder cool. Seriously cool!
These fellows aren’t some wet-behind-the-ears lads looking to land their first serious gigs, no, these are musicians who have spent time perfecting their trade in other bands and have united to create a superband, if you will.
Since joining forces in 2013, Landspeeder has released the EP “Smartbomb” in 2016 and is preparing to release the new EP “Accidental Arsonist” soon. Several weeks ago they sent me a sneak peek at the EP and I was delighted with what I heard — good gritty, grungy punky rock. Old school all the way.
Theme from “Landspeeder” is a nice little taste of what’s to come from the whole EP. It’s a hyper little number with rambunctious drums and twitchy guitar riffs. The energy just radiates from it.
So, I finally had a chance to chat with the band during a recent rehearsal. Guitarist Andy Fish typed most of the answers, with occasional help from vocalist/bassist David Gibbons. Follow along now as we talk about the new EP, “Accidental Arsonist,” what goals the band has and the power of social media.
Introduce everyone, first and last names and what they bring to the band …
Andy Downton – lets his guitar playing speak for him. One of the best guitarists Dave’s ever played with.
Sidney Harrison – cheeky cockney Welshman, the life of the party and the backbone of the band. Think Animal from the Muppets.
Andy Fish (I’m typing) – gentle giant, puts flesh on the bones, and David Gibbons – songwriting genius, 90s indie hero, one hit wonder but never quite made it – aiming to change all that.
Great! So you guys are based out of where in South West England?
Great Torrington, in Devon.
This is the second go round for Landspeeder? Did the four of you try in the 90s?
Different bands, not together until a few years ago. Andy D was in Bubba Doc, Uncle Fuggley, Skid Marks; Sid was in Strawberry Fields and Tumblin’ Dice; Dave was in The Mandelbrot Set and Reuben and Andy F was in Fierce Bad Rabbit.
Were they different style bands, or all versions of rock and roll/punk/Britpop?
Whole gamut from Britpop to grunge and hardcore punk to synth pop
You all bring a lot of influences to the band — who are the main ones?
Dave – The Wonderstuff (Dave actually had an audition but broke his wrist the day before tackling a shoplifter — true story) and classic 60s garage punk; Sid – The Damned and Stiff Little Fingers; Andy D – anything from the 70s but his all-time fave is U2; Andy F – Blur and Kate Bush.
I like the variety, a little of everything. So you got together in 2014 … Released the “Smartbomb” EP in 2015 or 16?
May 4, 2016
Did everyone have a hand in songwriting? How does that go?
No, Dave writes all the songs like the dictator he is … only joking. Dave will write a demo, sort of half-finished thing and bring it to the band to work on. It’s very collaborative. Andy F has written a few, but the song writing muse is definitely flowing through Dave at the moment.
He really is on it at the moment. The new EP, “Accidental Arsonist,” has how many tracks?
Six – we could’ve recorded more, but we couldn’t afford it. It’s more of a mini album. “AA” was recorded live to get a real feel for what makes us Landspeeder – couple of takes per track. We’ve got around 10 others ready to record.
I listened to rough versions of some of the tracks and was very impressed. You come across as a very high-energy band, with great presence …
Yep … we wanted to get back to old school rock ‘n roll/punk roots. The Beatles recorded their first album live in a day … we wanted that live feel with the tension you get by doing it all in one go. It’s not about getting every note right but capturing the moment.
I like that … Too many bands are focused on production and overdo it when recording. I think the less takes, the better. When is it due to be released?
End of the month hopefully. I’ve just finished the CD artwork. We’ve got a load of gigs coming up and want to have something to flog.
Oh, nice — you did the artwork? Where did the idea come from?
The title is one of the lyrics in “Junknotjunk.” The cover’s all flames. When you open the digipack the CD will have a picture a lit match and when you lift the CD out there’ll be a picture of Sid behind it. Not saying Sid’s an actual arsonist, but he’s probably the most likely to be out of all of us.
Update – Andy D has just admitted that he was taken in to the police station when he was a young chap and reprimanded for setting fire to something in a public toilet!
Hahaha! He’s on fire on the drums! Sounds like Andy is a real character!
That was the longest sentence he’s ever spoken, by the way. They say you should watch out for the quiet ones.
I bet it’s a riot when you four get together …
Have you watched the video of our gig at the Dublin Castle? It’s like that all the time. I love that video. It was filmed as a mini documentary by our pal Michael Collins. I think it’s hilarious, especially near the end with Seamus Brady and the dude from the Magic Numbers.
Yes, I did! It was very entertaining. So it’s a good gauge of what your shows are like then?
Yeah, hopefully. Hopefully you get a sense of the energy on stage and the stupidity off.
Yes, I sure did. I love seeing that energy! Are you looking into festivals for this summer? I’ve seen lots of promoters looking for bands …
We’re doing Elevation 593 and hopefully some others. We’re also on a mini tour up North – Derby, Sheffield, Hull, Manchester … just finalising details now. That will be in April. We’re back at the Castle in a couple of weeks as well.
Are you going to try to live stream any of the shows? That would be cool!
That would be cool. We’ll look into it.
Between Facebook live and Periscope, it’s pretty easy anymore. What goals have you set for this year?
That’s something we’ve talked about doing when we go back to London in February; technology allows you to do stuff now that you couldn’t imagine 20 years ago … like talking to you right now!
It is amazing. I’ve met so many talented musicians and talked to them too, that I may not have otherwise. The world really is at your fingertips ….
Simple stuff – world tour, number one … No, what we’d really like is to be slightly better known, have more exposure, more people listening to our stuff. We think it’s good and more people need to hear it!
We’d like to play venues that pay us as well so it doesn’t cost us a fortune to play.
We’d like to share a stage with some of our musical heroes (those that are still left alive), we’d like to play overseas (apparently we have a small following in Japan), we’d love to come to the States … but in all honesty, where we are in life, anything we do musically is a bonus because none of us thought we’d be where we are even now!
All good goals! We will work on getting you to the U.S. …. So, how about your Twitter blowing up? (In one night, the band went from wishing for 1K followers to waking up to 12K.) That was crazy! All we did was sent a few well-placed tweets and … Boom!
Yeah, that was amazing. It shows the power of social media and I can’t believe every band doesn’t do it. We have more followers than the Buzzcocks!
I (Dave here) had put a lot of time into building contacts like you, John Oxley, Mark Winder etc., and it really paid off — but I never imagined it’d get the traction it did.
Social media is a powerful tool these days. If bands develop a good rapport with their followers, there is no limit to what they can do. Street teams are a fabulous tool too!
Always been the same – not what you know but who you know. It helps having kick ass music too. It’s great being able to talk to like-minded people all over the world. Difficult to build a wall around the Internet.
Also (Dave again), being able to friend your Heroes on Facebook and get them to hear your music is an opportunity that simply wasn’t there before.
At least these platforms give artists a chance to be heard and develop a grassroots campaign. And yes, talking to your heroes directly is invaluable!
It’s proper punk! Do it yourself. Don’t need corporate record labels – straight from band to fans nowadays!
“Accidental Arsonist” is available now — hear it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-645072390/sets/landspeeder-accidental-arsonist