Athens, Greece based heavy metal band Speedblow recently released their newest full length When Giants Walked the Earth and somewhere amongst the gruff vocals, melodic grooves and soaring lead guitar work lies a classic and extremely strong heavy metal heart. Modern metal is a crowded place to be which makes it very difficult to stand out. Where Speedblow excels is that while they are technically ‘modern day’ they have a strong foundation steeped in traditional doom, epic heavy metal and a touch of thrash all wrapped tightly in a blanket of laser precise execution. We recently had a conversation with guitarist John T. and asked him our set of Profile questions in an effort to get to know the band better. Read on to see what he had to say and make sure to check out the album streams contained within but be ready to raise your fists in the air.
How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
Well, the band started out in 2009 but we all played in other bands before that. Our love for music goes way back. It was just a matter of time until we started expressing ourselves through it. I would not say we have reached a planned level of success rather than we are happy with what we got and try not to look a gift horse in the mouth all the time. We have a lot of friends who support us and we had a few opportunities over the years which we actually deserved. We never begged or kiss ass and we never thought we were rockstars. It would be nice if we could make a living out of this and be able to focus only on our music and families but this is not the case, so we try to put a small piece of our work out there in every way we can, be it an album or a show.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
We never actually did that. It was an early decision from all of us that we go “by the sword” and not debase or sell ourselves short. Don’t think we have an actual embarrassing story. We try to behave and not bust any balls in general. We’re pretty sure you can find something out though if you come out for a drink with us.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
Metal is closer than ever to a wider audience. It is not as “feared” as it used to be. People actually listen for a change and then criticize (well, most of the time). We also like the way history repeats itself with older genres coming back to life but with fresh bands.
Some of the worst things are, that the business has gone to shit, that wanting to make some money in order for you to be able to continue making music is regarded as a sellout, that at some point this has become a trend rather than actually listening or playing music, that the amount of info in the digital world is vast and that a lot of good bands get lost in the sidelines.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).
We ain’t interested in politically correct shit, but in what is right. We do not mingle our music with political and social stuff. We like to tell stories. We like fantasy. And maybe sometimes we will express ourselves on life, but only in a personal way. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone’s got one. I don’t think anyone gives a crap about an extra one.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
Well, I can only speak for myself since everyone in the band has his own story. I got an Alice Cooper tape because I liked the cover. Then a friend of mine gave me a tape that had Master Of Puppets on it. Well that was it for me. I was hooked. My father thought I would outgrow it and my mother was scared I’d bend over to the dark lord. Had a few fights over the years while I was growing up. Still don’t think they completely get what metal is for me, but they have come to accept it and even support me with some of my endeavors.
What’s the stickiest you have ever been?
Opening for Clutch on their first ever show on Greek soil in Gagarin205 Club. It was July, in Athens city center and forty degrees (Celsius) outside. Venue had no air-conditioning. 800-900 people inside when we went on. Venue packs about 1200 full. You do the math.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
It is very simple really. Have a listen, say what you really think without prejudice, see what a band has done over the years, what they’re doing now and if you think they are good actually support them with whatever means are available to us all in this digital age. Be true. And remember, all big bands were once small. Don’t dismiss good music because of fame. Music should matter more than fame, looks and location.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
At the moment we want to write music and put it out there. We want to share it with the world. We try our best given the difficult times we live in, especially here in Greece, where half the world wants to buy us and the other half see us gone. Arts and music have a very low priority in our country’s agenda. We do have a cult though. It’s a suburbia thing. We would love to go out on a gig spree, but we all have day jobs. I am a sound guy in a rock venue downtown for example. Other guys work as music teachers, session musicians, baristas, online support, bartender and other stuff. Hobbies include movies, series, vaping, drinking, smoking, football and listening to vinyl.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Again, I can only speak for myself here but some of them include:
The Necromancers – Servants of The Salem Girl
Night – Raft Of The World
Bombus – Repeat Until Death
Cirith Ungol – Paradise Lost
Killswitch Engage – Incarnate
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to John for his time!