After reuniting in 2014, Raging Speedhorn decided to record a new album. Lost Ritual, released in July, was their first album since 2007. I interviewed vocalist John Loughlin, who fills us in on the reunion, new album, touring and other topics.
Chad Bowar: What led to the reunion a couple years ago?
John Loughlin: Like all good Speedhorn stories it started in the pub. Gordon (Morison, drums) was back in town seeing his parents around Christmas time in 2013, rang to say he was in town and did I fancy going out for a pint. We got chatting about old times in the band, and we both agreed we missed it and before we knew it, we were making phone calls and that was that.
How did guitarist Jim Palmer come to join the band?
Jim has been a great friend to the band for a long time. We toured with his old band Charger on our third ever tour and Murder One, who he was a founding member of, a few times. We have been friends ever since those days. When Gareth said he wouldn’t be able to re-join, we all knew there was only one phone call to make.
At what point did you decide you wanted to record new music?
We were all itching to say to each other, “Shall we try writing some new stuff?” but all held back until we decided how we were going to play it. Originally we only committed to two festivals and a tour and we just wanted to play it by ear. So, after Mr. Palmer started to play around with a riff he had, (the opening riff to “Halfway To Hell”) we all agreed to finish writing it and release it as a single.
How did the songwriting process for Lost Ritual compare to your earlier albums?
Very different than every other album. The first two songs we had were similar to how we worked before, but the other eight, not so much. As I said, we all had ideas and riffs but we got a little distracted with the business side. So it’s a Wednesday, I’m at work, and I get a call from Gordon on my lunch break, asking how many songs we have ready to record. So I said “We have “Halfway To Hell” and “Dogshit Blues,” but it didn’t have lyrics!”
We wrote and recorded 80 percent of the record on the spot in the two days, and we all agreed that if one of us doesn’t like a song, then we don’t use it. So, by Monday morning we walking to the studio songs ready to go. Sadly, Frank (Regan, co-vocalist) and myself still had nine songs worth of lyrics to write as we recorded them, which luckily Russ had no problem with.
How did you decide on Russ Russell as the producer, and what was his impact on the process?
Russ, like Jim, has been a friend of the band for a long time. At one time or another most of us have recorded with him on one project or another. He was in line to record almost every Speedhorn album, but it never worked out. So, at Bloodstock we saw Russ in the VIP bar and collared him. “Russ, we have something to ask you…” “Boys, if you’re gonna ask me to do the new album, then the answer is f–k, yes!” and it was a done deal.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
While recording “Release The Serpent,” Frank goes in the vocal booth and records the chorus and then comes out and says, “I don’t really have anything for the slower, quieter bit.” I say, “I have an idea!” and ask Russ to put the recording level up as I’m gonna be doing kind of a whispered bit. Russ and Frank both look at me like I’ve lost my mind, but I go in and do the first verse in the spoken voice. As I finish I ask, “Was that OK?” and as the talk back comes on all I hear is Frank and Russ in unison saying, “That sounds creepy as f–k! I love it! Have you got more!?”
Why did you decide to go the crowd-funding route?
We knew from previous experiences that we didn’t want to sign to a label. The plan from the beginning was to license the album out, and keep the rights. So, our options were to fund it through touring or do the Pledge, which takes the pressure off us and gave us the opportunity to give our fans the chance to get some exclusive goodies that we couldn’t have pulled off without the pledge. Those guys have been great with us. They helped us out so much, I would fully endorse telling any band with a following and no label to do it the way we did. They have so much time for you and help you out every step of the way.
Were you satisfied with the response?
At first we were worried. We had been active for nearly a month, and we had just hit 6 percent. So, the Pledge guys asked us how we had been promoting it, and as we were kinda out of the loop they told us to do video diaries and cover photos for Facebook and push it as much as possible. It worked. Within the next four weeks we were at 86 percent of our target. So yeah, when we got the hang of it and it was great.
Do you have more touring planned?
Yes, we’re booking up next year as we speak. After these shows with Skindred, we have a few one off shows here and there until the end of the year. We have one in Leicester at the Firebug on November 18th, a hometown show in Corby at The Hut on the December 2nd and a show in London at The Koko for the Orange Goblin Christmas bash on December 18.
During the time the band was apart, did you hear from younger musicians how influential Raging Speedhorn was to them?
Yes, it was very strange hearing bands like Feed The Rhino and Heart of a Coward saying how much they loved Speedhorn, and how much it influenced them as bands. Kinda mind blowing, really. It was also nice to have Heart of a Coward ask if they could support us at our first show back in Corby before Sonisphere.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
If you haven’t got our album yet, go and get it from our Bandcamp page. To keep up to date on what’s happening with us, check out our Facebook and Twitter pages. Thanks to all our fans and supporters and come and see us live soon.
(interview published November 15, 2016)