By: Aaron Pickford
Raging Speedhorn exploded onto the scene way back in 2000, reaching the heady heights of the UK Singles chart in 2001 with their song ‘The Gush’, but for me, it was with the release of their debut full length ‘Raging Speedhorn’ that I really took notice of the band, having a sound reminiscent of Eyehategod and Iron Monkey, there really wasn’t many bands like them at the time. With an incredible follow up ‘We Will All Be Dead Tomorrow’, produced by members of Biohazard, Speedhorn were destined for great things.
Following the release of their 3rd record ‘How The Great Have Fallen’ Frank Regan split from the band in 2005, to be replaced by Blood Kev of Helvis fame and they subsequently released one further record ‘Before The Sea Was Built’ in 2007, a record which strayed from their original sludge sound. That is their history but fast forward back to 2016, and with the arrival of a brand new record entitled “Lost Ritual” it almost feels like a rebirth, the stage is their spiritual home and with it, ‘Speedhorn have come to destroy once again.
A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with Jim Palmer, guitarist with Raging Speedhorn and we discussed new beginnings, touring with Amen and the bands renewed passion for being part of a scene, they helped create. It’s time to get Amped & Doomed.
SL: Jim thanks for taking the time to talk to us, can you give us a brief history of when you started playing guitar?
Jim Palmer: I first picked up the guitar when I was 8 years old. I learnt classical initially, moving onto other finger picking styles such as folk and bluegrass. My first electric guitar soon followed with my interest in blues guitarists such as Ry Cooder and Stevie Ray Vaughan. By about the age of 14 I was playing in local bands and gigging in youth clubs and the like. By the age of 20 I’d swapped to playing bass and joined the band Integrity and then a band called Fracture in the mid 90’s touring the UK extensively. By about 97 I swapped back to guitar and joined Charger. During my time with Charger I also formed the group Murder One along with my friends from Medulla Nocte and Iron Monkey. I toured extensively through the UK and Europe for many years until I just stopped in 2007 due to illness. In 2011 or thereabouts I joined the band Space Witch and started playing again and later formed the band Harlot Church. In 2014 I was asked to join Raging Speedhorn and here we are.
SL: Can you remember who or what inspired you to pick up the guitar? Are there any bands, guitarists currently on the scene that continue to inspire you and push you to try new things?
Jim: My mum was a music teacher and a pianist and my Dad just loved music so I guess they were my first inspiration. I think the first actual guitarist I saw that inspired me was John Williams when my mum took me to see the band Sky. After that I was kind of hooked.
As for now I’m constantly inspired by many musicians whether famous or not. I like a massive range of music so there’s always something out there to get excited about.
SL: Whilst we’re on the subject of inspiration or heroes for example, do you have 5 records that stand out as favourites, what influence did they have upon you and what is it about those records that particular resonates amongst others?
Pink Floyd – “Obscured By Clouds”
Rainbow – “Rising”
Sick of it All – “Scratch the Surface”
Ry Cooder – “Ry Cooder”
Melvins – “Houdini”
I think these albums in particular stick out as my favourites because in one way or another they signify a particular period in my life. That and the fact that they are all killer.
SL: Can remember your first electric guitar?
My first electric guitar was an Ibanez Blazer and it was fantastic. Really miss that guitar.
SL: What guitar (s) are you using today and how did you gravitate towards the guitar you currently use?
Jim: I use many guitars from Gibson LP Specials through to LP Customs but my main guitars at the moment are a prototype Yamaha AES Telecaster I’ve owned for 18 years or so and a Yamaha AES 600. I’ve used Yamaha guitars on and off since the beginning of Charger in the late 90’s. No big manufacturer makes better guitars than Yamaha in my opinion.
SL: What do you like about the guitars you currently use and have there been any specific modifications to it?
Jim: I like my AES Tele because it feels just right now it’s beaten up and well and truly worn in. It has a wonderful soft profile to the neck and a feel to it that’s just right for me. I like the AES 600 for exactly the opposite. It has a big, fat baseball bat of a neck and is quite awkward in some ways. It’s almost like that guitar that makes you work hard to play it. All my guitars have several modifications. I don’t use tone knobs so they instantly get removed. I use Railhammer pickups so all my guitars have those fitted although I’ve just started using Zombie Dust pickups which are awesome too. I also fit kill switches to all my guitars for those moments when you can’t reach your pedal board in time. Apart from that and using DiMarzio strap lock straps, everything else is pretty much standard.
SL: What amps and pedals do you currently use? Do you use a combination of amps, or a full half stack? Talk us through your set up both in the studio and in the live environment?
Jim: I’ve used Peavey 5150’s and 6505’s for pretty much everything I’ve ever done. The only other amp I use regularly is a Blackstar HT Metal 100. Pedal wise I like to keep things fairly simple so I have an Ernie Ball VP Jr volume pedal, Boss TU3 Tuner, EHX Chill Switch and an Ibanez Weeping Demon wah. I occasionally use a Blackstar Dist if I’m using loan amps and I occasionally run a Decimator Noise Reduction pedal. Other than that it’s basically guitar to pedal board, straight in the front of the amp and out into 1 maybe 2 4x12’s.
I use the same setup when I record although for our new album I mixed in a JCM 800 for extra beef. I’ve never been one for complicating things and I believe very much that my tone is my tone so no need to change it about too much if I can help it.
SL: What one pedal could not live without and why?
Jim: There isn’t one. Id be just as happy running straight into my amp as I am running pedals. I don’t need them, they are just nice to have and make life a little easier. I guess if I had to pick one it would be my TU3 as no one likes an out of tune guitarist HA HA!
SL: What are your amp/ pedal settings?
Jim: Pedal wise there isn’t a lot to set. I have my volume pedal for swelling in and out as I hate using volume pots on guitars. My tuner runs out the tuner out on the volume pedal so it’s essentially out the chain. I have the EHX chill switch set to kill the sound momentarily when its depressed, (kill switch), and my Weeping Demon Wah is set to run on the spring / sensor so it engages automatically when I put my foot on it. I also have kill switches on my guitars for options depending on my stage position but also so I can do the same stuff when I’m not running my pedal board.
Amp setting wise I run the gain on about 8 on the lead channel, EQ would be bass – 8 mid – 3 Treble – 6, the resonance on 7 and the presence on 4. if I use the rhythm channel its for clean stuff so gain on about 3 but I run the standard 6505 so I use the same EQ. If I’m using a 5150 or the Blackstar HT Metal 100 the same settings would apply.
SL: What tunings do you use and why, and as a result is there a specific brand / gauge of string you prefer ?
Jim: With Speedhorn we tune to drop C#. It’s the perfect balance between down tuning and still having clarity and usable string tension / intonation. String wise I use Cleartone strings and wouldn’t use any other brand now. They are so much more clear sounding and the coating makes them last much longer. Gauge wise I used to use light to / heavy bottom 10’s (10-52) but I’m currently running 11’s (11-56).
SL: Do you have any advice for up and coming guitars players, bands?
Jim: It’s simple really. Nothing is free, nothing will get handed to you on a plate. Work hard, put the effort in but enjoy it too. Be a good person, seems daft but it’s important. If you’re an arsehole to people, crew in particular, they’ll remember that and it will make your life very difficult in the future. You should always try to be a good person anyway. Most of all stick at it. I know more people who’ve “made it” simply because they’ve stuck at it for years than those who’ve gained instant success. Longevity means a lot in this business.
SL: Do feel there are deeply help misconceptions about being in a band?
Jim: Many, many misconceptions but to be honest they are generally made by people who wouldn’t have a clue anyway HA HA!
SL: Moving on a little then, what can you tell us about any of your current projects, tours, cds, etc you’re currently promoting, completed and anything else band related we should know about?
Jim: We are releasing our new album “Lost Ritual” for pledgers at the beginning of July and then later in July it will be available to everyone else. If you still wish to pledge and get hold of some limited edition goodies as well as the new album you can do so via the Pledge Music website and look for Raging Speedhorns campaign. We are also going on tour around the UK in July to promote the new album from the 15th – 23rd. Pop over to our Facebook page for updates, news and those important tour dates!
SL: What springs to mind when you think about the completion of your new/current record and how is the mood in the camp at present?
Jim: Happiness and relief I think. I’m not sure any of us knew whether this was going to work out but currently we are all feeling pretty chuffed about the new album and about how well things are going. It’s certainly a good place to be right now.
SL: What are your favorite songs to play live? What is it about them that makes them so good to play live, crowd reaction, etc? Anything from your catalogue that you wouldn’t play and why?
Jim: I’m really enjoying the new material at the moment. It’s fresh and new so it’s easy to play about with the songs structure but also because it’s so typically Speedhorn it fits perfectly in the set. I think my favorite songs to play would have to be “Bring Out Your Dead”, “Halfway to Hell” and “Dogshit Blues”. I’m not sure there is anything in the catalogue we wouldn’t have a go at live but certainly anything off “Before The Sea Was Built” would be difficult due to the different vocalist, (Bloody Kev).
SL: Who are some your favourite bands you have toured with and what has been your proudest moment and/or performance of your playing career?
Jim: Some of the best bands I’ve toured with would have to be Today Is The Day, Amen and Prong just for the sheer fun we had and the competitiveness. I’d have to include Raging Speedhorn in there too though as back when I was in Charger and Murder One we toured together before I was in RSH. Always a good time. I feel proud every time I get to play live as it’s a real privilege but stand out gigs would have to be headlining a stage at Sonisphere in 2014, returning to Damnation Festival in 2014 for the 3rd time and our headlining slot at Download
SL: What can fans look forward to from you over the next 12 months? How is your schedule shaping up?
Jim: Busy! With the new record out and the subsequent “Lost Ritual” tour we’ll be popping up all over the place in the next 12 months. We are currently in negotiations to bring even bigger things and maybe even a few trips to Europe. In a year you might even hear some more new music, who knows.
SL: Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?
SL: Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?
Jim: In the words of Bill and Ted “be excellent to each other”. See also Ronnie Barker “don’t let the bastards grind you down”
End of Transmission
Band info: Facebook
Raging Speedhorn’s new album “Lost Ritual” was released July 17th and our review is here