-- Speed Queen gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
Back in early 2015 I heard some demos from Speed Queen but I honestly wasn’t impressed with what they came up with. The quality of the demos was so bad I thought it were some cheap bootleg recordings. And yes, we’ll discuss that here. Fortunately, things changed for the better when I saw Speed Queen in action in August 2015 during the first edition of Paul’s Metal Fest.

So I knew I had to talk to them some day. Tom, Speed Queen’s guitarist, already wanted to have an interview straight away when he noticed I was talking to the Swiss metal band Mind Patrol. But since I prefer to prepare my interviews beforehand, I promised Tom that Speed Queen will be crossed off the Shredder’s list in the near future.

And so, during Rock Kappaert 2016 (April 29, 2016), I fulfilled that promise. When the show was coming to a close, I sat down with the Speed Queen folks (although only Thomas and Tom did the talking) and we all enjoyed some freshly tapped beer. With that liquid courage flowing through our veins, we discussed their upcoming EP, the fun and less fun times they had in Italy and the absolute horror that is the Belgian traffic system! Let’s put this Queen on Speed! (get it? Ha, ha, ha… ugh)

BMS: Hello there! You were a bit late for your gig tonight, tell me what happened?
Tom: We decided to do a Guns N’ Roses style gig, in other words, we deliberately arrived too late.
BMS: Ha, ha, now seriously…
Thomas: We were stuck in traffic for like two hours straight! We drove all the way from Limburg to here in Zwevegem. In other words, we had a trip through half the country just so we could play here!
Tom: Fuck Belgian traffic, especially around Antwerp!
BMS:I experienced something similar yesterday because I had to drive back home from my workplace at the Ghent harbor during rush hour. A thirty minute drive became an hour and thirty minute drive! Fortunately I usually drive home before or after rush hours.

Speed Queen from left to right: Toon Driezen (drums), Lander Savelkoul (bass), Thomas Kenis (vocals), Tom Neeskens (guitar), Andreas Stieglitz (guitar).
BMS: Anyway, I’m glad you guys still played despite the time constraints. How did you guys start Speed Queen?
Thomas: Nothing too fancy of an origin story. Just five guys who went out together and who share a healthy rock n’ roll appetite. We do have different music preferences, Toon is into hardcore, I used to play in a small-time power metal band until I quit because I wanted something else and some of our guys dig thrash metal a lot! So we decided to combine all these different influences to create Speed Queen’s sound.
BMS: You’ve got any plans to make an EP in the near future?
Tom: We receive a ton of requests for a professionally recorded EP (yeah, and now you’ve got another one begging for that to happen) but we’re working on it. We went a bit back-and-forth between the recording studio and the rehearsal room, but at the moment we’re not yet satisfied with how the songs are right now. It’s a slow process, but the result will be all the more rewarding.

Thomas: The last months we did a lot of shows, but now we’re going to focus on putting some of our material on record. We can assure you and our fans that an EP will be released in the near future!
BMS: I look forward to it.

Tom: We actually have too little time for everything. Too little time to play, too little time to record, too little time to drink… We only have too much time to spend at work and at school!
BMS: I know that feeling! But hey, a man’s got to make a living or get a degree and then make a living.
BMS: So, Speed Queen is like a blend between glam and speed metal. Has it always been this way or did you first experiment with some other subgenres?
Thomas: Our sound was the natural evolution of all our different musical appetites jammed together. We take our time to work on our material and to come up with something that everyone’s happy with. We also aren’t trying to fit into any specific subgenre. We just play what we like to play.
BMS: Well, I feel some glam and speed metal in your music so that’s the way I’m going to describe (and recommend) Speed Queen to my readers.
Tom: Thomas and I like to compare our sound to the Scorpions, W.A.S.P., Iron Maiden and Guns N’ Roses. In fact, you could consider Speed Queen as an homage to classic 80s hard rock with that same youthful enthusiasm as those aforementioned bands did in their heyday. We’re kids of rock n’ roll!

BMS: You’ve been touring through Europe for the past year, share with me some of your favorite experiences…
Tom: Italy was the best fucking time we ever had, until that incident in Milan. (BMS: Oh, we'll get to that)
Thomas: Fuck and yes! We and our touring buddies from Hammerhead had spent a day off sunbathing at an Italian beach. The weather was hot and sunny, we had a ton of alcohol to drink and we enjoyed the view of all those chicks…
BMS: Ah yes, I could’ve thought you didn’t mean the mountains or the Mediterranean sea. What else of fun stuff happened during that tour?
Tom: We also did a couple of shows in Germany. And let us say that those Germans are fucking crazy! We had a couple of “small” shows, small in the sense that the venue was literally small, but goddamn, the place was packed every single fucking time! Even when we did a show in some barn in the middle of the German countryside we still got to play a sold-out show! And we had never been to Germany in the first place! Those German folks just came along for fun and a good time. And we believe we delivered!
BMS: Ah, I think I’ll be able to get along with German headbangers quite well. I also love to just go out to a local venue and see new bands. And if I’m having a good time, I’ll just headbang and sing along as well as I can before people notice I’m improvising. And after the performance has finished, I’m off to the merch booth.
BMS: Now tell me something about what happened in Milan?
Thomas: After we had finished our show in Milan we loaded our gear into our tour bus and then we saw a couple of guys on scooters parking near our bus and spying on us. We got spooked and yelled at them to go away which they did. We originally intended to drive back to Belgium straight away but we were able to find a motel room to spend the night at there in Milan.
BMS: Go on…
Thomas: In fact, our two guitar players wanted to sleep in our bus to look after our material but one of their cell phones was out of battery life and since they wanted to listen to some music they joined us in that sleazy Milan apartment. We only spent like one or two hours in there and then we immediately went back to the bus. I noticed that one of the windows was broken and I felt the cold sweat of fear pouring down my face!

Thomas: I saw that all our baggage was scattered over the floor! I quickly went to the driver seat to check if our GPS was still there (and it was, fortunately) but then Tom and I went to the back of the van and saw that all of our equipment was stolen! Expect for a single amplifier! My heart skipped like ten beats and I yelled like I’d never yelled before!

Tom: We went to a Milanese police office and filed a complaint. Fortunately, Ricky, Hammerhead’s vocalist, speaks fluently Italian so he helped out as an interpreter. We wasted seven hours of our time (which we could have spent drinking the pain away) on petty police paperwork! We were so fucking pissed that we didn’t repair the broken van window and just drove home right after we left the police office.

Thomas: I spent most of the time during the trip back to Belgium sitting next to the broken window, the temperature was fine when we drove through Italy and the southern part of France but it started to get very cold in the van once we reached the Belgian border. But I didn’t care, I wanted to lick my mental wounds and move on with the band.
BMS: Bloodrocuted’s Jason Bond organized a benefit concert for you and Hammerhead.
Tom: And we all want to kiss him right on the lips, feet and everything in between for doing all that work. Shortly after we had told our friends and fans on Facebook about the theft Jason began working on the concert and everything was arranged in a matter of days! Furthermore, we started a kickstarter campaign and we got our desired goal about as quickly as we get our hands on cold beer! We were very impressed by all that support!
BMS: I also saw your kickstarter campaign and I donated 50 euros.
Thomas: 50 euros? We didn’t know that! You’re awesome!
BMS: Nah, it was nothing. Just a little gift of love for all things metal!
Thomas: Did you get a t-shirt?
BMS: No, I just donated the money and didn’t pay attention to anything else. The fact you were able to get back in action so quickly was more than enough a reward for me! Besides, I also frequently donate money to the Red Cross (especially since obtaining my first aid certificate a few weeks after this interview), the Child Cancer Fund and more.

BMS: How about your demos? They were pretty lackluster if I’m perfectly honest.
Tom: Yeah, they were total crap!
Thomas: We were allowed to play at the Limburg festival Metal Legacy but on one condition. We had to record a couple of songs. Since we had little preparation time, we rushed to our guitarist’s garage, played and recorded two tracks in just two days. We also couldn’t include real drum recordings so we had to emulate the drum tracks using a computer.

Thomas: And as Tom said, it was an abortion of a recording. But we still got the gig so it wasn’t a total loss. And by the way, we feel and sound better when we play live.
BMS: I did feel some potential in your band despite the shitty pre-maturely produced demos. And I’m glad I saw you perform last August as well as today! I was very pleased on both occasions!
BMS: What’s your biggest ambition with Speed Queen? Or in life?
Tom: A big ass villa in Los Angeles with an unlimited amount of beer and chicks.
Thomas: My own strip club with an unlimited amount of beer and chicks.
Tom: Ok, seriously, we hope to one day open for one of our favorite bands. Or getting our hands at autographed Iron Maiden beer bottles!
BMS: I certainly wouldn’t mind Steve Harris’s autograph on my Iron Maiden albums. And Bruce Dickinson’s on my copy of his greatest hits compilation.
Thomas: We want to travel the world with Speed Queen, explore the global metal scene, meet new and exciting people, and just drink and fuck and play all around the world!
BMS: Ah yes! Well, you’ve already seen a nice chunk of Europe. Is there anything else you want to tell me?
Thomas: We’re very thankful for what we’ve already achieved with Speed Queen and we can only hope that the future will have even more beautiful moments in store for us.
Tom: Thanks for coming by! It was fun talking to you!
BMS: I’m glad I didn’t disappoint you. Now let’s have (another) drink!

Speed Queen - Kids of Rock 'n Roll