The Speakeasy: sweeter than pineapple 🍍
Publié le 03 Nov 2023 par Claudia Bo
Pour la version française, c’est par ici : version française
This month, we offer up to you the Laurentian region’s own The Speakeasy as our headliner. In order to paint a global picture of this band, I interviewed 3 of their members on a cold April morning. Here is my summary of this conversation with Karl Bullets (lead vocals and guitar), Max Bélec (guitar and vocals) and Sébastien Paradis (bass guitar and vocals).
Claudia : We are barely starting to get to know you, even though you have been active in the scene for a few years. How did it all start, how did you all meet?On commence à peine à vous connaître, même si ça fait plusieurs années que vous êtes actifs dans la scène.
Karl : At the end of Jerry Bullets in 2017, with Max, we decided to reprise a few of the Jerry’s tracks and we started jamming with a lot more motivation and energy. We were very enthusiastic et we wanted to find musicians as lined-up and motivated as we were.
Max : That’s kind of how we stumbled upon Jean-Antoine (guitarist) and Julien (drums).
Karl : Also, I have another project, which is a No Use For Name tribute, called Sad Bear with Mat Roger and Julien Forest (drums). Jean-Antoine is a childhood friend of my current girlfriend. I am the bass player of this project. They are excellent musicians and are very motivated. That’s how Julien et J-A joined us.
Claudia : When I saw your respective bios, I did see the Jerry Bullets project and I wasn’t aware of it before. I went and gave it a listen and it was excellent. However, there is subtle change of sound, of style. What brought this change?
Max : Clearly the newer bandmates. We wanted to try something new.
Claudia : And you (Karl et Max),how did you two meet? (Karl and Max look at each other like lovebirds.)
Max : Yeah, it’s as if we’re married. No, really, Karl was looking for someone and we had already met (we’ve known each other a while). He had asked me if I wanted to play with the Jerrys (Bullets).
Karl : That’s it, And this was in 2011, around. Jerry started in 2010 (2010-2017)
Max : But I started in 2011.
Karl : Yup!
Max : I was super happy. It was the first time I had joined an actual band. And it worked out well and we really had a lot of fun.
Claudia : And had you just started palying guitar or had you been playing for a while?
Max : No, it already had been a good while. I’ve always scratched and had a guitar for as long as I can remember. At home, there was always a guitar around, since i’ve been a little boy.
Karl : We jammed and we had « freestyle » sessions on the second floor of l’Arnaque back in the day. Alcohol-fueled evenings, to the wee hours of the morning, in that little space. Over a bar that was well known for it’s drunken nights. We would come up with crazy riffs, fresstyling it.
Max : At the time, we must have written 2000 songs that got lost to the sands of time.
Karl : Yes, hahaha! In the hourglass of music..
Claudia : The Speakeasy ? Why that name? What does it refer to? An anecdote ?
Karl : It refers to prohibition, and our love of whisky.
Max : We came up with lots of band names and we liked that one. It allowed us to stay in the theme of what we wanted to do and who we were.
Claudia : It’s a nice continuation of Jerry Bullets, namely with the song “Whisky” ?
Max : Yeah, we have a song with that name, Whisky Tigers.
Karl : Yes, that’s true! It was in the spirit of our idea of the prohibition, of whisky, of clandestine bars. The Speakeasy actually means clandestine bar. Moonshine, our first EP is called Tales from the Moonshiner (part 1 & 2). Moonshine was a product mostly served in those places, at that time. We really liked the series Peaky Blinders. It’s an era that we like, that inspires us. People looked sharp, they had a nice look, they drank whisky, it was rebellious, it was illegal. That’s kind of why.
Max : That was the idea, gangsters!
Karl : Haha! Yeah, we’re very gangster! (sarcasm)
Claudia : Starting in 2017, why did you choose to sign with a label rather than staying independent, like for the launch of « Tales from the Moonshiner Part One (Death Sentence) “?
Max : It’s always our way of looking forward, getting farther. After a while, it’s kind of a rite of passage. Bah, you know, like, Mute, they’re not on a label.
Claudia : There are a lot of bands that aren’t signed on a label. I imagine the workload is heavier when you decide stay independent?
Max : It allows us to stay focused on our music and deal less with stuff we are less good at.
Sébastien : It also gives us better visibility.
Claudia : And let’s agree that Thousand Island Records have a good visibility reach.
Max : It also gives us a hand with booking more shows.
Claudia : Can you explain the emblematic use of the pineappple, aside from meshing well with 85% of Karl’s shirt?
Max : No, we’re not gonna answer that!
Karl : We’re in Rosemere, in our practice room, jamming. Before I say what i’m about to say, I have to specify, we are all adults that have jobs, the boys have kids, etc. But when we jam, it’s boys night. It’s a moment where we relax and smoke pot.
Claudia : That’s ok!
Karl: So yeah. That night we are jamming a little, we go outside to smoke a joint, and it just so happens we have the pineapple variant. We smoke it, go back inside to play and nothing works anymore. It’s a monumental disaster, we suck, we are not coordinated, it’s disgusting. So we blamed the pineapple.
Claudia : Hahaha! Wow, that was good inspiration, though, the pineapple logo IS pretty cool.
Karl : Yeah, it kind of became a running gag. When someone messes up, sucks, misses his solo, we ask: “Hey man, are you on that pineapple? That’s where it came from.
Karl : But our pineapple has a name. Max came up with it.
Max : Hahaha yes, Christobal the pineapple..
Claudia : I gave the first 2 albums a listen, Tales from the Moonshiner Part One et Part Two (Death Sentence et Requiem), as well as the single that came out in November 2022, Stick and Stone. There is an impressive progression, technically, vocally as well as in the arrangements. However, I cannot fit you into any category. Sometimes skatepunk, sometimes melodic hardcore, or even straight hardcore. On Stick & Stone, there are some country-punk vibes (not really, but the rythm, the riffs, as if the song was written for other instruments.) So, my question is : did you want to explore different styles, following your influences or rather we can say that you are still in the adolescent stage of your band’s growth, still looking for your own identity?
Max : Well, I think that’s our secret recipe to make people listen to us. It’s not linear, it doesn’t always sound the same. People pay attention and never know what we will put out next. It will always be different. If you sensed a mix of styles, you just confirmed we accomplished our goal in that regard.
Sébastien : And actually, by being non-linear, I think people will stay interested. They expect something different and we can always surprise them.
Max : Even the next single is a radically bi-polar song, multi-faceted.
Claudia : Do you wanna stay in that vibe?
Karl : It’s a voluntary choice that each song be as different as possible. The first 2 albums and the one coming out soon are really varied. But it is actually our objective to not have every song in 220 BPM. We even distributed them as such on our first 2 albums, so we can have fast songs and then have more rhythmic, funky songs. So it is a voluntary choice. I think we dislike just sticking to one style, seeing as we are a few musicians and we each have our own influences. Even our first album, I wanted a percentage, higher than 50% of fast songs, same thing with the second one. Yet, the third one is completely opposite. We maybe have 2 or 3 fast songs on it.
Sébastien : Well, it is still rapid, but there are variants. Like the next single coming out soon. There is a lot of acoustic elements in the next album.
Claudia : A quick question for Karl : during my research for this interview, I discovered that you worship the band 311. In what way have they influenced you?
Karl : Honestly, I don’t know why people hate 311. It’s always been a running gag since I was younger that I hate certain bands, even if I respect their talent and their style, but I hate the music they do. But it changes. For example, as hard as I bashed The Beatles, today I listen to them. But Metallica?… If you want to bug me during a jam : play some Metallica. It’s visceral how much it gets on my nerves. But I respect their talent. Same thing goes for Nirvana. And I know that a lot of the bands I listen to were influenced by bands like them. But for 311, it’s another running gag with my girlfriend’s family.
Claudia : Let’s just say somebody told me about that and I was curious. I have the same hate for MXPX, so I know what you’re saying.
Claudia : A question for Sébastien : I saw in your bio that you used to play in a band that was called Crimsom Red.
Sébastien : Yeah, Crimsom Red, that’s an old project. We had a Facebook page.
Claudia : Indeed, I found a bunch of Facebook pages, but mostly suspicious dudes in Africa. I didn’t dig any further. But I was surprised that you metionned playing for a time with Out of Order, who are very street, very oï, punk n’ roll, which is kind of a totally different style. What inspires you to play in such different projects?
Sébastien : I already knew Scott. We had done a few shows with them back then with Crimsom Red and I had just gotten my second kid. One night I got a message asking to play bass for them.
Karl : But you’re a guitarist.
Sébastien : Exactly, but my own band had been dead for a while. I hadn’t been in a band for a time, so I told myself: why not? I had a bass guitar at home so I went. I was with them for almost a year. It was before the pandemic and European tour dates were coming up. With my family responsibilities, it became more complicated. I like Oï. I Listen to a lot of different stuff, but it’s a style that kinda resonates a little less with my taste.
Claudia : And do you think you find yourself, your identity, more in a band like? (Answer as if Karl and Max weren’t listening.)
Sébastien : Absolutely! And i’ve known Karl for a while, too. I had a band called From Ahead. We used to play under the Scrap. We had a room next to them and we had played a show together too. We had always had had friends in common and we saw each other at a party once and Karl told me that his bass player had left. I still had a lot of bass guitar gear, so, once again: why not? For now, it gets the job done. At least they don’t abuse me too much. Haha!
Claudia : There is a clash between the 2 first singles : Bright Side VS Breakfast Drugs. How do you explain switching from a more joyous subject to a more intense one?
Max : Well we DO have emotions! Sometimes we felt more happy than others. Haha!
Claudia : Well, yeah, evidently!
Karl : It really is all in an effort to not stay in one style too much. Personally, if I listen to a band (not naming names) that always plays the same way, I think it’s sad that they do not try and explore a little. With time, not necessarily maturity, but with time, I want to explore, try different things, navigate different styles. The infamous punk, skate punk beat of 220 BPM, i’m a bit tired of listening to it. It was my favorite for a while, but now, I don’t have the same opinion. I want to go down different roads, think outside the box. I want to include more acoustic guitars. There are a lot on the album. Right now there are 3 tracks on the new album that have acoustic guitars, and the way we are going, there will be more and more, More variety, perhaps a little more of a smooth sound, less fast, at least, but I want us to try different things, to stand out, experiment things. We even sometimes talk about having a keyboard player in our band. Max has a banjo. I have a ukulele. Honestly, i’m ready to try really funky kind of things, without necessarily going towards reggea or that kind of thing.
Max : We don’t really get out of frame, either. We will stay punk, sure, but differently.
Karl : Exactly! There will be more acoustic guitars. We’d like to have 3 guitars, it will keep changing and evolving. Like this album. With a more punched-up intro with Bright Side. Then, more rythm rock, fast punk. It will be really varied.
Max : We will evolve in our convergence.
Claudia : Do you find that surfing on different styles like that is a nice way to showcase your talent and your accomplishments as musicians? Rather than a band who stays static, musically, that stays in their box?
Max : In my opinion, we’re not trying to prove anything to anyone.
Claudia : Not to prove something, but rather to push yourselves?
Karl : It’s like a challenge we give ourselves. To be able to express ourselves in a polyvalent way. I really feel good about that.
Claudia : Well, that’s a nice surprise. It’s refreshing: you never know what’s next. I’ve been covering music for a few years now and even if I did see you live a few times, to actually actively go and listen to the first 2 albums was really a good experience for me.
Sébastien : That’s a part of why I wanted to go play with them. I liked what they were doing.
Claudia : Well of course you can’t say : Yeah they’re a shitty band, let me go play with them.
Sébastien : Haha! Yeah.
Claudia : Your songs are now on Sirius Radio, but you were on the cover of the « New Punk Music » playlist from QUB Radio. You are gaining popularity and visibility. What would be your next goal, would you say?
Max : Go play in Japan!
Claudia : Really!?
Karl : That’s another running gag for us. We’ve been talking about Tokyo from day one. And it’s very funny because on Itunes, Japan is actually the place where our music is the most downloaded.
Claudia : Ok, so you guys : St-Colomban-Tokyo! Bang… that’s your goal!? Not Boston, New York, western Canada. Straight down to Tokyo? And aside from Japan, any other ambitions?
Max : Sky is the limit!
Sébastien: And if we get a fun opportunity, why not?
Karl : The sort term objective is to grow our crowd, get more people interested. Play in Ontario western Canada. Maybe go get a visa for the US. Though I did press pause on that a bit.
Claudia : Ok, why ?
Karl : Bah because of the politics down there, Trump and all that. Death Sentence is practically and album dedicated to hanging Trump (I will weigh my words, but that’s what it is) It’s fictitious, but anyway… there’s been political changes, namely their anti-abortion laws and all that, which we are vehemently against.
Claudia : Yeah, but there are less radical states then others.
Sébastien : I’d go play anywhere, as long as it’s well organised.
Claudia : Ahhh! So you are clean punks, luxury punks! Haha!
Claudia : Your first LP has been recorded since last fall. When is it coming out?
Karl : In fact, it isn’t quite finished recording. The instrumental part is done, I still have my vocals to do. There may be a few missing notes here and there. And I have two more texts to finish. So, end of summer.
Claudia : Will there be a vinyl press ?
Max : Yes! It’s our dream to have a vinyl album out..
Claudia : Will there be a tour (aside from Japan, of course)? What will the launch look like?
Max : We have a lot of shows lined up.
Sébastien : We have a lot of great things coming and we stay open. Since we don’t have the official release date yet, it’s hard to say, but we’re on the lookout. As soon as everything is done, it will be easier to book a launch and the go on tour.
Karl : If there is a launch and a tour, it will be after September.
Max : We will be doing the launch in Japan.
Claudia : Haha! Can we get a press pass for the Bad Crew ?
Sébastien : Yeah. Let’s pick up and everyone and go!.
Claudia : I think that’s all the questions I have. Would any of you like to add anything?
I’d like to thank Danny, who was our bartender for the evening, the drinks were really good. And thank you to all three of you for your participation and generosity.
En attendant, vous pouvez toujours les suivre via les différents réseaux sociaux et plateformes d’écoute:
Rédaction : Claudia Beaudoin
Correction : Mélissa Noël
Révision : Julie Fortin
Traduction : Davey