As you may already know, SPEED are a new band on the hardcore block. The Sydney five piece have just released 2020 Flex – which you can pick up now via Last Ride Records (Aus) or Flat Spot Records (US & everyone else). The release follows on from DEMO 19 which landed last year. As the band are new to us, we hit vocalist Jem Siow with a few questions to get to know SPEED a little better.
1. How did SPEED form and what inspired its formation?
“SPEED formed in October 2019 purely out of the love of hardcore. For my brother (Aaron) and myself, doing a band together was a long time bucket list item to tick off. We all love shows and want to see the Australian scene thrive like it did when we were younger, so doing a band is the best way we felt we could contribute.”
2. What are SPEED’s collective values, and how did that philosophy form?
“The values we espouse are authentic to us personally, so to project that through the band has very much been an organic process. All being long time friends, we all naturally share the same views. However, being an all-male, ethnically diverse hardcore band, we’re also very conscious that our demographic is mostly young males.
“It’s always been a deliberate decision to ensure that our message is intrinsic to the mission of the band, and to challenge the stereotypical perception that a project with our make up may be pigeon-holed in.
“Racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and homophobia are ideals that have no place in our generation and the culture we immerse ourselves within. The idea of representation – both in ethics and identity – forms a massive part of SPEED and in that sense it’s always been hugely important for people to know where we stand.”
3. What’s the inspiration behind the band’s name, as well as the classic, no-frills kind of aesthetic?
“Most of us have been playing in bands for many years. So starting this band a bit later in life, SPEED began with a clear-cut mission and vision of what we want to achieve. We’ve got no time to tip-toe about the change we want to see. We’ve got no time for bullshit ideals in hardcore. SPEED is about a decisive action and going hard for what you believe in.”
4. Tell us about the band’s desire to positively grow Australian hardcore?
“Everyone involved in Australian hardcore is more or less aware that the scene took a pretty big dive over the last few years. I think in this time of seeing the scene shrink, it’s brought along a lot of reflection about the good and bad ideals that were abundant in the community. Bullshit egos, gate-keeping, toxic masculinity – fuck all that shit.
“People moved on, fell out, and those who remained just wanna savour and grow this scene back and make it thrive. We are the generation that runs this and it’s up to us to make it what we want, a culture we’re proud of.
“When we claim “Sydney Hardcore” people should know exactly what we’re about. When we claim “Australian hardcore” people must know exactly what that means. We love hardcore. We’ve been doing this for 10, 15 years now. It’s part of our identity as people and in that way it’s gotta be the culture we’re proud to represent and be immersed in. And that’s what SPEED aims to champion.”
5. What other bands inspire Speed, either in their stance or sound?
“Musically, SPEED takes on influence from a lot of 90s-early 00s New York hardcore. But the biggest inspiration are bands creating their own identity in hardcore around the world. Bands like Fuse (Singapore) and Whispers (Thailand) are some that we’re really excited about.”
6. Why 2020 Flex? What inspired that title?
“We’re showing you what we’re about in 2020 and the years to come.”
7. Tell us about “A Dumb Dog Gets Flogged” and “Devil U Know”.
“Both songs are about showing genuine leadership in a time where the world is so politically polarised and in disarray. It’s a condemnation of bigots and hypocrites that act out of fear and hatred, only seeking to divide. It talks about compassion and empathy being at the heart of social progress.”
Listen to 2020 Flex now.
[SPEED photo credit: Nathaniel Yow]