Interview with SPEAK

The city of Austin is known for many things, including barbeque, having the most live music entertainment per capita, and throwing one of the largest music conferences in the world. Now you can add the band SPEAK to that list. Comprised of Troupe Gammage, Jake Stewart, Nick Hurt, and Joey Delahoussaye, the band formed in 2008 and released their debut album ‘I Believe in Everything’ in late 2011. The boys have garnered positive reviews as well as the attention of music magazines such as Alternative Press, who featured them as a part of their Bands to Know in 2012. Even though the group had a busy schedule, what with their numerous SXSW performances and national tour, SPEAK was able to sit down with us and talk about when we might be getting some new jams, their plans for Las Vegas, and performing with zombie John Lennon and zombie Michael Jackson.

To start things off, how did you guys come up with your name? Is there a special meaning behind it?

Troupe Gammage: We’re big fans of the Lindsay Lohan album ‘Speak’ and we thought we’d do her a tribute by naming our band after her record.

No better person to pay tribute to, right? [laughs]

TG: Can’t beat it!
Jake Stewart: She’s our favorite celebrity.
Nick Hurt: She’s our idol!
TG: She’s got it all. She’s got all the talent necessary to be a celebrity in this day and age. So we thought we’d do a little homage.

So you guys started out as Jupiter-4 with Troupe, Jake, and Nick and then became SPEAK when you added Joey. How did you guys meet?

TG: We met in high school. Junior high, actually.
JS: Yeah, Troupe and I knew each other in junior high. Nick and Troupe did some rock camp for bands in middle school, so we all knew each other sort of tangentially. And then Nick and Joey were going to UT [The University of Texas] at the same time and they were both in the classical guitar studio and met there. Joey wasn’t even a bass player, but he learned.
TG: Turns out, on the inside he is a bass player.
Joey Delahoussaye: It’s true. I harnessed the beast.
TG: Harnessed the bass beast.

Gotta do what you can! So you’ve all been in Austin all your lives?

JS: Yep.
TG: Yeah, with the exception of me. I went to USC [The University of South Carolina], but other than that everyone’s pretty much just lived here.
JS: Joey lived in LA for awhile.
JD: [laughs]
TG: Yeah, he lived in LA for like five days.
NH: Yeah, and I did one family vacation to Colorado.
TG: Exactly, but yeah. We’ve mostly just lived in Austin our entire lives.

LA just wasn’t your thing? It’s all about Austin?

TG: Yeah, Austin is where it’s at. That’s for sure.
NH: For us, LA and New York obviously have awesome things.
TG: There’s awesome stuff in LA?
NH: Ya have to look pretty hard.
TG: That’s true.
JD: It’s a pretty sleepy town.
TG: You have to live there for a while like Joey did to really get a feel.

To know all the secret places.

All: Yeah.

Alright, so say you have one song that you would use to introduce yourself to fans from your album. Which one would it be, and why?

TG: Is it “Carrie?” Is that the right answer? Probably.
NH: Yeah, “Carrie.”
TG: Yeah, I think so. Because it’s the single. But, if we were choosing, I would chose “I’d Rather Lie,” because I think it covers the most range of the different stuff we do. It explores the pop elements, the more rock elements, synth stuff, guitar stuff. I just think there’s a lot there. So that’s what I would choose, but I think our managers want us to say “Carrie.”
JS: Don’t listen to what he just said — “Carrie” is the song.
TG: Yeah, “Carrie” is really the song. [laughs]
NH: I’m one hundred percent behind it!

It’s a great song.

TG: Thank you!

It’s a great album, actually. I listen to it all the time. I’m like, “Oh, need to clean my apartment? I’ll put this on!” “Need to drive downtown? Put SPEAK on!” So, yeah, all the time.

TG: Sweet! Those are the most important times to listen to music. That’s usually when I listen to music — while cleaning and driving.

It’s the best time. You know it’s a good song when you can play it in your car.

TG: Yeah, roll down the windows. Austin’s a good town for that because it’s so ridiculously hot that you have to roll down the windows.

Or crank the AC.

JS: It’s not as romantic of an image, though. Crank up the AC and put on the music.
TG: Blast the AC! Have the AC blast blowing in my hair!

[laughs] You guys are touring right now with Jukebox the Ghost and Miniature Tigers. What are you most excited for on the tour? Any places you look forward to or anything?

TG: All of it!
JD: Yeah, this has been a great tour for sightseeing. We got oyster feasts and incredible beach hangs. The guys in Jukebox are just awesome. And there’s more to come!
TG: And the Miniature Tigers tour with Geographer and The Chain Gang of 1974, which is like five good bands on tour, is the next thing.
JS: We’ve heard good things about Athens, GA, which we’re playing next. And New York is always fun to go to. And strangely enough, the Midwest is a cool place for us to go. We played with Tally Hall there.
TG: Ann Arbor is an amazing place. If we aren’t playing Ann Arbor, we’ll swing through.

I’ve heard it’s very beautiful.

ALL: Yeah!
JS: It’s very nice.
JD: We went last year during the Street Art Fair and it couldn’t have been a more perfect time.
JS: It is the quintessential college town.
TG: It’s very Austin-esque.
JD: It’s like their South By experience, only more tame.
TG: And also, I haven’t been to Vegas since I was 13, so I look forward to that.
JD: I, however, am not looking forward to Vegas having been there and not enjoyed it.

I’ve never been, but you have to go once in your life.

JD: You do!
TG: I need to go now that I’m 21 and can actually gamble and stuff.
JS: We’ve talked about betting all of our tour earnings once we get to Vegas because that’s the end of the tour. We’ll just take all the money we made and just bet it.

Good luck!

TG: Thank you. We’re gonna need it!

Maybe you’ll make millions and I’ll be like, “I was there when they decided to do that.”

JS: We’ll just play the slots all night.
JD: The odds are very similar to making it the music industry, so it’s really not that out of character.

So, I had been at a meeting with Margaret Moser from the Austin Chronicle, and she was talking about the new Austin sound and said you guys were at the forefront of that sound.

NH: That’s very sweet.

Yeah, I thought it was really cool. I was wondering, how do you guys capture that sound?

JS: Microphones.
TG: [laughs] Myspace! We had some friends that decided to answer every question about their music with “Myspace.” It’s almost so hard to describe how that sound developed, and I think all the other bands influence our sound a lot, like other bands we’re friends with — Mother Falcon and Marmalakes. Our friends are definitely informing us in what we’re doing, so I wouldn’t say we’re necessarily in the forefront of that sound, but we’re certainly a part of the vanguard, if you will. We’re just kind of pushing forward. We’re really happy to be a part of it for sure and just making music.

And on tour, how have they been taking to the “Austin sound”?

JD: The bands or the audience?

The audience. I guess bands, too. How are they taking to you guys?

TG: I think they’re taking to it pretty well.
JS: Yeah, it’s been a really great tour for us. It’s really important to get out and be associated with people who play similar music and have some of the same sense of melodies, and that translates to the audiences they bring out. When we played with Tally Hall, they bring out a lot of fun, really quirky music nerds that love the music.
TG: We are music nerds.
JS: Sometimes you end up with a band that’s not…you can tell when it’s not cooking, but this time it’s nice.
TG: Jukebox the Ghost fans are amazing. Ultimately, if you’re really close with the bands you’re with and they’re playing good music, I think that enthusiasm just translates to the crowd and their enthusiasm for your music really makes people want to be interested in you and vice versa. So it’s really good.

To go off of that, what band or artist, dead or alive, would you like to tour with, and why?

TG: Oh, I love this question.
JS: I think this is the first time we’ve ever gotten this.
TG: We’ve had it like once before and we didn’t have a proper answer.
JS: For alive, for me, it would probably be Cut Copy.
TG: Yeah, that’d be it for me, too. I would do TV on the Radio and Cut Copy tour. The Beach Boys and The Beatles would be nice to tour with.
JS: Well, even if we like, resurrected The Beatles, they still wouldn’t tour with us.
TG: That’s true.
JS: I guess we could force them.

Well, if you resurrected them, they’d have to owe you.

TG: That,s true! There we go, they would owe us big time. Yeah, I’d say a Beatles/Michael Jackson tour would be pretty good.
JD: I’ll go with that.
JS: There we go, I like that.
NH: Yeah!
JS: Zombie John Lennon and Zombie MJ dancing it up!

They could do “Thriller.” It would be perfect.

TG: Exactly!
JS: If they’d be able to do “The Boy Is Mine,” that would be cool.
TG: You mean “The Girl Is Mine?”
JS: Yeah, yeah! “The Girl Is Mine!”
TG: We need to do that. We need to fake that tour. Stage it so we can do that.

So would you say that Michael Jackson is a pretty big influence for you?

TG: Definitely! I think both of those artists are equally important.
JS: Of course, we wouldn’t tell them that. That wouldn’t be very cool.
TG: Right. We’d be like, “Yeah, whatever guys.”
JS: Yeah, we’ve heard your stuff.
TG: It’s like, Prince, Michael Jackson, and David Bowie — those classic solo artists — and also The Beatles and Beach Boys with the harmony-driven stuff. We try to fuse all that together.

Have you guys been working on anything new on tour? Are you writing any new material?

TG: Yeah!
JD: Yeah, we’re recording some new songs right now that we’re really excited about. I don’t think on tour we’ve really had a chance.
TG: I’ve been doing some stuff.
JD: He has his little rig so that he can isolate himself.
JS: On tour we’ve played as many as four songs that aren’t on the record. So we’re doing like half old stuff and half new stuff. We’re working our way towards getting that down. I mean, new material.
TG: Yeah, it’s gonna be awhile before we get all the songs ready to play live. We’re really meticulous about our live shows and recordings. It’s slowly taking shape.

So are you thinking next year?

TG: Yeah, definitely!

And lastly, you guys were a part of Alternative Press’ 100 Bands to Know in 2012.

TG: Aw, I haven’t seen that yet! I knew it existed, but I haven’t seen it.

Yeah! You’re on like the first page.

JS: Really?! Oh snap.

Yep! They said that you guys were a great band out of Austin and I was wondering how has that been. I assume they had to talk to you guys.

TG: I think we did an interview, actually. I think it was an email thing.
NH: Oh!
TG: It was a long time actually. We did an interview a while back. Yeah, that’s cool. I can’t wait to see it.
JS: It’s tough to see a connection between what we do and when it’s released. Like, we did a Daytrotter session.
TG: Yeah, like years ago.
JS: Yeah, like six months ago or something.
TG: It’ll come out someday. It’ll come out after our third record probably.

It’ll be years from now and you’ll be like, “I forgot we did that!”

All: Exactly.

Well, thank you guys for taking the time to talk with us!

TG: No, thank you!

Pick up SPEAK’s latest album, I Believe in Everything.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their Facebook page.