Nick Quantrill


 The Dead Can't Talk  






How far will Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, go to uncover the truth about her sister’s disappearance? Approached by Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she’s previously sent to prison, he claims to have information which will help her.


I first saw Speedy, I think, in 1996 supporting Hull band Spacemaid at their single launch party. Maybe it was 1995, possibly it was 1997. What I do remember doing after the gig, like I’d always do, was scouring the music press (Wednesday morning, first thing), soaking up more information. A handful of singles came and went with Speedy’s star burning brightly for a brief period before they promptly disappeared without a trace.


Fast forward fifteen or so years and tracking down the bands who left a brief impression on your younger self is what the Internet is for, surely? Learning Speedy had left behind an unreleased album, and being the kind of person who has to have such stuff, I set about tracking down a copy of “News from Nowhere”. Receiving it via mp3, I was delighted to discover that even allowing for the passage of time, it was everything I hoped it would be. Sparky, funny, tuneful and anthemic, it stands as both a document of the mid-1990s and as an album with something to say today. I speak to Philip Watson, front-man and song-writer, about the most unexpected of second chances.


Going back to 1997, the singles had come close to making a serious dent in the charts, especially “Boy Wonder”. What hopes did you have as a band as you recorded the album?


We were very optimistic and keen to release quickly. We had been offered two record deals and we stalled slightly weighing up the offers and this delayed the process of signing and then recording the album. I regret this in hindsight as we could have made the crest of the Britpop wave.


To me, the album pitches nicely between Blur and Pulp. Are those influences fair, or was the sound something which grew organically?


A bit of both in truth. We had been developing a guitar-lead pop sound with quirky keyboards set to themes that explored the characters and stories of urban life for quite a long period. I'd first seen Pulp in 1983. They never really found their audience until they released Babies around 1992. The penny dropped for Pulp with that song and it resonated with the stuff I was writing too. I suppose it gave me more confidence that this oeuvre could have a wider appeal. We supported Pulp and occasionally hung out with them, but they were a lot more 'art school' than us. We were cheeky gutter-snipes. As for Blur, I genuinely despaired when Parklife came out. We had done a photoshoot at Owlerton dog track a few weeks before and when I saw the greyhound picture on their cover I knew we were in for trouble! So, consciously we never tried to imitate these bands but they were occupying a similar space as us and they were ahead of us in terms of profile. We also got compared to Supergrass and The Housemartins a lot, so I think there was enough of a difference. The truth is we did what we did in the only way we knew how. We weren't clever enough to reinvent ourselves.


What happened to cause the album to be shelved?


Arista, the major label that funded Boilerhouse Records, dropped us.


And what happened in the aftermath? As Britpop spluttered and died, was the loss of momentum the fatal blow?


Yes, being dropped was a killer blow. Sheffield was full of people who were in bands who were desperately clinging to the dream, people who drank in the same pubs as us and we had too much pride to go back to putting out our own records or with a tiny label. We fell on our sword so to speak.


And 17 years later, the album is going to be released. How did that come about?


A curious sequence of events: a copy of the album shared between Bloggers; a review that was subsequently read three years later by a Twitter-based music club that wanted to know more; a radio station that was then notified and picked up CDs from EBay and played the songs; and a record label that formed to release the album as its first project. God bless the t'interweb eh?


How do you feel it stands up? I listen to lyrics written almost twenty years ago and can hear their relevance in 2014.


I don't think it's going to set the world on fire but the songs are pretty well crafted and whilst they can be carbon dated to the mid-90s they still stand up. “Time for You” is a timeless classic in my opinion.


To celebrate, you’re playing two special gigs. Will it be like revisiting another life?


Hell yes! I never thought I'd do this again. In fact we deliberated about it for a while then had a rehearsal just to see how much work it would be to get back up to scratch. Turns out it's gonna take loads of work, but we had fun...and it's nice to have a bit of fun with your old mates. So here we go...


Speedy – “Time for You”


“News from Nowhere” is released by The Lost Music Club, 7th April.


Speedy play:

4th April – Birthdays, London

5th April – Leadmill, Sheffield      


Nick Quantrill

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