Words by David C. Obenour
As with most good album covers, Speed Kills welcomes you into the world of Chubby and the Gang before you even can crack the seal. High energy, action around every corner, good times, loose morals, seedy areas of town where your parents don’t want you, everything that the audio clip from country singer and bible thumper, Jimmie Rodgers Snow starts the album out warning you against is there.
Produced by friend of the band and drummer for Fucked Up, Jonah Falco the energy and spirit of the songs rips through your speakers, not letting up for the better part of a half hour. As far as debuts goes, it sets the bar high.
Off Shelf: I’ve been starting out all of my interviews with this, but how are you holding up these days? What has the band staying in touch looked like over stay at home orders?
Chubby: Yeah, we call each other and shoot the shit. We’re mates before music so it’s important keep in contact. I’m depressed at the best of times so sometimes it’s hard. But you know some people do ten years plus in jail so I can’t complain.
OS: Have you been involved or invited to any of the virtual events or performances that are happening?
C: Honestly, the last thing I’d want to do is hear someone wailing down Zoom at me whilst I sit in silence.
OS: How did you connect with Jonah Falco for producing Speed Kills? He seems like a great foil for your music.
C: He’s my mate. He lives in London and he’s heavily involved in our scene. I needed someone there to stop me doing some dumb shit. He’s a phenomenal musician and a good bloke. Heads screwed on. Handsome too. Atko recorded the music up in Leeds. I’ve been working with him for years too and he’s a genius.
OS: The album does such an incredible job of capturing the energy of your music – can you talk a little about how you approached recording the songs?
C: Honestly, growing up in punk and hardcore your natural bpm is set way up there. It just happened like that. When I play guitar I just thrash the fuck out of it. I find it difficult to bring it down. We had like 6-8 practices and then just went to the studio for three days. I hate recording with metronomes and that so we fucked that right off. Makes it sound like a robot playing in my opinion. Most of the songs are recorded at 250 bpm and I didn’t think anything of it until someone pointed it out.
OS: The sequencing is pretty incredible too – keeping up the energy and breakneck pace, but never feeling exhausting – can you talk about how you put the songs together?
C: Yeah sure. I think about records the way I think about songs. Having one type of riff or part is good and having a certain level is fine. But for the whole thing? Gets boring. Got to give it the peaks and troffs. No one in life is operating at 100% all the time. Imagine you watched a film and it’s just a shoot out start to finish. That’s why I threw in some little love numbers and that.
OS: Where does the clip from “Chubby and The Gang Rule OK?” come from? What made you want to use it for kicking off the album?
C: It’s a preacher in America. Back when they thought rock and roll was gonna kill the youth. Reminds me of how they treat drill and grime here. Terrified. Until they eventually try and take the edge of it and then it’ll be sold. They can’t handle youth culture unless it’s how they want it to be.
OS: A cool, almost R Crumb-esque comic, can you talk about the album art? How much guidance did you have in the creation? With so much detail and action, what stood out to you about the finished illustration?
C: Spoiler is my friend. He’s done art for other bands I was in. He plays in a band called Stigmatism who are a current New York hardcore band. I came to him with some ideas. I wanted it to look trippy because I’m bored of black and white photocopied things. He did his own thing with it and killed its. Really talented individual.
OS: Is it safe to say that where your from plays a large role into the kind of music you play? Could you describe Uxbridge Road for those of us who are unfamiliar, what you love and/or hate about it?
C: I’ve lived in London for my whole life. Lived on Uxbridge Road. Lived in Camberwell, South Tottenham and Bethnal Green. I used to drive a minicab so I saw the whole city, especially the underbelly. Uxbridge Road used to be a very working class strip through West London. A lot of council estates and used to have a big car breaks factory. A tarmac factory and all that kinda shit. There are some amazing places like Southall and wonderful cultural places. I was on the Uxbridge Road in my early teens causing havoc. No one really ever talks about this part of London so I wanted to give this image of how it was. London itself I’ve witnessed two different cities. The gritty side of it growing up and now a very clean gentrification-heavy city. Depressing.
OS: Have you been working on any new music during this time?
C: We’re recording another album very soon. I play in a band called The Chisel so we’re doing a new record. And this other band called Lowest Form.
OS: Having this extended break from performing, has it made you think more about or reevaluate your relationship to playing out?
C: Nah not really. I never think ahead about stuff. I’m not trying to win anyone over or get fans or whatever. I just wanna release music and have a good time with my mates. That other stuff can come second.
OS: What do you find yourself missing the most about it?