The Speakeasies
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The Speakeasies

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Rock Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Royal City kings - Speakeasies get confidence boost from television success and are ready to move up to the next level"

By Jason Schneider

It has taken several years for Guelph rockers the Speakeasies to find their musical feet, but the band’s just released second album, Royal City Crown, clearly shows how far they have progressed during that time. Deftly balancing heavy riffs and soaring melodies, the Speakeasies are poised to take their solid local reputation to the national level.
As guitarist Rick Thompson says, “The current line-up has only been in existence for the past couple of years. The group’s sound has matured considerably and we’ve all realized our place in the music. There’s no one fighting for the spotlight anymore and it really shines through on the record and during live performances.”
Perhaps the crucial turning point for the Speakeasies came when the original trio of Thompson, vocalist/bassist Kenny Phelps and drummer Liam Bible added guitarist Ryan Allen to the fold. Formerly of Kitchener’s the Miniatures, Allen brought some monstrous chops and a lot of cohesion to the table, both of which were immediately injected into the songs on the new record.
“Ultimately I think we wanted a product we could all be proud of,” Thompson says. “The recording process lasted about twice as long as we’d planned, but in the end it was definitely for the best. I think we can all agree that this is a strong record with a unique sound.”
The band already offered a taste of it last September by releasing the track He Thinks Calculus is Easy as a seven-inch vinyl single. They also managed to place songs on the television show Degrassi: The Next Generation and Departures, which provided a much needed confidence boost.
“A couple of companies approached us about songs from our previous record,” Thompson says. “From there we had some channels open up through friends of friends that needed music for those shows. We even had some music sent to the United Nations office in Kenya.”
However, the band members agree that these opportunities would not have arisen if the songs weren’t there in the first place. Phelps is especially proud of what he was able to convey. “The lyrics for this album mean a lot to me,” he says. “I’d had a baby girl, then my father got sick, and one of my mentors passed away. He’d taught me about respect for the environment and to be socially conscious. Only a few songs on this album came spontaneously. For me, the lyrical theme was about the things in my life that meant the most.”
Sticking with that simple philosophy, the Speakeasies are looking forward to hitting the road coast to coast in the new year, as expectations of more industry support keep increasing. “We’re really excited about touring with the current line-up since we haven’t yet,” Thompson says. “East and west coast tours are in the works and there’s talk of going to Europe in the near future. We’ve got all of our ducks in a row this time around so we’re confident this will be a big year for the Speakeasies.”
- Nightlife Magazine

"Crowned in the Royal City"

Many have tried and hoped to release a debut record that would see a flicker of success. But for the Guelph/Kitchener-based rock outfit called The Speakeasies, their 2007 effort Better Side of Not So Good would not only see success – it would also foreshadow the solid rock music that lay in store for fans.
I finally had an opportunity to sit down and talk with Rick Thompson (guitar, back up vox) and Ryan Allen (guitar, back up vox) at the Distillery recording studio to talk about the early career of the band, the time spent performing, and their sophomore release Royal City Crown. (Unable to join us were Kenny Phelps; vox/bass and Liam Bible; drums).
Nestled near the downtown core in Kitchener, The Distillery music studio is steadily making a main-stay presence for recording musicians alike. Serving not only as a studio but also as an excellent seating area to shoot the breeze about life and music, I caught up with Thompson and Allen who were ready and eager to talk about a record that’s been ‘in production’ for some time. “We’d made a joke on our myspace that said we were in ‘preproduction for over a year’,” Allen laughs. “But it was true – we’d been working on songs for over a year.”
What’s being thought of as a finely crafted record with a sense of maturity since their debut, the release of Royal City Crown is the subsequent follow-up for a band that had spent time much time honing their craft, learning who they were as an entity and what sound they were ready to present as a four piece.
“(Better Side of Not So Good) was recorded at Catherine North in Hamilton. Dan Achen had a big hand in that,” Thompson recalls about The Speakeasies first album. “We thought, at the time, that that would break us. That it would be the big record. But that was the record where we didn’t know our place and we had a whole lot of styles on it. We kept writing and fleshed out some issues and got to where we are now.”
Not So Good would certainly find its place in the sun and release tracks The Speakeasies are ultimately proud of. The record would gain commercial success with music being featured in television series like Degrassi and further go on to accompany a documentary in the UK and Kenya. “To have people you don’t know getting in touch with you and wanting to use your material,” Thompson muses, “it’s nice to be rewarded for your art.”
Part of growing into the band they’ve now become was the addition of Ryan Allen. Formerly of The Miniatures, Allen brought his own background in music to the sound of The Speakeasies, which they now classify simply as rock. “Experience,” Allen says of pulling out all the stops to put the record together. “It’s the biggest thing. We’re all competent players and we can all physically play a bunch of different things. And because of that we’ve made a conscious choice not to be a weird, all over the map kind of band. When we went into making this record, we said we’re a rock band, let’s make a rock album. We have a recording studio now, so now is the time to make complete little pictures and put it out. There’s no reason to put out a 20 song double album. We have the benefit of time now in means of recording.”
It’s certainly a misconception that The Speakeasies were held up solely writing music despite the time that had passed from their first release until now. The band spent much of the last two years taking their music to the road and performing at shows such as the Spring Music Festival and Rock the Mill. “We just like to book as many shows as we can,” Thompson says. “We pick our venues wisely. We want to play in front of kids. We want to play in front of teenagers. We have a large 30+ and 40+ fan base.”
Allen agrees, adding that they also recorded and released a 7” vinyl for fans in summer 2010, entitled He Thinks Calculus Is Easy. “(It’s great) to put music out on vinyl and have the whole idea that the cover art is bigger, and that it’s a tangible thing that you hold in your hand as the record is being played,” he explains. “It’s an experience to listen to a record (instead of) your CD player or iPod player. You can zip through an album without even thinking. It’s a very user-interactive thing. You have to walk over, and put the needle down and you sit back and enjoy the music. It was something that was a little different than just releasing a song for download or releasing an EP. It was a way to let our fans know that we were still alive and doing things.”
And of course things are alive and well with The Speakeasies. Their plan to drop Crown at local retail outlet, The Beat Goes On, with scheduled CD releases and radio promotion has already begun. “Kenny (Phelps) went pretty personal with some of the songs,” Allen reveals about the record. “He kind of went inside with lyrical content. I think maybe there’s a cohesive thing we may see later when we read the lyrics. But really, I think it’s a smokin’ rock record. There’s a lot of time spent on this thing. We all played well on it,” he smiles, adding, “And it’s a pretty smokin’ rock record.”
“We wrote 11 or 12 songs for it and narrowed it down to 9 because it worked the best together,” Thompson goes on. “It’s such a big, loud record and it really conveys the way we play live. And the fact that people are bugging me to put this in their hands before it’s released is really rewarding.”
Claiming that nearly half the record has never actually been performed live, The Speakeasies are nothing short of excited to be taking the stage Thursday, January 13th at Ebar for its first official release. “Guelph is a really good city to come from,” Thompson says, “There’s a really rich music scene.”
“You roll into town, you bust the town hall up, guns ablazin’ and ride off into the sunset – and that’s essentially what a traveling band does,” Allen puts in. “A big misconception is that we’re kind of a classic bar band. We’re not a rip roaring metal band by any means, but we’re a rock band.”
- Echo Weekly

"The Speakeasies"

By Patrick Finch

I initially took notice of the Speakeasies when ECHO readers voted them the best local band of 2007. Now, normally I feel like I’ve
got my ear pressed pretty firmly to the ground when it comes to
local rock ‘n’ roll, so hearing about this band for the first time
through gracious public opinion made me feel a little sheepish. I
figured I’d better check these dudes out, but before I had the
chance, I ran into Liam Bible, (scene veteran and drummer for
Autopilot and, briefly, The Candidates), at a downtown Kitchener bar. He mentioned that his current band was having an amazing time working on their new record and that it was really coming together nicely. Lo and behold said band was The Speakeasies and that record is now complete. I spoke to Liam via the internet about the new record, touring against nature, and the pros and cons of Guelph, while he and his band tackled the weather beaten roads of Eastern Canada.
“The tour is going great so far,” Bible enthuses. “The East
Coast winter has put us in the ring with nature. Nature’s winning,
but so many have been rocked! This is our first time out to the
east coast. We went out west last March and just like this tour we
relied on Facebook, Myspace, and any other promotional tour we
could to get the word to the masses that we are coming to rock
the town! It’s nice being on the road and feeling like a true
Canadian boy, traveling across the country with our skates and
sticks in the trailer beside our guitars and amps.”
A very Canuck touring ethos indeed, but that’s not to say that
their tour setbacks have been relegated intense temperatures and opposing teams’ hat–tricks.
“This tour is obviously in support of our record, but we just
picked up an unassembled box of our CD’s at an overnight freight
courier in Moncton,” he explains. “That’s three shows into the tour without the album. Long story.”Luckily it’s not a story The Speakeasies will have to worry about telling any longer. Their debut record is in-hand, waiting to be put into your player so that you can experience the sweat and
hours that went into capturing their anthemic power-pop on five
inches of compact disc.
“The album was recorded at Catherine North Studios in
Hamilton,” Bible says. “It was produced by Goldilocks, which is
Dan Achen, (Junkhouse), and Ian Smith, (The Miniatures), and we
cut it almost entirely live off the floor at this cathedral. This was
our first time working with a producer and the process really
forced us to stand back and let Dan and Ian take the reigns of the
album. It was very different for all of us as we are used to having
complete control over the music. Everything we’ve recorded in the
past has been with us behind the wheel, but it was good to have
an outside perspective from such talented and successful ears,
putting their style into our songs. Next time I think we’ll try to
spend more time in the studio and work even more closely with
our producer.”
The Speakeasies, (who, along with drummer Bible, are singer–
bassist Kenny Phelps, singer-guitarist Steve Simmons, and
guitarist Rick Thompson), have achieved a rare balance with their
record. The influence of pop pros like Smith and Achen is certainly
felt on the instantly memorable choruses of tracks like “Hope That
Lives Today” and “Ocean’s Moving”, but because it was recorded live, with perfect precision paid to capturing the natural sound of the band, the songs all retain a live immediacy and openness. It
doesn’t sound like you’re listening to pathetically over–produced
radio–rock. And luckily, it doesn’t just sound good, it is good.
These are carefully crafted tunes played by seasoned vets who
aren’t afraid to pepper their songs with pop, soul, dub, or
monstrously heavy riffs.
“We write most of the songs as a band and arrange them that
way as well. Some might get created by one member and then
brought to the group, but then we’ll finish the song with the
whole band. We can all play a few instruments and that really
helps each of us to contribute our ideas.”
By the time you read this, The Speakeasies will be back home,
anxious to show their hometown the new record, and how a
couple weeks on the road can season a band to perfection. They
have shows in Waterloo, Hamilton, and Toronto, but it’s their
Guelph CD release show at the E–Bar that will truly be their
homecoming. It’s time they showed the family just how far
they’ve come.
“We’re lucky to be a part of a music scene with such a great
track record for success. So many amazing bands were formed in
basements all over Guelph. We love playing there since it’s our
hometown, and there are so many bands attempting to
accomplish the same thing as us. It makes us work that much
harder to get our crop of rock ‘n’ roll to the masses. Sure, living in
a major city would have its advantages in the sense that you can network a lot more with people in ‘the biz’, but the internet takes
care of a lot of that. And we have the internet in Guelph now…”
- Echo Weekly


'Royal City Crown' sophomore album released Jan 2011
'He Thinks Calculus is Easy' 7" single released Sept 2010 (video released on Youtube)
'better side of not so good' released Jan 2008
singles include: Come on (105.3 Kool FM - Kitchener)
Hope that lives Today - CBC Radio3 (video on Music Plus)
Better side (Edge 102.1 - Toronto / Episode 915: Degrassi The Next Generation)
Hold out your hand (OLN's Departures - season 4 soundtrack)



The Speakeasies. They've honed their sound into solid muscle. It's something you feel physically - it seriously pounds. But then you hear the melody and you realize that this sonic muscle has soul and grace – style. The Speakeasies are gentlemen. And they don't lack for songs and hooks - the title track from their debut album ‘Better Side of Not So Good’ was featured on ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’. They've released a video for ‘Hope That Lives Today’ (a song featured on CBC Radio 3), released a video and 7" single for 'He Thinks Calculus is Easy' as well as their sophomore effort entitled 'Royal City Crown' January 2011. You work this hard for this long and it begins to pay off. People notice and you catch a few breaks.