Speed Control: Power pop from the depths of Canada’s north

Think your band has it tough on tour? Try driving 2000 KM just to get to the next major city

When I reach Graeme Peters of Speed Control, a power-pop rock trio from Whitehorse, Yukon, he informs me via telephone that his band has just begun the first leg of their cross-Canada tour.

He sounds stoked, but also a little road-weary. Edmonton, Speed Control’s first destination, is the closest major city to Whitehorse – it’s 2000 KM away.

“It’s at least a 24 hour drive,” says Peters.

And, when you live deep in Canada’s north, that timeline is highly dependant on winter weather. “It’s snowing as well,” he confirms.

Straight out of – 40 degrees, Speed Control are the architects of razor sharp rock anthems – songs that literally simmer with white-hot energy during their live show. Anything to stay warm, right?

Having recently released their second album F.A.B., Peters, along with his brother Jody on bass and Ian March on drums, says that while being located out of the Yukon presents a unique set of challenges, it can also be rewarding.

“It’s a fifty-fifty split between awesome and terrible,” says Peters. “When you tell people you are from the Yukon you get a lot of excitement – not a lot of people have been there. But it takes a day to two days to get anywhere.

“The music scene is crazy,” he continues. “We probably have the most artists per capita in Canada. That obviously includes visual artists but in terms of music there is a lot of folk. There is not a lot of rock and roll – there are only really a couple and you can only do a few shows a year.”

For F.A.B., the trio brought in David J. Taylor – a musician who once lived in Regina and has worked with Despistado – in the hopes of being able to concentrate more time and effort in the studio. Instead, Speed Control managed to wrap it all up in two days.

“It’s kind of unheard of in some circles,” says Peters. “But it worked. We did everything live off the floor in order to capture that energy. There is a lot of diversity.”

Musically, Speed Control skirt the nether regions of punk without delving too deep into the genre. The songs are bass heavy with plenty of grooves while the vocals are appropriately raspy. Also, expect lots of jumps and kicks, which should tell you what kind of energy you are in for.

And while the lyrics deal with a diverse range in topics, Peters says that there is also some strange escapism found on this disc.

“Some of the songs come from a rock opera that I wrote with my friend Jack. In the Yukon there isn’t a lot to do in the winter. So there was a 24-hour playwriting competition and Jack wrote this opera and asked me to write the music for it. Which I had completely forgot that I had said yes.

“Never say yes to anything during a New Years Eve party.”

– Check out Speed Control tonight, Nov. 14 at Rock Bottom, along with My Constant and Cherry & the Pterodactyls

– Featured photo courtesy of SpeedControl.ca – Gary Bremner Photography