Everything you've always
wanted, a hard working, charmingly handsome, meat and potatoes rock band from the
east village who plays the most full throttle, pile driven-est, high powered rock
this side of avenue A.
Lucky got chatting to them at the Three Of Cups:
Tor: I'm the lead singer
and rhythm guitar player
Scarlet Rowe: I play bass and backup vocals
Dave Blackshire: I play lead guitar
Roger Benton: I play the drums and try to keep they boys in line
How would you describe your music
Roger: Classic Rock
for the Future
But everyone feels it as being a bit heavier than that, there's even talk about
a wall of noise?
Scarlet: American noise with a bucket full of melodies
Tor: Scarlet! Not only does he play bass, but he's really good for sound bites.
Dave: He's the Vice President in charge of 'sound bites' for the band.
Tor: Scarlet makes things sparkle, he definitely makes things sparkle.
Tor: I started the band about four years ago and there's been a few incarnations
since, we had just finished recording a five song demo and our guitar player decided
to up and leave in the middle of a recording and the bass player kinda left so Roger
and I had to start looking. In New York City that's not an easy thing to do. I couldn't
find anyone, so I went about it the old fashioned way and put flyers up, looking
for a guitar player.
Dave: I never, in my life, have answered an ad or flyer - ever. I've never
believed you could actually find a band by answering a flyer, you think it's just
going to 'come to you'. So I'm walking up Third Avenue and I see this flyer "Wanted,
Dead or Alive" guitars crossed, a skull... and it says, if you embody the spirit
of Cheap Trick and whateverelsegreatrockbandIlove, they were all there. So, I was
like, fuck, someone got in a great band, you know, there it is, someone answered
this flyer and got into a great band. It looked like it had been up there for a year,
I'm like, that flyer's been answered a thousand times. I'm thinking about the flyer
for about three days, I'm at home and it's like, "that flyer looked pretty good,
maybe I should go back and call it, you know." So, I get on my bike and cruise
over there and there's the flyer, sitting there and I call up on my cell phone.
Tor: He calls me up on a Wednesday night, like midnight or something, I pick
up my phone and I'm like "Hello", like I'm in a bad mood already, can't
find a guitar or bass player, things are going wrong, so "Hello." He's
like "Hey, man, calling about the flyer", I'm like "yeah, what's your
name?" he tells me and I'm like okay, so I say "Who's your favorite band?"
he says "Aerosmith." Alright, sounds promising, we got talking and by the
time our conversation was over.
Dave: I thought you said, "Who's this?" and I said "It's your
fucking guitar player, you mutherfucker!"
Tor: So by the time the conversation was over, I was a little excited by it,
but you know, I've dealt with phone calls like that, where it sounds promising, but
the guy turned out to have two heads, something wrong with him in one way or another.
Turns out, Dave and I met and we were separated at birth, soul mates and before I
knew it, it was me, Roger and Dave. Then I said to Dave one day on the phone, hey,
we need a bass player... He said, I know a guy, you are going to love him.
Dave: I get on the phone and I call Scarlet, "hey, you've got to hear
this shit." We had played briefly together in a playbyplay kinda thing, whatever,
you know downtown, a rough, little recreational playing.
Scarlet: My end is really straight to the point. Dave hooked up with these
guys and I had met Dave in a situation that was more comedic and fun than a real
band. Dave called me up and said, I've got this band and it's right up your alley.
I'll never forget he said "right up your alley" and if anybody knows me,
those are pretty strong words. It had to be Rock'n'Roll and it had to appeal to everything
I like, which is Kiss, Trick, Crue. I was a little iffy at first, you know I've been
in NY a little while and I hadn't seen any band that was worth its salt. I went over
to Dave's house and he played me the CD and one song into the CD, I just knew "That's
it!" The first thing I heard in years that was refreshing, original sounding,
it had all the classic stuff that I was looking for. They weren't rehashing Glam,
they weren't rehashing Metal, they weren't rehashing all the crap. It was actually
fresh. I just felt loaded. So me & Dave went down to the rehearsal, and Tor,
here, takes a look when I walk in... I got my leathers on, my rockstars on, my glasses
Dave: I told these guys "listen, man, all you need to know about this
bass player is I've never seen him without sunglasses, and that's mostly after midnight!"
You've gotta know that this guy is, fucking for real, you know.
Tor: So he comes walking
in and I'm like, who is this guy? You know, who the hell does he think he is. So
I said to him, look, we're gonna play some songs that we know and you know, once
you've listened to them a couple of times, why don't you see if you can join in,
right? Well, little did he know that, at the time, my ideal bass player would play
a Gibson Thunderbird Bass and I've never been able to find a bass player that had
one to play, and Scarlet's like that's cool, I'll sit it out and wait my turn and
he took out his bass to start warming up and it's a Thunderbird, and I knew right
away, I said, "Dude, you gotta start playing right now!" Now, that's the
story of the origins of Joker Five Speed, but the 'real' story of Joker Five Speed
was when we all starts playing with each other that afternoon, we knew that "This
was the band and we're going to take it to the top!" and all the clich*s you
hear! Well, we were living that.
Scarlet: All four of us were on the same page. We are all there to rehearse,
four hours at a time, and write and work stuff out, it wasn't about fucking around
"just to see what happens."
Tor: We kinda knew what was going to happen, and the cool thing about that
was that, when that time was over, we were still hanging out together, we were at
the Three Of Cups, we were all around town making noise, just having a good time,
enjoying the fact that we had a gang.
Dave: Yeah, we had chains, and we spray painted and we had 2x4s with nails
in them, it was like "Jets/Sharks" and we're the Sharks!
Roger: Well, it was the first time Joker Five Speed wanted to hang out and
not want to kill each other!
Scarlet: You know what the weird thing is, is that New York is such a big
city, so many people here, but you'd be so surprised at how few real Rock'n'Rollers
there are on this island.
Dave: Yeah, we all have a pretty big overview. We've grown up in American
Rock, we're not talking regional. The US has spawned a lot of Rock bands...
Scarlet: We are entrenched in real Rock'n'Roll.
Dave: For me, when I met Tor, right away, the chemistry was "Band"
and here we are, we got a one year anniversary, we're on the heals of recording 12
songs in the can, a lot of new music has happened and that's like, in a blink. It
feels like I've been with these guys a day!
Tor: But at the same time a million years.
Dave: Yeah, forever! We were brothers from the getgo! So I hope that we always
'stay' that way?
(Beer bottles cheer together... clinkaclink)
Scarlet: Wait a minute, we've all been looking for each other all our entire
lives. It's just so weird that...
Dave: that it took our whole lives to get together!
Scarlet: I'm going to start crying...
Dave: "I love you man!" (boo hoo)
Tor: In case you haven't realized, Dave and Scarlet... Like to talk...
and I love you man...." (boo hoo)
Tor: what else do you want to know about us... We love Motley Crue, we hate
the Strokes... We like the Three Of Cups.
Tor: Hey look it's Jay, he just stole a bike... (Jay walks in). Where did
you get that from? Hey, do you want to know how cool Joker Five Speed is? There are
people running around town saying they are in the band when they are not even in
Dave: Yeah, here's a good story... One of the 'bar backs' at Three Of Cups,
who shall remains nameless-Jay, well... We were at a show and Roger walks by this
group of girls wearing a Joker Five Speed T-Shirt. This was at Irving Plaza. The
general age of the girls was about 15... (Roger, desperately trying all this time
to get a word in edgeways... Never getting there...) Anyway he walks by these girls
and he overhears them say, "Oh, yeah, Joker Five Speed... That's Jay's band."
Roger: (at last) and I stop in my tracks and I'm like 'What?' So I go back
and I introduce myself and I say, "oh, so you know Joker Five Speed" "Yeah,
my friends in that band" and so I'm like "Oh, really" and they say,
"Yeah, Jay, works at the Three Of Cups, he's the drummer!" so after I set
them two straight, I call these guys about it and so we're all in a little stink
with Jay the next time we saw him... (Everyone's in hysterics, this is so funny)
Tor: but you know you are doing something right when that happens!
Roger: So we all approach him, sorta beating around the bush real bad. "Oh,
you're in that cool band that we all love." His face got real red, he got a
little nervous, "I don't know what you are all talking about."
Tor: You know you've made it when people are saying that stuff! It's cool.
Scarlet: You know one thing we know, looking at each other, that there could
never be anybody else in this band.
Dave: and to show to show how much of a band member I really am dude, I got
fucking Roger fucking tattooed.
Scarlet: Nice, but what's he doing with my girlfriend and dog? What's up with
Tor: I just read this article in a NY magazine that was talking about the
New York 'scene' and who's 'hot' in New York right now and they name the top ten
hottest rock bands in New York and I'd only heard of 2 of them! And 'they' are the
hottest bands in New York!"
Scarlet: And they don't play Rock'n'Roll.
Dave: But it's the 'New York Rock scene'... Yeah, Rock'n'Roll is not about
ethereal, Rock'n'Roll is about fucking...
Tor: Wait a minute, you know, telling me that the Strokes are Rock'n'Roll
is like giving a Texan a Vegieburger and telling him it's a 32oz steak! It's just
not the same thing.
Scarlet: You can't explain Rock'n'Roll, and I'll sum it up right here... If
anybody who is reading this wants to understand what Rock'n'Roll is, come to a Joker
Five Speed gig! And if you ask Joker Five Speed to defend Rock'n'Roll be prepared
to fight to the death! And if you can't make it to a Joker Five Speed show then you'd
better put on Motley Crue's "Too Fast For Love"!
Dave: At least do your homework!
Tor: That's Rock'n'Roll! But there are bands out there, our contemporaries,
who are fighting the good fight right now, like Queen V, Napalm Stars, Push, and
the Kick and a lot of our friends out there that are trying to do the same thing
we are, just get out their brand of Rock'n'Roll, you know, make it loud and be heard
in a great big city. I think that's very hard to do that in this town. There's a
million other things people can be doing other than seeing your band and you've really
gotta make some noise to get people to come out and appreciate you. We are all working
toward the same goal. It just so happened that , it was like the stars all lined
up, and all our friends were all playing together, it was us and it was Queen V and
it was The Kick, Napalm Stars, The Slags, it was a whole bunch of bands. We all hang
out together anyway, like to us, that's the New York scene and we all happened to
get on the same bill, which never happens. We had such a great time. We all wanted
to stick around for all the other bands. Everybody was hanging out backstage, it
was a big party and the whole night, you just didn't want it to end, it was just
great! So the idea came up to do this show on the 28th June at Don Hill's and everybody
jumped at the chance to do it, because that was such a great time the last time,
let's make it official. Let's do it bigger and better and let's do it upright. Let's
let the whole world know about it. So, yeah, it's going to be a great night! Steve
Blush, he's one of those people in the city that's really helped us quite a bit.
He's always giving us great gigs.
Scarlet: Steve Blush, he's fantastic man.
Tor: He's always playing great Rock'n'Roll.
Scarlet: He's backed us from day one, we love that guy! He had this little
party, it started out as a little kind of thing, there were not a whole lot of people
going to it, but the people that were going were Rock'n'Rollers, and now he's got
the best party in town!
Dave: Steve Blush, you know, to us... He's a great rock historian, he knows
Rock'n'Roll, he's written books on Rock'n'Roll and he's very modest about it. Steve
Blush is there to make the party happen. It's all about the music he plays. It's
about the music and that's what Joker Five Speed's all about. We're not concerned
about like Trust Funds or that sort of thing we're concerned about writing great
fucking Rock'n'Roll songs that stick in your brain and that you'll wanna listen to
for the next 20 yrs. Our Rock'n'Roll is fucking solid, it's Rock solid, it's got
America stamped all over it. I'm proud to be an American and I'm proud to be in an
American rock'n'roll band like Joker fucking Five Speed, you know what I mean.
(Clapping all around)
Roger: I'm proud to be in a band that can spit out words like that! Woo yeah!
What's the worst job you've ever had?
Dave: I have to say
that playing guitar with Joker Five Speed has been a real fucking bitch up to now!
Tor: The worst job I ever had was looking for a guitar player. That whole
first part of that story that we told you wasn't that the chemistry in Joker Five
Speed was so fantastic, and that no one's ever experienced anything like that, it's
the fact that Dave was the only guy to respond to that flyer!
Dave: That makes it destined.
Roger: Two months of sitting around wondering what we are going to do next
was like torture. It was torture. And finally everything happened like a whirlwind.
Tor: So that's the worst job I ever had. The best job you can ever have is
being the lead singer!
Scarlet: You know what, I'd say the best job is definitely being the bass
player in Joker Five Speed.
Roger: That's just because they don't play drums! (Laughter)
Dave: Well, like I say, the worst job I could ever have is being the guitar
player in Joker Five Speed. It's just Hell! Fuckin 'ell!
Scarlet: We definitely do kick each other's asses! You would not believe the
Roger: That's the good thing about this band, we don't let the other ones
slack off. We're constantly on each others asses making sure everybody's doing what
they should be doing.
Tor: Because for us, it's not enough to be the best band in NYC, but the best
band in the World! And with bands like Queen V in New York, well, we are like family
with those guys and we have a great time hanging out with them, the competition level
is high, but it's a very friendly competition. Like when we see them do a set, our
next set had better be even better than that!
Roger: We like to push each other.
Tor: We've heard their studio tracks, and they've heard ours.
Scarlet: I think, when we look at a band like Queen V, it's not like we're
trying to impress each other or outdo each other with who's got more pyrotechnics
or who wears bigger platform boots, it's about who's actually writing song material
and who's got a professional attitude and whose executing it best on stage night
after night. And I think in a band like Queen V and Joker Five Speed it's real shit,
and that's healthy to have that kind of shit going on in the scene.
Scarlet: I take more the attitude like the Toilet Boys, you know.They're bombastic,
they wanna be out there, they wanna be the biggest band they can possibly be, they
wanna blow up the world. You know what? So do we! That's the school we come from.
We come from listening to big bands. We all grew up listening to Kiss and Van Halen
and Cheap Trick and the Who and the Stones and all these larger than life bands,
Dave: It's about the arena. Arena rock is where it's at. Well, we're all about
that. I wanna play Madison Square Garden, that's been my dream since I was six years
old. And if that's not yours, that's fine, you can play the Continental. I saw the
Who at Wembly on their farewell tour in like '91 or whatever.
Scarlet: Was that their first farewell tour, or third?
Dave: That's the whole point, it could have been their first, second or third.
The bottom line is, how fucking awesome it is to play your third farewell tour at
Wembly! If you can look in the mirror and you are like a Rock'n'Roller and you can
say, I don't want that, then you're missing the boat! I'm on the Castle Donnington
Tor: I'm on the biggest boat there is in the ocean! That's the one I'm on!
I'm not on a little dingy/paddle boat!
Dave (in Liverpool accent): Not a dingy!
Tor: What Joker Five Speed is and what Joker Five Speed means is, I personally
won't rest and won't be satisfied until this band is out on the cover of the Rolling
Stone. No, wait, I have no interest being on the cover of the Rolling Stone, I want
this band to be on the cover of the TV Guide!!!
Roger: If you've got a lot of issues and you're depressed and you're looking
for someone to sympathize with you, don't buy our record because we're all about
have a good time and making the best out of life.
Tor: We're out for everybody else having a good time. You know, we're out
on stage, night after night, we're playing our hearts out, we're having a great time
with each other on stage, and I think that the crowd sees that and they want to have
a good time! And then we meet up in a bar somewhere after the show to have more of
a good time! That's the way we like to live our lives!
Roger: You don't go to a Rock show to get depressed. We're giving you a good
Dave: a Rock'n'Roll band is not something you decide or want to do, it's something
you have to do.
Tor: The thing about this band is that we've got no place else to go!
Dave: Fucking right!
Scarlet: I don't think there's a single band out there, selling million records
or not, that any member of this band would rather be in. You get the four of us together
or separately, and what it is, is that we exude a good energy, a party, good time,
good energy and that's why people want to surround us, wanna be around us.
Dave: You know, you really can't choose your fans. You can't choose who likes
your music. You've gotta be focused on your music and then whoever shows up, that's
who likes your music. We're into the fucking Rock Fan. If you like Rock'n'Roll and
you like to hear good Rock music then show up and have a good time. I don't give
a goddamn who you are, who your trust fund daddy is, whatever, the bottom line is
show up and have a good time.
Do you have a problem with money? Twice you've mentioned Trust Fund Daddy?
Dave: Yeah, I don't have any!
Tor: You know what, Dave spent his whole trust fund already. (Laughter all
Dave: For me Rock'n'Roll is about who shows up. Hey, listen, you gotta a trust
fund daddy and you like our band, you can come to our show! You got multi-millionaire
parents and you want to come down, come down. But that's not what it's about, we're
about people who like Rock'n'Roll. If you like Rock'n'Roll and you want to rock out
to an American Rock band, that's who we are, full on.
Scarlet: Dave makes a good point, one of the interesting things about our
last gig is, as we were playing I looked out at the audience there were people there
who were maybe 17 yrs old and there were people there who were like 45 and they all
came up to us and said the same thing, they said, we love you guys, you rocked!
Tor: Yeah, one thing about us is that we're not elitist, whoever shows up,
shows up. We're not 'too cool for school' and be like some of these other bands out
there who are sort of elitist, you kind of have to have a certain score on your SATs
in order to enjoy the music and, you know, I don't really get off on that'cause well,
I didn't do too well on my SATs, but that's besides the point. We just like to have
a good time and I think right now the world, the city, is looking for a good time.
When people go to a club to see a band, they want to be brought back to life and
put a sparkle back in their eyes, get some drinks down their throat, you know, just
How do you want your audience to see you?
All: Naked. In handcuffs. On the National Enquirer.
Joker Five Speed has just come out of the studio where they've been hiding for the
past six months, and are looking to put out a full length real soon on the luckiest
major label who will sign them. "The next step after that is world domination,
that's really the next thing, we're not even going for just nationwide, we're going
for worldwide, build a stage, we'll be there! It's going to be a Joker Five Speed
check out the boys online...
and tell 'em the New York Waste sent ya!