GROWING UP Ramming Speed have slowly shed their party-hearty vibe in favor of a more doom-laden post-apocalyptic image.
In the mid-'80s it was considered you-put-your-peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate when bands like Black Flag dared to tippy-toe into metal territory with their punk attack. The resulting punk-metal "crossover" hybrid was derided by the late '80s as the end of the world by punk and metal purists. But time was on the side of those just looking for rock-and-roll kicks, and the crossover combo is a tasty sound that's hard to deny. Metal's rejuvenation in the past half decade has seen all manner of '80s-isms brought back after the debacle that was Big Pants nu-metal, but one common thread is that once the wall between punk and metal was broken down decades ago, it wasn't easily rebuilt. Which is a roundabout way of saying that punk-metal, far from being an outmoded '80s throwback, is in many ways the path of the future for both punk and metal — and Boston's own Ramming Speed may be one of the bands on the vanguard of this new thrash attack.
Ramming Speed have been proselytizing their hybridized gospel since 2005. "When we first started," explains drummer Jonah Livingston, "we only cared about two things: how fast could we play, and how long could we make our tours!" Hear hear, since in short order, the Speed achieved both goals, combining a mind-bendingly fast attack with a relentless international tour schedule. "We started as a bunch of dudes that wanted to be in a fun band, eating pizza, drinking beer, playing shows, and there wasn't much thought about the future or anything super serious. But once we started hitting the road, it became important, and in the last five or six years, we've really grown up as dudes."
Perhaps it's this growing up that sees the band slowly shedding its party-hearty vibe in favor of a more doom-laden post-apocalyptic image. How else to square the jovial fun-loving vibe of the band offstage with the their bludgeoning live fury and the furrowed-brow intensity of the recent work, especially on their upcoming magnum opus, the just-recorded (by Converge's Kurt Ballou at Salem's GodCity Studio) Doomed To Destroy, Destined To Die (due out later this year on an as-yet-to-be-determined label). To Livingston and Co., though, this serious/fun dichotomy has always been at the core of punk/thrash culture, where working hard and playing hard come packaged together
"When you look at, you know, photos of Slayer and Metallica and Megadeth back in the day, they were all laughing, crushing beer cans on their heads, wearing acid-washed jeans, and having an awesome time; then you listen to the records and it's all songs about war and death and suicide. For us, it's all about moving the lyrics and themes toward a place that's intense and punishing. I mean, it's hard to be aware of social and political events and then go write songs about sharks and partying and whatnot. We love drinking beers and staying up all night partying, but it's all about being self-conscious enough to know when to wink, you know?"