Downspeed shifts gears with added bassistWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Toledo outlaw rock and metal band Downspeed embarked on the search for its fourth bass player last month, Sarah Miles demanded an audition and earned her way into the boys club.
“I didn’t think she was going to make it,” guitarist Burn Strouse said. “She played hour after hour on her own at home to be able to play at this level. She went from Pat Benatar to Motorhead.”
“I knew Burn about a year from coming to shows and stuff like that,” Miles said. “I’ve been in other bands the last few years. I’ve progressed and wanted something on a different level. They needed a bass player and I kind of made them let me try out.”
Having a woman involved is an adjustment for a band that has a wall of their practice room at the House of Rock dedicated to pictures showcasing female anatomy (it’s named after the Great Wall of China), but Miles is fitting right in so far.
“I think I’m different for them, having a chick here, but whatever they dish out, I can dish right back,” she said. “I don’t know if they can put up with my s***. Being a chick and playing this kind of music, there’s a lot more pressure. I have to prove myself.”
“If she couldn’t put up with our s***, she probably would have been out of here on the first day,” drummer Steve Langenderfer said.
After jokes about topics such as throwing picks down to watch Miles bend over to pick them up, Strouse expressed his gratitude about having her in the band.
“She is way more fun compared to the other guys that were in the band,” he said.
Miles spent more than a decade playing guitar before switching to bass. After spending years in rock cover bands, the speed of metal music was hard for her to handle.
“My background was more in cover bands, but I’ve always loved heavier music like punk and metal,” Miles said. “I have blisters on my fretting fingers from all the hours I spent trying to play this fast. Even between practices I’m still practicing. The speed is so new to me that I have to keep up on it to stay at that level.”
The name Downspeed is ironic for Miles, but it fits perfect for Langenderfer since the music is actually a slower pace than his previous experience in death metal bands.
“I got too old for it,” he said. “The kids are playing way too fast now. This is more my speed.”
While it might be slower compared to death metal, Downspeed’s music is still fast.
“We’re loud, rude and aggressive,” Strouse said. “We’re a notorious source of raw power. We’re not background music. Nobody is taking a p*** when we’re on. We attack it. We’re like a shark.”
“We’re kind of putting a new twist on old ’80s stuff like Motorhead and Motley Crue,” Langenderfer said. “It’s the best of the ’80s minus the glam.”
The music blends in other genres such as blues and classic rock.
“I like the blues,” Strouse said. “If you don’t like [Lynyrd] Skynyrd, you don’t like me.”
“I still remember hearing the band for the first time, before I was in it,” Miles said. “I remember hearing them in another room and going in to see them. I hadn’t seen anything like it in a long time and it grabbed my attention.”
However you describe the sound, Strouse is excited about where the band is headed.
“I think we’re right there,” he said. “I think we’re what the world needs. When I turn on the radio, I wish I could listen to a band like this. That’s why I write it.”
Downspeed will look to create some potential radio hits soon as the band is preparing to record its first full album.
A three-song demo will be available along with other merchandise at the band’s next show. Downspeed is headlining Feb. 11 at Woodchuck’s with performances by Megaton Hammer and Pieces of a Blackout. Doors open at 8 p.m. and there is a $5 cover. Woodchuck’s is located at 224 S. Erie St.