The Speedbumps hope for smooth road ahead

Brittany Moseley

What do you get when you have two cellists – one who loves hard rock, the other loves Sigur R¢s – a jazz drummer, an upright bass player and a lead singer who will travel anywhere to see Damien Rice?

It sounds like a band formula that would never work, but not for The Speedbumps. They pride themselves in having a unique sound among college bands. They live in a college town and two of the members attend Kent State, but The Speedbumps aren’t playing typical college rock.

“Our music is easy to listen to,” said cellist Sam Kristoff, and youngest member of the group. “We just want to write good music and for others to enjoy it.”

The Speedbumps debut record, Back to Burlington, was released in 2005. With its acoustic-driven, folk music, the album helped The Speedbumps get its name out, and earned it some fans outside of Ohio.

“The release of the album was a big jump start,” said lead singer Erik Urycki.

Urycki started the band in 2003, after convincing a friend to buy a bass guitar. They started writing music together and soon began driving through the east coast, stopping in towns to play music.

“We would just stop in towns, play, get money, and go on to the next town,” Urycki said.

Although his friend is no longer in the band, their touring helped The Speedbumps build up an east coast fan base, which is still thriving today.

“We still want to keep pounding the east coat. People there are moved by music,” said drummer Patrick Hawkins. “They’re there for the music.”

Urycki said right now the band’s biggest priority is its next record, which is scheduled to be released Oct. 13.

“The main focus is we’re going to put out an album this year, and we’re going to promote hard,” Urycki said.

Not only is The Speedbumps eager to release its next album, Urycki said fans are ready for new music, too.

“We want to put the album out, and the people coming to see us want us to put it out,” Urycki said.

As with most bands’ second releases, fans can expect some differences.

“The last album was darker,” Urycki said. “This one moves.”

Still, the band shows no signs of worry about its second release, and believes fans will like it just as much as Back to Burlington.

“We don’t believe in sophomore slump,” Hawkins said.

The music isn’t the only thing that’s changing – so is the lineup. When they recorded their first album Hawkins, bassist Evan Louis and cellist Stephanie Huffman weren’t in the band. The Speedbumps has switched the lineup numerous times since 2005.

“We add a band member every year,” Hawkins said, laughing.

As hard as it was for them to reach their current lineup, Urycki said the band is finally complete.

“The hard part of making a band is finding a good fit,” Urycki said. “Our band is a family. You have to feel that way about everybody or it doesn’t work.”

Now that the band lineup is perfect, and progress on the new album is moving along, the only thing left is learning how to manage music on top of everything else. Urycki and Hawkins are both Kent State students, and Huffman attends the University of Akron.

“Music is our number one priority, and school is second,” Hawkins said, half-joking. “It’s an ongoing process.”

Even with their busy schedules, members of The Speedbumps are confident when they say they’re in music for the long haul.

“We plan on doing this our whole life, and we strongly believe we can do this on our own,” Urycki said. “We all understand where we’re at right now and what we’re trying to do.”

One thing The Speedbumps isn’t trying to do is land a record deal. The band members don’t deny that they would think about it if approached by a record company, but it’s not their number one priority.

“It’s all about finding the right (record) deal,” Hawkins said.

Urycki said the band acts as its own self-governing record label.

“It’s like trying to run your own business,” Urycki said. “Nobody is telling us what we should or shouldn’t do. It’s all on us right now.”

No matter how famous they become, The Speedbumps’ members swear they will always be a local band, and they hope more people start taking notice of other Kent acts.

“Kent has so many bands that are making great music and it’s all under the radar. It takes one band to change it,” Urycki said, “and if we can be that band, we’re happy to do it.”

The Speedbumps

Playing with Goose

Where? Turnup Records

When? March 2, 8 p.m.

How much? Free

Contact ALL reporter Brittany Moseley at [email protected].