King of the Night - SPEEDWAY

King of the Night - SPEEDWAY

King of the Night - SPEEDWAY

Hank Richardson's newest music project is an echoey, lo-fi, late night drive filled with minimal chants and one rough man. When coupled with Old English ridden album covers by close collaborator and friend, Kyle Pellet, the duo transforms into SPEEDWAY. Hank recently treated me to a Tuesday evening out, so I decided to record most of our night.

Jack Mahaley: Take a right. Come on, you know where you're at.

Hank Richardson: I don't really know Northeast, I grew up Southwest.

JM: So Tuesday's nights you and Kyle typically have the staff meeting right? Who calls who? Like do you shoot him a text first and say 'Hey I'm callin' in..."

HR: I usually call him, it's pretty structured even though it's just a couple of guys talking. 

JM: So you come prepared with an idea, or a song completed?

HR: Yes, usually I have a song recorded and we discuss things related to the release.

JM: Why don't we back up a second. I don't think you've ever really explained to me what the SPEEDWAY concept is... in your own words.

HR: Yeah, SPEEDWAY is basically rock-n-roll on rerun. It's in the tradition of Suicide, Dirty Beaches, that kind of like early rock-n-roll, synth, lo-fi, punk tradition. But it's just me doing home recordings.

JM: How do you get the vocals to sound the way they do?

HR: Basically it's a $20 mic off eBay through a guitar amp, through two reverb pedals, basically just cranked. 

JM: Gotcha. So, is SPEEDWAY signed to Suitor's Club Records?

HR: SPEEDWAY is a flagship act under Suitor's Club Records.

JM: So it's different than the recording artist 'Hank Richardson'?

HR: Definitely. I think I was getting physically ill, to be honest, writing the same songs under my own name. I went through a very dark time, I just couldn't write a song. So SPEEDWAY is very fresh to me. It saved me a little bit.

HR: SPEEDWAY allows me to be a character and I don't have to be myself really. To date, I don't have a single love song under SPEEDWAY. Not a single one.

JM: You know I get kind of a truck-stop vibe from some of the songs.

HR: Yeah I like rough men, shitty people, shitty drinks, fast women.

JM: Shitty people?

HR: Yeah shitty people. I don't know. Did I ever tell you I wanted to ride along with a trucker for a month?

 JM: In my eyes, there's two components to SPEEDWAY. There's the audio recording, obviously, but then there's this visual component of it, the album artwork and videos, which is almost an equal part of SPEEDWAY for me.

HR: So Kyle [Pellet] does all the SPEEDWAY graphic design out of San Jose. He kind of challenged me a while back to release music in a memorable way. Instead of just posting a track to a Bandcamp or a SoundCloud.  He asked, why not make a video? Make it quick, cheap and memorable.

JM: There's a very thorough look associated with SPEEDWAY. Sometimes the album art can really reinforce some of the lyrics.

HR: Right, I always tell Kyle to make the albums menacing. Almost scary.

JM: Where are you looking to find inspiration for songs? Say Reno Man...

HR: Kyle helped with that one, he is a really good copywriter. He's got a lot of good ideas.

Hank dials in Kyle and we attempt to continue the interview over speakerphone as my phone roughly records our banter from the dashboard.  Kyle compares SPEEDWAY to a shapeshifting T-1000 android while mentioning his last trip to Portland included a visit to Jade Dragon Chinese Restaurant in Hillsdale. We discuss the idea of "second-rate" (Reno is to Las Vegas) and his graphic inspiration found in poorly designed stuff like floppy disks, cloned video games and free software. Hank and I miss our turn off N. Columbia Blvd and pull around to the back parking lot of Jag's Clubhouse. We're met with a metal detector wand at the front door and I immediately order two Johnnie Walker's at the bar. One for me and one for the King of the Night.


This interview was recorded in early September of 2017 in Hank's Nissan pick-up driving north on NE MLK Blvd in Portland, Oregon. The voice memo recordings have been transcribed, minimally edited and shortened. Special thanks to Hank and Kyle.

Listen to more SPEEDWAY here:
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