Speed the Plough is a New Jersey-based band that has been playing since 1984. The name, from an old Scottish folk song, was plucked from a book of sheet music just days before our first gig, which was at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ. Founded by John and Toni Baumgartner and Marc Francia, the band has had numerous line-ups over the years, including former members Rich Barnes, Stanley Demeski, Jim DeRogatis, John Neilson, Chris O’Donovan, Frank O’Toole, Pete Pedulla, and Brenda Sauter. Speed the Plough rose out of the ashes of The Trypes, a band formed in 1982 by John, Toni, Marc and Elbrus Kelemet, and later joined by Feelies Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Dave Weckerman, Stan Demeski and Brenda Sauter.
STP released four full-length albums on the East Side Digital label: Speed The Plough (1989), Wonder Wheel (1991), Mason’s Box (1993) and Marina (1995). In addition, they released a limited edition single on the French label Acetone and had songs featured in two independent films: Strangest Deams (1990) and Paradise Park (1993).
After a long hiatus, the latest incarnation of STP was launched in the Summer of 2009 with John and Toni’s son Mike on guitar and Marc’s sons Ian and Dan on drums and bass, respectively. They recorded Swerve, the band’s first album in 15 years, which was self-released in May 2010. Later that year, they recorded three new songs, dubbed The Summer Sessions, which were released in September.
2011 continued to bring exciting developments. First, Ed Seifert joined the band, bringing his distinctive guitar-picking and vocal talents. And in August, STP released their sixth full-length album, Shine, on Dromedary Records.
2012 saw the late-April release of a retrospective of The Trypes short career, Music For Neighbors, on Acute Records. The reception to the music and the unique packaging was more than could have been expected, with raves from nearly all quarters, including Pitchfork, Dusted, Other Music, Prefix, and Boomkat.
The highly-regarded indie label Bar-None Records released the Speed the Plough compilation, The Plough and the Stars in September 2013. It features a CD that includes 17 songs from our first four (out-of-print) albums on East Side Digital, tucked in a 12" package featuring a bonus split LP, with six brand new songs in a collection we call Tag Sale on one side and five live tracks from our 1993 appearance on WFMU’s Live Music Faucet on the flip. It also includes a 16-page booklet and a digital download card offering access to all the tracks mentioned, 10 additional live tracks, and an interactive version of the booklet with more music and videos.
Another development early in 2013 saw the departure of Dan and Ian to pursue their own musical projects. So the band recruited Cindi Merklee on bass and vocals, and John Demeski, filling the drum seat once occupied by his father Stanley two decades ago. Coming full circle indeed.
The band recorded their eighth album – Now – at their old stomping grounds, Mix-o-lydian Studios in 2014 and 2015. It’s comprised of 12 very wide ranging songs, with contributions by John, Michael, Ed and Cindi. It’s being released by Steve Fallon’s Coyote Records in January of 2016, marking the return of that legendary label after more than two decades.
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