About The Speed Of Sound:

The Speed Of Sound: background and bio

Original underground masters of independent alternative rock THE SPEED OF SOUND formed in Manchester UK and, since their first release in 1989 have continuously produced music laced with optimism and lyrical bite, tapping the DIY ethos of punk and the restless lust for experimentation of psychedelia.

It is remarkable how many reviews refer to The Speed Of Sound as “unique’”and “unmistakable”. This identifiable stamp of personality is a result of decades dwelling deep below the music industry radar which have allowed the evolution of their own distinct sound, improbably likened by different people watching the same gig to The Stranglers and Jefferson Airplane. With dual male and female lead vocalists, it is as though Debbie Harry and Lou Reed were fronting The Who and Television at the same time, combining the power of punk with the floating harmonies of The Byrds. Appropriately the natural beauty and order of the alphabet places The Speed Of Sound between Sonic Youth and Dusty Springfield in most cultured record collections. The band themselves describe their music as “Future- Retro-Modernist” and are not concerned with genre constraints, constantly pushing any and all boundaries whenever encountering them.

Ever evolving and ever forward-looking, the band gravitated together from within the Manchester underground scene and have spent the better part of four decades playing live across the UK and in mainland Europe, with JOHN ARMSTRONG (vocals/guitars/songwriting) being the constant element among a shifting collective lineup that has remained unchanged since 2018. ANNE-MARIE CROWLEY adds the other half of the vocal pairing and second guitar, KEVIN ROACHE plays bass guitar, and JOHN BROADHURST provides the essential percussive element on drums. This is augmented where appropriate by HENRY ARMSTRONG on keyboards, and newly expanded on their latest release with the addition of BOB DINN on trumpet and flugelhorn.

“Ambitiously realised” is a phrase frequently applied to their 5th and stunning 2021 album MUSEUM OF TOMORROW (their bow on Big Stir Records), as demonstrated by no new album scoring higher than it in the prestigious Record Collector reviews. A shift in focus during the pandemic has seen The Speed Of Sound concentrating on studio work, and the wealth of new material making up their upcoming releases were all purpose-written for recording rather than for live performance. Aided and abetted in their experimentation since 2015 by their ongoing artistic relationship with Vibratone Sound Studio at their purpose-built Miles Platting location in Manchester, the additional range, depth and complexity of The Speed Of Sound’s new work stands testament to the pursuit of new sonic frontiers.

There is no laurel sitting: the ambitious thirst for sonic exploration continues, and 2024 – which marks THE SPEED OF SOUND’s 35th anniversary — promises to be the band’s most thrillingly active year yet. The tale is in the title of the forthcoming mega-album: A CORNUCOPIA. The frst salvo, MINERVA, sets the stage as a standalone digital release this May, accompanied by an expanded physical edition on CD and limited-run Vinyl encompassing no fewer than two additional (and temporarily exclusive) full- length albums. As the bonus material sees release throughout the year, both longtime followers and those newly discovering the band will only be able to marvel as THE SPEED OF SOUND accelerates… and they haven’t even reached their ultimate velocity yet.

So what exactly IS Future Retro Modernist music?

The historic and current line up of The Speed Of Sound:

Current members of The Speed Of Sound:

John Armstrong – Songwriting, guitars and vocals

JohnA has developed a vivid style of guitar playing borne of combining rhythm and lead techniques in a fow that pulls the music like a tide steeped in unresolved chords and entrancing vocals.

Ann-Marie Crowley – Guitars and vocals

Ann-Marie hadn’t performed rock based music before joining The Speed Of Sound in 2015 and has vast experience of Irish, folk and also classical operatic singing.

Kevin Roache – Bass guitar.

Kevin has performed with John since 1990, he brings a wide understanding of playing differing genre’s including music of Indian origin, he has a highly individual outlook on the bass.

John Broadhurst – Drums

John B joined The Speed Of Sound in 2018. He has a wealth of skills including jazz, pop, rock and blues and has an ability to play with the spaces, the freedom of playing originals is liberating while the fuid and improvisational sections are something he willingly embraces.

Henry Armstrong – Keyboards

(son of JohnA). With many years of studying improvisational music and an intuitive approach Henry joined in 2018, adding a new dimension to the already mesmeric music.


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All website content is copyright: John Armstrong/The Speed Of Sound – 1989-2024