Jake's pointed elbows are leaning into the wooden table on Troupe's patio. Jake has on a neutral shirt and a guarded expression. Joey and his thick glasses sit to one side, while Troupe and Nick surround the other half of the oval. Tall, dark-brown bamboo fencing surrounds the group on three sides, giving the feel of a cardboard box with one side ripped off.
"Fifth grade, sixth grade Christmas...My brother got a keyboard, my sister got a guitar, and I got a snare drum," Jake states slowly as the list rolls out of his mouth.
Following Jake's little-drummer-boy Christmas gift, he took some drum lessons and joined a band. Which he was "promptly kicked out of."
"I was plotting with the other members to replace our singer. Turns out that I was also replaced," Jake scoffs.
"I was so burned by that experience," Jake's voice hovers for a minute in Austin's 65-degree December air. "I didn't go back to the rock band for awhile, until Speak-Jupiter-4 at the time."
The rejected drummer did, however, join his school's jazz band (not to be confused with marching band or orchestra band-"Dear God. Not regular band"), and beat out his frustrations to tunes allied with bow ties and brass instruments.
Around the same time in another residence in the Live Music Capitol, Nick was dutifully taking piano lessons. And logging in guitar lesson hours. And by the ripe-old age of eleven, joined a rock-and-roll band.
Nick didn't get kicked out of his band.
The four-piece "From surf instrumentals to Nirvana!" kids known as Misspent Youth, spent their nights on stage venues that normally housed band members twice their age. Antone's, Stubb's, La Zona Rosa, and Gruene Hall soon became regular recurring ink marks in their music venue passports. Between the years of 2003 and 2005, the quartet also nabbed three "Best Kid Band" wins from the Austin Chronicle's "Best of Austin" edition.
"But then," Nick's voice flexes down a notch. His dark round glasses are a stark contrast to his fair skin. His pupils gaze from behind the frames in a Yoko-Ono-poker-face sort of way. He continues. "I just kind of got tired of it-we played a lot of covers..."
"I met Nick in the rock camp, or whatever, on the way to high school," Troupe interjects, his white hands grasping his skinny jean knees.
Nick turns to Troupe.
"I remember you came up and said, ' Hey, I've got this synth.'...You pretty much just said, 'Let's start a band, just do a different vibe'."
And so it was: the child rock-star guitarist, the video gamer with his synthesizer and newly-found pipes, and the scorned jazz band drummer friend, lured back to the world of garage practices with battered heads and amp blitzing.
Jupiter-4 was born.
Take away the 4. Make it 4.
The three gentlemen of Jupiter-4-named for one of the first crafted synths-jammed and gigged together throughout high school and into their college years. Troupe left for USC in 2006, but came back before the school year was out-the City of Angels' halo didn't quite sit right with him.
The ring of Jupiter-4, however, fit quite nicely.
The group played many a late-night college house party. They also recorded nearly an album-eight songs-that talked about San Francisco and dancing and reading someone's past by watching their feet. Their music resembled echoes of the band Train mixed with a heavy three liter of pop.
And there was plenty of fizz in the boys' pop.
"I remember being a freshman in college," Jake stretches his neck forward. "And we were talking to some Canadian label, and it's like, 'We're going on tour this summer, and we're going to be mega famous in the fall.'"
Slight pause and a smirk.
"First in a series of incorrect forecasts of our future."
"Weatherman Jake!" Troupe exclaims from his seat, amused grin across his bush baby eyes.
While the Canadian label deal never did come through, someone else did.
Music man Kevin Wommack-whose resume is crammed with bullet points, most notably, managing the "How far is heeaaven" Los Lonely Boys-caught wind of a late 2007 Jupiter-4 set at the legendary (and now defunct) Austin venue Momo's.
The sound from the dreamy-synthy-Radiohead worshipers struck a chord with Kevin.
Enough of a chord for him to respond with a note of his own.
Might the guys be interested in being managed by Wommack?
Be managed by a man who had managed a Grammy award-winning band.
Yes, Jupiter-4 was okay with that.
Kevin had two conditions for his new trio:
1. Get a bass player
2. And change your band name
Jupiter-4 became Speak-"We just made a million lists," tells Troupe. "We liked the idea of a single word."
And Nick happened to have a good friend at the University of Texas in Austin who was classically trained in guitar. "I'll play bass in your band," spouted the sweatshirt-over-a-button-up Joey.
Joey had not so much as plucked at a bass chord before.
But fuck. Don't basses have two fewer strings than a guitar?
Joey and his thicker chorded instrument soon became joined at the fret.
And during the years of 2008 and 2009, Kevin made sure to place his newly re-minted quartet into the rock n' roll hands of Grammy-nominated producer Chris "Frenchie" Smith-JET and The Toadies are some of his bullet points.