Band Interview: Sweet Crystal
Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are pleased to bring you an interview with legendary progressive rock band, Sweet Crystal.
1. How did you get started as a band?
I’m Marq Andrew Speck, lead vocalist and keyboard player for 24-time Detroit Music Award winning band Sweet Crystal. Along with founding members guitarist Bill Blatter and drummer Steve Wieser and now joined by newest member and bass player Martin Kuchar, we have been at the forefront of the Christian rock scene here in Michigan even before this genre had its own radio and broadcast outlets.
Unlike most bands who have a lifecycle of about three to five years, this band of high school buddies (myself, Bill and Steve) has been playing together for over 40 years. We got together right out of high school (and actually Bill and Steve played together during high school!). To this day we get together every week to rehearse, record and just enjoy each other’s company.
Does it get old after 4 decades together? Absolutely not! We just get better with age.
2. How would you describe your sound?
Basically, we are considered a Detroit progressive arena rock band and have been since we started this journey. In the beginning, we opened up for such classic rock acts as Bob Seger, Foghat, Nazareth, Steppenwolf and many more before finding our true path into the Christian music field.
We hope that the music, message and words we sing will make a difference in the lives of everyone who hears them. Our music is about us, but it’s also about you. We hope someone who hears our music – or attends a Sweet Crystal show – to come away feeling better about themselves, knowing that whatever they are dealing with, chances are we’ve dealt with it as well.
3. What bands/artists would you say have influenced your style of music?
We started out totally influenced by the progressive rock English music scene of the 60’s and 70’s: bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Atomic Rooster, Uriah Heep all left their musical marks on our writing and playing. We also listened to a lot of American bands like Kansas, Journey, Rush and Spock’s Beard to keep our creative juices flowing.
4. Has the rise of YouTube & music streaming helped or hindered you as a band?
It’s a whole new way of reaching new markets and fans. Much easier and faster than “back in the day” when you had to mail physical CDs (or cassettes or vinyl depending on your…age). The down side of course is the tsunami of music that gets released every day is overwhelming, making it increasingly hard to be heard above the noise.
We think all social media sites can be an asset to a band, a solo musician, or pretty much any creative when used correctly. There are so many ways to get yourself out there…but always remember that thousands of others doing exactly the same thing so take heart, do what you do with a good attitude and appreciate what comes your way. Don’t put the media and websites on a pedestal in your life but as simple creative rungs on your ladder along the way.
5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not making music?
It varies with each band member: I am big time into acting with four feature film roles and various television appearances. Guitarist Bill is into competitive marksmanship and was recently endorsed for ISP Technologies, a high-end music merchandiser here in Michigan. Drummer Steve takes to the golf course to release the extra energy he has and has gotten good enough to start competing in the professional circuit. Marty works with mentally challenged adults, giving back in a way that the rest of us admire more than he knows.
6. What are your future plans musically? Tours?
Getting ready for latest album ‘7th Heaven’ to make it’s way around the world! ‘7th Heaven’ starts bold out of the gate and continues where our last release ‘Got Your Six’ left off: songs of hope and inspiration featuring our signature guitar sounds, synth melodies, straight ahead drumming with just a few chanting monks thrown in for good measure. Not only 5 songs written by the band but we also cover a 80s song by Christian alt rockers The Call and even reach back even farther to the glory days of the 60’s Detroit music scene by ‘Crystalizing’ a classic SRC rock tune.
After this? New songs already being recorded for our next release ‘8’ this time around featuring more lead vocals from (guitarist) Bill. Booking shows and benefit concerts to play again as we all get back to normal. Already booking festivals for the summer now that live venues and events are opening back up – thank God!
Basically we plan to remain exactly who we are for as long as can. As our trademarked slogan puts it, we will continue to keep Reaching The World, One Song At A Time™