Interview: Sweet Crystal (Written – 2024)

Progressive, powerful and passionate: the music of Sweet Crystal is universal in its appeal and eternal in its message. The musicians that make up Sweet Crystal – MarQ Andrew Speck (lead vocals and keys), Bill Blatter (guitars and vocals), Steve Wieser (drums), Martin Kuchar (bass) – are on the front line of Christian rock music, holding high the message of the Cross. Welcome to the world of 5 Carat Rock: sweet, very sweet indeed!

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1. Hello! Thank you for taking the time to chat to us. First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started.

I’m Marq Andrew Speck (please call me Q – all my friends do!), lead vocalist and keyboard player for 26-time Detroit Music Award winning band SWEET CRYSTAL (www.sweetcrystal.com). Along with founding members guitarist Bill Blatter and drummer Steve Wieser and now 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 now 50 years! Seriously, 2024 has been designated as our Golden Jubilee Celebration year. That’s 5 decades of the music, message, mission and ministry. Not too many bands can claim this achievement we’re thinking. To this day we get together every week to rehearse, record and just enjoy each other’s company. Does it get old 5 decades together? Absolutely not! We just get better with age.

2. Someone comes to you and asks you to sum up what kind of music you play – what do you tell them?

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 their circumstances, knowing that whatever they are dealing with, chances are we’ve dealt with it as well.

3. What’s currently going on in your camp? New releases? Tours? Etc.

This year finds us following up last year’s award winning ‘7TH Heaven’ CD with the release of the first track from our upcoming release ‘8’. The song ‘Whatever Is Needed, Whatever It Takes’ is a guitar-laden, keyboard soaked stadium rock anthem that should inspire and energize our fans, followers and new listeners alike. It’s a song of hope and inspiration featuring our signature guitar sounds, synth melodies, straight ahead drumming with just a few hundred fans joining in on the choruses for good measure. In it’s first month since it dropped, it’s already gotten over 41 thousand streams on Spotify – that seems pretty sweet to us.

4. What has been the most positive experience of making music to date for you?

For us, it’s been the live shows that have afforded us the most opportunities to enjoy what we do by connecting with fans. We’ve all been playing since we were teenagers – actually Bill (guitar) and Steve (drummer) played together during high school. I came along later, during our college years and we all set out to make it our fulltime jobs (which we did for many years – 6 ½ tons of gear, 4-man road crew). The three of us – the core-founding members – have never stopped playing together since then (although live touring did stop for a time). 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.

Today? We think that adding all the social media sites can be an asset to the band when used correctly. There are so many ways to get ourselves out there…but we always remember that thousands of others doing exactly the same thing so we take heart, doing what we do with a good attitude and appreciate what comes our way.

5. Likewise, what has been some of the more challenging aspects and how have you overcome them?

We think that modern day technology might be a two edged sword for artists and bands. Technology today allows instant creativity and feedback, multiple methods of production and experimentation but also means that with so many choices, a person can get lost in the process and never complete anything. Software and plug-ins emulate every amp or instrument every imagined, drum beats and song structures created with a mouse click – and the spirit that makes a song original can truly be made lifeless because of the ease of digital manipulation.

6. How do you handle the modern expectations of being in a band? Always online, having to put out content constantly, your success measured in likes and follows?

What today’s musician has, thanks in part to social media, is an entire world that can be accessed, a gateway to distribute and promote their masterpieces in ways and speeds totally unheard of when Sweet Crystal started out…but that also means there is a continual flood of music being produced and released every single minute of the day and getting your music heard above that roar… daunting to say the least.

7. What’s something that really ‘grinds your gears’ about the industry/business these days and what would you propose is done to combat it?

Two things: ‘Pay To Play’ gigs that require bands to sell tickets to the show if they want to play (along with 5 or 6 other bands, meaning only 30 minute sets allowed per band). Next: stop promoting competitions between these artists and bands – there is room in the world for everyone’s style of music. There is a negative to chasing current mainstream music trends but will staying true to your personal music vision and path – that will lift you and your listeners to a higher satisfaction in life.

8. Speaking directly to listeners – what would you ask they do to help support your music?

One of the main reasons we are a 26-time Detroit Music Award winning band is because our fans have been with us for so many decades. We stay true to our musical course and they stay true to their support of us. We continue because they continue…a blessing to everyone in SWEET CRYSTAL. So what we have to say to all of the fans is: “You are all blessings to the band”. Our followers and fans always step up and spread the message in our music because they, like us, know what’s truly important. Our trademarked slogan “Reaching The World, One Song At A Time” ™ pretty much says it all about our music, message, mission and ministry. We are here to reach out to a world with songs of hope and inspiration; a musical light at the end of every dark tunnel you might be going through because chances are good – we’ve gone through those very same tunnels ourselves and definitely have found a way out.

9. Outside of the music, what’s do you do to relax?

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 pro-am circuit. Marty works with mentally challenged adults, giving back in a way that the rest of us admire more than he knows.

10. Where can people find you?

Best bet to catch us would be by signing up for our email newsletters on our website or over at our Reverbnation page (see links below). That will keep you in the know for all our appearances and new music as well as getting a look at our overall catalogue.




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Author

  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!