SWEET CRYSTAL Interview 21/02/22
MM: Can you tell us about your Band and who’s your biggest influences
I’m Marq Andrew Speck, lead vocalist and keyboard player for 24-time Detroit Music Award winning band SWEET CRYSTAL (www.sweetcrystal.com). 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. 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. 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.
MM: Who do you draw your inspirations and ideas from:
People overcoming physical and mental handicaps on a daily basis are inspirations. All my personal problems are of no consequence compared to those who have been injured in military conflicts. You don’t have to support any war, but you have to support every warrior… and Sweet Crystal does! Being a Christian progressive rock band, of course, the Bible is a huge inspiration for lyrics and themes, but more than that – we try and write songs that offer hope, inspiration and always a light at the end of every dark tunnel in life. Chances are, whatever the listener is going through, one of us has also struggled with it as well, If we can point them in the same direction that got us through, maybe that will be all they need to triumph as well.
MM: What would you say is your Band’s favourite song ? That’s a tough one as we have so many songs released over the years. Probably “Foot Of The Cross” (from our ‘QUAD’ CD - https://sweetcrystal.bandcamp.com/album/quad ) because it’s a full throttle rock song that features Bill on some great slide guitar and allows me to play from underneath the keyboard rig for my solos (a signature Q move with videos to prove it), adding just another layer of sweet to the show.
MM: Plans tour and festival wise for 2022
Even though 2020/21 were very tough years for us - and everyone for that matter, what with the closing of most venues and other places to play out - we had the great experience of Live Streaming a 30-minute performance from our personal studios Nightcrier Music here outside of Detroit. It’s up on our YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/AW776sHKAes along with a lot of other online and live event videos that give a pretty sweet view into all things Crystal. It turns out this was a great way for our fans and new audiences to experience who we are and what we offer musically while relaxing at home or anywhere they can get the web. We miss the live audience feedback of a concert appearance but this at least kept us smiling.Online mostly until venues and festivals fully open back up. When they do – we will certainly be ready!
MM: What can we expect from SWEET CRYSTAL live
Take a look at any of our live show videos over on our YouTube channel and you can see the passion and polish that we bring to every SWEET CRYSTAL show: YOUTUBE: www.youtube.com/c/SweetCrystal We have quite a catalogue of original material so picking the right songs for the venue, anticipated crowd type or event is a very liquid procedure. I (Marq Andrew Speck – keys/lead vocals) decide which songs will best fit the event, put them into either a sequenced order for the biggest shows or just call them out in our smaller “SWEET CRYSTAL LITE” shows (our acoustic based shows) depending on how I read the crowd. MM: What do you like best and worst about touring GOOD: New venues, new fans – always unexpected and exciting. BAD: The agonizingly long drive to get there…and then to get back home.
MM: Which three Bands would be your ultimate touring buddies
Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic) David Winans’ Pi Second Hand Mojo
MM: What's the most memorable concert you've been to (other than your own) and why
The “Operation: Mindcrime” tour by Queensryche so impressed and energized the band that we realized that our brand of ‘arena rock’ was still alive and well and that the direction our music was going was sure to find audiences open to it. It was the spark we needed to just keep going… and we still are to this day!
MM: What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment so far
Opening for Bob Seger & Silver Bullet Band one New Year’s Eve in the 70’s (Wing Stadium, Kalamazoo) was amazing for us at our (then) very young age; we played the Cornerstone Festival (largest Christian rock festival in the US) in 2010 which also marked a milestone for us but probably it would be opening the venerable Detroit Music Awards show in 2016 where we also swept every category we were nominated in. That was quite a year for us. MM: Which are your Two favourite Albums of all time “Meddle” by Pink Floyd (the song ‘Echoes’ was the very first song we ever learned for our live show way back in the day) “Operation: Mindcrime” by Queensryche Absolutely stellar album from beginning to end
MM: Can you remember the first time you ever played live and how it felt to have people watching you?
Hard to say what our very first “official” gig was (although there are some telltale photos online documenting those days and nights…). 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.
MM: Growing up which Bands posters did you have on your bedroom wall.
The “Dark Side Of The Moon” Pink Floyd poster was always proudly displayed. Also a poster of Jimi Hendrix playing Detroit’s Cobo Hall is still hanging in our studio.
MM - Who do you think influenced the world of Metal / Rock more than any other person Jimi Hendrix for guitar, Ronnie James Dio for vocals, Neil Pert for drums, Keith Emerson for keyboards, Chris Squire for bass… so many options.
MM - What's the most important thing to the band right now?
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.
MM:If you could do a cover of any song which one would it be and why? Actually we do take other artist’s song that we like and ‘Crystalize’ them making them way different than the originals. We’ve done this to songs from The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Call and even Motley Crue! Check out our whole catalog to find these at our Bandcamp site: BANDCAMP: https://sweetcrystal.bandcamp.com
MM: Tell us why we should buy and listen to your Band As we get ready for latest album ‘7th HEAVEN’ to officially drop next week (2/14/22 everywhere you download or stream)., we’d say this: ‘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.
MM: Four words to describe your band:
Timeless Christian Progressive Rock MM: Final Words for your fans and our readers Basically we plan to remain exactly who we are for as long as can. 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. Come, go with us – there’s always a seat for you at our table.