Winners Of 24 Detroit Music Award | An Interview With Sweet Crystal

What was the beginning point for your music career? How did it all start? 

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. 

Was there any bump on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with? 

The biggest challenge was when I (MarQ) found out I had a hole in one of my vocal chords – something I  was apparently born with. It caused great issues with my singing (and eventually talking) so surgery was  finally decided on to repair it. The results and rehab started out very badly, bringing me literally to my  knees, having to give it all over to God. Long story short, God brought me to this and then through this and  that miracle changed both my and the band’s direction into our careers, a direction that we stay true to all  these decades later. 

What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far? 

2020/2021 were challenging years for us – and everyone for that matter. What we decided to do over that  time was to release 4 singles from our upcoming release ‘7th Heaven’ with video support (on our YouTube  channel and other social sites) but thought waiting until this New Year for the full album release (with the  

very challenging last two years behind us) might be just the spark our fans and audiences would appreciate  to make 2022 a much happier New Year indeed. 

We did have a great experience of live streaming a thirty-minute performance from our personal studio  here outside of Detroit. It’s also up on our Sweet Crystal YouTube channel along with a lot of our other  online and live event videos. These 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 missed the live audience feedback of a concert  appearance but this at least kept us smiling.  

How would you describe the music that you typically create? 

Basically, we are considered a Detroit progressive Christian 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 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.

What is your creative process like? 

I (MarQ) am the main source of starting songs. I have musical and melodic ideas that I present to the guys  at every rehearsal (and we still rehearse after all these decades pretty much every week at our private  studio) and then they all add their input and expertise to make every song a real band production. We  constantly record every rehearsal and jam session because you never know when a new riff will open up  the creative juices. The final song arrangements are usually dictated by the lyrics (verses, choruses, etc.),  which I pretty much exclusively write. We also play a lot of freeform jams at our rehearsals and out of those  spontaneous creative moments, we pick melodies, chord patterns and themes that just seem to  be…sweeter to our ears. It really is a full band thing on each song. 

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be? 

Stop promoting competitions between 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. 

If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be? 

You need to be true to yourself as an artist because if your music doesn’t speak to you, as the  writer/performer how well will it speak to new listeners? 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. 

What has been the best performance of your career so far? 

Tough to single out just one: 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. 

If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now? 

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.

What is new with the band at the moment? What are you currently working on and would like to share  with the world? We just finished our latest release ‘7th Heaven’ – which happens to be our 7th CD as well – and it dropped  everywhere (digital downloads, streaming and physical CDs) on Valentine’s Day making that holiday… even Sweeter. This latest album ‘7th Heaven’ 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. 

Our complete discography can be heard over at our Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages. 

BANDCAMP: https://sweetcrystal.bandcamp.com 

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/sweet_crystal 

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 that rock! Basically we plan to remain exactly who we are for as long as can. 

WEBSITE: www.sweetcrystal.com 
SPOTIFY: http://tinyurl.com/y76vcpqg 
TWITTER: www.twitter.com/sweet_crystal 
YOUTUBE: www.youtube.com/c/SweetCrystal  
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/SweetCrystalBand 
REVERBNATION: www.reverbnation.com/sweetcrystal

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