Winners of the 2011/2012/2013 Detroit Music Award For Outstanding Gospel/Christian Act
Sweet Crystal is a very rare group of musicians. Not only has the band remained in existence for an impressive 39 years, but also the core trio of Marq Speck (lead vocals, keyboards), Bill Blatter (guitar, vocals) and Steve Wieser (drums) has remained intact for the entirety of that time. That’s a lifetime of quality hard, progressive rock music; of honing their skills as musicians and artists and generating a respectable fan base. Perhaps most importantly, a continuing quest refining their sound and standing on the front lines of the Michigan Christian rock scene, even before that particular branch of music had a name.
Sweet Crystal was formed in the winter of ‘71/’72, as the three young men were leaving high school and choosing their individual life-paths. As it happens, they were destined to spend the next four decades together, and Sweet Crystal would spend the ‘80s opening for bands as diverse as Bob Seger, Nazareth, Steppenwolf, Foghat, Rare Earth and Stryper.
In ’85, Brownsville Station drummer and gold-record-awarded Blackfoot producer Henry “H-Bomb” Weck sat behind the desk for Sweet Crystal’s debut EP, Power-N-Glory, which was subsequently released on the Nightcrier Music label. The band spent the ‘90s in the studio, writing and recording songs for independent films, corporate client events and personal music projects until, in 2003, they released Still Standing…, their second record and debut full-length release.
The new millennium also saw the band reaching fans across the globe, thanks to the Internet. Taking advantage of the new technology available to them, the band re-released Power-N-Glory in re-mastered form (tagged Resurrected Masters), and saw the album generate as much excitement as it did first time around.
Recently, Sweet Crystal has gone from strength to strength, signing with the Tate Music Group (TMG), a high profile Christian music label out of Oklahoma.
“After a recent showcase in Nashville,” says Speck, “an acquisition agent from TMG contacted us about taking over production and marketing of the next CD and we quickly agreed. This should be a great partnership in getting to a wider audience.”
The singer is right. Their new record deal is seeing Sweet Crystal gain new fans both from the Christian rock scene, but also with all fans of progressive and hard rock. With influences ranging from Queensryche, Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd to Styx, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Queen, there is plenty in the Sweet Crystal arsenal to please all fans of quality rock ’n’ roll.
For proof, listen to Sweet Crystal’s latest full-length album, 3. Recently released, the record has generated stellar reviews and song rotation on radio stations and Internet music sites across the globe. Nearly 40 years into their career, and the band are still reaching more and more people with their message. “We’ve always wanted to reach the world with the message in our music,” says Speck. “Our songs are meant to inspire and leave the listener feeling better about themselves and the direction their lives can take.”
What’s new for the band this year? Sweet Crystal just added a fourth member to its line-up after 20 years of being a power trio. Bassist Marty Zarski has joined the group, adding a foundation and dimension to both the live show and future recordings. Coming from a Grammy-winning musical family, Marty brings over 30 years of his own experience to a group that has no plans to stop playing any year soon.