Belushi Speed Ball interview – a band that honors the crossover Metal sound of the 80’s

image480’s crossover Metal was a one of those unique subgenre’s that stamped the decade and contributed to being the best decade in Metal. The special ingredients of Thrash/Hardcore/Punk that created the crossover sound were something unseen, and could only have happened in the unique Metal environment that was 80’s Metal.

I was contacted by a dude named Vinny Crastellano, who gave me links to a horrifically named band Belushi Speed Ball. As always, I’m skeptical of anything I received, as it’s usually cookie-screamo with bad production. Well, I got what I expected on the production end, it’s crap, but musically I got something that sound as close to 80’s crossover that I’ve heard since, well, 80’s crossover. The vocals are still horrific but it works for what they are doing. It has all the punkish charm, the heavy riffs, the out of key repetitive anthemic chorus’, and the occasional epic Thrash section. I was pleasantly surprised, and it’s clear these guys are dedicated to honoring the retro sound. Cheapo stage theater aside, the live band is good and the recording’s capture that live feel, as well as the charm that defines the crossover sound.

Vinny made a mistake though, he asked me to review their music. Uhhh no, we don’t do reviews on request, hell, we do little in ways of reviews period (maybe that’ll change), but a request. Hell no. But I liked the balls he had to ask so instead I offered him a chance to share the story of his band. He was kind enough to do it and here it is. Wenches and gentlemen, let me introduce Thrashcore band Belushi Speed Ball.

Please introduce yourself and your band members. Who plays what?

My name is Vinny Crastellano. I play bass, do lead vocals, and am the front man for the 80s thrash core band, “Belushi Speed Ball”

The other members of the band are:

Chase Bensing – guitar, and backing vocals

Alex Rosas – Drums

Senor Diablo – Our useless manager, live vocals, sometimes plays bass, live comedy. I should mention Senor Diablo is the most important member of the band. He is the reason anyone shows up to our shows. He adds an atmosphere of crowd involvement that would be virtually impossible to create without him.image5

Their latest single
Scroll down for full EP

How did you guys get formed? What is the history of the members and the band?

The way we formed is kind of a snowball effect. I have been in and out of bands since I was 13, and I always played metal. However, I took a 3 year hiatus from playing music when I was finishing up at the University of Louisville (yes the same college that got kicked out of the NCAA tournament). At the time I was in the school of education (I am now a high school teacher). Once my observation hours started picking up and ultimately student teaching started I was unable to juggle playing music and getting my teaching career started.

Once I graduated and got my first job teaching I was not pursuing music. I met one of my best friends, Beau Kaelin. The man is a genius, and a local film director. In 2012-2013 he started directing a movie that required a live band. He asked me if I would help him form a fake black metal band just for the movie. The band had to actually play a live show, and play a full set (We ended up playing a bunch of misfits covers and one original you can watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxxSv15dHa8) it was a lot of fun. It also reminded me how much I miss music.

After the movie I ended up moving in with my now drummer at the time, Alex. Alex has some serious equipment in his basement (for anyone following our band’s Facebook page, there are several memes of this. The man literally has a wall of speakers in his basement). When I was living with him I decided that, I was going to record an E.P. and make a digital only band. The reasoning behind this was because every musician I knew was busy with work or a family, and I myself was a teacher. In other words, playing out at the time was not an option. I decided to try to go back to my roots, and make a five track E.P. of 80s style crossover thrash. I had a formula for the songs (They had to be a maximum of 3 minutes, keep a punk edge, and be as fast as possible while still maintaining a thrash sound). So I set out to record guitar using an interface, my drummer’s equipment and Cubase. The first song I wrote was “Los Muertos.” After recording the guitar, I asked Alex if he would record and track drums for me. He agreed to it, and after a few hours we had all the drum tracks laid down for the first song. Being a bassist first, I am not much of a lead guitarist (I am extra sloppy, and am limited to playing thrash metal with power chords). So I talked to my good friend, Chase Bensing (my now current guitarist). I have known chase since I was 18. Chase and me were in a deathcore band called, “the white lotus” that had a decent local cult following. He is also one of the most talented guitarists I know locally (other than Kevin Snook of Rose Funeral). I told him about the E.P I was making, and I needed a lead guitar solo on some of the songs. He excitedly agreed. I sent him the first song, and he recorded on his own equipment the guitar solo for “Los Muertos”. After he sent it back I talked to a buddy of mine in Ohio. Another musician who is unable to pursue his musical talents live due to having four kids, and being in law school. However, he is one of the best vocalists I ever met. I also told him my idea, and he agreed to lay vocals down for me. I sent him the track, and he sent it back mastered and with vocals. You can listen to that track here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-mr8c3IJ3c After this track was recorded, the guys could not believe it. They totally understood my vision. Even though the recordings are rough, it was the sound I wanted, and it really came together nicely.

This process continued on for the entire E.P. I ended up recording four original songs, and a cover of a Misfits song, “We Bite”. I went with the name, “Belushi Speed Ball” for the band. A buddy of mine, Lee Hysinger, actually came up with the name. I was telling him I had the album completed and I needed a name that represented the style of music and it needed to be somewhat comical. I kept telling him I wanted to use an “Animal House” reference. Lee right away said, “Well if it’s thrash metal, A.K.A., speed metal, “Belushi Speed ball”. The name was perfect because it represented the humor we put into the song lyrics. It also helped bring some attention to one of America’s greatest comedians, and hopefully stays a constant reminder of the tragedy that was his death. My father was somebody who passed away from a heart attack, and struggled with drug addiction in his life. The name actually has a deeper meaning than people think.

After the E.P. was made, we decided to play one show, and push the E.P. for sale. Unfortunately the lead singer of the original E.P. lived five hours north in Ohio (we are located in Louisville) and would be unable to do the show with us. I took over vocal duties (I am half the vocalist the original singer was), and the guitarist did backing vocals. When we went to play our show, we decided to enlist the help of a friend of ours (who shall remain anonymous). We decided to have him be our band manager (much in the vain of Sleazy P. Martini). We had him basically interrupt our set, get crowd participation, smash me in the face with the mic on accident, trip over cords. To our surprise the crowd loved it. They literally were cheering for “Senor Diablo.”

After we had such a good turnout at the show, and the most fun we ever had playing live we decided to take the band more serious. What started off as more of a “me” thing, (with the help of other individuals), it became an “us” thing. With four members all starting to contribute equally the band has become its own entity. We are starting to gain a little bit of a cult following due to our crazy live antics, which often contain live comedy bits. People have stated to us, “you guys literally put on a show, it is like watching theater.” Unfortunately, the guitarist and I are still on vocal duty. However, the disgusting horrendous vocals somehow help establish the sound we are going for. Which is a mix of thrash music, punk rock, and hardcore. A long story to explain how the band was formed, but it is crazy to think that 3 years ago it started off as just the pursuit of recording an E.P.image3

Who or what inspires you and why? What bands inspire the band?

Most our songs are written about cartoons. Pop culture in general inspires us when writing songs. We try to make songs that make people laugh, and make them feel like they are in with us on “the inside joke”. We really want to do something different. We keep the lyrics PG-13, we never really talk about the cliché metal topics, and we try to put as many 80s and 90s references within the songs as possible. A cartoon show we really love is, “Regular Show”. The show is basically one giant reference to anyone’s childhood that was in the 80s or 90s. We really try to model the band after that idea.

As far as musicians who influence us, I think that is different for each member. I can split this into two categories of influences. The music and the live performance. The music aspect has obvious influences by original hardcore bands like D.R.I., the misfits (Earth A.D.) era, S.O.D., Cro-Mags. As well as thrash influences by Anthrax, slayer, Exodus, Death. Also, I personally am influenced by some current bands that are doing the style of music perfect, Municipal waste, Toxic Holocaust, and Ghoul all come to mind. Our guitarist is definitely a huge fan of Protest the Hero. Our drummer loves Dream Theater and Metallica. The person that plays Senor Diablo is a huge fan of all music looking at his album catalog he has Dead Kennedys, Yes!, Daikaiju (an underground surf rock band), Jefferson airplane, Sepultura, Tom Wates.

The point is the list goes on and on. The music is a hodgepodge of thrash/punk/ and hardcore, and even though at face value that band seems very shallow, there is a level of depth and thought when it comes to the influence to create our sound.

The live performance is influenced by bands like Gwar, Ghoul, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Spinal Tap, (I hate to even list them so Please don’t flip out but…) Insane Clown Posse (hear me out!!!) Bands that actually put a huge emphasis on live performance. They put just as much emphasis on the live show as well as the music. I can honestly say I have never missed a Gwar show (before the passing of Dave, I still love them, but I seem to always miss them when they are on tour now) when they came near KY for 10 years. I did like the music, but that’s not why I went to see them. Seeing a band that puts so much emphasis on their live performance, makes you feel like you are a part of the show. It is just so much fun. We try to do this in every live performance.

Any new releases in the works? What is the release date? Where can metalheads buy your music? How many recordings does the band have?

We just released a new E.P. “Regretfully Endorsed By Senor Diablo” It features songs called Wumbology (it’s about my son’s favorite episode of Spongebob), and Gnome Chompsky (about trying to get an achievement in left for dead). We are currently editing a music video for Gnome Chompsky. The E.P. was released in December 2015 digitally. A hard copy of it will be available after March 12, which is our Album Release show at Haymarket Bourbon bar in Louisville, KY.  The album also features the art work of Yoko Molotov. A local artist who is just incredible.

Metalheads could buy our new E.P. on Itunes, Spotify, Amazon Prime, Google Plus. Just type in, “Belushi Speed Ball.” And I promise it will pop up. Seriously though it only exists on those sites in case someone stumbles upon us on there.

However!!!!! I want to encourage Metal heads to download the album for free from our band camp. Both E.P.s are on there. The band’s bandcamp is belushispeedball.bandcamp.com

If you don’t want to go that route, listen to it for free on youtube

The full E.P.

All the individual songs are also on youtube. You can download the album off youtube by just going to a youtube to mp3 website.

To anyone that likes metal don’t pay to listen us, every member in the band has a decent paying job. We are not doing this to try to get rich, or to make a dime off of our music. We just want to share what we love with anyone willing to give us a chance. This is our art. Go get our art for free!

As of now we have two E.P.s the third is written, and we will start the recording process in April.

If you record again, are you guys going to do this completely independently, or are you looking for label support?

The goal is always to get label support. We aren’t looking for necessarily to be rich. We just would love the distribution and the connections that are made with having a label back you up. Also we really just love playing live. This summer we are going on a very small tour, and we would love to be able to play out of state and pack venues. A goal that is much easier with a record label.

What band would you tour with (if you could pick any) and why?

Oh god, I assume this is a question to where we have to pick one band! God bless I would give my left nut to tour with Toxic Holocaust. Everything that Joel Grind has done, is so similar to how “Belushi Speed Ball” started out. Except that man is a million times more talented than me. I am sure the other members of “Belushi Speed Ball” would have their ideal band they would want to tour with. But our two styles of music would mesh pretty nicely. I will never forget the first time I saw Toxic holocaust. I watched them open up for Gwar in a venue in Louisville called, “Oasis”. This place was normally an all ages night club. The venue is shaped like a double wide trailer (very narrow and long). My mind literally was blown when they started playing. They are a three piece band (much like the core of our group doing the music in “Belushi Speed Ball” is a three piece) and they kill it everytime.

What gear do you guys use?’

Since we a three piece

I will start with the guitarist’s gear. The guitarist actually manages to do solos, and the rhythm guitar at the same time. He would be better off explaining the brands of his loop pedals, but he uses two half stack amps. They are placed on both sides of the drummer to give off the illusion that we have two guitarists. One amp is an Engl powerball, and the other is a Genz Benz Diablo. Often he will send a harmony to come out of one amp, while he plays the main riff through the other. Extremely talented musician. Guitar wise he plays a schector, and a les paul. He has a 7 string schector, but he does not use it for our band.

My drummer uses a pearl drum set

I play out of a Behringer BVT5500h with a matching cab. The bass I use belonged to my father. It is a 1976 gibson thunderbird.

Please do not quote me on the guitarists equipment either. I am blessed to have two members of the band be extreme gear heads. Their depth of knowledge is incredible.image1

What are the plans for the future? Any tour plans? Any upcoming shows? Let us know so we can post them on our FB Page.

We will record the third E.P. continuing playing shows, and yes we have a small tour planned this summer. We will start booking it in March. We plan to go up to Wisconsin (were I am from) and back. It will be a very small tour, and it is just going to be for a week in June.

We do have an upcoming record release show. It is March 12 at Haymarket Bourbon bar 331 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202. It is completely free! Also we will be playing a show locally at Louisville’s house of blood in April.

How is your new album going to differ from your first?

I really rushed with the first E.P. to try to get it done. I realized that if I didn’t complete it within a few months, I may never complete it. The second E.P. is a drastic improvement (although you may not be able to tell) compared to the first. The timing is better, the songs are better written, and there is a little bit more technical sections. However, we are a thrash core band. So our albums are meant to kind of be rough sounding. The third album is going to have much more input from the entire band. We also will take our time with it, and try to make it as perfect as possible.

What is your favorite song by the band and why?

Personally Wumbology (it’s first grade spongebob) off our second album is my favorite song we recorded. The breakdown in it every time makes me want to rip somebody’s face off when playing it live. However favorite song to play live is one that will be on our third album called, “You can’t Rocksteady without a little Bebop.” The song is about as punk/hardcore as you can get, it is ultrafast, and at the very end we do a breakdown that mocks all the breakcore bands of the mid 2000s (nothing wrong with Emmure but it is a tongue and cheek parody of that style of music). We literally keep slowing down the breakdown for a good 8 minutes straight, and between each time playing it, we make the crowd do the “Cleveland Indians chop” with us. It is definitely a blast to play.

In closing is there anything you would like to add?

Go like our facebook page: facebook.com/belushispeedballband

I just want to thank anyone who gave us a chance and read this interview, thank you Carlos for “pimping” us out. We truly love what we do, and we do strive to be different. Do us a favor, to anyone who is a metal fan. Download our music, burn it on a cd, give it to a buddy. Send our youtube links to eachother, post our music on your facebook wall. Talk about us on social media. We are a band that has our hearts set in the right place.

I would be lying to you guys if I said I didn’t want fame. The truth is though, I don’t want money. I just want to be able to play out as much as possible, and have as many people there enjoying our art. After all we are a band that thrives on crowd participation.image2

Carlos:

So there you have it Metalheads, your first intro to the Thrashcore band known as Belushi Speed Ball. They sound so wrong but do it right in some weird cosmic injustice sort of way. Check them out. \m/

— Carlos

Comments

comments