Here is Hoboken's answer to Jersey rock in its purest form. Having recently reunited, these guys are on a roll, and you can catch them at several notable venues in the coming months.
Members John Vincent Olsen (lead singer/guitar), Dominick Menge (lead guitar/vocals), Gerard Ciandella (drums/vocals), Billy Roz (Bass/vocals), and Dave Florio (keyboard) love rock and roll, and have a very positive outlook, one that they aim to pass along. They are passionate about telling stories through music that have a clean message and a healthy influence.
Their original songs offer messages about everything from parenthood to peace, and "Take Me Home" is, of course, about their love for hometown Hoboken.
Krystal has deeper roots in Hoboken than most of us can boast, and began making music together on its streets as teenage boys in the late 70s.
"We would beg, borrow, and steal for places to play," lead singer, John admits.
They gathered together wherever they could manage... on street corners, in friends' apartments along Washington St, and even in an abandoned gas station on Observer Highway.
They laughingly recall being a nuisance to the owner of Michelina's Deli (the mother of their original drummer), who would take her broomstick to the ceiling when she'd had enough of them practicing in the apartment above her business.
All members attended Hoboken High School, and began playing together at only 15 years old. They all agree that the chemistry was immediate, and when they started writing music, "magic happened."
To decide on a name for their new group, the boys spun a globe, stopping it with one finger. It pointed to Krystal, a small town in Greece, and that became their name.
"We rocked Hudson County," lead guitarist, Dominick proudly remembers, piling hundreds of fans into area venues such as Bloomfield Street Café (which is now Puerto Spain) in Hoboken, and Kenny's Castaways in Manhattan.
They also won a battle of the bands contest in 1985, proving that they could outplay their competition.
The guys went their separate ways in the mid 80s, when marriages and children took precedence over gigs and practice time, but that wasn't to be the end of their story. Friends and family of the band members met coincidentally and, after discovering their friends in common, put Krystal back in touch.
When lead singer John was having a solo concert, he asked the other four members of Krystal to play a few songs with him for old time's sake.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, and they were moved and thrilled by the experience of playing together. It was clear to everyone that a reunion was in order. That was the fall of 2007, and they've been rocking ever since.
New album, new shows
While they're proud of their self-titled CD "Krystal," which they unleashed to a packed house a few weeks ago at a CD release party at Maxwell's, they feel their real strength is in live performance.
"We put on a real show. Our goal is to make people have a great time," said John.
They perform favorite originals, as well as putting their own stamp on covers of the bands that have inspired them, such as Styx, Kansas, and Led Zeppelin.
They all agreed that, "We're serious, and we're going for it."
They're giving their free time and energy because they love to play, and that's the kind of act that inspires fans. "Think big and you'll be big," Gerard said.
Their recent reunion has already met with some impressive success.
Westwill Media, an Internet radio station out of Chicago, had their hit "Mommy Loves Baby" at number one for seven weeks by listeners' choice.
Their first visit back to Maxwell's last December brought a sold-out crowd of new and old fans, and was "like a Hoboken reunion."
See them live
Gerard added that they are "always open to giving back," and will happily donate their time for fundraisers, particularly relating to Hoboken residents.
Your chance to catch Krystal at one of their favorite venues is right around the corner, when they open for John Cafferty at The Stone Pony on Saturday, Aug. 23.
The band will also appear at Hoboken's Italian Festival on Sept. 7 and at The Whiskey Bar on Sept. 26 at 10 p.m. For more information, visit: www.myspace.com/krystalreturns.
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