Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 1, 2010

Local band Blitzkid primed for new recording session and tour

FALLS MILLS, Va. — Two guys from Tazewell County — Steve Matthews and Tracy Byrd — are still looking for the break that will take them to the next level in their quest for musical recognition, but they’re both in it for the long haul.

Matthews, 31, and Byrd, 33, form the nucleus of a melodic punk band called Blitzkid. They perform under the names of Argyle Goolsby and T.B. Monstrosity, and their music is catching on in a variety of U.S. venues. Blitzkid is one of 34 bands that will be performing at the Amphi Festival de Cologne, July 24-25, a show that will put them in front of as many as 50,000 fans.

“We’ve been fortunate to go back overseas again this year,” Byrd said. “This will make our tenth time touring Europe. We’re only going for one show — the show in Cologne — but we’ll see what happens from there.”

Blitzkid is no stranger to performing in front of big crowds. They performed at the Summer Breeze Festival in 2007 with 40,000 in the audience. “The stage was so big and we were so far away that we had to yell at each other,” Matthews said. “All I can say is thank God for set lists.”

Matthews and Byrd have been performing together since 1997. Blitzkid has experienced personnel changes through the years, but the group has survived. In 2006, Blitzkid performed 260 shows from June through December, but life on the road can be challenging for and band.

“What can I say?” Matthews said. “It’s a pirate’s life.”

“Not a lot of sleep when you’re on the road like that,” Byrd said.

Matthews and Byrd are both articulate, obviously well-read and extremely committed to taking their music to the next level. They recently signed a recording contract with Century Media Records, the American imprint of a label that traces its origins to Germany in 1988.

In early July, Blitzkid will be headed into a recording studio to make their seventh studio album — this one has the working title, “Apparitional,” and will feature 14 songs that the band has been working on since their last studio recording, “Five Cellars Below,” in 2006. After the recording session, they’ll head to Germany, and their annual European tour.

“The problem we have is that it’s hard to maintain a regular job when we’re not on tour,” Byrd said. “It’s hard to go to an employer and say: ‘Hey. I want a job, but when summer comes, I’m going to need three months off to tour with my band. It doesn’t make a good resume builder.”

“We’re both really blessed to have supportive families, supportive friends and even supportive employers,” Matthews said. “There is nothing that we would like better than to tour in the summer and come back and work on new material the rest of the year.”

Byrd plays guitar, Matthews plays bass, and Rick Fleischer — “Ricko Borgo” on stage — plays drums. Byrd and Matthews both have their own model instruments. Byrd plays a guitar called “The Doomsday Device” after the Road Warriors professional wrestling team, and Matthews’ bass is called Haxxan, a name taken from a Danish silent horror movie. The Doomsday Device is made by Plan 916 out of Sacramento, Calif., and Haxxan is manufactured by October Guitars out of Savage, Md.

“Both of our manufacturers say that our guitars are doing quite well for them,” Byrd said. “It really makes you feel good to know that someone came in to buy the same kind of guitar that their favorite musician plays, and that musician turns out to be me. It’s humbling.”

Byrd and Matthews are hoping that their new recording will move them up a notch in the music world, but they’re not just banking on that.

“Are we going to make it? We’re not going to worry about that. Every day is different when we’re on the road. We come back home, rejuvenate and we’re ready to start making plans for our next tour,” Matthews said. “On the road, you have condensed moments of excellence followed by lapses of time. When you go out on tour, it’s like a blitz.”

“We believe in what we’re doing,” Byrd said. “Money or no money, we do it because we love it. All we want to do is play our music and pay our bills.”

Matthews said that Century Media Records has set a preliminary release date for October.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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