Talented teenage drummer Matthew Graham is making noises in the music industry with world-famous heavy metal band Blitzkrieg.
The Sunderland College music student is still on an adrenaline high after performing to thousands of fans during the band’s recent South American tour, which took in seven countries in only two weeks.
Matthew, 18, who joined the band in March, said: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely nervous but it was an amazing experience. It was absolutely crazy – we would finish one gig and then be on a plane an hour later to go to the next one, and we would be awake for 50 hours at a time.”
Blitzkrieg – which was part of the new wave of British heavy metal music movement in the 1980s alongside iconic bands such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Motorhead – has a huge following in Europe, Japan and North and South America.
They are most notably known for their famous Blitzkrieg/Buried Alive single which was covered by heavy metal giants Metallica on their Creeping Death EP.
The band’s nine-date tour ranged from intimate gigs in front of just a couple of hundred people in Peru and Ecuador to performances at massive venues including the O2 arena in Chile.
Matthew, from Penshaw, added: “Our fans in South America have been asking us to go over there for years, so they were hugely appreciative. After the gig in Argentina, fans were coming up to me and saying it was incredible that I’m doing this at a young age. It has been a massive confidence booster and it spurs me on to perform at a high level.”
The gifted musician was first discovered by Blitzkrieg founding member and lead singer Brian Ross when he was only 14.
Matthew had only been drumming for a matter of months when Brian and his son Alan, who plays lead guitar in the band, saw him perform with a friend in Washington.
He said: “They came up to me afterwards and said they were really impressed with what they had seen. I am mostly self-taught and they couldn’t believe some of the things I had done considering I hadn’t been drumming for very long.”
After collaborating with Brian on a number of his musical projects, a drumming spot became available in Blitzkrieg earlier this year and Matthew hasn’t looked back since.
As well as the sold-out South American tour, the band have performed at Metal Days Festival in Slovenia and Headbangers Open Air Festival in Germany this summer, and have just released their album ‘A Time of Changes’, which was originally recorded in 1985.
And next year doesn’t look to be any less hectic for the band members, who have started writing a new album and have already confirmed they will be performing in Spain and London, as well as potentially touring North America and Europe.
Despite his commitments to the band, Matthew is continuing to work hard at Sunderland College where he is studying a foundation degree in applied music practice.
He originally joined the college when he was 16, studying AS psychology and sociology, and A-Levels in English language and performing arts. After completing his initial studies, Matthew decided he wanted to pursue his passion for music by completing a higher education programme at the college’s multi-million pound Arts Academy at Bede Campus.
Matthew added: “I love studying at the college. The lecturing staff are incredibly supportive of what I do and have kindly given me the go ahead to take the time off that I need. My dream is to become a full-time professional drummer, but I also want to train as a music teacher so it’s important that I work hard at the college to achieve my goals.
“Music will always be a part of my life, whatever I’m doing. I still pinch myself when I think about what I have achieved so far. I would never say I’m complacent, and although I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, I also feel incredibly lucky to have all these people around me who see something in me and have helped me to develop.”
Tony Wilson, music lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “Matthew is an exceptionally talented drummer and we knew it was only a matter of time before he would be balancing his studies with touring the world.
“We are fully supportive of our students who have to juggle performing commitments with college work as we believe it is vital to nurture and develop their talents to ensure their success.”