Interview with Vinny Castellano from Belushi Speed Ball


Vincent Castellano, photo credit, Mat Schladen
Belushi Speed Ball is the brainchild of Louisville, Kentucky teacher Vincent Castellano and are known for being one of the most energetic and crowd inspiring thrash metal bands around. Sean had a chance to zoom with Vinny the other night after witnessing Belushi Speed Ball win over a hometown crowd in Summerville, South Carolina.

Sean: Hey!

Vinny: Hey, I'm outside right now, grilling burgers!

S: Burgers? Where's the pizza?

V: *Laughs*

S: It's funny because I'm in a heavy metal group on Facebook and I asked the people there to come up with the craziest questions they could for Belushi Speed Ball and they were all about sandwiches and I was like, where are all the pizza questions?!

V: Right.

S: But really, what is the best style of pizza? Or your favorite pizza? Now it's a serious type question.

V: Well, we tell everyone Spinelli's because we're from Louisville, Kentucky. But really, I love all pizza. Since I don't discriminate. But, I really, really love Detroit-style pizza. When we're up in Detroit, we'll stop at Buddy's or some of the other places up there. I just like the crust, I like the way they do it. They put it in a GM parts bin and that's why it's square and put oil in it and it's deep fried. It's the crust. And I'm Italian and my Nana used to make pizza fritte, which is just fried pizza dough, just pan seared. So Good!

S: That sounds so good!

V: Delicious. I mean, it's awful for you but yeah, it's really good. *laughs*

S: So I've read some articles on the band to familiarize myself with Belushi Speed Ball, but maybe you could give me your origin story in your own words right now?

V: Origin story! *laughs* That's what the song "My Favorite Color is Pizza" is about. Our first really good show out of town and it's part of our origin history. But Belushi Speed Ball... eleven years ago, I started a studio project, myself. I was in bands since I was 13 and you know, they always break up or people move and stuff. So what I wanted to do, I got out of college, my Dad just passed away, you know, life is short, I love playing music. What I wanted to do was make a project that was mine, that I don't have to worry if someone walks away or leaves, it just keeps going. And I'm a really big fan of Toxic Holocaust and I remember reading about Joel and he essentially does everything in the studio, he might have had a drummer on a couple of things. When he'd go play live, he'd hire musicians and get his buddies to play or whatever and I was like damn, I didn't know that was an option. So Belushi started off as like a studio project and then after that, I set out to make one EP and after that I convinced my buddies to play it live. I hope I'm not rambling here. *laughs*

S: No, go right ahead!

V: If anyone asks me about starting a band, I always tell 'em go write one song and then record that song. And then put it out there. Cause when you do that, the project exists. Everyone can do A song. If you set out to make an album, a lot of times people hit writer's block or it doesn't progress as quick. So I kind of did the same thing, I made one song. And everything I do myself except I had my buddy drum on it and another buddy do leads and after that first demo, it wasn't even me doing vocals, it was a buddy of mine in Ohio. So once we had it done, we had everyone to play it out live and had fun. And I was always a really big fan of GWAR and these theatrical bands so I asked my buddy Beau Kaelin, who's like a character actor to be part of it and do a theatrical bit with the band it just kind of snowballed from there. Kept doing more shows and here we are, eleven years later.

S: We saw you in Summerville and the stage show was a bit pared down? You were lacking 'goons", you had said?

V: No goons but we had the audience do it all for me.

S: It looked like everybody had a blast.

V: Yeah, it was really fun; we still had a lot of trash. *laughs* But typically, when we play smaller venues like that, it's pared down. Like, it's not what you're gonna see if you go to one of the festivals.

S: Right, no Ibiza-style foam cannons in there. *laughs* Although I hoped and wished before the show!

V: Well, they wanted 'dry'. Some venues will tell us, 'bring it all, do everything you want' and *laughs* we'll soak that place. Get it really bad and messy. When we were first on the road, it's a learning experience. We got really gross and would do candy and silly string and the problem is, we would be there until 3 or 4 A.M. in the morning cleaning up. Because we have a rule - we won't leave unless it's clean. But typically we like to do a 'clean' show, and it's a lot of dry trash or if it's wet, its a lot of water-based stuff so it's not sticky.

S: It was still fun even being the 'lite' version of the carnage. *laughs*

V: *laughs*

S: What is your favorite part of being in Belushi Speed Ball? Like after all this time.

V: Playing shows. Yeah, if I could do that 365 days a year, I would. I love being on the road, I love travelling with the band. Get to see new places, I love playing live. That's it. That's number one and number two is making all the merch; I really enjoy that part.

S: Belushi Speed Ball might have the best band merch in the whole world. *laughs*

V: Thank you! And I make most of it, myself.

S: You make all the video game carts?

V: Yeah, all of them... the pizza singles and tech decks.

S: I just saw the Dunkaroos with mp3s the other day. *laughs*

V: Those are old! I reposted that one the other day, they are about 3 or 4 years old.

S: So, you're a teacher, right? I wanted to ask how you find a way to balance that day job with Belushi Speed Ball.

V: When I was younger, I didn't mind telling the kids 'yeah, I'm in a band' but it wasn't as big as it is now. So now, I try to keep those two identities separate. Some students will find out and I've had some graduates come to shows. And honestly, I felt funny about being a teacher and those kids are stuck in my room and using my platform as an educator to promote my art. I kind of feel like it's a conflict of interest.
Photo credit, Mat Schladen
Photo Credit, Mat Schladen

S: It seems like Louisville would have a higher percentage of 'hip' kids, being such a hardcore kind of town.

V: We definitely do. It's cool here. The all-ages kids here are huge at supporting us and it's a really incredible scene here. They support ANY music, it's really insane. You play an all-ages show and you're willing to play some unconventional venues and the kids will turn out for you. You know, you see some of the footage from Louisville like the really big skate park show. But with teaching, I get alot of breaks and that allows me to tour. The boys in the band get PTO time and they use it to go on the road. it's a balancing act because I've got three kids and a really supportive wife.

S: The band itself, stage-wise, social media-wise, you're super extra positive. Zero surprise you're an educator.

V: *laughs* I always keep a positive outlook on life, anyways? I just enjoy living. I enjoy existing! *laughs* It's very awesome. I can find fun in anything. Like when we were in Charleston, we walked around to explore and went to the beach that night. We saw a jellyfish on the shore in the middle of the night! *laughs* When we played Savannah the next night, we played a really cool place and the whole scene was very similar to up in Charleston. All connected.

S: So I love the whole Belushi saga with Anthony Fantano. I really do love and tend to agree with him, so the fact that he took to you guys is perfect to me.

V: He's really cool! I haven't met him, I hope to meet him one day. He's really nice. That's a wild snowball effect - someone submitted Belushi Speed Ball on one of his live streams and it happened that just as our song about Municipal Waste dropped, so did their new album. So he had a super high viewership going and he just died laughing listening to us. and we just thought it was the coolest shit ever! Because, man, I've watched him for ten years! I'm like you, I like his opinion alot and people get offended by him but I love the way he breaks down his reviews, he has a specific criteria that he sticks to and god bless, is he intelligent. And hardworking! So when the song about him dropped, I emailed him because Metal Sucks did an article about him where they posted our pictures next to each other and he emailed me back in like ten minutes! So I don't abuse it, I'm not spamming but he's like 'I'm on it, making a video'. *laughs*

S: So I searched the internet and couldn't find a definitive answer. There's no beef with you and Municipal Waste, is there, over the song Ripping Off Municipal Waste?

V: Okay, so actually there's a Youtube video of Tony Foresta from Municipal Waste being interviewed by a guy in Australia. And the  thing about the song is Belushi saying they will never be as good as Municipal Waste; it's not a strike at them. So, apparently they were out on tour in Australia and Foresta did three interviews that day and every single one asked him about Belushi Speed Ball and by the third one, Foresta is like, " What the....? Are these guys from Australia? I heard the f**king song! I thought I was being interviewed about our album!" *both laugh*

S: You crashed their news cycle. *laughs*

V: Ok, so Tony, our bass player, got to meet them and he told them he was in Belushi and Foresta gave him like a joking punch in the arm and a wink. But the song is nothing but a compliment, they're the biggest influence to me besides Toxic Holocaust. It comes from after one of our shows and a fan comes up to me and he's like 'At least someone's ripping off Municipal Waste around here'.

S: *laughs*

V: And I don't know if he meant it as a compliment! There's a line in the song that goes 'performers who alienate fans' and the full line was 'WE ARE performers who alienate fans' but I ran out of room and had to cut part of it out so people take that part out of context. We have a new song, we played it for you in Summerville, called "The Accountant's Due (Stab the Katana)" and it's our Power Trip song. And I say a line in there 'we know everything about this is a power trip'. And I have a rule, don't make fun of someone else, always make fun of ourselves, self-deprecating. And I know people will say it sounds like Power Trip so it's just meant to sound good and be fun. We love Power Trip so much, Joel Grind mastered our last three albums and he mastered Power Trip.

S: So you've talked about Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste as influences, any other signicant influences? I get a Billy Milano vibe from you live.

V: Yeah, I get that a lot. The lead singer from Sick of It All, I get told that a lot. Especially our older stuff, I've definitely honed it in a bit. I gotta save my voice live, or else I'll blow it out on tour, so it's different from the studio. But I love Slayer, who doesn't? But maybe a little more obscure, is obviously GWAR. That's huge. I love D.R.I. Jamison [Land], our guitar player, he was Beekcake the Mighty in GWAR for ten years. He's so good at guitar. I saw him when I was a kid and he was in a band called The Burial and I remember thinking "holy shit, that guy's good!". And he was with GWAR and then he's back in Louisville and he was going to my shows. *laughs* And we talked and it snowballed from there, I got him to guest on the last album. And then I was like why not just be in the band and do the shows you can do? He works at UPS, so he's on call 24-7. So he can do bigger shows or one-off tours. But other influences? I listen to so much damn thrash, I just throw it on and let it go. I love Vio-Lence, I love Anthrax. There's a band in Canada I really, really love, not sure if they're around anymore, New wave of Thrash band called Chemical Way. So, so good! Hellripper, that's another one, he's kinda like Joel Grind and does all his own stuff. Midnight!

S: The new one is sooo good!

V: It's good, they're all good! There's a band called Speed Wolf and the album was called Bark at the Poon. So fucking good! They remind me of Bat, just driving metal.
Photo credit, Mat Schladen
Photo Credit, Mat Schladen

S: Let's talk about the new album! Is there a theme?

V: The cover art is Akira, and I always put my cat, Stella, on the art, so it's Stellkira. But there's no reference to Akira on that album. *laughs* But Andrei Bouzikov did the art, he's done so many bands, Municipal Waste - Art of Partying, so many things. Like every thrash band. *laughs*. And he's not cheap, I dropped twice as much to have alternate artwork done by him for different versions of the new album! *laughs* But he's someone that I really want to do it, I'm just a big fan of his.

S: Any other artistic or musical collaborations on the horizon?

V: I wish! I would love to do something with Joel Grind, but he's sooo busy. We had Digestor from Ghoul do a t-shirt for us. I got to be in Ghoul for a day!

S: The new Ghoul record is so good!

V: Yes!

S: So what are the future plans after the album drops?

V: We've got Milwaukee Metal Fest coming up. We've got a ten-day run with Joe Buck (bass player with Hank III, Assjack) happening; so we had played a show at this place and there was all this furniture in there. So we said to the crowd, let's move this furniture around. So they started rearranging it! *laughs* And afterwards, I felt so bad, I need to clean up this place. And I told them, if anything's broken, let me know, I'll pay for it. But nothing was broken, it was all ok. We were just trying to get the crowd engaged. When it was over, though, there was this one bartender, who was really, really mad at us. I went to her and apologized and she said "It really sucked. I've worked here for five years and I've never wanted to quit before your set". And I'm like Oh my God, I'm so sorry, is there anything I can do to make your night better? and she's like "NO." and walked away. And we heard later from our manager that apparently Joe Buck had said "Fuck that girl. Those are nice boys!" Now we try to be very careful, so we got better because we can cause riots. We've made mistakes and we've learned. After Joe said that, he had to tour with him. And shoutout to the Trolley Pub in Summerville, who were beyond nice to us. They gave us like two pounds of fries to eat. *laughs*.

S: OK, I'm running low on questions but have to get this one out of the way. I need your educator's opinion: How many holes does a straw have?

V: One really long hole!

S: So how are the burgers?

V: They're done!

S: OK, I won't keep you anymore, thanks for the great interview.

V: Thanks! We'll see you on tour!

You can pre-order the upcoming Belushi Speed Ball album, Stellakira at Bandcamp and check out upcoming tour dates here.
Photo credit, Mat Schladen
Photo credit, Mat Schladen
Sean Knight

Sean Knight

Sean Knight is a South Carolina native who has bounced back and forth between Texas and SC most of his life. He has been playing music for over 30 years and writing about it for a decade. Always striving to listen, always striving to be heard.


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