Glam rockers Airstryke fly clear of cancer battle to set targets on Bloodstock bow
WHEN drummer Morgan Pettigrew was diagnosed with cancer, his days with Derby rock band Airstryke seemed numbered.
But Morgan's love of music helped him fight the disease and the way his band mates supported him has seen the glam rock outfit emerge ever stronger.
Now, with Morgan given the all-clear, Airstryke are looking forward to the release of their debut album No Half Measures and have won a chance to perform at Derbyshire's Bloodstock music festival in August.
Andrew Kopczyk (guitar) and Dean Markham (bass) are the founders of Airstryke. Having played in previous bands they decided to forge their own path writing original songs inspired by bands like Motley Crue and Kiss.
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Their belief is that "everyone has a guilty pleasure for pure and simple, feel good rock 'n' roll".
While scouting the Derbyshire music scene for fellow rockers, they eventually recruited Rob Tallant (guitar), Jamie Fowkes (vocals) and Morgan on drums.
The band clicked and things seemed to be going well until Morgan realised what had at first appeared to be a chest infection was actually lymphoma.
He says: "I couldn't go upstairs without getting out of breath but it still really shocked me when they said it was lymphoma and I had to have chemotherapy.
"But even though I had to go for treatment every two weeks, I was still turning up for practice. We managed to do 40 odd gigs as well during the six months I was having treatment.
"I hadn't even known the guys very long but there was a definite connection and we all knew this band was going to go far and wanted to put our all into it.
"Airstryke was one of my main motivations during the treatment and if I hadn't been doing all those gigs I would have been sitting at home.
"The guys were so supportive that it didn't feel like it was just my disease but like we were all battling it together.
"If it hadn't been for the cancer I don't think we would be as close together as we are now. That's so important for a band – if you aren't good mates it really shows in the music."
The chance to appear at Bloodstock came after Airstryke were late entries in a battle of the bands contest, with the prize being a slot at the festival at Catton Hall.
They made it through to the finals at Rock City and won over the judges with a set that sent the crowd wild.
Morgan says: "It was an awesome response from the crowd. I have seen people go mental for other bands but to have a crowd scream that loud for us was absolutely phenomenal."
Morgan believes that tipped the balance in Airstryke's favour.
Now they can be seen at Bloodstock as the last band on the New Blood stage on the Sunday night.
Morgan says: "We have been as fans, so it's a massive surprise to be playing there this year. We have never played to that many people before.
"We will definitely stand out as most of the bands will be heavy metal and we are more glam rock.
"I know we will make an impression and it will be good exposure for us."