American Speedway originated in November 2007, formed by bassist/backing vocalist Bill Angry (born October 6, 1971) bringing onboard drummer Chris Callahan (born July 7 ,1976), guitarist Johnny Griswold (born January 6, 1971), and frontman vocalist /lyricist Michael Thursby (born January 21, 1979) to release, pretty quickly, a debut album on both vinyl and bonus CD entitled Ship of Fools.
Griswold and Angry performed together in a punk rock group, the Griswolds, about ten years prior to American Speedway, bringing Thursby on board to play saxophone about a year later for a different spin behind the band's sound. A year after that Johnny Griswold started another group, Los Griswolds, while Bill Angry stayed with the Griswolds, who changed their name to Redtops and signed to Universal Warning Records. At this point Thursby also moved on to form a punk/pop band called Wormbath. With Los Griswolds on the west coast, Redtops stayed on the east with Wormbath dissolving, leaving Thursby without a band for several years. It was in October of 2006 that Bill Angry decided to exit Redtops and - hooking up via phone withJohnny Griswold, who was in San Diego, Angry described the new band he was putting together as "a band that would be fresh, not original, but something that people will and have latched onto before. A band that would fill the gap as far as what's missing in today's punk rock and roll circuit" is how he described it. Adding drummer Callahan to the project the trio began jamming, writing songs and figuring out the sound of this new group. Angry invited Thursby to jam and after a few weeks of Griswold, Angry, Callahan and Thursby rehearsing, Thursby became the lead singer. From that point in late January/early February 2007, American Speedway was born.
The group performed its first major gig at the Heavy Rebel Weekender in Winston-Salem, NC in 2007, to a packed house on only their fifth or sixth live performance. The show was so well received that the Weekender directors asked the band to play again that night. One of the most magical moments of the band's young history was at the Heavy Rebel Weekender when the audience started throwing their empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans at American Speedway. Like the Beatles being pelted with jelly beans, this tossing of empty cans was a twisted sign of affection and meant they liked the band a lot. Along with the dozens of cans on the stage one thing was clear, the audiences responded positively to what Callahan, Angry, Griswold and Thursby had to offer.
With Thursby being a studio owner, American Speedway recorded their debut at his Welfareline Studios in Royersford, PA with the idea of capturing the "raw live element" that could be performed on-stage by the quartet. Behind the scenes the ensemble experienced another magical moment, the song "One Foot In, One Foot Out" getting added to regular rotation on the "punk" frequency broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 29.
American Speedway's "mission statement" is to write and perform what they like to listen to, what they call "real rock & roll", the antithesis of American Idol and musicians who seek to win a "battle of the bands", these gents pay tribute to their influences, Zeke, Supersuckers, Peter Pan Speedrock, Speedealer, MC5, Social Distortion, Murder City Devils and so many others. Despite the name "Angry Bill", the bassist is alleged to be a good father and husband...just don't tell the fans. Vocalist Thursby is an electronics maven, and guitarist Griswold has talents as a graphic artist, which leaves only Callahan as the one solely focused on his instrument. There's no solo material from the individual members and their history with other groups, though sketched out somewhat here, is still mostly mired in mystery. ~ Joe Viglione