It has been 12 years since the original members of Stryper had gotten
together to perform and many thought that they never would. Coming in the
area of 'hair bands' that included Motley Crue, Cinderella, LA Guns and
Warrant, Stryper stood amongst them with their brand of Christian hard
rock songs. With the help of MTV and commercial radio, Stryper produced
the hits 'Honestly" and 'To Hell With The Devil', helping them to
sell millions of records worldwide.
With the recent release of 'Seven' via Hollywood Records, the band
elected to play a few select shows in the U.S. that included a stopover in
New York City. There I had an opportunity to sit down with lead singer
Michael Sweet who gave the lowdown on the band and his solo career. You
can check out their website at www.stryper.com.
Why did the band reunite?
were contacted by Hollywood Records and they wanted to put out a
compilation (CD). I suggested that they put us in the studio to record
some new music and they agreed and said 'how much do you need'. It just
happened in an instant, just before the holidays, around Thanksgiving last
year. We were in the studio after that. I was one to always say it's gotta
be the right time, gotta feel right and be for the right reasons. I really
felt in my heart that the way everything felt (that) it was the right
time. Soon after that we started discussing the possibility of shows, went
from 10 to 20 to 30 plus shows.
How long will this last and where will it take you?
There are no (worldwide) plans as of yet. We're open to future
possibilities but right now at the moment the only plans now are these
U.S. dates which will carry us to the 19th of November.
Is this a "reacquaint yourselves with fans" tour or
Yes and no. Definitely a tour to reacquaint ourselves with the fans,
but not necessarily as Stryper. We're all getting along, but there are no
official plans. This is not a reunion tour where another tour follows and
a record. Right now I'm looking forward to doing a solo record and a tour.
I'm passionate about (Stryper) but I'm also passionate about (a solo tour)
and look forward to taking that step.
Is your solo career your first priority?
Not the priority right now but it will be after this tour.
How is the band getting along?
Getting along absolutely fantastic. We get together constantly to make
sure that happens. We get together for prayer, together to communicate, to
hang, whatever you want to call it. I think that's the key, staying on the
same level, not talking behind each other's backs. Hearing each other's
problems and taking care of each other.
Did Stryper ever have the in-fighting problems that so many bands
from your era like the Motley Crue's and Poison's had?
There was definitely animosity, bitterness, some hurt and pain. But not
like the way it was with other bands. In some ways we don't get along but
it's not necessarily a bad thing. We're all so different and we have
different lives. We don't hate each other, we love each other.
What do you think of some of the newer bands like Creed and P.O.D.?
They're great. I like the music and the message. It's a breath of fresh
air. To me, for years there's been so much anger and bitterness. I just
got tired of it. It wasn't about the music; it was about the hatred. It
got old to me; music is such a powerful tool. Aren't there any bands out
there that are willing to use that tool to encourage people or is it just
an angry world?
I think it is.
It's an angry world but there are people out there that are willing to
step out of the lines to love people.
Not to get off the music subject, but since you said that and the
fact that we're in New York City right now, I can say, being from New
York, that we did see that on 9/11.
That proved (it). That's what I'm talking about. It's in all of us. To
reach out and help people. Why not try to find that inside ourselves?
That's what we're doing with our music and our band.
Where you surprised that a Christian hard rock band like Stryper, in
a time of the Ratt's and Scorpion's, did so well commercially?
We were surprised. It didn't hinder what we were trying to do. We
stayed focused and continued doing what we were doing. We saw it as a
miracle. It made us try harder to do bigger and better things.
Why did Stryper break up in the first place?
I left in '91. They tried to continue on and do shows as a trio and
they (finally) decided to go their separate ways. I left because I didn't
think the need was there to continue. We had done our thing and it was
time to move on. In '91 Nirvana and all these bands were on the scene. Not
that it's all about sales, but ticket and record sales went (down). It was
a new time in my life. I had children and we decided to move to the East
Coast. We wanted a new life. I had a bunch of solo material that was
different from Stryper, just a number of reasons.
Would you have ever considered changing the sound of Stryper to fit
with what was in at the time, whether it was 'alternative' or something
No way. On the Truth record, my latest record, I hate the term
'alternative', I tried to experiment, come up with some modern ideas but
still stay true to myself. I love guitar solos and melodic melodies and do
what I wanna do. That's not cool right now and I'm not going to jump on
the bandwagon. You gotta stay true to yourself. If you don't you're not
going to be happy inside.
What lies ahead for you and the band?
The band right now. Finish this tour. We're doing 30+ shows. I have
some labels coming down here to see me. I sent out some solo stuff, really
cool edgy stuff. My hopes are, after the New Year, is to be recording
another solo record and tour. Maybe down the road some more Stryper stuff,
7 - The Best Of