Stryper is a Christian metal/hard rock band from California, USA. The band was formed in around 1983 when bassist Timothy Gaines and guitarist Oz Fox joined their forced with for Roxx Regime members Robert and Michael Sweet. Stryper became the pioneers in the mainstream popularization of Christian rock/metal music. Stryper enjoyed great success during the mid/late 80’s. Their most successful album was TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL which went platinum in 1986. The band also got two gold record for their albums SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND and IN GOD WE TRUST. Unfortunately the band started to lose its popularity in the early 90’s. The band’s final release was AGAINST THE LAW which was released in 1990. At that point the band tried to drastically change their image and lyrical message. The sound was heavier and gone was their trademark, the yellow and black clothing and big hair. The band really tried to get rid of their old glam image but although critics liked the band’s new style their old fan base claimed that they were not being true to their roots and the album sold poorly. Michael Sweet left the group in 1992 and decided to concentrate on his solo career. The rest of the guys decided to carry on without him but it wasn’t long until the band split up.
During the following years Tim and Oz formed the band Sin Dizzy, Michael released several solo albums and Robert played in many bands including Blissed who released album in 2002. In 1999 Michael joined Sin Dizzy on stage in Puerto Rico and they performed a number of old Stryper classics. It was his first performance with Oz and Tim since his departure in 1992. The next year, the first Stryper Expo was held in New Jersey and there, for the first time in eight years, the whole original Stryper performed together on stage. The band did some more gigs every now and then and in 2003 they were asked by Hollywood Records to write some new music for the upcoming 7: THE BEST OF STRYPER compilation. A full tour followed and on next year band released its first live album 7 WEEKS: LIVE IN AMERICA.
Timothy Gaines departed in late 2004 and he was soon replaced by Tracy Ferrie who had earlier played in Michael’s solo band. The band started to record a new album and as a result they released REBORN in August of 2005. The CD was the groups heaviest to date and it received a positive response both from fans and critics. In 2006, after two years of production, the band finally released its first DVD: GREATEST HITS LIVE which was filmed in 2004 in Puerto Rico. The group started to work on the follow up for REBORN in 2006 and since then the album’s release has been delayed for many reasons but it should finally see the light of day in the summer of 2008. Last November I managed to sit down with the whole band in Turku before their sold out show in Turkuhalli and here is the latest from the Stryper camp, enjoy!
INTERVIEW AND LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
TRANSCRPTION BY ANDY OSBORN