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Monday, May 28, 2018

Exclusive Interview: Michael Sweet of Stryper


(ICYMI)

The Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD was transformed into a bit of headbanger heaven this past weekend when the tenth anniversary M3 Rock Festival rolled in for two days of fantastic music. Stryper was one of nearly twenty bands to hit the stage and before doing so, I was fortunate enough to chat with vocalist/guitarist/co-founder Michael Sweet.

Cate Meighan: How are you doing? 

Michael Sweet: I've been busy the last six months or so. The new album is doing great, it made some noise, in mostly a positive way. Some people were up in arms about the title, God Damn Evil. It was a little unfortunate to release an album at a time when Best Buy decided not to carry the album because they're not carrying many other albums. They're basically doing away with CD sales. Aside from anything working against us, there's so much that works for us because the buzz and talk have made the album an incredible success 

CM: Does the negative buzz bother you at all? 

MS: We always have concerns over what we do because we don't want to do things just to upset people. We always give it real thought and make sure that it's the right thing for us to do. Once we decide that it feels like the right thing, then we let the chips fall where they may. It was the same thing with To Hell with the Devil in 1986, we knew it would upset some people but that's not why we did it. We felt it really was our title because this was what we wanted to say with this lyric. It has been the same thing with God Damn Evil. 

CM: Stryper has been together for so long, how has your creative process shifted over the years? 

MS: We talk about what we can do to make things better but it's pretty organic and we just kind of go with it. We try to listen to the fans and we also listen to our old albums, to stay true to our sound and who we are. We try not to venture too far from that sound, and I think that the cool thing about Stryper is that we've found a way to merge our music. We still have that 80's sound but it's a little more relevant and not dated in terms of the production. I think that we've found our place and figured out how to do it and make it all work.  

CM: How does it feel to still be out there on that stage after so many years? 

MS: It's amazing, just amazing to stop in the moment and really think about that. It's such a great feeling. I realize how honored and blessed I am to still be doing this 35 years later. I'm blessed to still be alive, to still be performing and to still love doing it. A lot of people don't enjoy it and they're just going through the motions so it's nice to actually enjoy what we do. 

Also, we have a new bass player, Perry Richardson, which is great. It feels a bit like we're a new band or at the very least we're redesigned. Perry has this spirit about him that's just peaceful. Being around him is very calming and when you add to that what a great player and singer he is, he's a perfect fit for us.  

CM: What is the one thing that really sticks in your mind after doing a show now? 

MS: I take with me always, at any show that we do, those people that come up and talk to me and tell me about how a song of Stryper's saved their life. They were suicidal, an alcoholic or a drug addict and a song of ours helped them to clean up their lives. I usually hear those stories at every single show and that's amazing. Music is cool but at the end of the day, having an effect on people and inspiring them in a positive way is what matters most. The music is a tool that hopefully brings us all together to do that.  

CM: You're in the middle of a tour now, do you have anything else planned beyond that? 

MS: I usually plan a year or so in advance. We just released the Stryper App and it's the best way for people to keep in touch with us. Download it and you'll literally be kept up to date on everything we're doing.  

There's also a Stryper documentary that we're working on and an acoustic album that we want to release. I've already talked to the label about doing a solo album and there's also an album that I want to do with Joel Hoekstra. We set aside time to write that in January, so that's going to happen. It's cool to be able to do all of this now. There's a lot on the calendar and a lot in store for the future, which is great.  


Check out Stryper tour dates HERE




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