Stryper: Interview with Michael Sweet
Interview Conducted in 2012
Humbled and honored - an interview with Stryper's Michael Sweet
Originally published May 10, 2012
Stryper has been on the scene since the hair band era but were atypical because of what they sang about. In the days of Motley Crue's"Shout at the Devil" and Slayer's "Hell Awaits," Stryper was singing "To Hell with the Devil."
And although there were naysayers going all the way back to the birth of the band in 1983, Stryper's melodic power vocals, soaring guitar solos, and solid rhythms converted many a metal fan, Christian or not.
Still going strong in 2012 and with a slew of new releases on the horizon the Stryper guys still somehow find the time to tour relentlessly. And tonight the band will be playing right here in the Chicago area at Tailgaters.
On a day like today with the show just a few hours away, does lead vocalist Michael Sweet still get nervous at all, even after almost three decades in the music business?
"I do still get nervous. You would think that feeling would eventually go away after 30 years of doing this, but I still get butterflies just before going on stage," states Sweet in earnest, "But then once I'm on stage, it all seems to fall into place and the nerves subside. Leading up to a new tour is a bit hectic. We all live in different cities, so unlike a lot of bands who can get together and rehearse, we don't always have that opportunity. So we spend a lot of time individually rehearsing and just preparing ourselves mentally, physically, and musically. I wish it were as easy as just jumping on a plane and heading to the first show, but there's a lot of prep work that goes into each run. In addition to the music, I'm also very involved in the day-to-day business aspects of the band, so tend to be involved with a lot of the touring logistics as well. But it's all worth it. When we hit the stage and the music and energy comes together, it's all worth it."
Stryper's current tour not only covers several states here in the U.S. but also as far away as Europe, Venezuela, and even India. How does Sweet feel about his music being loved all over the world?
"I'm always humbled and honored by anyone who loves our music, whether they are in Dallas, Chicago, Nashville...or even Dimapur, India. We're excited to get to play India. We're doing two shows over there. One in Dimapur and one in Kohima."
Stryper's most recent release, The Covering, was a collection of some of the band's favorite songs by other artists like KISS, Boston, Iron Maiden, Van Halen and more. What can audience members expect tonight as far as the set list goes?
"We play several songs from The Covering. We switch it up some as to which songs from that album, but we're very proud of that album. Sonically it came out great and the band really stepped up and we all performed well on that album, I feel. The bands we covered on that album played an important role in our development as musicians, so it's very important to us that we pay proper respect to them, both on the album and during the live performances. And yes, believe it or not, we still love playing the Stryper classics as well."
Sweet goes on, "I'm doing something really fun on May 30 where I'll be playing all Stryper classics acoustically on StageIt.com. I've done a couple of StageIt shows now and they're really fun. Basically I perform live from my home studio, and fans can log in and watch and listen through StageIt.com. We can even interact through a chat board. But during my next show on the 30th, I'll be playing all Stryper classics, which I'm excited to do. I'll be pulling out some songs that probably haven't been performed live since back in the day."
Musically, the creative juices are flowing in the Stryper camp at the moment. Fans can expect some new music very soon, but not just Strypermaterial.
"We have several new projects in the works. I have a solo album coming out later this year on Big3 Records. And we have almost completed the recording of a 'classics' album. It's a lot of the Stryper fan-favorite classic songs re-recorded. We're also working on a new Stryper album. None of those albums have a firm title yet, but my solo record is expected to come out in September. We'll likely release some single songs from my solo album this summer though. So yes, a lot of new recordings should be coming out over the next 12 to 18 months."
Michael Sweet is also planning a pilgrimage tour to the Holy Land early in 2013 for himself and fans; now there's something that metal fans don't hear about every day. How did this unique opportunity come about?
"Yeah, I'm excited. A long time friend of mine Brian Mayes brought this opportunity to my attention. He has done these type tours before and they're a great experience both for the artist and for the fans. So we started working on this idea together sometime last year."
What does this pilgrimage mean to Sweet as a Christian?
"I've never been, so to me as a Christian I'm incredibly excited and honored to get to take this trip. We're going to be visiting some amazing places and to get to do this trip with some of my closest friends and fans makes it even that much more exciting. I believe there are still some seats available on the trip, but if anyone is interested in going with me they can find out more at: http://www.israelthemetours.com."
Stryper will be playing at Tailgaters tonight with HiFi Superstar and Broken Vegas. Doors open at 7 PM and the show begins at 8. Click here for ticket information.