Interviews

Interview: Michael Sweet of STRYPER

STRYPER: THE FIRST (AND ONLY) METAL PARADOX

Cherri Chats with Michael Sweet

 

StryperGraciously, and with the enthusiasm of a wide-eyed, uninhibited kid, MICHAEL SWEET of the metal band STRYPER, begins our interview in telling me how they’ve just left Nashville and are headed to their first destination on this leg of their tour. Now, this excitement is only evident in his voice in how he describes their last couple of days before getting on the bus and hitting the road and as the wheels of their bus rumble underneath towards their first stop on this tour, the excitement comes from a place of confidence, experience, and honest joy. Not some giddy, immature or wayward tone mind you.

See, STRYPER isn’t a fly by night, one-hit wonder, band from the 80’s glory days of hair metal. The band is actually Metal Music’s first and only paradox. The anomaly resides within the band’s success because statistically, they shouldn’t be as revered as they are. Yet the band has sold over 10 million records and has toured around the world multiple times to sell out crowds.  They just released their 12th studio record, “God Damn Evil“. STRYPER has kept their strong message in the forefront of their music and while some bands outwardly rebel and cause a ruckus with gimmicks and attention-seeking, false ideology, STRYPER does the opposite by paradoxically rebelling within by doing exactly what they love to do.

Confused? Don’t be. Just think about it for a minute. Go read an article or two about the band and pull out the rarities that you’ll find. Then I think you’ll understand what I’m implying.

As the interview starts, MICHAEL comments about Dallas and Texas as a whole when I tell him I’m excited for their show on October 16th.

MS – Awesome! That is great! We love Dallas fans! There’s something special about Texas for us and other metal bands. It’s always a great time!

CB– I know, there is something about Dallas and overall in Texas when it comes to metal. It’s like there’s a metal vortex or something that threw a ton of fans here and we all multiplied like rabbits! You mentioned rehearsal, at this point in your career, does STRYPER do a full production rehearsal, or do you need to get that detailed when setting out on a tour? I like to give the reader kind of an overview – especially when the band’s on tour of how what they could see or what they will see when they buy tickets to your show!

MS –  Well, since it’s 2018, the way STRYPER rehearsals go now, is that we stay at home and we have holograms that go out and rehearse for us! It’s amazing! (laughing) No, really we have in the past, gone early to the first venue on a tour and spent two days rehearsing there with lights and such, but we normally get together, a bit before in our jeans and t-shirts and just play, get the set together and head out for a tour.

CB – Right, you’re really doing what you do best and what you love to do. I mean this is like old hat for y’all and you continue to do what you love doing, right?

MS – Absolutely. It’s one of those things – we do things these days that aren’t complicated, we’ve never been too complicated. There’s not a lot to go into our performances. STRYPER has always been casual and our tours are a casual atmosphere, we set up and play. It’s simple for us and like that.

CB – Because of this simple approach that y’all as a band have, translates over to being able to concentrate with doing what STRYPER does best and that is evident by your music remaining relevant in 2018.

MS – It comes down to this – if it starts to get stressful, or complicated, why are we doing it? It’s all about having fun, if we weren’t having fun, we wouldn’t do it.

CB – Right, I wish more people could see that in doing what you love, even with risks, the joy that comes with loving what you do far supersedes doing something you don’t like. You know? And it’s evident, at least to me, in STRYPER’S music now.

MS – absolutely!

CB – I think most STRYPER fans could go back and get a song from To Hell With The Devil or The Yellow And Black Attack, one of the early records and pick a song that was an indicator or a marker in their lives. For me, it was Together As One ( off Soldiers Under Command) and to be honest, that song really set a marker for me as to how I wanted to live my life then and even now. It encompassed how I felt about the world at the ripe age of 17! But it still does for me, in most facets of life; relationships, work, externally how I want to connect to humanity, you know?

MS – No, no,  ya, wow. Those songs from our early years really move us and affect us deeply and that’s the power of music. It’s always meaningful to hear stories of how STRYPER music encouraged, helped, impacted someone. That’s really cool – amazing.

CB – Well, STRYPER was “allowed” because we weren’t allowed to listen to secular rock at school or it was frowned upon. So those of us that liked rock loved STRYPER because we could rock it loud in our dorms and not get in trouble! Ha! We were allowed to listen to country, but… *long pause with some snickering*

DreamHost

MS – I like some old country…but…(kinda laughing)

*crickets*

stryper

CB – (laughing) So, look, ok, here’s what works for me anyway about STRYPER. You have this positive message, you’re this wildly energetic band onstage that wears (or at least did) yellow and black spandex outfits, and rock any venue with loud rock music, I mean there’s a kind of rebellious paradox that fans gravitate too, you know? This anomaly of opposites is what attracts fans, right? Like even with lyrics to some of the songs or titles like “To Hell With The Devil” and more recently the album entitled, “God Damn Evil” you know? How has that (rebelliousness) changed over the years?

MS – We’re not as rebellious as we used to be. It’s funny, people don’t look at us as a rebellious band, but we are. If you think about it, we’re more of a rebellious metal band than anyone out there. They’re all following the pack. We’re not.

CB – YES! I mean you’re kind of like…well, a spy…almost. You’re right in the middle of it. You’ve toured with some of the heaviest bands out there. The anomaly is the paradox, you know? STRYPER is the world’s only metal paradox.

MS – We really have, and it’s mind-boggling the opportunities we’ve had and humbling at the same time to look at what we have had the chance to do. I mean, for a band like us, STRYPER, an underdog band really, a band that’s against all odds has done what we’ve done. What we’ve been able to do is quite astonishing, we are very blessed.

CB – And as cryptic as this might seem, I want to leave it at that, I know you’re on the road and may have more press or might want to chill, I want to leave the readers with some element of inquisition so that they can go satisfy their curiosity about the 2018 version of STRYPER and how that relates to their beginnings. Because what’s more powerful or satisfying than connecting with a band that comes from your own discovery? I really appreciate you taking the time Michael to speak with me, and my readers and hope you have a killer tour. I’ll see you in Dallas on the 16th!

MS – Thank you and we will see you in Dallas, my friend!

As I hung up the phone, I realized that the connections we make with music, even as kids, bind to our adult lives in fascinating ways. If you did happen to flip over to another browser and see why STRYPER is the anomaly in the paradox of metal. You can live in the pack and still remain true to yourself by doing what you love to do and be an intricate part of that pack. STRYPER is evidence to that.

Catch MICHAEL SWEET, ROBERT SWEET, PERRY RICHARDSON, AND OZ FOX on tour in support of their new record “God Damn Evil” that was released in April of this year. Dates are below and VIP Packages are available! 

Til Next Time – 🍒Cherri 🍒

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STRYPER TOUR DATES

OCTOBER 12, 2018    THE VOGUE    INDIANAPOLIS, IN
OCTOBER 13, 2018    DELMAR HALL    ST. LOUIS, MO
OCTOBER 14, 2018    DIAMOND BALLROOM    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
OCTOBER 16, 2018    GAS MONKEY LIVE    DALLAS, TX
OCTOBER 18, 2018    STAMPEDE    AURORA, CO
OCTOBER 20, 2018    LEATHERHEADS SPORTS BAR    DRAPER, UT
OCTOBER 21, 2018    MESA THEATER    GRAND JUNCTION, CO
OCTOBER 23, 2018    THE HISTORIC EL REY THEATER    ALBUQUERQUE, NM
OCTOBER 25, 2018    THE MARQUEE    TEMPE, AZ
OCTOBER 26, 2018    RIALTO THEATRE    TUCSON, AZ
OCTOBER 27, 2018    CANNERY HOTEL & CASINO    LAS VEGAS, NV
OCTOBER 30, 2018    THE MUSIC BOX    SAN DIEGO, CA
OCTOBER 31, 2018     WHISKY A GO GO WEST    HOLLYWOOD, CA
NOVEMBER 2, 2018    SAN MANUEL CASINO    HIGHLAND, CA
NOVEMBER 3, 2018    THE CANYON THEATRE    SANTA CLARITA, CA
NOVEMBER 4, 2018    ACE OF SPADES    SACRAMENTO, CA
NOVEMBER 6, 2018    L CORAZON    SEATTLE, WA
NOVEMBER 9, 2018     NEW DATE!    THE BOSSANOVA BALLROOM    PORTLAND, OR
NOVEMBER 11, 2018    VIRGINIA STREET BREWHOUSE    RENO, NV
NOVEMBER 14, 2018    PUB STATION BALLROOM    BILLINGS, MT
NOVEMBER 17, 2018    HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO    SIOUX CITY, IA
NOVEMBER 18, 2018   THE COMPLEX    SPRINGFIELD, MO
JANUARY 31, 2019    TUPELO MUSIC HALL    DERRY, NH
FEBRUARY 1, 2019    NEW DATE! WOLF DEN @ MOHEGAN SUN UNCASVILLE, CT FREE SHOW!
FEBRUARY 2, 2019 LIVE IN THE VAULT @ GREASY LUCK PUB NEW BEDFORD, MA
FEBRUARY 9, 2019    KAWASAKI CLUB       CITTA TOKYO, JAPAN
FEBRUARY 10, 2019    KAWASAKI CLUB    CITTA TOKYO, JAPAN

 

 

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Cherri Bird

Independent and selective rock journalist & wordsmith, focused on strengthening the connections between a fan and the bands they follow through the words she writes. Specializing in interviews, music & show reviews, and candid photography; Cherri takes what she discovers and pounds the social media pavement to fuse the energy that music brings us with the bands that create it.

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