Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Good afternoon Michael.Thanks for taking time to talk to Myglobalmind this afternoon about the new Stryper release.How did that come to fruition?
Michael”Are you referring to “Second coming”that just came out?
Michael”I get a little confused myself because we are starting a new record on Monday.Basically “Second Coming “was a project that we did for ourselves and for our publishing company.We had no intention of releasing it to the public,and to the fans.As it turned out so well,that’s when we started thinking about releasing it.We started talking to record companies, we got a deal with Frontiers and here we are.The record was finished and turned in,packaged and released on the 22nd in other countries and 26th here in the US.(just a few days ago) We are really excited about it,and we rerecorded 14 old songs and we recorded 2 brand new songs. Theres a total of sixteen songs,its called”Second Coming”We stuck and stayed true to the original versions for the most part.There are little subtle differences,here and there but we had the opportunity to correct a lot of things that bothered us over the years.Things like too little bass guitar in the mix on the first two records.The cymbals being gated on the third album “To hell with the devil”,too much effects here and there.Things that had bothered us over the years we were able to rectify and correct on this new version.I am really thrilled about it,we are really excited about it.”
Did you not worry about possibly alienating your fans by reworking tracks that they were particularly fond of?
Michael”I don’t think so.I think if we had done completely different arrangements of the songs then possibly,but we didn’t. We stayed true to the originals.I am reading all the reviews,and so far on face book, ITunes,Amazon and I haven’t read one bad review.Everybody seems to be very pleased with how it sounds.Some say it sounds better than the originals in terms of the sound quality.They can hear everything now,and every one.Its been good positive feedback,which has been great to see.”
What about the two new songs that are featured?If you can maybe discuss those for me,what lyrical themes do they explore?
Michael”Yes the two new songs are a representation of where we are going in terms of the next record especially”Blackened”and also the song”God”on “The Covering”.That is a real indication of where we are at,and where we are going..I am excited about this new record which we start recording on Monday.We turn that in ,in June and it will come out September or October of this year.Its going to be a real”in your face”,hard-edged,aggressive uptempo record.There is nothing light on it at all.It will please all those Stryper fans that want that heaviness and edge that they remember from “Soldiers under command”and “To Hell with the devil”from the early days.This record is going to give them that.”
I think a lot of fans were surprised that the band didn’t do a brand new album after the covers record?
Michael”Well the “Second Coming”wasn’t planned as a release at all.That’s not why we did the record,we didn’t do it for the fans.We did it for our publishing company.We decided as an afterthought to release it.Our plans were always to do a new studio album after “The Covering”,that would have been the next release but it just didn’t work out that way.I’m glad that we were able to offer this record”Second Coming”to our fans.Then we are going to do another all original full length album.Hopefully it will shut up the critics and the naysayers”
Just touching on that point regarding criticism.The band originated from Orange County California.What was the spiritual climate like for you growing up,and playing in a rock-metal band. A musical genre which generally isn’t viewed positively by Christianity?
Michael”Yes that’s correct,I have never really understood that.I come from the opinion that God created all things and therefore all music.I think that God and metal goes perfectly hand in hand.I don’t buy the lie and deception that you cant mix metal with God,I think that is ridiculous.For some reason the devil has got that ground covered.,and all things metal have to be evil.That’s just a lie,and a facade.We have been trying to disprove that for the last thirty years.I became a Christian when I was twelve years old,fell out of it and church.I got into the Hollywood club scene,did all the sex,drugs and rock+roll thing for years.Then I decided that I didn’t want to continue down this path.I want to switch it up as I didn’t like where I am going.My brother and myself decided that we were going to make a change and make a difference.That’s when we rededicated our lives and devoted the band to God.That’s when I was twenty years old,and Stryper formed.We all four collectively decided to do the same thing”
I think the fact that the band are still around 30 years later proves those people wrong that say that Christianity and rock cannot work together.
Michael”I think so too,I mean we have been able to continue to do what we have done for thirty years,and its the original lineup.I say this as humbly as I possibly can but we still have that fire,that edge and the ability to perform.I think that the band is better now than we have ever been.What you find often with a lot of bands as they get older that its not the original lineup. If it is they still don’t quite fire on all cylinders.I think Stryper is.!I cant really explain it but that we have lived a healthy decent lifestyle for the past thirty years and that’s maybe given us the edge I really don’t know.We have a lot of life left in us(,and I know every artist says this) but I mean it This next record and I wish it was done now for everybody to hear it.Its going to be our best record,its going to blow every other record out of the water.People will hear it and wonder how these guys have done this.Its going to be aggressive,powerful and just the best record we have ever done.I love that thirty years later we are making the best music we have ever made”
Going back to what you said regarding bands of the 80,s era and original lineups.Do you therefore think that when Tim returned it gave the band a new drive and motivation?
Michael”Absolutely,I mean Tim is a very important part of the lineup,we all are.There is nothing like having the original lineup of any band that’s become successful over the years.That’s what people want to hear and see.As you chip away at that ..there are some bands out there that have just one person from the original lineup.There are even some bands with no original members.Sometimes I think”how are these guys able to go and do this”.They are calling it the same band,what???It doesn’t make any sense.For some reason the people that are going to see these bands are wearing blindfolds,and they don’t see the fact that there are no original members up there.I guess they just want to hear the songs,and they don’t care about the members over the years.I really don’t know,I cant explain it but its very odd to me.”
Returning to discuss the bands spirituality..Do you have a particular favorite Bible verse that means the most to you personally? Or is it the reference from Issiah that appears on your albums?
Michael”The 1 that always,always has the most meaning and I refer to it ,which seems very simple but is true.The scripture that we use under every Stryper logo Issiah 53,5.”That signifies everything that Christianity is and that is”By his stripes we are healed”Reminding us of what Christ went through when he died and took on the sins of the world.He suffered and by his stripes,the beating that he took we are healed.that is the most important scripture,1 of the most important scriptures in the Bible in my opinion.One of my favorite scriptures of all time.”
That’s also where the bands name and imagery came from as well?
What would you tell a struggling young person who doesn’t go to church,or is a Christian to raise them up and encourage them?
Michael”Well I would just tell them ,that its a very difficult dark world that we live in .There is a lot of good,but probably more bad in the world.I would say don’t put your faith and trust in man,because unfortunately we are going to let you down. We are all sinners,we all have shortcomings and weaknesses.Its very important to put your faith and trust in God.To continually look to God and not to man,that’s how we get through and overcome things that we have to face.”
What do yourself and the guys in the band do to prepare for a show,any particular habits or rituals?Do you maybe pray together?
Michael.”Oh yeah of course,we pray before every show,we have our ritualistic things that we do before a show.Warming up and preparing together in the dressing room praying together as we try to prepare our hearts for what we are about to do.Its not this big ordeal that we do this ,this and that..Its not regimented and a list..its laid back and pretty simple.”
Since you first signed way back with Enigma records in the bands early days,how has your life changed?
Michael”oh,gosh…My life has changed so much and I am very thankful that I have been given the opportunities that I have been given.If you really think about it,being a Christian in a secular world,doing Christian music in the mainstream we have really beaten the odds.The odds have been against us,and its quite amazing to look back on the past and see what Stryper has accomplished and been through.To have been a part of that,I kind of think to myself why was I chosen ,why Robert,Tim and Oz.For some reason we were the 4 of us and we are very blessed and grateful for our history our lives and what we have been able to accomplish.”
Your parents are obviously important to you,what lessons did they teach you about life that you would like to share…?
Michael”Absolutely,my parents have been there from day one.They have raised us properly to believe,and musically they are musical people as well.They are musicians ,singers and song-writers and they have always instilled a love of music and also a love of God within us.They have played a very important part in our lives,and who we are.I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you if it wasn’t for my parents.”
With the rise in the Internet in modern times,it allows rumors and misconceptions to arise about people.What is the biggest one that you have heard about yourself or the band?
Michael”I think that they automatically hear the term “Christian”Funny thing is we are not a Christian band we are a rock band that happens to be made up of Christians.I think that so many times they think of Stryper and they say “oh that’s that Christian band”.They close the door and don’t give us a chance because they think that we are either going to preach to them or push it on them.Or maybe be goofy, corny,cheesy or whatever.I think that those are all misconceptions,until they see the band perform,and those misconceptions are burned out and thrown away.They walk away saying “Oh my gosh we never knew”
What for you personally is the most difficult decision you have had to make since Stryper started?
Michael”Definitely me leaving the band(1992),.Both professionally and personally it was very difficult decision.I wrestled with it for months.Finally I came to the realization that it was definitely something that I had to do,and ultimately I left and I’m glad that I did.I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.I talk about that in my book which is coming out with the solo record.I talk about that a lot”
What do you define as the best feeling in the world?
Michael”I think that is to love,and be loved that is the most important thing unconditionally there is no feeling like it at all”
How difficult was it dealing with Strypers MTV fame and success in the 1980,s?
Michael”Ohh,it wasn’t difficult at all,we were thrilled.It was a great experience,it actually humbled us,it made us realise “Wow”look what God is doing here.It was amazing.”
What are you most proud of?
Michael”My family,and I don’t acknowledge that enough,but when I’m asked the question that is definitely my first answer. I am very proud of my family.I am proud of Stryper of course,but my family even more so.”
How do you explain the secret of the band,s longevity?Still flourishing after 30 years?
Michael”I think the secret is,our resistance to everything that comes against us.We are very resilient,strong and determined and God gives us that strength and determination.When we have God on our side,we are just driven.We have no signs of stopping in sight.we are going to keep going,and we are ready to keep going”
Finally future plans for Stryper?We touched in conversation on the band doing a new album?
Michael”we start recording,on Monday April 2nd.Turn it in on June first.It will most likely come out September-October of this year.Early stages at this point regarding song titles,and no album title yet. Soon as we have it everybody will know.We are coming to Europe next year,as we have some agents working on that and will definitely include UK dates.”
Apologies for the earlier hiccup,thanks for taking time to chat.Have a great Easter
Michael”Its OK we sorted it out,take care buddy,bye.”
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals / Lead Guitar
Robert Sweet – Drums and Visual Timekeeping
Timothy Gaines – Bass / Vocals
Oz Fox – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Webzine review for Stryper – The Second Coming: