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  MICHAEL SWEET
IN CONVERSATION ABOUT STRYPER


Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke

Rockulus Maximus



stryper

A band that is notorious for both their public and personal faith in their religion while simultaneously releasing some very well received Hard Rock music since adopting their band name of Stryper back in 1983, they've sold in excess of 10 million records worldwide and have accumulated some impressive statistics in the process.

Whether you were smitten with 'To Hell With The Devil' back in 1986, or dazzled by their 2009 modern-sounding album 'Murder By Pride', Stryper have been on the radar for many, many years plying their trade with the best that they have to offer.

Generally acknowledged as showcasing their talent in two chapters after initially calling it a day back in 1992, only to surface again with their 'Reborn' album in 2005, Stryper are enjoying a second chance to improve their status.

Article continues below...



Within the world of Stryper, this year is a special year as they have unleashed for their fans not one album, but two albums! Earlier this year in March they released 'Second Coming' which contained 16 tracks, 14 of them were re-recordings taken from material that featured on their first three albums. They added two brand new songs which set the tone of what was going to appear on their most recent album, 'No More Hell To Pay'.

So when MetalTalk was given the opportunity to talk to the main man in the band, they looked around and were unable to get their hands on their top scribes. Instead, they sent me out on the mission to get whatever morsels of insight I could from him, and this is the result.

stryper

This year is all about celebration according to Michel Sweet, lead vocalist and frontman for the Hard Rock band Stryper. Not only is the band celebrating their 30th anniversary, but they are also extremely proud of their latest studio album 'No More Hell To Pay'.

"I don't know how we did it, but I believe that we did make the best record of our career, I think it's our best record ever", states Sweet with genuine conviction when I was fortunate enough to link up with him across the Atlantic. "It's quite an accomplishment and it's really something incredible to be able to say 30 years after we formed, it's really remarkable."

Knowing how most artists and bands tend to state such positive overtures about their latest work, I pushed Sweet to elaborate on the elements that made this their best album thus far. "Just striving to give everybody what they want, what they've been asking for, you know, get back to our roots. Give us those guitar solos; give us those screams; give us the melodies; give us the big choruses; all the stuff that Stryper is known for."

stryper

On a roll to clarify his point, Sweet continued, "Records like 'To Hell With The Devil' that was our biggest album, so you know we kind of went back to that. It is easy for a musician and the band to say oh this is our best record, but you know; its one thing to say it and it's another thing to back it up. I feel like we're backing it up, we delivered the goods. We're not just going on a crappy record and you know, talking it up hoping that people will believe our crap. We've actually delivered I think the best record of our careers."

With his justification quite clearly articulated, and any tension in the virtual air dissipating, Sweet continues with his momentum. "I'm not gonna say it's the best, amazing record if I produced it and it's really not. I mean, I'm kind of embarrassing myself if I'm gonna do that, and there's been records I have produced that I haven't said anything about because they didn't turn out as planned for lack of money or the guys in the band didn't deliver, or whatever."

Tempting as it was to enquire further about those occasions where Sweet wasn't so satisfied with the recorded results, I was more intent on trying to explore other avenues in the time that we had together. Acknowledging the release earlier this year of 'Second Coming' was one of those avenues.

"The initial idea behind it when we first started recording it was not to even make it available to the fans. We were making that record for ourselves and for our publishing company because we wanted to cut the middleman out of licensing for film and TV, middleman being the company that owns our catalogue."

Sweet referred to how whenever the publishing company approached these forms of media ouput, their enquiries were either left unresolved or dismissed. "We'd have to go through Disney and Hollywood to get their approval and they either would not get back to us or they would say no and it became a bit of a nightmare at times."

stryper

Motivated by such restrictive and problematic red tape proved to be a positive turn of events as Stryper found themselves really pleased with the re-recorded results; "Once we got into it, we started realising how good it was turning out. We thought y'know what, the fans would love this, let's make it available to them."

His enthusiasm and energy are tangible as Sweet highlights how it was at this moment they hooked up with a record label and signed a multi-album deal. He informed me that this deal was for three albums. "Those three albums were 'Second Coming', 'No More Hell To Pay' and then we're doing a live album in a week and a half at the Whiskey in Los Angeles. That's a live DVD/live album and that'll be released sometime next year."

Stryper are proud of their accomplishments during those glitzy and glamorous days of MTV and achieved four number one videos. Maintaining their love of such promotional tools, they have two official videos so far connected to their current album 'No More Hell To Pay' that includes one for the title track and another for the song 'Sympathy'.

"Videos nowadays are so different; we don't live in the time where you make videos for one hundred and fifty or two hundred thousand dollars like we used to. You know we made the videos in the past, like 'Always There For You' you know, that was a three hundred and fifty plus thousand dollar video! Now we made these two videos 'No More Hell To Pay' and 'Sympathy' for under ten thousand dollars plus a documentary."

Knowing how notorious the band were linked with Christianity and their public displays of faith, I wanted to know how Sweet felt about people judging the band more on their religious beliefs than their actual music.

"It is quite frustrating, it's pretty sad you know. It is something that I've lived my life trying to overcome and rise above, and usually I'm able to but sometimes I'm not."

He puts his ideas into a visual example: "It's like somebody looking at a piece of art, a painting that's beautiful and they look at the name of the artist and they say oh I hate it because he did it."

Sweet is keen to express his thoughts on this specific point, and elaborates. "Instead of looking at what we do musically a lot of times people will look at the name Stryper and because we're Christian, that label, that tag, they'll instantly assume ahh they suck! It can't be good 'cos it's Christian. It's really sad because that doesn't apply to the other side, to the other extreme. Why isn't that applied to bands that are Satanic?"

He then provides his resolute response to this line of thinking: "I mean, I don't get it. I tell you what, if anybody sucks in the batch between Satan or God, it's the Devil." Sweet lets out a suitable chuckle after delivering his viewpoint.

With time disappearing so quickly, there was sufficient time for Sweet to hypothesise over the possible reception to 'No More Hell To Pay' if it was released after their commercial high point 'To Hell With The Devil'. "I really believe if this record had come out in 1988, following 'To Hell With The Devil', I think that it would have taken Stryper to a whole different level and we'd be a household name today. That's my opinion. We would have been on a whole different platforming level in the category of the Bon Jovis, and the Kiss' and the Mötley Crües of the world."

Despite stating such hypothetical claims, he still retains the air of a humble guy, a human being with his own belief system and an almost fragile sensibility.

Opinions and perspectives are always subjective and relative in their own context, but when you're the creative element of a piece of work and know how much has been invested in it, does that mean you have the ultimate perspective and insight to the level of quality on show?

Does that mean your view point has the utmost clarity and therefore your verdict depicts with undisputable accuracy the most insightful interpretation? Whether you know the answer to this philosophical curiosity or not, one thing is for sure, Stryper are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year in style and are very excited about this second chapter of their life.


11.11.13













 

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Phil Lewis & Tracii Guns unite under the L.A. Guns banner once again for next year's HRH AOR 5 being held next March at Camp HRH in North Wales...

deep purple DEEP PURPLE 'LIVE AT THE NEC' DVD ON THE WAY: FAREWELL JON, WELCOME DON
The two share keyboard duties during the night in a very fitting "passing-of-the-torch" moment...

status quo ROCK 'TIL YOU DROP WITH STATUS QUO 1981-1986 VINYL BOX SET
In addition to the studio albums the box set will include an extra disc of b-sides and extended mixes...

zz top ZZ TOP TO RELEASE THEIR VERY FIRST OFFICIAL LIVE ALBUM IN SEPTEMBER
"In an abstract surrealism style, this collection is a definitive chronicle of the band hangin' together for four plus deluxe decades..."

tygers of pan tang TYGERS OF PAN TANG "SPECIAL TIME" HAS COME WITH NEW RELEASE
"The new Tygers album is finished, done and dusted and ready to unleash on our 'Tygertastic' audience. You're gonna love this one, it's a MONSTER..."

andy fraser ANDY FRASER OF FREE'S LAST RECORDING WITH SAIICHI SUGIYAMA ONLINE HERE
"'Melting Away' became one of Andy's last recordings. He still had so much to offer and I was really looking forward to continuing to work with him."

ritchie blackmore RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW TO PLAY AGAIN BUT WITH LESS DEEP PURPLE SONGS
"I would do probably ninety-five percent Rainbow songs; that's what they seem to want to hear. And it didn't occur to me. I just naturally assumed they wanted to hear everything."

saxon EXCLUSIVE: THIS IS WHAT OUR FAVOURITE ROCKERS THINK OF THE CURRENT POLITICAL CLIMATE
Comment from Saxon, Slash, Thunder, Iron Maiden, Uli Jon Roth, Hawkwind, Cher, Johnny Rotten, Machine Head And More...

beyond the black UK EXCLUSIVE: BEYOND THE BLACK SINGER JENNIFER HABEN IS LOST IN FOREVER AS FIVE MEMBERS DEPART THE BAND
"I have enjoyed the time together with the guys very much and am grateful for everything we have achieved together in Germany. I am currently looking for new colleagues..."

cats in space CATS IN SPACE SET TO RELEASE SLADE CLASSIC WITH DANNY BOWES OF THUNDER ON GUEST VOCALS
"It's is one of my favourite Slade songs, so when they asked me to sing on their version it took me a good second and a half to say yes..."

guns n roses WAS BREAKING NEWS: GUNS N' ROSES ADD MORE TOUR DATES FOR OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER
The Gunners' newly announced dates are for South America with ten dates in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Colombia with more to be announced soon...

keith moon YOU WON'T GET FOOLED WITH OFFICIAL KEITH MOON COMMEMORATIVE DRUM HEAD
Manufactured as a special, custom product by Remo, these 14" high-gloss drum heads are a perfect collector's item for true fans of the legendary drummer and The Who...

the answer WAS BREAKING NEWS: THE ANSWER AND THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER UK TOUR
"The fact that we get to debut this new material with our mates The Dead Daisies just adds to the rush we're currently experiencing. You really don't want to miss this one!"

ian gillan IAN GILLAN SAYS: "IT'S A WONDERFUL THING, VINYL..." WITH NEW COLLECTION ABOUT TO BE RELEASED
"You just bought something significant, not easily disposable. And look at the sleeves - aren't they cool..."

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS NEW ALBUM ON THE WAY: "THE LYRICS ON THE TITLE TRACK ARE SOME OF SPIKE'S BEST EVER!"
"I approached the songwriting from a different angle and it felt good. There's a lot of passion there."

48 hours 48 HOURS TO ROCK THE UK TO A CITY OF ASHES
"We're hitting the road in September for a co-headline tour with our broseph's City Of Ashes! This will be one of the unsigned tours of the year!"

hammerfall WAS BREAKING NEWS: LIVE LIFE LOUD WITH HAMMERFALL ON 2017 EUROPEAN TOUR: NEW ALBUM ON THE WAY
"We can't wait to get back on stage again to have a gigantic Heavy Metal party every night with all our Templar friends!"

joe perry AEROSMITH GUITARIST JOE PERRY REPORTEDLY SUFFERS HEART ATTACK DURING HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES GIG
"Thanks to everyone asking about our brother Joe Perry," Alice Cooper wrote. "He is stable right now, with family and is under the best care."

onslaught ONSLAUGHT, BEHOLDER AND ANIHILATED TOUR PROMISES TO BE A TOUR DE FORCE
"By the time we hit the road in November it will be well over two-and-a-half years since we did the last run and we feel the time is now right..."

arw ARW (JON ANDERSON, TREVOR RABIN AND RICK WAKEMAN) ANNOUNCE BAND FOR UPCOMING WORLD TOUR
"I have played with arguably the three greatest bass players ever and I can't wait to play with one of them again!"

marillion MARILLION UNVEIL 'THE NEW KINGS' FROM FORTHCOMING STUDIO ALBUM 'FEAR'
'The New Kings' can also be heard on Marillion's current tour which starts on Monday 11th July in Barcelona...

michael des barres AN AMERICAN WRITER ASKS WHY IT TAKES A BRITISH EX-PAT TO ASK, "WHAT'S GOING ON?" MICHAEL DES BARRES HAS THE ANSWER
This incendiary cover of Marvin Gaye's classic confronts America's issues in an incredibly timely and head-on manner...

freedom call FREEDOM CALL RELEASE A NEW METAL HYMN 'HAMMER OF THE GODS', AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD NOW
The trademark bold vocal harmonies remain. The track is taken from forthcoming opus 'Master Of Light'...

guns n roses STEVEN ADLER JOINS GUNS N' ROSES ON STAGE IN OHIO: FOUR FIFTHS OF 'APPETITE' LINE-UP PLAY TOGETHER FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1990
"On the drums, you might know this guy. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Steven Adler..."

ac dc AC/DC BASSIST CLIFF WILLIAMS TO RETIRE AFTER ROCK OR BUST WORLD TOUR: "IT'S BEEN SURREAL"
"AC/DC has been... you know, just... I don't know what else I would wanna do. I love the music and I love playing in the band, and I'm all filled up..."

guns n roses GUNS N' ROSES USE THEIR ILLUSION TO SILENCE THE DOUBTERS WITH US TOUR GOING SO FINE
Axl is clearly in his element on this tour, running across the stage to jump on the monitors mid-song and displaying all the panache of a man completely on top of his game...

stray del bromham STRAY TO ROAM AROUND THE UK ON TOUR INCLUDING A RARE REUNION OF THE ORIGINAL LINE-UP
No need to move a mountain as both Stray and Del Bromham's Blues Devils are on their way to a venue near you...

amorettes THE AMORETTES ANNOY THE NEIGHBOURS WITH RAUCOUS NEW SINGLE
'Let The Neighbours Call The Cops' was co- written by vocalist Gill Montgomery and Black Star Riders front man Ricky Warwick...

eagles of death metal WAS BREAKING NEWS: EAGLES OF DEATH METAL WANT YOU SO BAD ON TWO UK DATES IN AUGUST
This is EODM's first visit to the UK since the band were caught up in the terrible events at The Bataclan Theatre in Paris back in November 2015...

soil SOiL 'SHINE ON' THE UK WITH COMPREHENSIVE TOUR
"We are looking forward to seeing some new places and making some new friends this time around..."

acid reign ACID REIGN GET IN FESTIVE MOOD EARLY WITH SPECIAL GIG ANNOUNCEMENT
'Tis the season to Thrash as Acid Reign team up with Shrapnel with far from obnoxious results...

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN: LEGACY OF THE BEAST MOBILE RPG GAME IS OUT NOW
"We've always wanted to make a quality Maiden mobile game as we think the combination of Eddie and the music is so well suited..."

rick parfitt status quo EXCLUSIVE: STATUS QUO'S RICK PARFITT SEEMS TO BE 'FINE FINE FINE' AS HE IS SPOTTED OUT AND ABOUT
Following the recent health scare a picture has emerged online of him taking a walk in Kingston over the weekend...

bullet for my valentine BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE TO PLAY 'THE POISON' IN FULL FOR THE FIRST EVER TIME
"We promised you something special right? See 'The Poison' played in full for the first time in Manchester! Tickets on sale now here..."

alter bridge WAS BREAKING NEWS: ALTER BRIDGE TO HEADLINE ARENAS ACROSS EUROPE THIS WINTER WITH GOJIRA AND VOLBEAT
This will be their biggest headline tour yet with twenty-four dates across fifteen countries, kicking off on November 4th 2016

the mission WAS BREAKING NEWS: BAUHAUS FRONTMAN PETER MURPHY TO GUEST WITH THE MISSION ON THEIR 30th ANNIVERSARY UK TOUR
"Peter's appearance will help make these shows the special events that we always wanted and hoped they'd be..."

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN ILLUSTRATOR DESIGNS SHIRT FOR ONE DIRECTION'S ZAYN MALIK, MAIDEN LAUNCH THIRD TROOPER BEER AND HI-ON-MAIDEN TO HEADLINE PICCSTOCK
A full-bodied beer using a blend of chocolate and crystal malts to give "a roasted malt and caramel backbone with hints of liquorice and honey"...

bruce dickinson BRUCE DICKINSON TO TAKE PART IN TOP GEAR STYLE CHARITY ROAD TRIP
"The enthusiasm from the group is amazing which will lend itself to making it an unforgettable trip..."

anvil WAS BREAKING NEWS: ANVIL ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN TOUR FOR OCTOBER/NOVEMBER
Anvil will not only be playing dates in Scotland and Wales but also English towns which rarely see major international artists, such as Huddersfield, Doncaster and Grimsby.

status quo IT'S TIME TO GET 'DOWN DOWN' TO BUTLINS AS SECOND STATUS QUO FAN CLUB CONVENTION IS ANNOUNCED
The weekend will feature live music from ex-Quo drummer John Coghlan and his band with long time friend of the band, Jackie Lynton also scheduled to appear...

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