Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Interview with Michael Sweet of Stryper A Man of Few Regrets


with Song River

Michael Sweet of Stryper


Whether it is the challenge of growing up too fast, playing in a band that he loves, flying solo, working on music projects, the loss of a loved one, or just kicking back at home musician/singer-songwriter Michael Sweet greets each day as if it were to be his first and his last. With an eagerness to say yes and come what may. His faith in God has carried him to say, "I am not a man of many regrets."

Song River: Being on tour for a band must be an almighty passion. What is it though that most bands do when they have a 'day off' while they are out touring?

Michael Sweet: To be honest, aside from interviews and social media, it is a day we finally get to do our laundry! [laughed] I am so OCD about doing laundry. You got to be the first one up if you want to get it done.

Song River: Laundry day has to be a good day! When you are on the road and away from home what are some of the things you miss?

Michael Sweet: Of course I don't like being away from my family, my animals, my house obviously. Odd thing is though once you are out on the road for a month or two and you go back home you have to totally readjust again.

Song River: Being out on tour then returning back home then back out on the road again must be something like how the military feel when they get to go on leave. Adjustment periods.

Michael Sweet: Exactly. When I go home sometimes I feel like a stranger in my house. It takes a few days to readjust and to know where to put everything, it's just strange.  

Song River: Does your wife ever get to join you on tour?

Michael Sweet: Oh, yeah she definitely does. We co-manage the band together. Really she is the manager but I help her with whatever. She will come out sometimes for a week and ride the bus. She never can stay long though as she has another job back home, that she has to be there for.

Song River: Being on the road for about 7-8 weeks at a time, how much do you find it affecting you physically by comparison to when you would tour for much longer stints during the 80's?

Michael Sweet: Surprisingly you know what I am not feeling it. You know we haven’t toured over a two month time period since the 80's but really I don't feel it in the bones any differently than I did back in the day. Of course, my schedule is a little bit different now. I used to stay up to 3 or 4 AM back then and be up at 9 AM in the morning, but not anymore. I get my rest.


Song River: Stryper is about to wrap up this year with their recent tour to support To Hell With The Devil, (wrapping up in November but is slated to start back up come February 2017), and for those who caught it was such an experience for audiences of all ages. The crowds in attendance you could tell were die hard fans, they all sang and fist pumped along, plus they brought their kids and it would seem grandparents too. A real family affair if you would. 

We asked several of the fans in the crowd the question of why Stryper's colors were black and yellow and no one seemed to know. Can you shed some light on this?


Michael Sweet: Well, actually my brother started a long time ago in Stryper painting his drum kit yellow and black. It was even striped actually, it was some crazy thing. Then he started doing other things striped. He did his guitar, cables, clothes and then asked if he could start doing it to the rest of the band's stuff.

It's funny actually. People when they hear that story seemed to get a little irritable because it isn't tied to Stryper exactly. It is more like Stryper is tied to it. Just remember us for our music, I would rather be remembered by that than the yellow and black.

Song River: Digging into Stryper an interview dating back a bit with Rick Dees was found. You all had the hair, the attitude, you had it all going on. There was something though you said during the interview that was interesting given today's social climate. You brought up the topic of freedom of speech during the interview.

Michael Sweet: Right.

Song River: How difficult is it to keep that balance of freedom speech and who and what you do? As a band, you want to write and sing what is on your mind, but then again as someone who professes a strong Christian based faith, there must be a balance of keeping that freedom to speak with the freedom of respectful speech. How do you balance your faith and being a rock n roll artist?

Michael Sweet: Oh gosh, I think that is tricky. I gave up a long time ago trying to balance it. I just try to be myself. I am all about freedom and freedom of speech but at the same time, I am also more about respect.



I had tweeted a while back about a political subject and it was getting out of control on my twitter. People were just really bad mouthing each other, I blocked a guy. I said if you can't respect each other then I will block you. Treat people with respect or at least try to and I think everything else will fall into place. I've never understood why two people, one who might be a Christian and the other an Atheist, has to be a subject for an argument and fight over. Technology may play some in this as we can hide behind our screens. I will always speak my mind, but I will always do it with respect.

Song River: What is it that formed between the hair, the spandex, the sound that said to the people come join us and even today they still are?

Michael Sweet: We started playing super young, I started playing clubs when I was 13, so from 13-20 I lived the life of drugs and alcohol and all that stuff. Then we all kind of figured it out and stopped all of that. We had grown up in families that believed in God and those influences we had rebelled against. It was around '84 though that we all decided that way of doing things wasn’t what we wanted anymore. We decided together to live our lives for God.


Song River: You seem to posses Michael, what one might call, a 'yes to life.'

Michael Sweet: I do. You know I take it one day at a time. Not everything is perfect in 'Stryper World.' There are many things I have faced that have been devastating over the years. Now though, I just wake up each day and say, “What's next God?” I have a purpose each day and that is how I keep going.

Song River: Eleven studio albums, and 'Fallen' is the twelfth, right?

Michael Sweet: Yes, I do believe you are right on that. Plus, I have just released my seventh solo album... which is crazy. There's already plans for another one!

Song River: Would you say that Sweet and the Stryper persona are really the same person- just taking different ways of expressing yourself?

Michael Sweet: It's true. People ask me all the time how do you separate the two. I don't. I just write. Some sound like Stryper songs and some sound like solo songs. We all feel good about what we are doing. We all voice our opinions and say what should go where.

Song River: What is it would you say each band member of Stryper brings to the table?

Michael Sweet: I would say, more than anything, they bring their own unique signature style. When they create them, each part takes on its own life.  


Song River: Where would you place the significance of this last album, 'Fallen' on your timeline of music?

Michael Sweet: I think it is one of our best albums. I would say in order my number one Stryper album would be, 'Soldiers Under Command' and my number two would be a toss up between, 'No More Hell To Pay' and 'Fallen.' 'Fallen' is the mature side of Stryper. Its style, the perfect merge of everything we want, to the heaviness to the melodious. It is the perfect representation of Stryper. If someone came up to me and asked which album they should buy, I would say, 'Fallen.'

Song River: Do you even wish Michael that you could have 'do-overs?'

Michael Sweet: I do sometimes, but it is rare. I am not a man of many regrets. I made stupid mistakes but I view mistakes differently than most people, they have made me who I am today. I wouldn’t go back necessarily. Looking back long ago at the situation when I was arrested, [paused] well it changed my life, so if it hadn't happened when it did, well I might not be sitting here talking to you today. And that is a good thing Song. I very good thing.



Discography:

  • The Yellow and Black Attack (1984)
  • Soldiers Under Command (1985)
  • To Hell with the Devil (1986)
  • In God We Trust (1988)
  • Against the Law (1990)
  • Reborn (2005)
  • Murder by Pride (2009)
  • The Covering (2011)
  • Second Coming (2013)
  • No More Hell to Pay (2013)
  • Fallen (2015)
















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