Tyde Moore: “Today, we have an interview with Michael Sweet, Dove Award winner and lead singer of the legendary Christian rock band, Stryper! We are definitely excited to bring this interview to you and hope you enjoy it!”
Tyde Moore: “Hi Michael, thank you for taking out the time to answer our questions. It’s an honor to do this interview with you, someone who is such a huge pioneer in Christian rock. How did Stryper get so big in Christian music, when you guys were so ‘demonized’ by Christians at the time? Also, what do you have to say to those who still say that Christian rock is not of God? When I hear those people, I personally like to whip out Matthew 4:19… then I tell them, ‘If you want to be a fisher of men, you need to have the right bait.’ But what do you tell these people? I need to know, because then next time I’m doing battle with one of them, I can tell them what Stryper said! Haha.”
Michael Sweet: “Thank YOU for your time. I appreciate you covering us. After 30+ years of doing this, I truly am appreciative anytime someone chooses to write about Stryper. How did Stryper get so big in Christian music? Well, I talk about this a lot in my upcoming autobiography but I truly believe that God had his hands in this band from day one. We’re really just a bunch of regular guys from Southern California that God took and used for His glory.
Truthfully, I don’t pay much attention to people who say Christian rock is not of God. It used to bother me some back in the day, but as I grow older, and I think wiser, I find it more important to be peaceful than right. My manager has a saying he uses a lot “Don’t argue with an idiot. Those listening in may not be able to tell which one is the idiot.” I don’t want to call anyone an idiot, but the idea that rock cannot be of God, is really an uniformed and close-minded statement. I’ve seen first-hand how God has changed lives through rock music. For over 30 years I’ve seen lives changed through rock music. So I do my best to not let it get me too worked up. I could spend 8 hours a day debating people over this topic if I’d let myself. I choose not to let myself get caught up in it though.”
Tyde Moore: “Did you listen to a lot of Christian music bands like Petra, Keith Green, etc.? Did any of them play a role in your musical style, or did you just go that direction because you felt it needed to be done? I guess what I’m asking is, why did you choose to do Christian rock in an industry that didn’t exactly embrace it at the time? Christian rock is what got me into Christian music personally, before I heard it, I thought that all Christian music was old time ‘church music.’ Did you guys mainly want to reach out to a secular audience and bring Jesus to them or were you targeting believers too?”
Michael Sweet: “No, I didn’t listen to any Christian music other than traditional praise and worship songs that I knew from Church. We never really thought much about Christian rock, or us being a Christian rock band. We knew that we were a rock band. And we knew we had given our lives to Christ. So we just did what came very naturally, singing about what we believed in. The idea of becoming a Christian rock band never really crossed our minds. That may seem odd to some, but it was very natural to us. We just wanted to play great rock music, and sing about our beliefs. But yes, we very much wanted to take that message to the streets. We’ve always played mostly secular venues because that’s where we felt most at home delivering the message. We wanted to, and still want to, reach the kids that don’t go to Church, or who may never go to Church. We want to bring the message to those people – who need it most.”
Tyde Moore: “Stryper’s last release was in 2009; titled ‘The Covering,’ it was a parody album… what inspired this? Also, what differences and similarities should we expect to see in Stryper in 2013, in comparison to Stryper from 25 years ago? What can we expect from your new record titled, ‘Second Coming?’ I have a feeling we can expect something awesome.”
Michael Sweet: “Actually, no disrespect, but ‘The Covering’ was not at all a parody. We very much respect the artists we covered on that album and in no way would we want to trivialize what those artists did to influence us as musicians. Just the opposite, we did our best to pay respect to these artists by attempting to cover their songs in the most authentic fashion possible.
Stryper in 2013 is sort of like a more mature Stryper. It’s like Stryper grew up (Haha). We’re older now and I feel like we’re wiser lyrically and more refined musically. ‘Second Coming’ is a perfect depiction of this. We have re-recorded our original Stryper classic songs for this album, paying great respects to the original versions. But I was 20 years old when I was making some of these old classic songs. I’ve matured a lot as a musician and it’s nice to finally be able to showcase these songs in a way they deserve.”
Tyde Moore: “Sorry, 'Parody' was the wrong word... they're cover songs, but they have different lyrics than the originals; So, I said ‘parody’ for lack of a better word. But they're very good and definitely not mocking or making a joke of the originals. What are your thoughts on what’s popular in Christian music today, like pop rock/contemporary? Should we expect some songs in this style from Stryper in the future?”
Michael Sweet: “Truthfully, we don’t pay a lot of attention to popular Christian music today. I definitely appreciate and respect a lot of the new Christian rock bands, but as far as what Stryper is doing in the future, it will likely continue to remain true to the Stryper sound that somewhat defines us…. Catchy rock songs, good vocal melodies and harmonies, and solid guitar and rhythm parts. Then again, we’ve always just gone wherever God leads us. And only He knows where we may go next musically. All I can say is that we’ll continue to look to Him for guidance. “
Tyde Moore: “What type of audience are you targeting with this new album? Are you targeting a Christian audience, a mainstream audience, or both? What is the primary goal of the ‘Second Coming’ album?”
Michael Sweet: “We have almost always targeted a mainstream audience. The goal of ‘Second Coming’ was to finally give some of those great classic songs the recordings they deserve. I’m really pleased with the production on this album and I think the fans will be pleased when they hear it.”
Tyde Moore: “You guys have hardcore fans, some of the best and most faithful in the world… I’m sure they would like to know, why did Stryper stop making music to begin with? Also, what brought about this reunion?”
Michael Sweet: “I agree. I love our fans. We really do have some of the greatest and most faithful fans in the world. Without them we could have never made it this far. This “reunion” actually isn’t much of a reunion anymore. We’ve been together the second time around longer than we were the first. We were together from 1984 until 1991 and then we reunited in 2003 and it’s now 2013.”
Tyde Moore: “What’s your favorite song from the ‘Second Coming’ album and why?”
Michael Sweet: “That’s a tough one. It’s like picking a favorite child… haha.”
Tyde Moore: “I usually interview up and coming Christian artists, so you’re actually my biggest interview ever! With that in mind, what advice would you give to up and coming Christian artists? What have you learned in all your years of being a musician that you would share with them? Also, I’m an aspiring songwriter with Tyde Moore… any tips for me with songwriting? Because I want a Dove Award too, and I have a feeling they’re not contagious. If I’m wrong, cough on me please haha.”
Michael Sweet: “I’m your biggest interview? Wow. That’s a lot of pressure. Haha. But thank you for saying so. I suggest that anyone wanting to be a professional musician spend a lot of time practicing, refining their craft, and trust God in everything you do. As old fashioned as it may seem to say; A lot of hard work and faith can go a long way.”
Tyde Moore: “What was it like being in a band with your brother? Any sibling rivalries within the band or did you guys mostly get along? Because if my brother and I were in a band, the crowd would be treated to a pier six brawl after every concert! Haha, I mean we all love our siblings, but being in a band with one seems like a challenge. How do you separate business from family?”
Michael Sweet: “It’s definitely a challenge. Rob and I are like night and day. We’re very different people with one very important goal in common; To share our faith with others through music. At the end of the day, the differences tend to work themselves out when there is a common, and strong, goal leading the path.”
Tyde Moore: “Can we expect to see Stryper on tour? Anything planned in terms of live events?”
Michael Sweet: “We will be touring throughout the world in 2013. We just got back from South America and had a great run. Our tours aren’t quite as lengthy as they used to be, but we’ll definitely be hitting the road this year.”
Tyde Moore: “Thank you for taking the time to answer all of our questions. Before we call it a night; is there anything you’d like to tell your fans, or anything you would just like to put out there? Thanks again, this was a real honor and you made one of my dreams come true! God bless you, the rest of Stryper, and your new album. Keep us updated with what’s going on with you guys. I can’t wait to hear ‘Second Coming’ I know it will be great!”
Michael Sweet: “My pleasure. I just want to very sincerely thank our fans who have stuck by us all these years, and the new ones who are just discovering us for the first time. I consider myself very blessed to be able to do this for a living and it’s because of the amazing fans we have, and by the grace of God, that we have been able to continue this journey for over 30 years. I look forward to many more. See you on the road. Stay tuned to Stryper.com and hopefully we’ll be seeing you soon. God bless you all!”
Pre-order Stryper’s ‘Second Coming’ on Amazon now! If you can't wait, you can get a taste of it, with the single Stryper has already released, ''Bleeding from Inside Out." Full album available on March 26, 2013.
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