We’re blessed to still be alive and doing this.
Quote from Michael Sweet, frontman for Stryper who are touring Australia in August.
The 80s crossover Christian metal band has been performing for over 30-years with album sales exceeding 10-million copies.
It’s also quite remarkable that Michael Sweet, the band’s founder who lives in Boston Massachusetts, can still hit those dizzy high notes.
And he was actually at home when Vision gave him a call. A rarity given Michael’s frequently on the road with the band even after all these years.
‘We’re excited to be coming back’
“We do travel a lot. You’ve got to take the good with the bad. I enjoy my job and I love doing music and I’m blessed to do it but at the same time I hate travelling.”
“You grin and bear it.” That said, levels on the band’s excitement barometer are peaking in the danger zone for the upcoming tour Downunder.
We’re excited too. We made it to Australia two times in the 80s’ believe it or not.
“And we found our way back there a few more times in recent years. The last time being eight years ago.”
And there’s good reason to keep coming back to Australia. Stryper has a very strong fan base here.
“We’re excited to come and perform a lot of new songs because we’ve released three new albums since our last visit,” Michael explained.
New and old material
Namely, No More Hell To Pay, Fallen, and God Damn Evil, the latest considered to be their heaviest release yet. And not forgotten for the upcoming tour will be regurgitations of Stryper’s much loved earlier work.
We’re going to be doing the classic songs as well. Of course.
Michael’s well aware quite a few bands rely on their old material. Although he’s fine with that, the Black Attack like to push the boundaries on that score.
“We really try hard to mix in the new material with the old material because we feel it’s some of our best material we’ve ever recorded or written. So we always take the opportunity to play new songs.”
As far as the Stryper legacy goes, anything’s possible on this tour, and Michael is probably on safe ground when suggesting the age demographic attending the performances could be somewhat extensive.
“We’ve been around for so long there may be great-great grandads coming!”
Certain bands are well renown when it comes to tour behaviour antics, some good some not so good. As for Stryper, well they’re not known to have smashed their instruments on stage, but they are remembered for having thrown Bibles into the audience.
Do they still do that? “Absolutely!” Michael Sweet declared.
It’s still a big part of what we do (throwing Bibles) and who we are and we have never stopped doing that, from the very beginning to now.
“In the old days we might have thrown out to a crowd of eight to ten thousand people we might have thrown out two or three hundred Bibles.”
“Now we throw out 20 to 30 or 40 Bibles. It just depends on the size of the crowd. But we still do it. It’s a big part of what we are,” Michael confirmed.
‘Never one is left. Never’
It’s about spreading the positivity, getting the Word and God’s love out there, and it’s still, after all these years, a big deal for Stryper.
Michael tells the story of how in Stryper’s early days when they threw out Bibles, many would be left lying around the arenas. But that changed when they started putting Stryper stickers on the covers.
Now we print them with the logo on them and never one is left. Never.
Significant when you take into account the wide spectrum of Stryper audiences.
“We play shows and festivals where it’s just a mainstream secular crowd,” Michael acknowledged, saying they’ve played where there are no Christians.
“We’ve gone to Indonesia and played to Muslim crowds and still thrown out the Bible. So it’s pretty amazing the history and legacy of the band.”
‘Still alive, and doing this’
Confession time. Michael, now into his 50s, said he’s feeling achy and tired and worn out right now from the rigors of travelling and performing.
But as for his mind and heart, they never age.
I feel like a teenager in mind and heart and music keeps me young.
And don’t waste your time wondering when the band is going to call it quits.
How much longer are they going to keep rocking on?
“One more week!” quipped Michael who was just kidding. “There’s no limitations. We haven’t put an expiration date on the bottle. We’ll keep doing it until we feel we’re not supposed to do it anymore.”
“That could be 10 years. That could be another 20 years or more. I really don’t know.”
Michael is impressed by other bands and mentioned the Rolling Stones who are mid-seventies and pushing into their 80s.
It’s all about staying healthy obviously, Lord willing we’re still here on this earth long enough.
“And as long as we have the motivation and the drive and desire to do it, we’ll keep going.”
In the 80s, Stryper was doing large arenas and flying everywhere with 20 to 30 crew. Today that’s been scaled back somewhat.
“It’s just the four band members and maybe if we’re very fortunate there might be four or five crew members,” Michael informed, saying they’re playing smaller venues these days.
‘It’s what I’m called to do’
“I personally like it. It’s a little more personable and people are right there.’
“A lot of times in arenas you couldn’t even see the people because they were pushed back 20-feet behind barricades and it was so dark you couldn’t even see them.”
Essentially for Michael there’s a purpose to continue playing that drives him on to keep doing what he does. He explained it this way.
I always try to go out and look at it as I’m still getting to do what I love and what I’m called to do.
“And if I can have an effect in a positive way on one person it’s worth it. So that’s my mentality.”
If you would like to listen to the full audio interview click play below
GOD DAMN EVIL – AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2018
Established in southern California in 1983, multi-platinum crossover Christian metal band, STRYPER, continues to share their positive message and energetic stage presence with a passionate following throughout the world. Since the band’s inception over 30 years ago, the founding members have stayed true to their deepest convictions, turning from “the ways of the world” and following their hearts instead. “In the past 35 years, we’ve evolved into what we are now,” says vocalist and guitarist Michael Sweet. “This is what we always really wanted to be. I love the progression. The story of STRYPER is that of an underdog. We seem to go against the grain with everything we do, and our fans tend to be the same – They’re good hardworking people who believe in love, respect, and not conforming to the ways of the world.”