With a trend that began five years ago with No More Hell To Pay, Stryper’s tenth studio album, God Damn Evil, is perhaps the band’s heaviest to date. The title track alone is destined to become another anthemic Stryper classic. Other songs like “Lost” and “Take It To the Cross” offer similar status. Showcasing vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet’s soaring vocals, with the latter song tastefully bordering on the verge of thrash metal.
With a double-entendre title hearkening back to the band’s monster To Hell With The Devil album from 1986, the new release was once again met with concern by fans and retail outlets. Walmart even refused to even carry God Damn Evil in its stores entirely, but ironically still has it available online. Regardless, the band’s formula for writing catchy, hook-laden songs with positive messages and a signature sound remains alive and well.
Stryper, which consists of Michael Sweet, Oz Fox (guitars/vocals), Robert Sweet (drums) and Perry Richardson (bass/vocals), recently kicked off the U.S. leg of the band’s God Damn Evil Tour at the M3 Festival in Maryland. AXS spoke with Michael Sweet about the new tour, which includes an upcoming acoustic performance with Sweet and Fox at The Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, PA in this new interview.
AXS: Stryper recently kicked off the U.S. dates of the God Damn Evil Tour at the M3 Festival. What is it about M3 and these multi-band shows that makes them so special?
Michael Sweet: I think it’s because it brings everyone together; not only the bands but the fans as well. It’s an opportunity for us all to reminisce, enjoy the music and have a great time. For me, the best times musically came during the seventies and eighties. I’m sure there are people who might argue, but for me, those were the best and most fun times. The thing that also made that particular show so great was that it gave us the chance to show how talented our new bassist, Perry, is and what a perfect fit he is for us. He’s been such a Godsend to the band.
AXS: How has the reaction been to the new Stryper album, God Damn Evil?
MS: It’s been great. A lot of people had said that the album would bury us, or that our careers were over. So, it’s been interesting to see that the charts, reaction and reviews are all contrary to that. We gained a lot of new fans on this album. We did what we needed to do and felt right doing it. We stand behind and love the album, and really think it’s our best album ever.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Michael Sweet by Clicking Here!
When Stryper announced the title of its tenth studio album, God Damn Evil, there was some obvious push back. Many longtime fans were unsure if they could even say the name out loud. But the band’s formula for success in using the double entendre to get their message across is one that’s worked well for them over the past thirty-four years (most notably, on their monster 1986 release, To Hell With The Devil ), and this new album is no different.
With God Damn Evil (which will be released on Friday, April 20), Stryper continues to build on its mantra of shining light in a dark place. It’s an album that features the familiar Christian rockers’ signature sound, hook-laden anthems and thought-provoking messages, but it’s also one that takes a few chances as well.
From the opening track, “Take It To The Cross”; a soaring song that borders on thrash metal, to the modern heaviness and edge of songs like “Sorry” and “Lost,” Stryper continues to push the envelope of their musical creativity. The title track alone is an instant Stryper classic. With a bluesy guitar intro and fist-pumping chorus that’s certain to be a highlight of the band’s set on tour this year.
With a new album and full year of touring, Stryper is also welcoming new bassist, Perry Richardson (Firehouse / Craig Morgan) to the lineup.
Stryper is: Michael Sweet (lead vocals/guitar), Robert Sweet (drums), Oz Fox (guitars/vocals), Perry Richardson (bass/vocals).
AXS: How does God Damn Evil compare with some of the band’s recent albums like Fallen and No More Hell To Pay?
Michael Sweet: Sonically, it’s a little more meatier. We didn’t get into the “loud wars” because the louder you make it, the less punch and dynamics there are. We also tried a few different techniques with cymbals and mic placement as well as with guitar heads and cabinets. With this album, we went for something a little bit different while still retaining our classic sound.
AXS: You’re known for waiting until the last minute to begin work on writing songs for an album. Was that the same process you used for God Damn Evil?
MS: It was the same process. I don’t like writing for six months and then having thirty songs to pick through. I used to write like that back in [the] Eighties. Now, I enjoy working under pressure and starting from scratch. It’s hard to explain but it’s a formula I don’t want to mess with.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Michael Sweet by Clicking Here!
Unified is the sophomore release from Sweet & Lynch, the collaborative partnership centered around the talents of Michael Sweet (Stryper) and George Lynch (Lynch Mob).
The powerful combination of Sweet’s high-octane vocals and Lynch’s instantly recognizable guitar work, along with the propulsive rhythm section of James Lomenzo (bass) and Brian Tichy (drums), gives Sweet and Lynch a unique musical palette. The result is an album of traditional heavy metal grooves, hook-laden melodies, tasty guitar wizardry and positive messages.
I recently spoke to Michael Sweet about Unified and working with George Lynch. He also gave me an update on the new Stryper album and their new bassist, Perry Richardson.
Before we begin, I’d like to get your thoughts on the recent passing of AC/DC guitarist, Malcolm Young. How much of an influence did he have on you?
Like any other teenager and aspiring musician at the time, AC/DC was the pinnacle. Not so much from the sense of me trying to sound like Malcolm or Angus, but I played those songs in cover bands and to this day we still break into AC/DC songs at sound check.
There’s just something amazing about their power and simplicity, and Malcom was the driving force behind it. He was such an incredibly tight and responsive guitar player. He didn’t make a lot of noise in terms of his persona or stage presence, but if you closed your eyes and listened you would hear Malcolm above all.
Let’s discuss the new Sweet & Lynch album, Unified. How does it compare to your first release, Only To Rise?
For this album, George and I branched out a little and tried a few different things. It’s got some songs on it that are stretched a bit more in terms of creativity, particularly with songs like “Walk” and “Afterlife”. There’s nothing like that on the first album. The first album was comprised more of three and a half to four-minute songs geared toward hard rock/metal heads and radio. For this one, we had less of that in mind and made the album we wanted to make.
Was the writing process similar to Only To Rise, where George would send you musical ideas to work from?
Yes. Once we got down to it, George would send me ideas that were music only. The first time around they were less complete, but this time it was a complete song from start to finish. George is a guy who writes with a melody in mind, so it makes it easy for me to find them. George wrote all the music on this one and I wrote all the lyrics and melodies. It was a compete co-write.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from Unified, beginning with the title track.
That song is based on our world today and what we watch on the news. Whatever side you’re on. And that’s the sad part when I say that we have “sides”, especially in America where we’ve become so divided. It makes no sense to me, so I wrote a song about it. Keeping in mind the hope that it might bring people a little closer together. That’s the whole point of “Unified.”
Read the rest of my
Interview with Michael Sweet by clicking here.
When multi-platinum, Christian rockers Stryper donned their iconic yellow and black costumes and kicked off their 30th Anniversary To Hell with the Devil Tour in September, they were greeted by legions of fans longing for one more taste of the band’s biggest album.
For most, this was the first time they’ve seen the band’s original line-up in full gear performing deep cuts like “Holding On” and “All of Me” in nearly three decades. A once in a lifetime opportunity to be sure.
For metal fans who may not be familiar, Stryper’s “To Hell With The Devil” album is a masterpiece of 80’s metal. The Grammy-nominated, third studio release was also the first to achieve platinum status as well as giving the band — which consists of Michael Sweet (lead vocals/guitars), Robert Sweet (drums), Oz Foxx (guitars) and Tim Gaines (bass), crossover appeal to mainstream metal with songs like the title track, “Honestly,” “Calling On You” and “Free”.
For this tour, Stryper will be performing To Hell With The Devil in its entirely from start to finish, followed by another set of the band’s biggest and most well known hits.
I recently spoke with Michael Sweet about the To Hell With The Devil: 30th Anniversary Tour, his upcoming projects and some memorable moments of his career.
When you look back on the To Hell With The Devil album now with thirty years of perspective, what thoughts come to mind?
It was a special time and definitely the highlight and heyday of the band. I’ve always said that it was the album that took us from performing in theaters to arenas, and the song, “Honestly” literally took us from gold to platinum status. It was our biggest, most celebrated and popular album to this day, and just the fact that we’re doing it now with the original line-up thirty years later is mind boggling and I love it!
How has reaction been to the new tour?
It’s been fantastic. We start with a little video documentary of the band and its history. Then we come out and do To Hell With The Devil in its entirety. Then we take a five-minute break and come back out and do another full set after that. It’s almost a two-hour show.
What’s it been like revisiting some of these songs?
It’s been great. There are actually a few songs, like “Holding On,” “All of Me,” and “Rockin’ The World” that we haven’t played since the 80s. Playing them now every night is a reminder of just how cool those songs are and how much we missed playing them. The crowd loves them and the response has been phenomenal.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from To Hell With The Devil, starting with Honestly. Can you tell me how that song came about?
I had a Roland keyboard sitting in my garage that always inspired me to write piano ballads. I remember sitting down at it one day and playing some chords. It actually came together fairly quickly and wound up becoming the song that charted the highest of any we’ve ever released.
At the time, did you know it was going to be special?
I had a feeling about that song and the whole album actually. When we started tracking and listening back to the mixes I had a gut feeling it was going to be big and a turning point for the band.
How about the track, To Hell With The Devil?
Rob wanted to give the album that title, so I wrote the music and Rob and I wrote the words together. It’s an iconic title that a lot of people remember us for and a catch phrase people love to say. It’s a powerful statement because we believe that’s where he [The Devil] is going. The original album cover was very controversial because there was a pentagram being pulled from Satan’s neck and it upset a lot of the Christian bookstores that were carrying it. We wound up changing the artwork.
Calling on You.
That song is a good merge of pop sense and metal. It’s got this edge along with a great melody and harmonies. It was the first video we made for the album and the first that went to #1 on Dial MTV. It’s been a staple in our set since the 80s.
Your most recent solo album, One Sided War also received a lot of critical acclaim. Do you have plans to tour to support it next year?
Absolutely. I’m going to do some acoustic shows next year as well as ones and a full band. I’ll also be starting a new Sweet & Lynch album in February and I can’t wait to do it.
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
Right now, I’m working on some songs for Joel Hoekstra / Michael Sweet super group project. I’m also thinking about another new solo album already.
You’re one of few artists from the era who continues to write, record and create new music. What’s your reasoning behind it?
You know what it is? I’m still just as excited about it now as I was when I was sixteen. And it’s not just about the touring and performance as much as it is the writing and recording. Creating. I’m passionate about it.
Of all of the highlights of your career as an artist, are there any that stand out to you as most memorable?
As an artist, the one that pops in my mind instantly is the first performance I had with Boston [Note: Sweet performed as singer and guitarist for Boston from 2008-2011]. I remember it was a very sad night because we had been celebrating Brad Delp’s life and I was really nervous because I was stepping up to the plate and singing songs for Brad. I wasn’t sure how the fans would accept it, but I just remember singing the first song and hearing the crowd roar. It was a special, emotional moment for me. Of course with Stryper, there are so many. Just the days of performing in some of these venues, traveling and seeing the world together as a band. There are so many special moments.
Michael Sweet’s new solo album, One Sided War, is packed with hook-laden songs that transcend the tasty fretwork and soaring vocals we’ve come to expect from the Stryper frontman.
On the new disc, Sweet is joined by a plethora of seasoned musicians, including guitarists Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake) and Ethan Brosh, bassist John O’Boyle and drummer Will Hunt (Evanescence). Newcomer guitarist/vocalist Moriah Formica accompanies Sweet on a tasty duet, “Can’t Take This Life.”
In addition to the new solo album, Sweet—along with the rest of Stryper—is gearing up for a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of that band’s monster album, To Hell with the Devil.
I recently spoke with Sweet about One Sided War, Stryper’s upcoming tour, gear and more. You can check out our chat below.
You consistently release great new music. How important is it for you to keep creating?
It’s everything to me. Many artists seem to lose their drive and passion for doing it as they get older. They’ll say things like it’s not really worth it to make new albums. But the thing about me is that it feels as though I’ve gained more drive and more passion. I just love what I do.
How does One Sided War compare to some of your previous albums?
It’s obviously got some similarities to the sound of some of the other things I’ve done in the past because I can’t escape the sound of my voice or the style of my guitar playing. But I always try to bring in new ingredients and substance to give it a different flair. I always say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and I mean it. But that’s not meant to be a slam on the other projects. I just go into each project trying new things—using new equipment and trying different mic and amp techniques to improve upon the last project. I never sit down and think about what I want to sing or play. I just do what comes from the heart.
You can read the rest of my
Interview with Michael Sweet by Clicking Here!
It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Christian rock giants Stryper released To Hell with the Devil. The monster album, which features the dual-guitar attack of Michael Sweet and Oz Fox, spawned several classic tunes, including “Calling on You,” “Free,” “Honestly” and, of course, the title track.
These days, you’ll still find Stryper doing what they do best—delivering their uniquely infectious music and message to a fan base that’s hungry for both. Stryper’s latest release, Fallen, continues that trend and is considered by many to be their heaviest album to date.
Stryper is Michael Sweet (lead vocals/guitars), Oz Fox (guitars/vocals), Timothy Gaines (bass/vocals) and Robert Sweet (drums).
I recently caught up with Sweet and Fox before Stryper’s sold-out show at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood to discuss the 30th anniversary of To Hell with the Devil, new music, gear and more.
Stryper are about to play another sold-out show at the Whisky A Go Go. You guys have played there quite a bit over the years and even recorded a live album here. What do you like most about the venue?
MICHAEL SWEET: The Whisky is a legendary place. I remember the first time I played there; it was with Kevin Dubrow and Dubrow (they weren’t called Quiet Riot at the time). We’ve all been playing there on and off over the years with Stryper and with our solo projects. There’s a lot of history there and something special about it. It’s really small and there’s no place to put your gear. It’s a bit of a zoo—but it’s still the Whisky!
You’ve called Stryper’s new album, Fallen, as the band’s heaviest album to date. How have the new songs blended in with the classic Stryper hits?
SWEET: Perfectly. Our albums are all a little different, but when we play those new songs live, they all blend well together. It’s the same energy and there’s no trickery with the live production. We open with “Yahweh” and have also added “Fallen” and “King of Kings” to the set.
OZ FOX: “Yahweh” is such an epic song.
SWEET: It’s a larger-than-life song that’s got everything. It’s got a little bit of an [Iron] Maiden, [Judas] Priest and Metallica vibe and is also Stryper-ized. It’s a really cool tune.
Let’s talk a little about the 30th anniversary of To Hell with the Devil. What goes through your mind when you look back on that album with so much perspective?
FOX: I still can’t believe 30 years have passed. It’s a memory that just keeps going. I was actually just looking at the picture of us from Japan in the suits on our way over here today and was blown away.
You can read the rest of my
Interview with Michael Sweet and Oz Fox by Clicking Here.
When most people discuss potential supergroups, the last combination of artists they toss around are Michael Sweet of Stryper and George Lynch of Lynch Mob, Shadow Train and Dokken.
Yet these two masters of shred have joined forces for Only to Rise, the debut album from their new project, Sweet & Lynch, that will be released January 27.
Joining the Sweet & Lynch adventure are bassist James Lomenzo [Megadeth, White Lion] and drummer Brian Tichy [Whitesnake, Foreigner, Ozzy Osbourne].
From the opening notes of the “The Wish” to songs like “Dying Rose,” “Love Stays” and “September,” it’s evident the blend of Sweet’s unmistakable voice and Lynch’s signature guitar tone has yielded exceptional results.
I recently caught up with Lynch to find out more about Only to Rise and get an update on the new Lynch Mob record, Sun Red Sun, and his Shadow Nation documentary and Shadow Train band projects. Lynch also puts to rest any rumors of a Dokken reunion.
GUITAR WORLD: How did the collaboration with Michael Sweet begin?
Lynch Mob and Stryper share an agent, and we’ve done a few tours together. During a few of those dates here and there, Michael and I would hang out and casually start talking about the idea of working together. We enjoyed each other’s company and had mutual respect for each other musically and as people. It was a good fit. So when the opportunity from Frontiers Records came along to do this record, it was an easy decision. Just a handshake and off to the races!
The Whisky a Go Go is a legendary Sunset Boulevard club with a deep-rooted musical history.
Everyone from Led Zeppelin to Van Halen has performed on its tiny stage. It also has served as the launching pad for bands like the Doors and Guns N’ Roses, to name just a few. In fact, one can argue that the Los Angeles rock scene began when the Whisky opened its doors in 1964.
The guys in Christian hard rock band Stryper also cut their teeth at the Whisky. The small, intimate setting was the starting point for the band’s musical journey, back when they were called Roxx Regime. So it’s no surprise Stryper’s new live CD/DVD package, Live at the Whisky pays homage to those early days.
Recorded at a sold-out November 2013 show, the 16-track collection documents the band’s first show in support of their latest album, 2013’s No More Hell To Pay.Live at the Whisky features live performances of the some of the band’s classic hits, including “Calling On You,” “Free,” “Always There for You,” “Soldiers Under Command” and “To Hell with the Devil.”
Included with the live album and DVD are music videos for “No More Hell to Pay” and “Sympathy,” plus an interview segment the band — Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass) and Robert Sweet (drums) — recorded for Nashville All Access.
I recently spoke to Sweet about Live at the Whisky as well as Sweet & Lynch, Sweet’s new side project with George Lynch, James Lomenzo and Brian Tichy.
GUITAR WORLD: Tell me a little about the band’s history at the Whisky.
We go way back with the Whisky. I’ll never forget the first time I played there when I was 16. I was with my brother, Robert, in the band Roxx Regime and we played there with Kevin Dubrow’s Quiet Riot, which was what it was called at the time. We had this small dressing room and I remember Kevin kicking the door open and screaming at us because we were using too much hairspray [laughs].
What do you like most about that venue?
Playing at the Whisky is such a unique experience. There’s a certain vibe there that’s hard to explain. You can actually feel the history when you walk through the doors. It’s a tiny kitty-corner stage with not much room to move around. You’re right in the corner bumping elbows all night long, but that’s part of the cool factor of performing there.
You can read the rest of my
Interview with Michael Sweet by Clicking Here!
In his new autobiography, Honestly: My Life And Stryper Revealed, guitarist Michael Sweet bares his soul. Within its pages, the Stryper frontman details everything from his humble upbringing and troubles with the law to the rise, fall and rebirth of Stryper.
From the creation of the signature Stryper guitar sound to his stint touring with Boston and the tragic loss of his beloved wife Kyle, Sweet spares no expense when looking back on his life as husband, father, bandmate and Christian.
Honestly is more than just a biography or reflection of old road stories. It’s a spiritual journey and heartfelt look into the mind of one of the most recognizable voices in rock and a true guitar great.
Sweet also is about to release a new solo album, I’m Not Your Suicide, which gives him the opportunity to showcase a different side of his musical persona. The impressive disc combines hard rock and metal messages (“Taking On The World Tonight,” “I’m Not Your Suicide”), elements of classic rock (a cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”) and country (“Coming Home”).
I recently spoke to Sweet about his autobiography and album, both of which will be released May 6, and his other upcoming projects.
GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your life?
I had a lot to say and also felt the need to do it in terms of it being therapeutic and healing for me. People have also had lots of question marks over the years and wanted to know things. I thought the best thing to do would be to deal with all of it in a book and tell everyone the story.
Check out the rest of my Guitar World Interview
With Michael Sweet by Clicking Here!
Michael Sweet, frontman for the multi-platinum rock band Stryper, will release a new full-length solo album, I’m Not Your Suicide, and his first autobiography, Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed, on May 6, 2014, via BIG3 Records.
Sweet is best known as the singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer for Christian rock pioneers Stryper, selling over 10 million albums worldwide. In addition to Stryper, Sweet has had a successful solo career, and he served as the guitarist and co-vocalist for the legendary classic rock band BOSTON from 2007-2011.
The future remains bright for a man who has endured heartbreaking tribulations throughout his life and career, including the 2009 passing of his wife of more than 22 years, Kyle. In 2010, Sweet remarried to Lisa Champagne-Sweet, a woman he describes as “a Godsend and the one who fits perfectly by my side.”
Sweet continues to record and tour with Stryper, as well as touring and recording as a solo artist, all the while making frequent trips to Nashville where he is writing with some of the biggest music writers in the business.
“After 30 years in this business, I feel honored and blessed to be able to continue doing what it is I love, making music,” said Sweet. “I’m extremely thankful to have the greatest fans in the world. God has blessed me with this talent and I plan to continue on this path as long as I can draw breath.”
Fans can get a sneak peak at the album courtesy of the all-new lyric video for the song, “The Cause” below:
Sweet’s autobiography, Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed, chronicles an amazing 30-year career and includes endorsements from Eddie Trunk, Dave Mustaine, Larry the Cable Guy, Jeordie White and Chris Jericho. Among the topics covered are:
How Michael Sweet formed the first Christian rock band to hit #1 on MTV, paving the way for an entire genre of music.
First-hand stories of the Sunset Strip, with never-before-told stories that include friends and musical peers such as Poison, Motley Crue, RATT, Whitesnake, Metallica and more.
How Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker played a role in Michael’s life.
The temptations and ultimate low-points of a notable Christian rock star.
Never-before-revealed stories of life behind the scenes in Stryper.
Why so many people have declared Michael Sweet a significant influence on their lives; from Larry the Cable Guy to professional wrestler Chris Jericho to Haitian musician and politician Wyclef Jean and more.
Losing his wife to cancer and re-marrying shortly thereafter.
An honest look at Sweet’s often tumultuous family relationships.
The unlikely relationship between Sweet and national radio personality Don Imus.
What led to the decline and fall of Stryper in 1992, and subsequent reunion and re-birth in 2001.
The new Michael Sweet website has also launched with a free preview of Chapter One of the upcoming book.
With the upcoming and long-overdue solo album, Sweet is finally delivering the project fans have been patiently waiting for. Self-produced, I’m Not Your Suicide includes special appearances by Tony Harnell (TNT), Kevin Max (dcTalk, Audio Adrenaline), Chris Jericho, Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), Electra Mustaine (daughter of Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine) and Stryper bandmates Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines. Legendary drummer Kenny Aronoff played on the record as well. Track Listing for I’m Not Your Suicide:
Taking on the World Tonight (featuring Tony Harnell)
All That’s Left (For Me To Prove)
This Time (featuring Kevin Max)
I’m Not Your Suicide (co-written with Blair Daly)
How to Live (featuring Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines of Stryper)
Heart of Gold
Anybody Else (featuring Chris Jericho and Doug Aldrich)
Heart of Gold (featuring Electra Mustaine) **Bonus Track
You can read my most recent Guitar World Interview with Sweet by Clicking Here!