‘Michael Sweet’ says “if you’re gonna put a Christian tag on us, you should have to put a Satan tag on a bunch of other bands”


sweet_suicideShawn Macomber of Decibel magazine recently conducted an interview with vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet of legendary hard rockers Stryper. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Decibel: To say faith has been part of Stryper‘s mission would be a massive understatement, but do you feel as if the process of composing and performing these songs over the years has deepened your own personal relationship with God?

Sweet: Full circle, getting to this point? Yes. In between though? There were times when it had an opposite effect. There were times when I felt God wasn’t there and questioned whether there even was a God. When my wife was sick and dying of cancer, I was thinking, “Wow, we’ve devoted our lives to you, God — and this is what we get?” That was just what was going through my head at the time. Maybe that was selfish or whatever, but that’s just the truth of the matter. But to fast forward to today, having gone through all that, I do feel that it has strengthened and taken me much further in my faith. Absolutely.

Decibel: It actually shows quite a bit of ethical fortitude and principle that you didn’t cash in on those doubts while you were having them — a Stryper-abandons-God! record would probably have earned you oodles of fawning press and a truckload of money!

Sweet: [Laughs] Well, we’ve kind of been there and done that. Maybe not to the extreme it could have been, but when we made the “Against The Law” album that was in some sense a “No God” album. Lyrically, it was still involving and including God, but at the same time our lifestyles didn’t portray that. We were bringing booze on the bus, girls on the bus. We were all of a sudden something other than what we had said we were for however many years. We were, in my view, perfect examples of hypocrisy. And we’ve all done that. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. We’re all sinners. But the thing about Stryper is, we’re in the public eye and we’re going to be held accountable by the public when we fall short. Honestly, I wish other bands were held accountable as much as we were.

Decibel: Several years back, a friend of mine wrote a book entitled In Defense of Hypocrisy, wherein he argued, to be kind of unfairly reductive, that it was better to set a high standard and fall short than to have no standards and say, “Well, at least I’m not a hypocrite!”

Sweet: Exactly. I think we realized — and I’ve been very outspoken about — our failures and shortcomings back then. I’m not asking for the violins to be broken out, but for some reason Stryper is one of those bands that is always under the microscope. Everything we do and say. Everything we don’t do or say. If we say Jesus too many times in a song, we get beat up for it. If we don’t say Jesus enough times in a song, we get beat up for it. It’s kind of crazy to me, but those are the cards we’ve been dealt. We just try to rise above it and keep doing what we’re called to do by God, stay accountable to God and ourselves and stay strong. It seems like other bands get away with a lot worse and it only makes them bigger stars. Stryper, on the other hand…

Decibel: Back when Stryper first broke out there had been a few Christian hard rock precursors — Petra comes to mind — but nothing like “To Hell With The Devil” or “Soldiers Under Command”. Now every metal subgenre — except maybe black metal — has a sub-subset of Christian artists. Is that heartening to you, as one of the members of the vanguard?

Sweet: It is and it isn’t. I devote a chapter in my book to this idea that I don’t really care for “Christian music.” It actually drives me a little insane. We are just as proud and boisterous about our faith as any band out there, but if you’re gonna put a Christian tag on us, you should have to put a Satan tag on a bunch of other bands. It’s like, why does it have to be Christian death metal or Christian black metal… it’s just metal. It’s an attempt to put bands, including Stryper, into little boxes. Well, we run from our box. We’re not a Christian rock band. We’re a rock band that’s comprised of Christians. That’s a big difference. And let’s face it, Christianity isn’t all that highly respected in today’s culture. You see Christians portrayed as buffoons in movies and television, twenty-four seven. The minute you say Christian band, instantly a lot of people look the other way or look at you like a joke. We don’t want that.

Read the entire interview at Decibel.


Stryper latest album “No More Hell To Pay” was released on November 1st in Europe and November 5th in North America via Frontiers Records. The effort was made available in two formats — standard CD and deluxe digipak featuring exclusive video content. Produced by Stryper guitarist/vocalist Michael Sweet himself, the set features some of Stryper’s strongest and heaviest material ever.

“No More Hell To Pay”, the new Stryper album, sold around 9,600 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 35 on The Billboard 200 chart.

 To read our review for “No More Hell To Pay” click here.

Upcoming “Stryper” U.S. Shows:

03/22/14 Clear Lake, IA Surf Ballroom w/ Queensryche**
04/11/14 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Casino FREE SHOW!
04/12/14 New York City, NY Stage 48**
04/26/14 Columbia, MD M3 Festival**
05/02/14 Milan, Italy Frontiers Rock Festival**
06/03/14 Ottawa, ON Obsession Live Lounge**
06/05/14 Etobicoke, ON The Rockpile West**
06/06/14 Toronto, ON The Rockpile East**
06/07/14 Akron, NY Brauns Concert Cove** 06/09/14 Richmond, IN The Firehouse
Acoustic Show [Full Band]
06/12/14 Pittsburgh, PA Altar Bar**
06/13/14 Bolingbrook, IL Tailgaters**
06/14/14 Chesterfield, MI Diesel Concert Lounge**
8/01/14 Denver, CO Casselman’s NEW
08/02/14 Sheridan, WY Trails End Concert Park w/ Vixen

** On Sale Now!


07/10/14 Masters Of Rock Festival, Vizovice, Czech Republic
07/11/14 Bang Your Head Festival, Balingen, Germany
** On Sale Now!

Video below ‘Sympathy

Related articles:
‘Michael Sweet’ Says “I’m Almost 50 Yet I Feel Like I’ve Lived The Life Of A Man Who Is Almost 90″ [Feb. 2013]
‘Dave Mustaine’ Says ‘Michael Sweet’ And I ‘Believe In The Same Jesus’ [Feb. 2013]
Stryper – Second Coming [Album review]
‘Michael Sweet’ Comments On ‘Kanye West’s’ ‘I Am A God’ [June 2013]
‘Stryper’ Covering Another ‘Van Halen’ Song, Video Available [July 2013]
‘Michael Sweet’ Interviewed By His Mother [Video] [Sept. 2013]
Stryper – “No More Hell to Pay” [Album Review]
‘Stryper’ Drummer ‘Robert Sweet’ Announce Plans To Work With ‘Confirmed’ [Oct. 2013]
A Message From ‘Michael Sweet’ “77 Hours Of Stryper” (Until Sunday, November 17, 3pm EST) [Nov. 2013]
‘Stryper’s’ “No More Hell To Pay” Cracks U.S. Top 40 [Nov. 2013]
‘Michael Sweet’ Says ‘We’re A Rock Band That’s Comprised Of Christians’, First European Tour Dates For 2014 Announced [Nov. 2013]
‘Stryper’s’ ‘Michael Sweet’ Solo Album Title, Release Date Revealed, First European ‘Stryper’ Tour Dates For 2014 Announced [Jan. 2014]
‘Stryper’s’ ‘Michael Sweet’ Shares His Thoughts On The New Solo Album, “I’m Not Your Suicide” [Jan. 2014]
‘Stryper’ Frontman ‘Michael Sweet’ “I’m Not Your Suicide” Solo Album Details Revealed, Lyric Video Released For ‘The Cause’ [Jan. 2014]
‘Stryper’ Frontman ‘Michael Sweet’ Explains The Meaning Of “I’m Not Your Suicide” [Jan. 2014]
New Audio Interview With ‘Michael Sweet’ Posted Online [March 2014]
‘Michael Sweet’ ‘I’m Not Your Suicide’ Single Released, Album Available For Pre-Order [March 2014]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts