Stryper Vocalist Michael Sweet Talks Christianity and Heavy Metal

2015-10-15

Story by Anne Erickson

Interview: Michael Sweet of Stryper discusses his faith and the band’s new album, ‘Fallen’

For decades, Stryper has carried the flag for Christian metal bands that truly rock. The band released its latest album, “Fallen,” on Oct. 18, and frontman Michael Sweet chatted with Audio Ink Radio about the new release, what drives him to continue making music and why he thinks metal and Christianity are a great combination.

It’s great to see Stryper back with a new album. What was the catalyst for you guys to record “Fallen?”

To stay busy. I’m really active. I’m constantly writing and playing and performing. Music is such a part of my life. I’m so passionate about it. I can’t see myself not doing it. When you’re doing stuff like this all the time, it’s important to record in the studio, release it, get out and play.

Would you say the music on “Fallen” goes in a different direction for Stryper?

A little bit. It’s similar to the last album but a little different. We tuned the guitars down on a few more songs than on the last album. It’s a heavier vibe. I did a co-write with Clint Lowery of Sevendust on “Yahweh,” and that song turned out really different in a great way. We’re never going to be as heavy as Metallica, but Stryper’s roots are tied to heavy metal. We grew up on Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and Van Halen and the Scorpions. Over the years, we ventured a short distance from that background with pop songs and ballads, which we love doing, but we like to be heavy.

Tell me about the collaboration with Sevendust’s Clint Lowery.

We met on a plane. He introduced himself and said he listened to Stryper growing up, and we took pictures together and exchanged information. I asked if he wanted to contribute to this album, and he submitted some riff ideas. One I really loved, so I ran with it. He’s a great guy. I didn’t know too much about Sevendust, but my wife is a huge fan and has seen them play several times. They’re a great band. He’s a really good person. We share the same faith. He’s a regular, family, God-featuring man.

Stryper were pioneers in the Christian hard rock and metal world. Looking back, do you feel you’ve influenced others to stay true to their faith and musical vision?

I hope so. We’ve always been a band that’s gone out of our way to wave the flag that God is cool, and not only cool, but the Creator of all things. Aside from that, people say it’s an oxymoron to mix metal with Christian lyrics, and we’re trying to break that apart and destroy that mentality because it’s just not true. I feel God created all things, and therefore, He created music. So, it makes perfect sense to me to mix the two. It should be done more than the devil and metal being mixed, in my opinion, but for some reason, people have this thing that metal is all about the devil. It’s ridiculous. Stryper trying to debunk that.

How does your faith play into your music?

Dive into our lyrics, and they’re Biblical. “Yahweh” is about the crucifixion of Christ right out of the Bible set to music. It tells the story of what Christ went through. “Let There Be Light” is right out of Genesis. We all know the story of “let there be light, and it tells that story. This album “Fallen” is almost a little bit of a Bible study. People might learn things about the Bible they didn’t know.

What’s next for Stryper?

I start work in three weeks on a solo album, and that’s coming out in May or June of next year. Stryper is going to start touring heavily from April through to November. I’m staying busy, and I love it.

Courtesy photo by Alex Solca