An interview with Michael Sweet
by Tommy Rage
May 2018

Music has always been a channel to spread a message. From Bob Dylan to U2’s Bono, musicians have voiced their passions in music throughout time.  Whether it be a personal message, a social or political message, music has allowed others to share their beliefs.  One band which has shared their beliefs from the very beginning is Stryper. The religious message which has been prevalent from their 1984 debut album The Yellow and Black Attack, through their newest release God Damn Evil remains true to their roots. Having founded the band, brothers Michael Sweet (vocals, guitar) and Robert Sweet (drums), along with long time guitarist Oz Fox, and new bassist Perry Richardson will be showcasing their new release at this years Brat Fest 2018 on the Baker Tilly Stage, Sunday May 27th @ 6:00pm.

God Damn Evil begins with “Take It To The Cross”, featuring a guest appearance from Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall, Act Of Defiance) on death growls, yes, death growls, and immediately shows you that Michael Sweet and company have zero intentions of mellowing with age. Sweet continues to hit his high notes of days past and talks about what it takes for him to perform at that level, “I don’t have the same range I did back in ’86 or ’87, I don’t think anybody does.  My range has come down from the stratosphere to the atmosphere. My voice has changed a little bit, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I can still pull it off. My voice used to be so high, now that it’s come down a little, it sounds a little deeper and a little grittier and people seem to like it.”

“Sorry” and “Lost”, are classic Stryper anthems, reminiscent of their 1988 hits “Honestly” and “Always There For You”. The message remains to true to their faith based Christian rock roots. Michael shares how religion is still important to Stryper, “We live in a crazy world, now more than ever. We felt like this was a really good time to have an album titled God Damn Evil, and the messages it holds. The album is really directed at the time we live in, and our need for faith. With the song “Sorry”, we all experience distrust and dishonesty. Being lied to or manipulated, that’s what the song is about. You can only say you’re sorry so many times. Your actions have to stand behind what you are saying. This album is directed towards inspiring people and letting them know that there is hope; and a need for God, prayer and faith. Even if you aren’t a Christian, you can still look to Christ.”

MTV fans of the 80’s will praise the title track anthem God Damn Evil as Oz Fox offers up a hair-raising guitar solo. Sweet praises his fellow guitarist, “Oz (guitars) and I do all the solo work together. We have always done tandem guitars, it’s 50/50 and we work really well together. We play off each other, and work great as a team.”

The newest member to this platinum recording group, Perry Richardson (bass), holds his own on songs such as ‘The Valley’ and harmonies on “Sea Of Thieves”. “Perry is a fantastic addition”, gleams Sweat, “We are so happy to have him.  He has brought a lot of joy into the band. He’s great with his bass and has great vocal abilities. Especially when they see us live, people can see how gifted he is and how brilliant he is. We love what is brings to the band.” 

Drummer Robert Sweet, brother of vocalist Michael, is known as the bands Visual Time Keeper. With his drum kit facing stage left or stage right, Robert has helped keep Stryper moving forward with the new album. “Rob and I can relate to a lot of things musically,” noted Michael, “We are also different at the same time. We have different views and personalities. We have that bond as brothers. It’s great to be in a band with him all these years. We are both pranksters. Since the time we were kids, it was always the two of us and our sister. She was a bit of a Tom-boy growing up. She would pick on us, but we would team up against her. It was a lot of fun as kids and we still have fun [together].”

It’s that fun and energy Michael looks forward to when Stryper plays Brat Fest 2018 on the Baker Tilly Stage, Sunday May 27th. “We love meeting our fans when we are out [on tour]; that’s the greatest part of our job. We love the one-on-one experience with our fans. It’s amazing, our songs are timeless really. Songs like “Honestly”, those are songs that are staples in our book and that’s what our fans love. We are excited to play some of our new tracks, and we will always take the opportunity to meet our fans, even if there is one or a thousand. We love meeting our fans.”

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CD: God Damn Evil Record Label: Frontiers Records
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Download God Damn Evil on Amazon