Bay Ragni of Totally Driven Radio recently conducted an interview with STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether STRYPER is always “one of controversy”:
Michael: “[Laughs] Well, controversy follows STRYPER, we don’t follow it. It’s just kind of par for the course. We do what we do and people talk about it and they get worked up about it.”
On the band’s choice of “God Damn Evil” as the title for their new studio album and why it is “ruffling some feathers”:
Michael: “Yeah, a lot of people get it and are on board with the title, but some people don’t. You would think after 35 years of following us and knowing our hearts and our motives and exactly why we do what we do, that nobody would question what we’re doing, unless we came out with an album where we were naked on the cover and it was called ‘F-You’ or something. But, it’s a pretty clear message. ‘God Damn Evil’, we live in a society that seems to be, we’re watching evil go to new levels that we’ve never seen before. Such as the [October 2017] Vegas shooting. Who in our lifetime could have ever imagined that we would witness such a thing and such a level of evil? So, it’s a very bold message in a very bold time. It’s a prayer request from us to God asking God to ‘damn evil.’ We’ve explained that, the lyrics speak for themselves, we posted the lyrics. People who don’t understand it or get it or question our motives, I don’t really know what to say. I really don’t.”
On whether he’s at a loss for words over the fact people don’t understand the “God Damn Evil” title:
Michael: “Yeah. It’s just like, it’s hard to understand. Those people, you could put a Coke in front of them in a Coke can from a Coke representative and they would still tell you it’s not Coke. You’re never going to convince them otherwise. And then you got to wonder, ‘Why are you a fan? Why are you here? Why do you call yourself a fan?’ Because a true fan wouldn’t do that, in my opinion.”
On whether STRYPER had a long internal debate about using “God Damn Evil” as an album title:
Michael: “No, it is a title that Robert [Sweet, drums] threw out there a few years back and we didn’t go with it. We felt like it wasn’t the right time and we certainly contemplated and thought about it for a long period, then I threw it out there again in ’17 and everyone is, like, ‘Yeah, this is perfect.’ It is perfect for the times that we live in. It’s a powerful message, makes people talk, makes people think and hopefully makes people pray.”
On first single “Take It To The Cross”:
Michael: “We’re a heavy metal band at the end of the day. We always were, we always will be. We grew up on metal. We love [IRON] MAIDEN, [JUDAS] PRIEST, old-school metal, but at the end of the day, we’re also really into JOURNEY and NIGHT RANGER and bands like that, that’s why we always do a ballad. We love the softer side of stuff, too. But, people have asked over the past three, four, five years, why don’t you do something that’s even heavier and borders on thrash? So, ‘Take It To The Cross’ was our answer to that. We loved every minute of it, man. That was probably the funnest song we recorded on this album. We were just having a blast.”
On getting SHADOWS FALL guitarist Matt Bachand (also of ACT OF DEFIANCE) to provide death metal vocals on “Take It To The Cross”:
Michael: “When I wrote the song, I was thinking how perfect it would be to have someone come in and do a death growl on that, give it that vibe and I started listening to people. I wound up remembering SHADOWS FALL and remembering that they had that on occasion and I listened to their stuff and I realized it was Matt who was doing it, the death growl, for SHADOWS FALL and I loved it. I thought ‘This is perfect.’ He only lives 15 minutes from the studio, he’s a local guy. He came down and banged it out. He nailed it. It’s perfect.”
On whether there will be a third SWEET & LYNCH album that features a concept with the two men telling, presumably, their side of religion:
Michael: “George‘s [Lynch] opinion of ‘going to be another one’ is different from my opinion. What I mean by that is George has this mindset — apparently, he thinks that I agreed one hundred percent to doing a concept album where he presents his side and I present my side. I never agreed to that. He and I have talked about it multiple times and he keeps pushing for that, but I’ve also told him, quite a few times, that I have to believe what I’m singing since I am the singer in SWEET & LYNCH, I’ve got to believe what I’m singing. If I don’t believe it, if I don’t feel it, I’m not going to sing it. That’s the tricky part. I’m not calling George a liar. He’s no liar at all. It’s just that he probably really believes that it’s going to happen. We got a lot of talking to do because it’s not going to go down that way, that’s for sure. I’m open-minded and I’ll try different things and I think I jokingly said, ‘If you want to do that…’ He wants to write lyrics and be a part of that whole thing. I said ‘Well, are you going to let me play half of the guitars?’ [Laughs] We spar back and forth. George and I have, I think, a really good relationship. We joke around a lot and stuff. Again, it’s got to be done…the only way another SWEET & LYNCH album will happen if it’s done in a certain way and I can sing the lyrics believing them.”
“God Damn Evil” will be released on April 20 via Frontiers Music Srl. The follow-up to 2015’s “Fallen” marks the band’s first effort since the addition of former FIREHOUSE bassist Perry Richardson. Perry joined the group as the replacement for STRYPER‘s longtime bassist Tim Gaines, who was fired from the band last year.
Perry did not play bass on STRYPER‘s new album due to scheduling constraints. The bass tracks on “God Damn Evil” were laid down by John O’Boyle, who played bass on Sweet‘s last two solo albums.