So this was my fourth time getting to sit and chat with hard rock/metal legend Michael Sweet, founding member of STRYPER and SWEET & LYNCH, and also a vastly successful solo artist whenever the mood strikes him. He has always been super-nice to us here at A&GS since we were first making a name for ourselves, so anytime I get the chance to interview him I’m always all for it. On this particular occasion we were discussing the brand new album from SWEET & LYNCH, titled Unified and out now via Frontiers Music. He also gave us some insight into what he’s got cookin’ for 2018 and beyond. Have a look:
Amps: As soon as Unified hit my inbox I dropped EVERYTHING and listened immediately! Here’s what I love about it: you could have done Only to Rise 2.0, but you threw a couple of curveballs at us this time. Was that by design or happy accident?
Michael: It was by design. Some of it might have been completely spontaneous but some of the things were completely thought out. We talked about trying some new things. For example when George (Lynch, guitar) sent me the music to “Walk” I listened to it and thought,“OK, wow this is different. Cool!” And the more I listened to it the more I was diggin’ it, and it’s now one of my favorites on the album. It’s one of those songs that the SWEET & LYNCH fan might hear at first and be taken aback by it and think, “Wow, what’s this?” But then the more you hear it, it could become everybody’s favorite, you know?
Amps: I love that song, honestly. My current favorite is “Tried & True” and I love “Bridge of Broken Lies” as well.
Michael: Me too. “Tried & True” is just a great bluesy rock ballad. Thank you man, I’m glad to hear it. Both of those are in the ballad territory, and with me being who I am and George being who he is you get the heavy side and the ballad side. It’s a great mix because we can satisfy the people who want the heavy songs as well as a good ballad. This album kinda covers all bases.
Amps: But opening with “Promised Land” is such a kick in the ass. I was pumped when you released that as the first single!
Michael: (Laughs) yeah, that’s the heavy rock/metal vibe that’s not a curveball. That’s more what people expect from George and Michael, you know?
Amps: I know we discuss this almost every time we talk, but I have to ask…will a SWEET & LYNCH tour happen in 2018, do we think??
Michael: (Pauses, then deadpans) I have to come up with one million dollars to pay to George-
Michael: (Laughing) no, I’m kidding!!
Amps: You delivered that SO seriously, I believed you!
Michael: You know what, we’re workin’ on it, man. George and I have talked to the other guys about doing a STRYPER and LYNCH MOB tour and then George and I pulling double duty and doing a short SWEET & LYNCH set (Amps squeals like a schoolgirl three times).
I think people would dig it and it would give them the chance to hear seven or eight songs in a 35-40 minute set. Then LYNCH MOB and STRYPER would do full sets.
Amps: That new LYNCH MOB record The Brotherhood is great, too.
Michael: Oh yeah, man. They’re a great band, a classic band. Oni (Logan, vocals) has a great voice and when you put him and George Lynch together you just can’t go wrong. It’s really cool stuff, and they’ve got a vibe.
Amps: Since you’re so busy do you already have the next three STRYPER records and four solo albums ready to go?
Michael: (Laughs) No, I’ve got eight STRYPER, five SWEET & LYNCH, and ten solo albums DONE! I’m kidding, I’ll tell you what I have. I write one album at a time. I don’t write in advance anymore. Just because my life is so busy I don’t have time. I got home from my solo acoustic tour recently maybe nine days ago. I took a day off, then I dove in and started writing. I’m listening back now and tweaking lyrics. It’s a killer STRYPER album.
We’ve already got the title track and album title. It’s gonna shock people and blow ’em out of the water when they hear it. It’s controversial and it’s one of those titles where people will say, “WHAT?!?” It’s up there with To Hell With the Devil. It’ll be something people remember and say for years to come.
Amps: I can’t prove it yet, but I think there’s really two of you. Which is why you have so much music coming out. I may have to dig under the fence Area 51-style and uncover this secret of yours.
Michael: (Laughs) well if there is I need to get ahold of him more often and have him do more for me because I’m gettin’ tired here, man. I love conspiracy theories, so if Michael Sweet has a twin, there you go.
Amps: What are you doing to relax nowadays?
Michael: My big relaxation day is to stay home, watch a couple Pawn Stars episodes, maybe smoke a good cigar out on the back deck, and take the dog for a walk. That’s like the ultimate relaxation day, but that only happens once every six months or so. I’m always going, it’s insane. But I’m not complaining because I am blessed to do this; I’m blessed to have all these opportunities. But I do enjoy my time off. I wouldn’t mind taking a month off and not doing much of anything.
Amps: Well, you’re gonna be busy promoting the STRYPER album. When’s that coming, mid-2018? And with how killer One Sided War was, we’re all wanting another solo record from you ASAP.
Michael: Yeah, probably April. And thank you, buddy. I’m already talking to Rat Pak Records about me going in the studio in February or March to record the solo record. It’s right around the corner. I turn in the STRYPER record in mid-January, then take a couple of weeks off, and then Joel (Hoekstra, guitar, WHITESNAKE) and I would write that record in probably a two week period and go in and start recording it.
Amps: Michael Sweet the Music Machine.
Michael: I feel like if the wheels are turning, keep ’em turning, you know? I don’t wanna stop. I’m afraid that if I do I might stop for a long time. The ideas are still coming, opportunities are still there, doors are opening, and I just figure, “Why not take ’em?” Because I do think, sadly, there’s gonna come a day when there are less and less opportunities.
Labels are shutting their doors, it’s tougher for bands now. It’s not an easy music world out there, so you gotta really be aggressive and take every opportunity you get. That day may come when we don’t get ’em, like I said. And that will be a sad day. Hopefully it won’t happen, but when you hear about CDs being obsolete and it’s all about digital downloads and people only releasing one song at a time it is already shaking up the music world.
Amps: What do you want to say to all the fans of SWEET & LYNCH, STRYPER, your solo stuff, and whatever else you have in the vaults?
Michael: Oh man, look. It’s been 35 years. I’m praying for 35 more. I am so blessed to have ANY fans, especially fans that have been there through thick and thin, and so loyal. They still support, they still come out to the shows, they’re still there. And there’s a deep sense of love and gratitude from both sides. From my side to their side and back. And I’m grateful. And I thank God for them every day. I pray and I give thanks to God every single day. Because I wouldn’t be here without them or Him. It’s a true blessing. I’m a blessed man, I really am.
I’ve said it a million times and I’m gonna say it again: Michael Sweet truly IS the nicest guy in rock and roll. And after talking to him I always feel like I can go out and take on the world. He has to do a bunch of interviews at once, yet his enthusiasm is unwavering. To be that friendly, that humble,and that thankful, SINCERELY thankful for all the fans is rare in this day and age. Unified from SWEET & LYNCH is out now so go get it if you haven’t already. And let’s hope we get a tour in 2018, huh? Fingers crossed!