I can’t believe that I have now interviewed Michael Sweet FIVE times!! Every time we talk my mood goes up 1000%. He does that. He makes you feel like you can climb mountains in your sleep. He’s such a great guy, and 35 years in he is STILL genuinely excited by making new music. New STRYPER album God Damn Evil is out as we speak, and we talked about that among other things. Check it:
Amps: Every time I see “Michael Sweet” on my Caller ID I still fangirl so hard!
Michael: (Laughing) Come on, man! We’ve done this before!
Amps: This is our FIFTH interview and every time I tell you I’m gonna try not to gush, but we both know invariably that’s what happens.
Michael: (STILL laughing) well hey man, that’s awesome! I’m glad you’re still a fan, I really am. That’s so awesome!
Amps: Let’s dive right in. Man alive, the title track “God Damn Evil” is fantastic!
Michael: You know what? It’s a strong song. It’s kind of like our modern day “To Hell With the Devil”, it’s an anthem. It says a lot musically and lyrically. It’s a powerful song and a lot of people like it. Why we didn’t go with it as a video, we have our reasons. We just felt we had a lot more to say with “The Valley”, which is our latest video.
Amps: Listening to this album, all I could think is, “This ain’t your Father’s STRYPER!”
Michael: It’s STRYPER, but we’re a different band, you know? It’s interesting because there’s this new level of excitement and I think that’s coming out in what you’re hearing. We were pumped, man. And we got chills. And we haven’t felt that since the 80’s, at least not like that.
Amps: The album actually sounds like, and probably should have been called “Stryper On Steroids.”
Michael: (Laughing) man, hey I was on Mitch Lafon’s podcast and I was asked to rank all the STRYPER albums and I put God Damn Evil on top. And the reason I did that is I really believe at this moment in time that it is our best. And there’s so many reasons why it’s my favorite STRYPER album. Not because it’s new at all, that really has nothing to do with it, but just because I feel that sonically it sounds great, musically it sounds great, the energy and camaraderie is there. Everything going into this album is the best!
Amps: I personally think this new record is better than the last two combined.
Michael: You know, I gotta agree with you. And those last two were really good and received really great reviews. But I think this one’s extra special, we put a little extra sauce, a little Thousand Island on it, you know?
Amps: “Take It to the Cross”…when I heard it I was like, “Okay, let’s do this!!” You guys, with the earworm!!
Michael: (Laughing really hard) I love it! I can only guess as to why the reaction was the way it was. I think it was the furthest thing from people’s minds as far as what to expect. When it gets to the chorus it’s shocking, it’s like, “What is this? I didn’t see that coming!” And I think because of that it threw some people off guard. And some people don’t care for it. But most people do, and it;s gotten incredible views, the downloads have been off the charts, so love or hate it, it’s making people talk a lot, and that’s a good thing. STRYPER doesn’t follow rules and regulations. Anyone who’s been a longtime fan of the band knows that. For example, if the label says “We wanna hear demos”, we say “NO!” You either know what we are and what we’ve done, and you want it, or you don’t. And that’s the way it is. We record the album and Frontiers, they get what they get. We’re not kids in the park, we’ve proven ourselves.
Amps: Aaaaaand with that the Michael Sweet mancrush grows and grows!!
Michael: (Laughing) It’s just how we are. And that’s not to be mean-spirited or jerks about it. That’s just who we are. That’s why we go and play festivals and go on after say, ANTHRAX and throw Bibles out into the crowd. And we went over to Indonesia and played to 10,000 Muslims, and people are like, “Man, you’re crazy. How can you do that?” And I say, “That’s what we do.” And that’s who we are and who we’ve always been!
Amps: You’re here in my area on May 14 and I’m so excited!
Michael: Man, so are we. We love to get out and play, and the Philly area is a whole other level. It’s like BOOM! and that’s what we feel when we play in your area. It’s this passionate, really intense energy, and that’s really cool.
Amps: I have to ask you a couple of things. Will the album cover be on a T-Shirt, and will your 2018 tour tees have TOUR DATES ON THE BACK?!?
Michael: (Laughing) you know what, brother? I think we can arrange that! People love that.
Amps: The album artwork is so bold and it hits really hard.
Michael: You know what? It makes a very bold statement, and for very bold times. We live in a time where we turn on the news and you see someone has killed so many people in Vegas, and it’s the biggest mass shooting in the history of the country, and then not long after that the Florida school shooting. We live in evil times, man. And if that’s not evil, I don’t know what evil is. We actually had this title for the album a few years back, but it didn’t feel right then. Well now it does. It got a lot of people’s panties in a bunch, and it upset some people. There have even been some people who have said that they won’t support the band anymore. Oh well.
Amps: When we spoke late last year about the SWEET & LYNCH album you did mention how this new STRYPER record would ruffle some feathers.
Michael: Well and oddly enough I did make that statement, but we didn’t do this for the shock value. We did it for purpose. It truly is from us, and it’s a prayer request from us. God, will you damn all this evil? It’s not a swear, it’s not us trying to be shocking. It’s just us being STRYPER and trying to make people think and talk about it. Hopefully it’s working.
Amps: I’m a huge FIREHOUSE fan, and I think their album 3 is sorely underrated. How has Perry Richardson fit into the band on bass? I’m excited to see him with you guys!
Michael: You know what, brother, we are too. When Perry’s name got brought up by our co-manager Dave Rose a light went on. And we were just like, “OK…how perfect.” We flew him out, and when he got out of the car and walked in the room…he always has this smile on his face. It could be the end of the world, and Perry’s gonna walk in with a big smile and say, “Everything’s gonna be OK.” That’s just his personality. And we needed that. He brings joy to the band, and then you hear him play bass and sing, and that’s the icing on an amazing cake.
Amps: Speaking of bassists, John O’Boyle came in an played like a monster for you guys on this record.
Michael: Oh John’s phenomenal. He played on my solo albums, and he’s brilliant. He killed it, he banged it out.
Amps: “You Don’t Even Know Me” has such an infectious groove to it, and I love it.
Michael: You know what, dude? You and me, we’re men of like minds. Because at the moment that’s my favorite song on the album. And I don’t even know why. There’s something, you just said it, there’s a groove, that once it kicks in it’s like, “YEAH!”
Amps: What would you like to say to all the STRYPER fans out there in the world?
Michael: Well man, I wanna say to all the fans that are by our sides, and have been by our sides, “Thank you. God Bless You.” I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to YOU if it wasn’t for all the fans. They made us who we are, put us where we are, and because of their support, for 35 years, we’re allowed to continue to spread the message in the music we have. God Bless everybody, come see us, get the album, take it all in. I know you’ll love it. There’s no filler oN this thing. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into it. It means a lot to us.
There’s really nothing else to say except this: Michael Sweet rules. And he rules hard. Oh, and God Damn Evil is a phenomenal record from start to finish, it’s out now on Frontiers Music, and you owe it to yourselves to go out and buy it.