Stryper On Tour…
When it comes to groundbreaking bands in the Christian hard-rock genre, STRYPER is renowned for its distinctive brand of “heavenly metal,” extraordinary crossover success, with both Grammy nominations and Dove Awards to their name, and their venerable endurance. In 2023, the band celebrate their fortieth anniversary and do so on the back of both consistent touring and consistent album releases with their latest release The Final Battle receiving rave reviews the world over. The band last visited Australia in 2018 and were forced to play as a trio due to Oz Fox falling ill ahead of the tour, giving fans a unique opportunity to see the band in a different and unique format. Fans are in for a real treat with one of the world’s most consistent and loved hard rock/heavy metal groups. Michael Sweet talks to Hi Fi Way about the tour.
It must be great to be back on tour in Australia again?
It’s always an honour to get back to Australia. We’ve been coming since the eighties and the fact that people still want to hear from us and see us, it’s astonishing and humbling, and we’re grateful to be coming back again.
Do you remember the last Australian tour back in 2018?
Oh yeah. I still look back on that and I think over the fact that we came there as a trio and it’s, it’s a scary thought because we weren’t prepared by any means to come as a trio, but we had no choice. It was really incredibly pleasant and so nice of the fans, the Australian fans, to support the band and how we were having to come and perform. The shows were great, different but great and the reviews were great and everybody was so kind. It was amazing.
Is this tour focused mostly on The Final Battle or are you going way back in to the back catalogue?
Yeah, we’re doing more of the back catalogue. We’re throwing some newer songs in there, but, you know, for the most part it’s classic stuff. Trying to give people what they want to hear with our huge catalogue and it gets tougher and tougher with each album we release. It’s very hard to put together a set and fit it all into a short amount of time. We’re doing about twenty one songs, so it’s a good long set. I think everybody’s going to get to hear what they want to hear, I hope. It’s going to be a blast. It’s going to be incredible.
Congratulations on fortieth anniversary, can you kind of believe how fast the time has gone?
I can’t believe it. I look back and I think about where did the past forty years go and it just seems like a blur. It’s almost as if it’s moving faster as time progresses. It’s one of those feelings, it’s a bittersweet feeling, it’s good and bad. It’s like you look back on everything that was accomplished and that’s the good, the bad is all the time’s gone and you know that the clock is ticking and we’re all getting older and who knows how much time is left and all that stuff. It’s just really interesting, but that’s the way it works for all of us and that’s the way the world rotates and we’re thankful to still be doing what we do at the level that we’re doing it at.
For forty years do you get a gold watch to commemorate the milestone?
If we do get a gold watch, just make it a Rolex! We will definitely plan something out, the forty year mark is now, this year when we formed. The official forty year is next year when we release The Yellow And Black Attack in 1984 will be in 2024. So that’s the year! So next year is going to be a big year. We’re going to plan out a lot of the fortieth anniversary stuff. It’s going to be incredible. We’re really excited about it. I’m sure multiple tours worldwide. It’d be great to get back to Australia and it’d be great to get to Europe. We haven’t been to Europe since 2010, so we’ve got a lot to do for sure.
Do you get nostalgic when you look back over your career and what moments stand out for you?
Absolutely, I mean there’s so many great memories over the years when you think about it, life is a blur and as you’re moving along at a hundred miles an hour, you tend to put those memories on a shelf and then you pull them off the shelf when you have a moment in time to do so. But as you get older, I think you do reflect on those memories even more so versus when you were young. I know I do, I look back on times that the band has shared touring and going to different places all over the world and the things we did specifically going here or there. Remember that moment and here’s that picture. Oh gosh, yeah, I remember that. Then we started talking about it and telling stories. So there’s so many great memories that we hold onto and that we have collected that we’re so very proud of. Amazing.
Is that the sort of thing that you would write in a book documenting your career?
There’s no doubt about it. I did write a book on my life, my story that took us from the beginning to roughly 2009 or 2010 more so. So there’s still a lot more to talk about between 2010 and 2023. A Stryper book would be great. There’s so much to share, some funny stories, some sad stories, some great stories, some not so great stories. Ups and downs, good and bad, but very interesting. Stryper has done a lot and we’re the underdogs, we’re the band that really shouldn’t have done all that we did because we were going against the grain and against the tide our entire career. So it’s very interesting how things have worked out for us.
If you had your time over, is there anything that you would’ve done differently or are you very much a believer that things happened for a reason?
I’m one of those guys that things happen for a reason. I mean, there might be a few regrets I’ve had in life that I, if I could go back in a time machine I wouldn’t have done or I would do over, but not a lot. I’ve had a really great life, I’ve seen so much and accomplished so much and been a part of so much in such a great way. So I really don’t have any regrets.
Forty years strong and still being creative and releasing new music is a massive accomplishment?
For sure. There’s no question about it. Stryper, obviously we just released our fourteenth studio album, but then you add to that all the solo albums I’ve released. I’ve released, believe it or not, ten solo albums and I’ve got two more coming, one’s in the can and the other is halfway done, so that’ll be twelve solo albums. Then I’ve got a third Sweet & Lynch album coming. There’s three more. I’ve got another Iconic album coming and I’ve got this project with Tracii Guns. So when you add everything up, I’m very blessed to been a part of everything I’ve been a part of and there’s still more to come. If I’m still living and I’m healthy Lord willing and the Lord keeps me here on this Earth long enough, I’m going to keep making music and hopefully turning out two, three, four albums every year till I can’t do it anymore.
When you’re writing songs, do they naturally gravitate to Stryper or any other band or project?
Not really. As a writer, I just write in my style and what comes from my heart. I write all this stuff for Stryper. So when I write a solo album and people say, oh, this sounds like Stryper, it’s like, well, yeah, , it’s going to, it’s kind of hard to escape that, that’s what I do. I do try to make it a little different. The solo albums are a little different. I do stretch out a little bit more and I’ll do songs that might not be fitting for Stryper. On one of my solo albums, I did one song called Coming Home, it’s a little more country, had a little country flare to it, or maybe one that’s got a little blues flare to it, I have one that’s a little bit more symphonic, just with an orchestra and a voice. I like doing things like that, stretching out a little bit. Things that I might not be able to do with Stryper.
Is there anything that you haven’t done musically yet that you’re looking to try?
The one thing I’ve always wanted to do is break out a little bit more as a writer. You know, write for other people. That’s really my love. In terms of my gifts, I put that at the top of the list. I’m a singer, I’m a guitar player, I’m a producer and all that stuff. Being a writer is probably what I enjoy the most. It would be really great to write for other people and hear one of my songs on the radio, maybe sung by a big artist, completely different style because I write all different types of music. I write metal, I write pop, I write country, you name it.
Do you think this is probably the most fulfilled you’re being creatively?
It’s kind of been like that the whole way through my career, but lately I’m even more excited about music and I’m grateful that I’m still able to do it. I guess with that comes more excitement. I get really excited about any project. When it’s time to start on that project, it’s like, oh yeah, let’s do it. It’s like going to the candy shop as a kid with a dollar in your pocket, when I was a young kid, my mum would give me a dollar and it was like Christmas. That’s how it feels whenever I work on an album,
What do you look forward to most about touring Australia?
Well, I always look coming back to Australia because they have fond memories. People there have always been so supportive and stood by us, uh, going all the way back to the eighties and here we are in 2023, still coming back and people still want to come out and support us and hear us, buy the tickets and buy the records. It blows my mind. It really does. So, it’s always so exciting to get back to Australia and to see all the Australian fans, which we don’t see often enough. We get there every three, four, five, six years if that. I wish we could come every year. Maybe things will change. It’s very difficult to tour because of the economy and the cost. Our plane tickets alone, to get there for nine people are like $25,000, it’s just really expensive. It makes it almost impossible to do.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Stryper on the following dates, tickets from Silverback Touring…