MICHAEL SWEET: STRYPER Was 'Really Scary To The Church' In The Beginning

February 22, 2023

In a new interview with Australia's Heavy, Michael Sweet of Christian rockers STRYPER spoke about the fact that his band is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It's really crazy. And especially considering the fact that we don't look a day over 40 years old. [Laughs] No, we're getting up there in age, man; there's no doubt about it. But I think music keeps us all young, and we try to take care of ourselves. We don't do anything in overabundance. We enjoy life, but we also wanna take care of ourselves so we're around for a little while longer and we can get more done."

Asked about the musical climate at the start of STRYPER's career, Sweet said: "It was a different world, the mainstream, but then you add to it the Christian side of things. We were really scary to the church. They're out there in their three-piece suits and their slicked-back hair, and here comes STRYPER in yellow-and-back painted-on spandex and makeup and lipstick, and they were, like, 'What in the hell is this?' And I don't think they knew how to take it. And I think because of that, we weren't always accepted. We had opposition from both sides, so we never really had a club to fit into. And we still don't, really. We march to our own beat and play to our own drum, and all that stuff. We're a very unusual band, for sure."

Asked if he thinks the members of STRYPER have become "more accepted now" for who they are, Michael said: "I don't know if necessarily we've been accepted for who we are any more than we were back then, but I do think that we're respected a little bit more for who we are. Because I think people realize we've been around for 40 years and we're still here doing it. A lot of bands aren't. And we've stayed true to our convictions and stuck to our guns, and I think people respect that. We haven't wavered from that. And we're still here doing it — making music, turning in records, turning out records, touring. It's not about just relying on the classics. We rely on the new music just as much as the classics. If you listen to our set, it's comprised of new music every bit as much as classic music. And not a lot of bands can say that either."

STRYPER is the first overtly Christian metal band to go mainstream. The group's name comes from Isaiah 53:5, which states: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

In a 2018 interview with the Detroit Free Press, Michael said that STRYPER was never fully embraced by the heavy metal and hard rock communities, largely because of the band's Christian lyrics.

"We've never been accepted by either side," he said. "The secular side, the mainstream, they've never accepted us to this day. We're probably that band that everyone's going to go to whenever there's a time to mock. We'll be the band used for that in most cases. Now on the Christian side, we've never really had the full support of the Christian side because we don't fit into their little club. We're not wearing suits and ties and going to every church and preaching."

STRYPER's albums include "To Hell With The Devil", "Second Coming", "No More Hell To Pay", "Fallen", "Even The Devil Believes" and the band's latest effort, "The Final Battle".

Michael is joined in STRYPER by his brother Robert Sweet (drums),Oz Fox (guitars) and Perry Richardson (bass).

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