Veteran rockers STRYPER have announced plans to "take a hiatus" following the completion of their tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their multi-platinum album "To Hell With The Devil".
Says the band in a statement: "As many of you know, we are preparing a tour to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of 'To Hell With The Devil'. Although we're extremely excited about this tour, our band and ministry is facing a crossroads for a variety of reasons, including some personal matters affecting our bassist, Tim Gaines, that have affected the unity of our band.
"As a result, upon the conclusion of this tour, we have decided to take a hiatus to allow each band member to think and pray about the direction of the band going forward.
"We believe the right thing to do is to be open with all of you so we can continue on with integrity and put to rest any false rumors and accusations. We also believe we must honor our commitments in moving forward with the tour.
"The name STRYPER is very important to us. What (and who) it represents is even more important. We take what we do very seriously as a band and ministry and we believe it's our duty to take this hiatus based on our faith, so we can move forward in the right way.
"We do appreciate your thoughts and prayers.
"God Bless you all."
In a recent interview with The Swerve Magazine, STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet was asked how it has been working with the same guys in the band for most of the group's three-decade-plus-long career. He responded: "Well, I mean, I'll be honest. I'm not going to lie to anybody. It's not easy. We have our issues. There are four strong personalities in this band. I'm the most boisterous. I'm the guy that talks a lot and people hear from the most, but I think if you heard from the other three guys, you would know exactly what I'm talking about. Everybody has opinions, and we're not on the same page many times. We don't see eye to eye. We have our arguments and our times of frustrations with one another."
He continued: "We made a pact to stay together. When we decide that we shouldn't stay together, that's when STRYPER will end, because I don't want to continue on without Robert [Sweet, drums], or without Tim [Gaines, bass], or without Oz [Fox, guitar]. I think that it's important that the four of us stay together, or it's not STRYPER. At that point in time, if we're not getting along we need to call it quits, and not replace each other.
"I hate it when bands start replacing their band members. You know what? It degrades the band and the brand. It's not fair to fans.
"I understand in a situation where, let's say, somebody passes away, and the other three or four guys want to continue, and they had the blessing of that person. That's a different situation, but what I'm referring to is all the bickering. You've got four guys in the band, and they don't get along, so they all go off and do their own version of that band. I mean, I just think that's a joke, a complete joke."
The "To Hell With The Devil" 30th-anniversary tour is scheduled to kick off on September 29 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Released by Enigma Records on October 24, 1986, the Grammy-nominated "To Hell With The Devil" is the band's third studio album and the first Christian metal album to achieve platinum status.
STRYPER's latest album, "Fallen", entered The Billboard 200 chart at position No. 43 with first-week sales of just over 10,000 units — nearly all from pure album sales. The set follows the No. 35-peaking "No More Hell To Pay", which was released in 2013.