STRYPER's ROBERT SWEET: 'The Holy Spirit Gave Us The Courage To Go And Do This'

June 1, 2024

In a new interview with Rocking With Jam Man, STRYPER drummer Robert Sweet was asked if it is harder nowadays for him and his bandmates to put their Christian beliefs into a song compared to how it was when STRYPER first started out. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I wouldn't say it's harder. It's something we do anyways. We've always done that, because we truly believe it. But at the same time, I'll be honest with you, it's always been hard, because it made the road really rough for us when we first came out. And [as] a matter of fact, we've had people come up and say, 'Man, if you guys didn't have the Christian thing going on, you would have probably had ten times the success. Because you're a band that everyone loves, but everyone doesn't understand the Christian thing.' So I think in certain ways it kind of hurt us, but it was worth it for us, because we believe in Jesus. We believe that the words that are put out there are altering people's lives, because we've been told that hundreds, maybe thousands, ten thousands of times, really, people hearing the music and hearing the words that really did something for them. So that's a real honor for us. So, is it tough? Yes. Is it tougher now? No, but it's always been kind of tough, but it's worth it for us."

When Jam Man opined that some people in the U.S. will try to "hate" and "cancel" those who hold religious beliefs that they don't agree with, Sweet concurred. "It's always been that way with Christianity," he said. "The world wants to pick on Christians because they feel Christians will lay back and say and do nothing and they won't stand up to them. And I think sometimes you have to realize that we have to stand up and be courageous. And I'm not necessarily patting ourselves on the back, but I will say I feel the Holy Spirit gave us the courage to go and do this because, man, unless God touches you to do it, don't do what we've done, because it is tough. But by all means, if you feel God's spirit has touched you and this is a purpose for your life, then go at it with full gusto. But it's always been hard since day one, since Jesus showed up. And the sad part of it is Jesus kind of told us it would be tough, but when we leave this world that there would be reward in heaven waiting for us. And we know the reality of Jesus, so we wanna see that touch people's lives."

Jam Man also brought up the subject of what students are legally allowed to do in public schools in relation to their Christian faith, prompting Sweet to say: "I have to be honest with you. I don't care much for the public schools. They would probably welcome people saying they were Muslims, but if you say you're a Christian, no way. And that's too bad, because this nation was built on Christianity, and we get our laws from the Ten Commandments. It's a shame, but the Bible kind of said it was gonna happen. So, I think at this point in time, you're gonna see a lot of people realizing the goodness of Jesus, but you're gonna see a lot of people backing away, going the other way. There's not a lot we're gonna be able to do about it."

Last month, Robert told Sofa King Cool Magazine that STRYPER was never fully embraced by the heavy metal and hard rock communities, largely because of the group's Christian lyrics.

"I think, and a lot of people have told us, especially in the industry, 'If you guys weren't doing this Jesus thing, and we know you mean it,' which we do, 'you guys would have sold many more millions of records,'" Robert said. "And, really, I want everyone to know that's the truth, because radio never played us. And it was a miracle we got on MTV. But still, to this day, radio has played us very, very little. But we were willing to take that hit financially. And it's been rough at times. It's been really unfair because a lot of people have come up and said, 'Hey, man, I'm not a Christian. You guys are one of the best bands I've ever heard.' And I'm, like, 'Well, great. Thank you.' We don't look at ourselves as any better than anyone else, but we had to stick with it. We had to make sure that the message of Jesus was first and foremost and front, no matter what people said. And, man, were we ever given a hard time. I am telling you, I didn't know so many people were gonna come against us back in the '80s, and even up to this day. But it's all worth it."

Asked if there were any bands that gave STRYPER a hard time for being a Christian band or maybe didn't want to take STRYPER out on tour with them because of STRYPER's lyrical messages, Robert said: "Well, nobody wanted to take us out. So we were forced to headline. No one wanted to go out with us. We wanted to open for whoever we could. That was an honor to us. We had always hoped to be able to open for so many of our heroes and bands we grew up listening to, but just back in the day, I think people had the wrong idea. They really did. And they were afraid of it. So it forced us to go headline. And it really — maybe that kind of helped our career. I don't know. I felt like maybe God was with us, saying, 'No, you're not gonna go that route. You're gonna go this route.' And it was different, because most bands don't do that. When you're starting out, you go out with bigger acts. And we've done many, many festivals, but that's been primarily, in my opinion, since we started up again in 2003. But back in the day, back in the '80s, when we were doing the really big coliseums and stuff, it was pretty much us just heading straight down the road and headlining."

Robert was also asked if it is ever frustrating for him and his STRYPER bandmates that certain other acts can go ahead and use Satanic imagery or make references to Satanism in their music and the fans are seemingly into it, even though they're not Satan worshippers, but STRYPER never seems to get the same kind of respect. The drummer replied: "Well, there are some people that aren't into it, but that's because most of the time they haven't seen us, or they haven't sat down and listened to what STRYPER is. But there are people who loveSTRYPER who aren't Christians. And I've had them come up and say, 'Hey…'.

"I remember my brother [STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet] and I spoke with a Satanist, I think it was, I wanna say France. He came out. I mean, the guy was so complimentary. He wanted to speak with Michael and I. And he came down and he said, 'You guys are the biggest white metal band in the world. Why aren't you out playing the big festival next door? Why are you playing this 3,000-seat place that's sold out? You should be over on that stage over there.' And we said, 'Well, yeah, we'd like that.' But he was so complimentary of us. And yet he was very open that he was a real-deal Satanist, but he loved STRYPER… And that's always been our hope."

He added: "I want you to know that there's a lot of great stuff that takes place in the music industry, but, in a way, it's kind of the devil's industry. And we always hoped to go into that industry and affect it in a good way. And you have to be touched by God to do it. You can't just go do that. It's not gonna work. You're gonna be miserable and it's gonna fail. And I feel sad when I see certain bands try to do it and everything is against them. But if you're gonna bring forth the message of Jesus, I really feel you need to be anointed by God to do it. And we felt it so strong. We still feel it so strong that nothing could stop us from doing it."

In April, Michael Sweet completed mixing STRYPER's new studio album with longtime collaborator Danny Bernini at SpiritHouse Recording Studios in Northampton, Massachusetts. A tentative late summer/early fall release is expected.

Formed 41 years ago, STRYPER'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."

STRYPER's albums include "To Hell With The Devil", "Second Coming", "No More Hell To Pay", "Fallen", "God Damn Evil", "Even The Devil Believes" and "The Final Battle".

Robert and Michael are joined in STRYPER by Oz Fox (guitar) and Perry Richardson (bass).

STRYPER's "To Hell With The Amps: The Unplugged Tour" kicked off late last month. For the first time ever, the Christian rockers are staging a full tour where they are performing their hits and fan favorites acoustically.

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