INFRARED: Michael Sweet, I have to say right off the bat this is such an honor. What was the first song or record that inspired you to pursuit music? Also, was there ever a backup plan if music did not work?
MICHAEL SWEET: There wasn’t one song in particular, it was many. From Elvis Presley to Chuck Berry, CCR to GFR, many songs/bands influenced me and inspired me to write/perform. Regarding a backup plan, I wanted to be a doctor but I never pursued the field.
INFRARED: Earlier this year you put out an incredible record with George Lynch. How did that collaboration come about? Did Dokken and Stryper cross paths? Also, is there going to be more projects with you two?
MICHAEL SWEET: I was approached by Frontiers to make a “Super Group” album. I suggested George and assembled the band (George, Brian, James and myself) and wound up producing it as well. George and I have crossed paths many times over the years but have never worked together up until the S&L album. The album does have flavors of Stryper and Dokken yet really stands on its own as well. We are discussing the probability of another S&L album now.
INFRARED: Stryper has a history of putting out some very good records. You have sold millions, toured the world a million times over. Does it feel odd that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have not put you in it? Do you feel Stryper belongs in the Hall?
MICHAEL SWEET: Ha! I’ve never really thought about it before. Now that you mention it, why not 🙂
INFRARED: This has been a busy time, you had the solo record. Then you had the collaboration, now a new Stryper cd in the span of what 15 or so months? Was this all planned? When did you find time to write and work on so many songs?
MICHAEL SWEET: Writing comes second nature to me. Songs are always flowing and coming out of my heart and mind. It’s never been an issue in terms of putting together songs for an album. I love the challenge and I seem to work better under pressure. The more I have to do the better. I just hope and pray that my writing continues to improve and advance. So far so good…..
INFRARED: There have been a lot of rumors about you Michael and I was hoping you can help me put them to rest? Stryper and Slayer were supposed to tour as some sort of Heaven and Hell deal?
MICHAEL SWEET: No, not true. We were supposed to perform with Slayer in Mexico at one point and they (for whatever reason) backed out so we backed out as well. If the day ever comes for us to perform together, we would see it as something we’ve never done before and that’s what we typically like to do.
INFRARED: That during your time in Boston there is a demo of some stuff you and the band worked on?
MICHAEL SWEET: I worked on some demos of songs that I wrote that Tom Scholz liked. They never got recorded by the band and never saw the light of day but who knows, maybe they will someday?
INFRARED: The CD In God We Trust was a back and forth between the band and the label because they wanted more “hits”?
MICHAEL SWEET: Not true. I wrote the entire album and we recorded those particular songs. We never went back and forth with the label.
INFRARED: Let’s talk about the latest cd Fallen. I said in my review, “this is the best cd to date for Stryper”. “ Stryper seems to be making music these days for the fans more than any kind of commercial appeal”. Do you feel the critics in the past and today are fair with their words about your band? Also, I know you get a ton of press, does the bad stuff you sometimes get bug or upset you?
MICHAEL SWEET: We have finally come around full circle in the sense of listening to the fans and giving them what they want. In doing so, we’re very happy with the outcome and certainly don’t feel as though we’re selling ourselves out by any means. Bottom line – we’re all happy. Critics have been kind yet there are always the ones that we will never please due to an undying distaste for the band. That to me is unfortunate because I feel that often enough the “haters” aren’t listening with an open mind and or open ears. We have however seen a complete turnaround lately. Critics that hated us before seem to be coming around based on our recent efforts.
INFRARED: What do you think is the biggest misconception of Stryper? Also Michael Sweet?
MICHAEL SWEET: That we’re wimpy and or suck just because we make a stance for God/Christ, to me that’s being closed minded. Some people just assume that we’re this or that based on our faith and our beliefs. Usually once they see us live those misconceptions are obliterated. They see clearly that we’re a rock band that can hold its own.
INFRARED: What is the most embarrassing cd you own? Or will admit to owning I should say? Also, what is on a Michael Sweet ipod?
MICHAEL SWEET: Wham:-) I don’t even own an iPod at the moment!
INFRARED: Next year is the 30 year anniversary for To Hell With the Devil. Is there any plans? A deluxe cd? A tour that plays the whole album with the yellow and black back on?
MICHAEL SWEET: No plans as of yet but you never know. We have discussed putting on the old outfits and going out. Maybe we will and again, if the fans want that, we’ll give it to them.
INFRARED: So you are on stage playing your heart out, you notice someone is recording you on their phone. Also someone is constantly snapping pictures. Do these things annoy you? Also, do you think it takes away from the atmosphere and fun to see people doing this?
MICHAEL SWEET: It can be a little intimidating at times, especially if you’re having a bad show and you know it will be on YouTube in 15 minutes! I don’t jump in the crowd and start beating the crap out of people though for doing so like a few other piers. That’s just letting it get to you on a whole other level……
INFRARED: In your opinion do you think downloading killed the music experience and industry?
MICHAEL SWEET: Well, it certainly didn’t help. There’s the piracy side of it and then there’s the ITunes side where a band works and invests in an entire album and people only download one or two songs. It makes it very difficult financially speaking for bands to be able to afford to carry on.
INFRARED: Can you listen to a record of yours or the band all the way thru and be content? Or do you nitpick and critique things?
MICHAEL SWEET: I tear everything apart. I’m OCD and ADHD so it makes me an extreme perfectionist who hyper focuses on every little detail. Lovely:-)
INFRARED: Are there any tour plans yet for Stryper? Michael, this is what you should do. (Like I am in any place to give advice to Michael Sweet) Open the show and do a half hour solo deal. Then get George Lynch and do some songs on the record, and then Stryper headlines.
MICHAEL SWEET: Excellent idea!!! Maybe we can put this together………
INFRARED: I have to say, thank you so much sir this was such an honor. If I thought in 1986 as a kid going into college that one day I would be talking to the singer of To Hell With The Devil, I would have begged for a time machine. This is your chance for any final words or thoughts, thank you so much.
MICHAEL SWEET: Thank you my friend and what an honor it is to do this! God bless you and yours and I look forward to meeting someday soon. All my best to you ~ M