Anyone who has had to wait eight years for something will be able to tell you just how tedious of a wait is it…thankfully for Stryper fans, that long wait comes to an end in just a few weeks! Ahead of their God Damn Evil – Isaiah 53.5 kicking off at Max Watts in Melbourne on August 17th, vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet took some time out of his preparation to talk about the upcoming tour. The first topic of discussion was about the excitement levels within Stryper about returning to Australian shores; Sweet enthusiastically quipped “we’re really looking forward to it, as it’s been long overdue. Mind you, we’re always excited about coming to Australia; I remember how we felt the first time we came and those feelings are still there. The people are so good to us and we have such a great fan base. It’s sad that we can’t get there more often to be honest.”

Stryper recently concluded a run of USA shows in support of their newest album ‘God Damn Evil’ and when asked how fans reacted to the new songs, Sweet gladly stated “the fans reacted great! I think that comes down to the fact we try really hard to give them their monies worth and perform the best set-list that we can. Whilst we’re performing the classics, we want to perform the new songs as well. I believe the new songs are able to hold their own against the classics; e.g. performing God Damn Evil gets the same response as To Hell With The Devil. Even if someone’s hearing it for the first time, they’re cheering along and singing along within the song. It really means a lot to us to be able to perform these songs!”

Speaking with Sweet on a personal level, it was time to see if he had a personal favourite from ‘God Damn Evil’. Sweet was put on the spot briefly, before replying “at this point in time, I would have to say The Valley. There’s a certain feel about that song; there’s a groove that locks in, plus I like the tempo and the chug of it. It has a little bit of a Heaven and Hell vibe about it, which is one of my favourite songs of all time! It just feels good, the crowd really enjoys it and it goes over well; it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album for sure. Mind you I do have a few on the album that I find myself listening to over and over! One of them is You Don’t Even Know Me; I really love the feel of that. I tend to like the songs that are the odd man out if you will. The ones that aren’t like anything else on the album and are a little different; You Don’t Even Know Me is very different to anything else on the album!”

Even though Stryper first formed all the way back in 1984, they had a hiatus between 1993-1999, before coming back for re-union shows between 1999-2001. The new era of Stryper was ushered in when Hollywood Records asked the former members to record ‘7: The Best Of Stryper’ and history has been created since then! When asked what motivates the band to keep creating music and touring after all these years, Sweet delivered the most heartfelt and touching answer this interviewer has ever heard:

“We love to inspire people and that’s the core/root of everything we do. We want to see people smile, we want to help people that are hurting and we want to help those through tough times. That’s the most important thing at the end of the day! Even though the music is the icing, helping, inspiring and encouraging people is the cake; I’d almost say it takes precedence over the music! That helps us to be motivated to want to do more, because we live in a hurry world and there’s a lot going on around us. This world needs light shone on dark places and needs to be inspired; even if it’s in a small way, we want to be part of that. I say that from the heart, as that’s the most encouraging part in what we do! We could go perform, have a great night, crank the amps, not make too many mistakes and it’s a solid show; but when we meet someone in the local Burger King or whilst walking the streets who needs prayer or wants to talk for 10 minutes, that’s what we remember most when we get on the bus at the end of the night! It’s easy to lose sight of that from time to time as you get caught up in the behind the scene garbage of running the band, or you might get tired and want to go home. We always remind ourselves how blessed we are to be doing this, or how fortunate we are to still be able to do it! Because of that, we always try our best to give back to the people.”

Sweet let his hair down a little bit when delivering his answer to what a first timer can expect to see at a Stryper show, playfully quipping “we do an entire set of Van Halen covers…” before letting out a small chuckle and continuing with “all kidding aside, one thing you can always expect is that we are giving it our all; whether we’re performing to thousands of people, hundreds of people or just one person. When we get out on stage we run around, we get into it, we’re energetic, we lock in and give a tight solid show; that’s been the case since we first started performing in 1984 and that’s what you can expect in a few weeks! The four of us will be giving 110%, which translates into the crowd giving 110% and all of us leaving the venue on such a high from what just took place. Plus it really makes it special; I know I’ve personally seen bands that are just going through the motions for whatever reason. Stryper ALWAYS gives it all and that’s kind of our motto! That’s something we want to do for every show in the future until we stop; even if that’s not until we’re 75, we’ll lay it all out there so people are walking out saying “wow, those people really gave it their all!””

Drawing the interview to a close, Sweet showcased his funny side yet again as he quipped “eight years is way too long and we’re hoping/praying our fans still remember us” and letting out another laugh, before expressing “we hope that everyone comes out; it will be nostalgic and nice to reminisce, as we’ll see all the fans and think about the old days. Much like the first time we came back in the 80s! We would love to see everybody and have great turnouts; from what I’ve heard it will be a great turnout as there’s been a lot of buzz and the interviews have fantastic. I’m also trying to get into that Australian mood and vibe by currently eating a packet of Tim Tams as we speak! I’ve just got to be careful though, as too many Tim Tams can turn me into a fat rock star” before drawing the interview with yet another chuckle.