Michael Sweet of Stryper: "We Have Always Thrown Bibles And We Always Will."

Categories: Interviews

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Stryper back in the day
When the Christian rock band Stryper first emerged in 1983, many people thought they were both a marketing ploy and tasteless joke. After 1986's To Hell With the Devil sold over two million copies, so-called Christian bands started popping up everywhere.

Somehow, brothers Michael and Robert Sweet have kept some form of Stryper alive, on and off, for nearly 30 years. Speaking from his home in Massachusetts, in anticipation of tonight's show at House of Blues, Michael discussed the legacy of one of the first Christian metal acts.

How has Christian rock changed from when you started in the '80s to now?
I think it certainly implies the same thing. It's a band made up of Christian guys who deliver a different message. The way the bands and the music have evolved is really different. We came out at a time when it was not so acceptable or popular to have Spandex on and have big hair and run around all over the stage. We came on the scene with the likes of Petra and Baby Grand. We were certainly shocking. Nowadays, anything goes and there's nothing that really shocks people. Everything's been done and then some. I come from the old school of melody and guitar solos. We put more thought into musical arrangements. Nowadays, it's less about that and more about angst. But I can appreciate that stuff, too. It's a different time.

When you first started the band, were you worried people would think a Christian metal band was just a marketing gimmick?
I'm sure some people thought that way. The truth is that it wasn't. If you look at the bands we were in before Stryper, we were wearing those yellow and black Spandex outfits.That's who we were and that's how we presented ourselves before there was Stryper. It just continued on once we decided to give our hearts to Christ and we decided to change the lyrics and let that be the message of the band. We weren't trying to use gimmicks and be something that we weren't.

When you first put those god-awful outfits on, did you look at one another and wonder how you got into this mess?
Yes, a little bit. My brother is more of the visual guy, it was more his idea. He was the guy who painted the drums and the amps. He encourages us to go down that road, to have that yellow and black look. I was more of the music guy who stayed at home on weekends writing songs in the garage all day long. We worked as a team.

Former televangelist Jimmy Swaggart was never a big fan of Stryper, but another televangelist, Jim Bakker, was. What did he understand that Swaggart didn't?
I don't know that it was what he heard. Having met Bakker but never having met Swaggart, I think he was intimidated by us. Maybe he was fearful of the new generation of Christian music. He was just kind of scared and fearful of it. Jim Bakker was more open-minded and more accepting. He knew that things were changing. He was really cool. He came and watched us perform and we all went and hung out at Heritage. We got to know him and he was really a great guy.


Location Info

House of Blues

2200 N. Lamar St., Dallas, TX

Category: Music


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8 comments
AnthonyWafer92
AnthonyWafer92

I have been listening to Stryper since I was 15, and there music is awesome,Swaggart is to strict and way to traditional,no disrespect to Jimmy Swaggart and others like but Stryper has been reaching out to lost,they don't see anybody going To Hell With The Devil,they Keep The Fire Burning,through God their message is Loud N Clear and their serving as Soldiers Under Command.

nimbusthegreat
nimbusthegreat

>>We threw a Bible and knocked all of the beers out of his hand. I thought that was pretty funny.<<>>We are always respectful.<<>>We don't beat people over the head...<<

what an ass.  and people wonder why my view of christians is tainted.

BubbaCo
BubbaCo

If I had a bunch of bibles, I'd throw em' too!

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

I always thought it would've been cool if they(Striper) did a split LP with Venom. One side of the album singing about "God is good" and the other side singing about "the Devil"(i'll let you decide which band sang which). Would've been a cool tour. Stryper throwing out bibles....Venom throwing out Satanic ones. Anyway, sorry for wasting y'alls time.

just sayin'
just sayin'

There was a rumor floating around a while back that Stryper and Slayer were gonna do some shows together. Good thing that never happened. Stryper and their fans would have never made it out of there alive. And thats just based on the type of music they play. I'm not even factoring in lyrical content.

Darrylrs
Darrylrs

But bands like Venom talk all big and acary, but in reality, they are far from satan worshippers. It's all a show to deceive weak minds and scare a few parents. And sad to say, there are just as many fake Christian bands who see dollar signs in that marketplace, but who live anything but Christian lifestyles. Now that band Ghost, that's another thing entirely, plus their music is really good.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

I thought of Slayer, too, at first. Then, I reckoned Venom, because they are pretty comical in their satanic imagery....just like Stryper can come off as, with their christian ones. I think the theatrics would play well with each other. 

just sayin'
just sayin'

I think a large part of Venom's fans knew that it was schtick.

A Stryper/Slayer show would have been a catastrophe based on musical styles alone. Stryper has that whole 80's glam metal vibe that would likely have been drowned out by the loudest Slayer chant in the history of metal. And if they tossed bibles into that crowd, it would take mere seconds before the place looked like a tornado touched down at dunder mifflin. Even though many Slayer fans know that Tom is a christian.

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