INTERVIEW: Michael Sweet (STRYPER)
On the health status of Stryper guitarist Oz Fox who was hospitalized after a seizure and found to have 2 lesions on his brain. And what it was like to tour as a trio without Oz Fox...
Oz is doing better, he's been on a really healthy diet and doing a lot of things holistically that are really good for him. He is still feeling good, there are still questions that are unanswered with what's going on because a biopsy hasn't been done yet and a surgery hasn't been done. There are still a lot of variables and unknowns. He is in a good place right now, doing well and feeling strong. It was interesting touring without Oz, he's a staple in the band and in the set. It's difficult because we have a lot of duel harmony guitar parts, it's difficult to pull that stuff off with one guitar. Whether it's just me doing it or just him doing it, it's impossible to do. We gave our all and our best, we did our best to pull it off. I wanted to respect Oz so a lot of times I didn't play a solo over his solo section, I just played the rhythm. That's what I felt comfortable doing. I could have just up there and jammed and played solos all night long but I didn't feel like I needed to do that. The greatest thing about that run and that tour was the acceptance from the fans, the Australian fans, the people came out to support us, they were very accepting to what was going on and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and the reviews were really good.
How Michael Sweet first found God...
The way I came to know God was the family accepted Christ through [well-known Pentecostal evangelist] Jimmy Swaggart, believe it or not, on television. We were watching him on television, and then watched him again and then again and again, week after week. And we accepted Christ, and we wound up finding a church and we started going to church. And this was when I was 11 and 12 years old. And I really committed my life when I was 12. And then, eventually, I kind of fell out of that and became less interested in church and got more involved in music and the scene that goes along with that, typically. And as I got a little older — 15, 16, 17 years old — I started drinking and smoking and doing that whole thing. And I walked that path for a while. And when I turned 20 years old, that's when I re-dedicated my life, and my brother did as well. And we devoted the band to God. That was in 1983. And right before we became STRYPER, we all decided to do that together as a band. And it was very cool. It was obviously a life-changing experience and moment in time, and the rest is history. There's been no regrets, no looking back. We made a bold stand for God, and I think the world knows that. And hopefully we've encouraged and inspired some people.
On whether or not the Church was supportive of Stryper...
"[The members of the church] weren't a hundred percent supportive," Sweet acknowledged. "We had some people in the church support us, but most people, no. I think they didn't know what to think of us. They were shocked. They were maybe even a little frightened by what we were doing. Because it was something that really had never been done before; there was no band like STRYPER. When we came on the scene in '84, released our first album and started performing, people from both sides didn't know what to think of us — from the mainstream side to the Christian side. So it was difficult for us to find our place. But we eventually found it. We stayed true to ourselves and stuck to our calling, and everything worked out."
On Kanye West finding God
I think it's amazing, I applaud Kanye, if it's sincere, which it seems to be. I think it's amazing, he's reaching a lot of folks that other people aren't able to reach or haven't been reaching, so it's very cool, it's a light in the dark to see Kayne proclaiming "Christ is King, King of Kings", it's pretty cool. I think it's great.
Listen to the full interview
Michael Sweet (Stryper) "Son of Man" ft: Todd LaTorre (Queensryche) and Andy James (Lyric Video)