Jimmy Kay and Alan Dixon from Canada's The Metal Voice recently conducted an interview with STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet. You can now listen to the chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On possibly collaborating with MEGADETH's Dave Mustaine on a new project:
Sweet: "You've gotta talk to Dave about that. I've mentioned to Dave in multiple texts, 'Hey, man, let's write. Let's co-write. Let's do this. Let's do that.' He always invites me out to his place, and he said, 'Why don't you come to Nashville?' And he's always been very gracious. And I just haven't ever been able to get to Nashville — or at least in the past few years — to plan out an actual session with Dave and write. But Dave and I, I think, at some point, I hope, will collaborate and do something together. I love Dave, I respect him. I think he's a brilliant mind and a brilliant musician, and he's a friend of mine and we share so much in common. And I would love to see that happen. It'd be an honor to write with Dave, and to take that a step further, do a song or an album with Dave, and maybe that'll happen someday."
On whether being a Christan was part of the job description in hiring former FIREHOUSE bassist Perry Richardson:
"It's a valid question. And it's funny, 'cause we get a lot of crap for our beliefs and for our faith, as you have most recently seen on Blabbermouth — people saying ridiculous stuff like we're a cult and 'Oz's statement sounds like something out of North Korea.' You know, people are always gonna make remarks, and there's always gonna be haters out there, and, really, what that comes from and stems from is people who are insecure with themselves who have never achieved anything and they're just jealous of the people that do achieve things. So we'll start there. But, to answer your question, no. And it might make people gasp, it might shock people, and we might even lose a few fans by [them] hearing Michael Sweet say that. But the reason why say it's not at the top of the priority list… What is at the top of the priority list is that they're good people, that they're clean and sober, they're not gonna come in and have issues with that — no band wants that. And that's gonna be probably be at the top of any band's list when they're looking for somebody. And that they're really good musicians. And for STRYPER, another really important piece is that they can sing, 'cause we have a lot of vocals, and that's equally as important as anything else. And there are bass players that we thought about in the back of our mind that we passed on in the back of our mind because they couldn't sing. It's a deal breaker for us. For other bands, it might not be. For us, it is. So it makes it a little more difficult to find somebody. It's not easy to find somebody that can sing and that can play and that is a great person. And now, the Christian thing… The funny thing is, that doesn't always make you a great person. Some of the biggest idiots I know claim to be Christians. And then vice versa — some of the nicest people I know aren't Christians. And that just doesn't have anything to do with being nice and being a good person. So, yeah, is it something that would be really great to see and have? Of course. If someone says, 'Yeah, I'm a Christian.' And it's funny, 'cause Perry has said that he is a Christian. But we didn't go there. We didn't sit him down and say, 'Okay, buddy. First question. Before we do anything, we've gotta know right now. Listen, put your hand on the Bible, we've gotta know: are you a Christian?' I mean, it didn't go down like that. Nor would it. Which kind of disproves all the Blabbermouth B.S. that we're a cult. It cracks me up when people say moronic stuff like that; it's just so stupid. We're a rock band. We're not a cult."
On Perry's contributions to the upcoming STRYPER album:
"The situation with the album, he had a schedule to fulfill and we were on schedule to make the album, so there wasn't any way that he could play on the album. Next time around, we'll see — we'll see what happens with him in terms of writing. I don't know what kind of songs he writes, what kind of style he writes. I don't think think STRYPER's gonna be recording anytime in the near future a song like [FIREHOUSE's] 'Love Of A Lifetime'. That's a great song, I love it, it's a hit, but very similar to, like, [STRYPER's] 'Honestly'. STRYPER's just a different band now. We do ballads still, but, you know, we've taken a little bit of a different approach musically. And we'll see — we'll see what Perry throws out there and brings to the table, if anything, and if it's really cool and fitting with what we're doing now, absolutely."
On who plays bass on the upcoming STRYPER album:
"We hired a guy by the name of John O'Boyle, who played bass on my last two solo albums. He's a local guy, lives close to the studio. And, again, another just great guy and a really great bass player. And I think when everyone hears the album and hears the bass tracks, his performances will speak for themselves."
On the musical direction of the next STRYPER album:
"I can tell you this: if you kind of take the best of a handful of STRYPER albums and you kind of roll it up into a big, old fat burrito, that's what you're gonna get with this album. On a couple of songs, you're gonna hear qualities of 'Against The Law', you're gonna hear qualities of 'Fallen', you're gonna hear qualities of 'No More Hell To Pay' — and even 'To Hell With The Devil' and 'Soldiers [Under Command]'. You're gonna get the best of all those worlds in one world. We have already said this in private, I don't know if we've said it publicly, and people always kind of sneer when they hear bands say this, and I say it for every album —whatever — I really believe it for every album, 'cause I'm one of those guys that strives to improve and get better. But this is STRYPER's best album. And when it comes out and people hear it, in terms of the songs, the performances, the quality, the audio, the sonic quality, the flow, the feel, the energy, people, I think, will agree — most people. There are always those people that live in denial and just say, 'There's nothing as good as 'To Hell With The Devil',' and that's because they're kind of stuck in the '80s. And that's fine — it's totally fine. I love the '80s too. I'm stuck in the '80s in some ways as well, and that's great — there's some great music that came from the '80s. But, at the same time, I really believe, and I think a lot of our fans — I'll go as far as to say maybe even most of our fans believe that we're doing some of the best music and making some of the best albums that we ever have in our career."
"Is there anything as epic as 'Yahweh' [off 'Fallen']? No. There's something that's close, there's a song that's very close, and it's really different — it's gonna surprise a lot of people."
On the title of the new STRYPER album:
"I can't give you the title of the album — I wish I could — but it's very controversial, very shocking, and it holds its own and maybe even surpasses 'To Hell With The Devil' in terms of that catchphrase. But there's a song called 'Take It To The Cross', and we brought in Matt [Bachand], who plays guitar in SHADOWS FALL and also plays bass in ACT OF DEFIANCE. And Matt has a great [growls] voice, so we brought him in on 'Take It To The Cross', and on the chorus you'll hear Matt and at the end of the song you'll hear Matt, and people are gonna hear it and go, 'There's no way that's STRYPER.' [His vocals are] more in line with thrash-slash-death metal, but not over the top — I'm still doing a high part in the chorus, and he's on there [singing his part in a more guttural way]. And it's heavy and it's powerful, and people are gonna hear it and go, 'What the hell?' It's cool, man. And then we've got other songs that are full-on metal and heavy, but super hooky and catchy and just make you wanna tap your foot — they pull you right in. I'm telling you, this album is making the hairs on my arms stand on end. When I go down and sing the songs, I'm just, like, 'Oh my gosh, man. I can't wait for people to hear this.'"
On the upcoming STRYPER documentary:
"We started shooting it already while we were making the album, and we're gonna continue filming and shooting throughout this year on tour and interviewing lots of people — from pastors who have changed their lives, who were alcoholics and drug addicts, who are now pastors, to celebrities who grew up listening to STRYPER. And not just people like Chris Jericho and Dan [Daniel Lawrence Whitney, who is better known by his stage name] Larry The Cable Guy, but people unexpected, people that you're gonna watch in the documentary and say, 'Oh my gosh! I never knew they were a fan.' And we're gonna try to show the effect that STRYPER's had on people's lives — not so much just the music. But we're also gonna show a lot of music — live footage, tons of home-video footage. We have so much home-video footage, it's insane — old stuff of us playing high schools and colleges in the early days to playing clubs to playing arenas. We've got footage of Rob Halford [JUDAS PRIEST] coming on stage and singing 'Breaking The Law' with us. So there's a lot of really cool stuff that people are gonna watch and be completely blown out of the water by and say, 'Oh my gosh! I had no idea.'"
STRYPER's new album is tentatively due in April via Frontiers Music Srl.