Mark Strigl and Mitch Lafon of the "Mark & Mitch Show" conducted an interview with STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet at this year's M3 Rock Festival at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the heavy nature of the band's recently released "God Damn Evil" studio album:
Michael: "I've always come from the mindset that slow and fast has nothing to do with heavy. Some of the heaviest songs in my opinion are slow. The slowest song I think you're referring to is the ballad, 'Can't Live Without Your Love'. That's a ballad; it's a rock ballad, guitar-driven. It's not a piano ballad. STRYPER in the past was known for their piano ballads. This is not that. We wanted to keep a heavy flow to the album, yet also retain who we are as a band. We always really mix things up musically. Like, there's not one song that's similar. We've always done that. If you go back and listen to most of our albums, you'll hear that every song is really different. A lot of the bands from the '80s — and that's fine and great — all of their songs sound the same. STRYPER was more about being very diverse in terms of song styles and the reason why you find that is because of the music we grew up on. We grew up on [JUDAS] PRIEST and [IRON] MAIDEN. We grew up on JOURNEY. We listened to NIGHT RANGER, we listened to LOVERBOY. There's so many different types of music and we loved it. I think that influenced us musically as well."
On the dark and somewhat "angry" vibe to "God Damn Evil":
Michael: "Let me put it this way: I think it's a very serious album. We live in serious times. There's a lot of stuff that's going on that we've never seen before, the Las Vegas shooting, for example. Did we ever imagine we'd see such a thing? No. I never did. As I was watching the footage and stuff, I was kind of in shock like everybody else. This album is directed at that evil. People that do evil things, people that are evil, evil in our world. That seems to be elevated. Maybe I'm wrong; I don't know. It just seems to be elevated to new heights in 2018. Where we are now as a society and we wanted to make an album that was an album that people could relate to. Songs like 'Lost', 'God Damn Evil', 'The Valley' even. It kind of lays out in the versus with a little big against, but when it gets to the chorus, there's a little bit of hope."
On new bass player Perry Richardson (ex-FIREHOUSE):
Michael: "He's a great fit for a number of reasons. His personality. Let's start there. He's a really low-key guy and very even. That's needed in this band. I'm a little intense. I can get intense and stuff so it's nice to have someone in the band that's very mellow and even. He's that. He's a sweet guy. We love him. Then, he's an incredible bass player. Real solid, really plays well with Rob [Sweet, drums] and he's a great singer. STRYPER, I think, is kind of known for their harmonies. I would hope so. Perry helps our harmonies kind of go to a different level live because he's got a really strong, great pitch, amazing voice. So, it's like having three lead singers up there. Oz [Fox, guitar] can lead sing and Perry can lead sing. On a good day, I can. [Laughs] You put the three of us together and it really works."
On stating that "God Damn Evil" is the best STRYPER album to date:
Michael: "Because I just felt it. There's a certain excitement I get when I listen to the album. I don't sit around and listen to STRYPER albums. I never do, ever. I can't tell you the last time I listened to 'To Hell With The Devil' or 'Against The Law' or any of those albums. It's been years. When we make a new album, I'll listen to it for a few months and as I'm listening to this album, I'm realizing how exciting it is. There's just an energy to it. Something about it…it's hard to put my finger on it and say it's this, this and that. There's something about it that's special. I feel it's our best album, I really do. Not only do I feel it, the band feels it and a number of fans. Some fans don't. And those are fans, with all due respect, who live in 1986. They won't let go of 'To Hell With The Devil'. That will always be their favorite album. You'll never beat that, even if you do with every album, you'll never beat that and I get it. You know, what's associated with that is the memories that goes along with those albums and I get that even more because I share the same feelings for certain albums, but this album is our best. It's not a publicity stunt. It's not me being naïve. I think it's our best for a number of reasons and we're going to try to improve upon it even more with the next album."
"God Damn Evil" was released on April 20 via Frontiers Music Srl.
The follow-up to 2015's "Fallen" marks STRYPER's first effort since the addition of Richardson. Perry joined the band as the replacement for STRYPER's longtime bassist Tim Gaines, who was fired from the group last year.
Perry did not play bass on STRYPER's new album due to scheduling constraints. The bass tracks on "God Damn Evil" were laid down by John O'Boyle, who played bass on Sweet's last two solo albums.