STRYPER guitarist Oz Fox has spoken out about the "personal issues" that have resulted in the band taking a hiatus and possibly considering a future without bassist Tim Gaines.
Asked by The Vinyl Mishappenings what the reason is that STRYPER is planning to take some time off, Fox said: "Well, it's a number of things. A lot of it is Michael [Sweet, guitar/vocals] has a lot projects coming up that he wants to take time off to do, which is fine by me, because I've got a lot of stuff going on here in town, and, as I get older in age, I kind of want to set myself up so that I'll have more opportunities here in [Las] Vegas so that someday if I ever stop touring with STRYPER, I can maybe stay here and work as a musician. He [Michael] definitely is going to be doing a second album with George Lynch and he also just released a solo album and he wants to go out and tour that album a little bit and we [STRYPER] are going to be playing on the Monsters of Rock cruise the first week of February."
Pressed on whether this means that STRYPER's original lineup — including Gaines — will appear on the Monsters Of Rock cruise, Fox said: "As far as I know, yes, but Tim, our bass player, is going through some personal issues and we're trying to let him work all of that stuff out. It's no secret anymore, but he's going through a divorce, so we're giving him time to work those things out. As far as I know, he's looking like he's on his way to making all of that stuff in his life correct and fixed, and then we'll see where he stands after he's all done with that, and I know he wants to keep touring. It's a very difficult thing to go through a divorce; it's difficult for everybody. We're very close to him and his wife, so it hurts us as much as it hurts them. These things do happen in the Christian world, and I want to reference back to a lot of those really hardcore conservative Christians; it's very taboo to see somebody, especially in the limelight, going through that kind of thing, and so a divorce is one of those, kind of, 'bad' words. Now there are a lot of Christians who understand. I understand the situation, because I went through a divorce myself in 2006 with my first wife. It's very difficult — it really is — but we're going to give him time to do that and go through and deal with his issues. As far as I know, he's going to be on the cruise with us. And then the only other thing I can say after that is there are plans to do another STRYPER album, so we'll see how that goes later on."
Asked if he thinks Tim's personal issues and Michael's other projects will delay work on a new STRYPER album, Oz said: "I think there were plans to possibly get on it in January. It hadn't been booked or anything, but once this whole thing started happening with Tim, we thought it was a better idea to just postpone everything. We decided to maybe wait until later on in the year. I think it's good for us to just give him time to do his thing and deal with his issues, and then later on, we can come back together and, after everything is already healed over, have a solid time of being able to work together."
Michael Sweet recently told the WSOU radio station that STRYPER has "no plans of stopping," despite the latest setback. He explained: "I mean, we had considered it and thought, well, maybe we should, but then we realized, well, that's just fair to us, that's not fair to the fans. So we're gonna continue on for sure; we just don't know how and when exactly."
Sweet also said that it was "probable" that STRYPER would carry on without Gaines, explaining that "if we were to disband or dissolve or stop, it really wouldn't be fair to the fans, it wouldn't be fair to the other guys, and it's important to keep that in mind as well."
STRYPER's latest album, "Fallen", entered The Billboard 200 chart at position No. 43 with first-week sales of just over 10,000 units — nearly all from pure album sales. The set followed the No. 35-peaking "No More Hell To Pay", which was released in 2013.