Stryper’s Michael Sweet: “God Damn Evil Is A Prayer Request”

By Andrew Catania

While being snowed in at his house in Massachusetts, Michael Sweet from Stryper and I discussed there new album, being dissed by Jackson Guitars and touring plans.

Tell me how having Perry Richardson in the band has affected the Stryper camp?  Everything good?

MS:  Seeing Perry’s smile on his face all the time and he’s just such a sweetheart. He’s a killer player and singer.  Now that he’s in our band and part of our group were feeding off of his joy, and his energy is just spreading, and we’re all so excited to do this.

Did Perry have any contributions to the new album?

MS: We would obviously have preferred that, and that was our first option, but sadly when he came out in an audition for the band, he got on a plane and the next day he was playing with Craig Morgan. He had to fulfill with Craig Morgan and to finish that out.  When Perry came out here, we were in the middle of pre-production for the album. So just a few days later we went into the studio and started tracking, so it didn’t work out regarding schedules. With that being said, we can’t wait to get them on the next album singing and playing. And we’re excited about it.  It’s going to be awesome, I mean we already know what kind of a bass player he is. We played with them here at the house and saw him play, and he’s an excellent, fantastic player.

Stryper's Michael Sweet: "God Damn Evil Is A Prayer Request"

Does Perry’s presence in the band bring a sense of relief? Are you happy with your decision?

MS: You know what we are. It’s hard to describe. It’s just the feeling that takes place in your heart and your mind and your subconscious. It’s important to live it with a smile on your face and to live happily.  We’re delighted right now. I’m in a parish. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him. We’re blessed to have this guy. He was a serious a catch and a serious find.  We feel bad for the other bands that didn’t get him.

What made you go with the album name you’ve chosen?  Are you shaking things up?

MS: We didn’t do it just to shake things up. We have a point to prove in a statement.  A few years back we thought about using this title.  We didn’t go with it because we felt it was a little too much at that time. Now in 2018, with everything that we’ve seen on the news, the evil we’re faced with on a daily basis to new levels and new degrees, it made perfect sense for us to have an album called God Damn Evil.  It’s a prayer request. It is what it is. It’s not a swear, it’s not just the shock statement, it’s a prayer request, and we’re asking God to damn the evil that we see. It should be a prayer for everybody. Some people are freaking out thinking you’re taking the Lord’s name in vain, and it’s not that at all

What made you go with Washburn Guitars?

MS:  I was with Jackson Guitars for many years.  I loved Jackson back in the day. I don’t like Jackson now.  I’m not a fan. Not a fan for many reasons.  First Jackson got absorbed by Fender.  I loved the Mom and Pop feeling of it back in the day. Grover (Jackson) owned it, and you walked in there, and they would see you. It was a small little club. It was nice. So that’s number one. I love that. I hate the fact that they’re so big now that you can’t get on the phone with anyone and I’ve tried multiple times over the years.

The other thing that I don’t like is Stryper helped build Jackson.  We were one of the bands that two of the guitar players that helped put them on the map along with many other people. Obviously Randy Rhoads, Jake E Lee and even Steve Vai at the time.  Stryper helped. We played Jackson, and we had number one videos, and all you saw was Jackson Guitars. They don’t give us the time of day. Now they don’t acknowledge that, and that’s fine. The most important reason why I’m not a big Jackson guy, I don’t like the quality of the guitars nowadays. If you pick up an old Jackson, there’s no comparison to an original Jackson and a new Jackson. There’s no comparison.  I think that’s because Grover Jackson built that company, and he was the talent there, and he’s no longer there. So Washburn feels more like Jackson did to me back in the day than Jackson does now in the sense that it’s a real tight relationship with them. They care, they go the extra mile to take care of their artists. They don’t have a 1000 artists like Jackson.  They’re making the guitars that are incredible quality in their custom shop that take me back to the quality of Jackson back in 1985, 86 and 87.

What are the some of the specs on your Signature Model?

Easy to play fast. I’ve got the Floyd upgrade parts on the Floyd Roses have a guide.  Seymour Duncan pickups on my import and I’ve got a Fishman Fluence pickups in my US models.  24 frets, ebony neck, lightweight, super comfortable to hold and play. No stress on your shoulders at all.  I couldn’t be more pleased with my Washburn’s.

Have you and Sebastian Bach settled whatever beef he had with you?

MS:  I’ve reached out to Sebastian a couple of times and emailed him.  I have no beef with him at this time.  I respect Sebastian, he’s a great singer, and it’s water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully, it is with him too.  Those things happen in life, and it’s all good.

What are your plans for the rest of 2018?

MS:  I have an album the start on with Joel Hoekstra at the beginning of next year.  Stryper is going to be hitting the road.  We’ve got a lot of dates on the books already, and there’s many more coming in. So by the, by the end of the year, we’ll probably have 70 to 80 shows confirmed, and we’re going to be touring a lot man going into next year as well.

For more information on Stryper please go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Stryper/

God Damn Evil will be out on April 20th, 2018 via Frontiers Records.

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