Stryper frontman Michael Sweet recently spoke to us about their new album, “Even The Devil Believes.
How did the writing process go for Even The Devil Believes?
MS: I wrote the album, here in my desk where I’m sitting right before Christmas of 2019.before the pandemic. The way I work these days and I don’t recommend it to anyone. I say, okay, Michael, you got an album you have to start working on and you have two weeks to complete it. I’ll wait two weeks and I’ll start working on it going into my writing mode and I’ll write a song today. If I have two weeks of pre-production before the album, I know that’s the songwriting process and it’s all going to get done and it always does.
We start recording and that’s the way this album was done. I had 12 days before Christmas, I wrote all the songs and took the holidays off. The guys flew out here, around January 2nd. And we started rehearsing.
Does everyone contribute to the songwriting? Or are you the main songwriter?
MS: Every album pretty has been everyone contributes here and there. For the most part, I write 95% of the songs. And that’s, that’s every album from, from the Yellow And Black Attack to Even The Devil Believes. The reason why is I have a very unique style of writing that has built the Stryper brand that we’ve become known for that style. then if you just say, okay, it’s an open platform, Rob, why don’t you contribute some songs that are here? All of a sudden we’re going to go in a totally different direction musically. Some people might view that as a good thing. It’s not always a good thing. We’re not a modern rock band. We don’t want to sound like Alice In Chains.
Or if the former bass player would submit a song and it was sound like Elton John. We don’t want to sound like Elton John.
Nothing against Elton John. I love him, but we’re Stryper. We have a very unique style and Oz contributes to the song here and there that works. Sometimes the stuff that he contributes doesn’t work and people, people see it. A lot of people view it as I’m a dictator and I control everything. And, and the only thing I say to them is someone’s got to do it.
Are we talking Yngwie like dictatorship?
MS: Not at all. No, gosh, no. I mean, when I first started writing the album, I texted everybody and I said, Hey guys, give me some song title ideas. And everybody started texting me, song and title ideas. Robert threw out a few, Middle Finger Messiah was one of them. And, uh, it Perry throughout, um, make rock great again. And uh, I said, well, that’s a little cliche, but I like it. And Rob said, what about make God great again? And I said, well, you don’t need to make God great again. And he’s always great. Uh, what about make love great again? And everyone’s like, yeah, perfect. And you know, Perry has a, co-write on make love. Great again. Cause he basically gave me the title to that. And it same with you and to others. Very suggested that title. And he’s got a car ride on that song. Um, I’m totally open to ideas. It’s something like, you know, it’s my way or the highway, but at the time I’m also that guy that’s going to stand up and speak up and say, this isn’t up to par with the other nine songs. You have to have someone that does that with not just music, with sports teams, with businesses,, with everything. You know, you got to have someone that’s kind of, you know, leading the pack of saying, look guys, this song either doesn’t fit or it’s just not that good. It doesn’t, it’s not as good as the other songs. And if the other two or three guys say well, who cares? Well, you have to care. You know, you w you want to, you want to hit a home run, not a, not just a, you know, get to first base or second page. You want to knock it out of the park. And you gotta think about everything, the artwork, the videos, and everything has to be amazing. And I’m kinda that guy in the band that, you know, works extra hard. You know, the other guys work incredibly hard and they contribute a lot. And they’re every bit a part of this team as I am. But I’m just saying that I’m kind of been put in a place of leadership over the past 15 years and, and, and they want it that way. I think if you interviewed them, they’d say, we’re really happy. Michael’s leading this. That’s what they tell me.
What’s behind the title Even The Devil Believes?
MS: It was important to have a really bold statement with the title, but yet not get so controversial that we alienated fans, like with God Damn Evil. some fans said, Oh man, I can’t buy the album. I can’t explain that to my three year old. I understand that this album, this time around, we really wanted to make sure that we weren’t going too far in a controversial way with the title then, but yet we wanted something really powerful. I had a lot of depth and meaning and obviously, Even The Devil Believes is a very powerful statement,
if you believe the Bible, then you believe that the devil knows how everything began and how everything is. And he believes he just doesn’t follow God. He doesn’t, he’s rebelled against God, he’s anti-God. But, but he believes in God, he believes there is a God. He knows there is a guide and that created him. He is the creation, not the creator. So that’s what that means. It also means that it takes more than just words to save your soul. Everyone can say they can believe, but if you don’t show it and live it, then it doesn’t mean anything.
Are you still with Washburn Guitars?
MS: No, I’m not. My guy over there left Gil Soucy was the guy that got everything done there and made it happen. The Michael Sweet guitar line, he made everything happen. And when he left, I knew, they pulled the plug on two new signature guitars that were going to come out.
I said to the guy that I was talking and I said, man, I’m just not feeling the love there anymore. I don’t even know if most of the people there even know who I am. Gil obviously did. He was a big fan, friend and he was the guy running it.
My agreement ended a few months later. I spoke to a number of companies, companies like Kramer, I wound up going with Sully Guitars talking to there was another guitar line I was talking to. I wound up going with Sully Guitars.
John Sullivan builds guitars like the old Jackson’s. He actually learned a lot from Grover. They actually built a guitar together, Grover Jackson and solely John Sullivan. He sent me a few guitars to check out and I felt like they were really close to the old original Jackson’s. I played, I loved John Sullivan, his attitude, super amazing guy builds killer guitars, and we’re going to be releasing a US model and an import model, Michael Sweet signatures on Sully.
That’s what I’m playing in the new video. It’s called a Revolution. Michael Sweet. It’s amazing. I love it.