Stryper's Michael Sweet: "God Formed This Band"
Stryper, the world's coolest and heaviest '80s Christian heavy metal band of the '80s, comes to Scout Bar Monday night, touring behind last month's covers LP, The Covering. It's an appropriately shiny and heavy disc of covers from artists like Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Sweet, Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin.
Photos by Groovehouse Stryper at House of Blues, December 2009
Known for their "yellow and black attack" for the colors of their stage clothes, the band is easily the most iconic Christian band still going, and no doubt holds a place in the greater sphere of metal as one of the best-dressed, even if they praise the Lord and not the man downstairs.
If it wasn't for founding brothers Michael and Robert Sweet, a lot of kids who grew up in the church wouldn't have been bitten by the metal bug and would still be playing praise and worship-style music.
We talked to the band, who seemed to all be in the same SUV, earlier this week as they were driving to a photo shoot during rehearsals for this new tour. Michael Sweet was driving Rocks Off interviewed him, so we made sure not to say anything too controversial, lest we injure the whole band.
Michael Sweet: We grew up on these songs and played them all live for years way back when, before we were Stryper. We still sound check with some covers for fun, and we added "On Fire" by Van Halen to our stage set in the '90s and Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law" a few years ago too.
It seemed like the perfect opportunity and the right time to make a covers album. We wanted to cut loose and let the focus be on the fun and joy of the music. No thoughts, and just went in and had a blast on songs that influenced us.
RO: Any songs get left off?
MS: Yeah, W.A.S.P.'s "Animal" (laughs). No, no. I'm kidding, and I actually heard that Blackie Lawless leaves that out off his set because he's a Christian now. There were a few songs we discussed and talked about, like "Exciter" by Priest and some alternative Van Halen songs. It wasn't a lot of thought that went into picking the songs though.
Van Halen out of all of those is probably our biggest influence. When they came on the scene, they were a big influence on all four of us. They changed music.