Michael Sweet is best known as co-founder, writer, lead guitarist, lead vocalist and front man of the Christian rock band Stryper which were synonymous with their over the top black and yellow stage attire in the 1980’s. Michael was also co-lead vocalist and guitarist for the band Boston from 2007-2011. In the past couple of years Michael has been busier than ever releasing a new Stryper album in 2013 and more recently a solo album titled “I’m Not Your Suicide” and an autobiography titled “Honestly: My Life in Stryper Revealed”. Media Mikes spoke with Michael recently about his recent body of work and what he feels has contributed to his and the bands recent re-surge.
Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your new solo album?
Michael Sweet: A lot of people often wonder why I put out these solo albums. I am always writing songs and sometimes some of those songs don’t fit in with the Stryper material. I listen to all different kinds of music and I like to be able to go and express myself and show people the other side of myself. The material on this new album is still edgy however they wouldn’t exactly fit on a Stryper album. I tried some different things with this album and it was a lot of fun. I tried some country music as my dad had written a #1 country song in 1979 so I wanted to show my roots a little bit.
AL: Can you tell us about some of the guest appearances on the album?
MS: I took everything with this album song by song. For instance I was working on the song “This Time” and though Kevin Max would be great to have in there. He has a unique quality in his voice and he fit perfectly with that song. Then for “Taking on the World Tonight” Tony Harnell was a no brainer. All of the people on the album are dear friends of mine. I had never done an album that incorporated guests but it was something that I had always wanted to do. This was the album where it finally happened. I have Doug Aldrich and Chris Jericho on a track, Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines on a track and Dave Mustaine’s daughter Electra sings with me on Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”. Everyone brought something to the table which took each song to the next level.
AL: Did you have an idea as to what you wanted each guest to do on their tracks or were they free to experiment?
MS: I had an idea for some of the parts. For example the song Doug Aldrich appears on I knew he was the guy I wanted to play the solo. I sent him the song and he sent it back and it was just perfect. It was so simple of a process. The same thing happened with Electra’s performance. I had been thinking about having a female voice on that song and I had become good friends with Dave Mustaine over the years and mentioned the idea to him about having his daughter sing on the track. She has such a pure and angelic voice. They both thought the idea was great and Dave produce Electra’s vocals and it sound great! It was like clockwork as everything went as planned.
AL: Can you give us a little bit of background on your recent autobiography?
MS: I needed to write this book for myself. There is a lot of healing still taking place within my heart and my soul. There have been a lot of things that have happened in my life. There were a lot of questions from throughout my career that were still getting asked today so I wanted to answer all of those at once. That’s what I did with this book. There was a fine line I had to walk between being brutally honest and not hurting people. I’m not sure if that is totally possible. Anytime you talk about someone in a different light than what they want to be talked about in your going to offend or hurt them. That is certainly the case with some of the stories in the book. I think I did a good job of not going down some of those dark paths that purposely hurt people. I didn’t want to hurt anyone and that’s not what the book is about. I cover everything from when my mom managed Stryper to the choice we made that led us to bankruptcy. The book is my take on the situations as it’s told from my perspective.
AL: Was it hard revisiting some of the more painful memories?
MS: It definitely was. As I was sitting there rethinking these stories part of me was revisiting those emotions while another part was saying that I had moved on but obviously I really hadn’t as there was still some pain and emotion there. This book was a big step in the right direction as I come clean with the mistakes I have made be it good or bad.
AL: Within the past couple of years Stryper has started to make a resurge. What do you feel has contributed to that?
MS: I think for the most part it’s been hard work. The band has worked very hard. After I finished the album with Stryper I went immediately back in and started work on this solo album. After that recording wrapped up I went back in the studio again but this time with Michael Sweet and George Lynch. It’s a constant evolution of continuing on and growing. I couldn’t have it any other way.
AL: Can you tell us a little bit about the project you have going on with George Lynch?
MS: This was a project I co-wrote with George and it was one I got to produce as well. The group has Brian Tichy on drums and James LoMenzo on bass. It’s really a great band and album that I am super excited about. That should be coming out in early 2015. We plan to tour around this release as well.
AL: Do you have other projects you would like to mention?
MS: Stryper has a bunch of shows planned for the rest of this year before we take off most of next year to work on the new album. I will also be out doing some solo shows as well. Right now I have my schedule booked through the end of 2016. There’s just so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of it all. Maybe by 2020 I can start to think about retiring. (Laughs)