It’s Very Seldom……that I write about Christian Rock bands, however there is one that I have written about and genuinely feel are a very talented bunch. The American group, Stryper. Originally thought of as a Christian Metal band, Stryper catapulted to the forefront in the 1980’s. They had a mission, and it wasn’t just about bringing people to God, it was about presenting genuine hard rock to those that may otherwise not be so inclined.
Their talent showed forth with strength, and became one of the most sought after American Metal bands around. Yes, their music was filled with messages, messages that were more about the experience with the Godhead, and not about religion. They put forth these messages in song and music, and lifestyle. The group retreated in the 1990’s, on purpose, to re-generate and re-group, readying themselves for their next attack. By 2009, they were ready and the ‘Yellow & Black Attack’ was unleashed yet again! “Murder By Pride” was their musical statement…and at that time I caught up with the group’s singer; Michael Sweet, and we talked about the formative stages of the group, their mission and at that time their brand new album:
Question: May we get reacquainted with the group…you actually began in 1983 as a Power trio, correct…
Answer: The basis of the group was both brothers Sweet, and also Fox…
Q: When you changed the name to Stryper, there was a reason behind the name change… what was that reason?
A: The record company didn’t like the name Roxx Regime and we weren’t crazy about it either. So we came up with Stryper. We already had the stripes on stage, so the name Stryper seemed to work.
Q: Through the years you have collectively released top notch material… yes, full of messages, but you were
not over bearing, as some American “Christian” music artists tend to be… any comments?
A: It wasn’t a conscious decision on our part. It’s just the way God lead us to write. The songs just sort of came out that way.
Q: If we look at the period of time, when personnel changed / or dropped away from the group, you kept
your friendship… was this difficult?
A: At times it was. But eventually we always re-kindle our friendship. But yes, anytime you separate from someone you’ve been with for a long time, it can be difficult.
Q: I would imagine that throughout the years, your Faith and your friendship carried you all through somewhat difficult times…Now; we see the original three back together again: Michael and Robert, and Oz
Fox… chat with us about the reforming… and a bit about “Reborn”… “Murder By Pride” seems to be a
stronger, more pointed album… and obviously with some very strong messages, would you take us through
A: It was a long process. We started working on this record back in 2006. We were due to go in to record in 2007 and Kyle (Sweet) got diagnosed with Cancer. The record had to be put on hold for a while. It seems like a miracle that it ever got finished. A lot of prayer has gone into this record. It’s one of our best records because so much time
and effort has gone into it.
Q: Have you ever had questions in your own faith and what kind of advice would you give to people who
A: There were times after I left STRYPER when I was in a dry spell. In a valley, I like to call it, and I couldn’t get anything going musically. But yet I felt like God was giving me songs and God had given me the ability to play music… but I wasn’t allowed to do it. So that was a big question mark. In those ways, yes but as far as actually questioning my faith like should I or shouldn’t I be a Christian? No, never! Going back to when I was twelve years
old and I first chose to live for God, I had walked away for years but then we all re-dedicated our lives when I was
twenty as a band with STRYPER. I haven’t looked back from that time till now. I mean I have my short-comings,
my failures and my mistakes but I still choose and I always will to live a life for God and make a bold stand for God.
That belief, making a bold stand…continues to this day. Stryper are about to release “Second Coming”, an album of re-worked material plus a couple of new songs. The group re-recorded fourteen songs from their previous albums, and are preparing to tour worldwide in 2013. The album comes out on March 26th, and by Michaels’s own words, these are not only re-workings, they are actually heavier than in the first go round. Plans are under way for a whole set of new material, later in the year. However, “Second Coming” hopes to gather new members to the fold, as well as re-ignite the passion from those fans of years ago.
“Murder By Pride”, which was released in 2009, and gives us a good indication as to where Stryper is going…check out this review to get an insight:
Stryper “Murder By Pride”
Review by: Bruce E.J. Atkinson
To take a line;…”…the boys are back…”!
Stryper have returned with a powerful new album, “Murder By Pride”. Four years after their comeback album, “Reborn”, this new record displays a more mature sound…a renewed confidence and, of course, strong lyrical messages which match perfectly, their commanding musical expressions! “Murder By Pride” also boasts a very Special Guest in guitarist and founder of ‘Boston’…Tom Scholz! He guests with the group on their version of “Peace Of Mind”.
“Murder By Pride” just might be the finest album Stryper have yet to produce. Yes, we have the rockers; we also have some very graceful ballads and slower tempo numbers. All in all, performed with heart and, the emotional waves flow freely throughout!
Michael Sweet’s vocals are just that: sweet!...and after all these years, he is still strong and the high notes seem to be reached ever so effortlessly! Now, the same can be said about the musical prowess of Oz and Robert, their skill: razor sharp…and relative newcomer, bassist Tracy Ferrie fits in so well, giving us a solid bed of rhythm and driving the energy ever so higher. “Murder By Pride” belies the years these guys have been around, as the sound is so fresh and strapping—actually muscular! The performances are rock-solid and confident and not in the least does this record ever sound dated.
Stryper…they are back, they are strong, and they have something to tell us…and I think we should listen!
Under The Lights
Upcoming Club/Concert Highlights:
97th Street Pub: Wheelhouse: Feb. 22nd & 23rd Rockaholics: March 1st & 2nd Radio Lifeline: March 8th & 9th Floyd Vedan Band: March 15th & 16th
The Blue Gator: Andrew Jr. Boy Jones: Feb. 22nd & 23rd Poppa Dawg: Feb. 27th Zamboni Brothers: Feb. 28th Pappa Dawg: March 1st & 2nd Orio: March 7th The Young ‘Uns: March 8th & 9th Papa Dawg: March 13th Zamboni Brothers: March 14th-15th-16th
Fernando’s Pub: Matt Blais: Feb. 27th
The Minstrel Café: Poppa Dawg Blues Band: Feb. 22nd & 23rd
The Streaming Café: Hrdwtr: Feb. 23rd
The Pheasant & Quail Pub: Cod Gone Wild: Feb. 22nd …And don’t forget the “Talented Kelowna” events at the Pub in January and February!
South Okanagan Events Centre: Heart: March 9th 2013 Alan Jackson: August 3rd
Kelowna Community Theatre: Natalie MacMaster: April 7th Randy Bachman: April 20th
Prospera Place: Sting: May 30th
Vernon: Funtastic---Honeymoon Suite: June 28th Sweet: June 29th Julian Austin Aaron Pritchett: June 30th
Dancin’ Barefoot Music Festival- Peachland : Nick Gilder & Sweeney Todd: July 20th
Peach Festival Penticton: Honeymoon Suite: August 8th
Notes & News: Yes, we have all heard of the possible Led Zep tour of 2014, but 2013 will be a remarkable year for Zep fans: Jimmy Page has finished the re-mastering and re-packaging of the Zep catalogue, complete with never before released material, all coming out in 2013!!
Here is a group worth keeping your eye on: Just straight up Rock n’ Roll!
…if you have a musical story or news and would like me to write something… drop me a line at: [email protected] and let’s celebrate Kelowna’s rich and varied music community together!!.....