Jay Nanda of the San Antonio Metal Music Examiner recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Michael Sweet of Christian hard rockers STRYPER. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
San Antonio Metal Music Examiner: Rob Halford has praised your work on [a cover of JUDAS PRIEST's] "Breaking The Law" [which appears on STRYPER's new covers CD, "The Covering"]. Have you heard from any of the other artists?
Sweet: You know, we haven't. The only thing I've heard — our PR company represents KANSAS ("Carry On Wayward Son") and JUDAS PRIEST and a number of other people we've covered. Chip from Chipster PR said we were getting props from some people, but I haven't personally read anything. I'd like to think Paul Stanley or Gene Simmons heard "Shout it Out Loud" and said something, or Bruce Dickinson heard "The Trooper". It's doubtful, but it'd be pretty cool. We actually performed "Breaking The Law" in 1991 in Canada, and Rob came up and performed with us. We're thinking of putting that footage up on YouTube.
San Antonio Metal Music Examiner: I'm sure the band over the years has been pigeonholed by fans and critics who say, "Well, STRYPER's a Christian band. They must only listen to Christian music. How could they cover BLACK SABBATH or JUDAS PRIEST?" Are you finding that a lot of people are surprised not only by the release of this album but how good it is?
Sweet: You know, interestingly enough, we expected to have a lot of Christian fans turn their backs. We thought they might take it the wrong way, the fact we covered mainstream secular songs, quote/unquote. But the response has been beyond our expectations in a positive way. A reviewer in Nashville summed it up by saying this was the record people wanted to hear and Christian kids are listening to this behind their parents' backs. It's the record they wanted us to make.
San Antonio Metal Music Examiner: The new song "God" has a modern "More Than A Man" feel to it. Is it an indication of where the next album may be headed, and what's the latest update on that?
Sweet: Well, you know, there's no plans for a new album. Just talk, but obviously, we're going to do one. I see that taking place sometime in 2012, but we could start recording at the end of 2011. It's not probable but possible. I've got a couple songs written and am getting into writing mode. I plan on getting into it the next six months and writing a bunch of material, and it will be in the direction of "God". I think that's where we should be going.
San Antonio Metal Music Examiner: Your vocals have always been very stellar, but they seem to be on a whole new level on "The Covering". What's your secret for keeping them in top form?
Sweet: I definitely lost some of my range over the years. My voice is a little lower. I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing. But I get checkups every now and then. So far so good. I'm very fortunate that I've been doing this for so long, since I was 16, and I'm going to be 48 this year. I went to the guy who's worked with Steven Tyler and (Luciano) Pavarotti, and he looked at my vocal cords, and everything checks out, fortunately.
Read the entire interview from San Antonio Metal Music Examiner.