Stryper Gets Back to Their Religious Rock Roots

Christian metal front man Michael Sweet discusses the band's new record.

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Listening to it I felt like I took a time machine back to the ‘80s. From my perspective, you guys nailed it.

I think in a lot of ways we did. I’m very happy with how it turned out. I’m very pleased with how it sounds. It’s consistent and we have a lot more low end punch than the originals. There’s a certain quality, as far as quality level itself, sonically speaking, that’s really stepped up in my opinion. So I can now listen to the old music again. I couldn’t for years listen to the old stuff. It was difficult for me to. I just never liked the quality. Initially when those records came out I thought it was cool but then as time went on it got less and less cool.

What was it like revisiting those older songs as a lyricist?

Oh gosh I think that lyrics especially, more than anything have come a long way. They’re a lot deeper and we touch on some subject matter that we never touched on back in the ‘80s or the ‘90s, so I’m really pleased with where they’ve gone and where they’re going. Not just the lyrics but the music too, really happy with the sound and where we’re at.

How did you guys pick the songs?

It was a matter of budget, it was a matter of scheduling, and it was a matter of time restraints, so there were a lot of songs that we wanted to do that we couldn’t do because we didn’t have time. I’ve been hearing comments from people saying “why didn’t you do any In God We Trust songs or Against the Law songs?” and again it was due to time. We wanted to focus on just the first three albums and we chose what we thought were the crowd favorites in what we’ve played live going on the response that we get. The ones that are on the record right now seem to be the crowd favorites. We left off “Honestly,” which is the most popular Stryper song, we left that off because we had already re-recorded that a number of times and we weren’t able to legally re-record that song. So that’s one that’s not on the record.

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Hitting the studio is a lot different now than it was in the ‘80s. What was the biggest difference in recording then and recording now?

Well back in the day, aside from Yellow and Black Attack which we spent about $7,500 on, it’s primarily a demo, that’s why I’m not pleased with the original quality of that record. On records like Soldier in Command we started spending a lot more money. We spent 50, 60, 70 thousand dollars to make that record. With To Hell with the Devil we spent in the 200 thousand range and with In God We Trust we spent over 600 thousand dollars. So they just kept going up, up, up, up, and what was really crazy about that is when you compare that to now, we made Second Coming… in the 25 thousand dollar range. You’re talking about three albums worth of material, it’s almost a dual disc, we made it for 25 thousand dollars. That’s what technology allows you to do. You can go in and make records for a lot less money nowadays and they hold their own against what you spent two, three, four hundred thousand dollars on.

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