Date: October 26, 2022
Name of podcast: Backstage Pass Radio
Episode title and number: S3: E14: Michael Sweet (Stryper) - The Final Battle
Artist Bio -
Iconic rock outfit Stryper is set to release The Final Battle (Frontiers Music Srl), the band’s fourteenth studio album. Showcasing hard-charging songs filled with crunchy guitar riffs, full-throated vocals and soaring melodies, the album reminds listeners that the seasoned foursome continues to produce divinely inspired music with enduring excellence.
Stryper’s career album sales exceed 10 million worldwide, including 1986’s multiplatinum release To Hell with the Devil. The band also made history when it notched two songs simultaneously in MTV’s Top 10 with videos “Free” and “Honestly.”
Today, close to 40 years after emerging from the southern California nightclub scene, the foursome continues to record, tour and perform for devoted fans around the globe. Comprising three original members including brothers Michael Sweet and Robert Sweet (drums), Oz Fox (guitar) and newest bandmate, veteran bassist Perry Richardson (formerly of Firehouse), the group finds itself continuing to create their finest, most powerful music yet.
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Artist Media Handles:
Website - www.stryper.com
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/stryper
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/stryper
Twitter - https://twitter.com/stryper
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Michael Sweet - The Final Battle
Sun, Oct 23, 2022 11:10AM • 25:09
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Randy Hulsey, Michael Sweet, Adam Gordon
Randy Hulsey 00:00
Today I will be chatting with a past guest of the show that dates back to season two. Hey, you guys, it's Randy Hulsey with backstage pass radio. Today will be a follow up interview with an artist that has sold over 10 million records worldwide and has a brand new record that went on sale yesterday. We're going to chat about stripers latest album called the final battle. And we'll hear all about it from the one and only Michael Sweet when we return.
Adam Gordon 00:26
This is backstage pass radio, the podcast that's designed for the music junkie with a thirst for musical knowledge. Hi, this is Adam Gordon. And I want to thank you all for joining us today. Make sure you like subscribe and turn the alerts on for this and all upcoming podcasts. And now here's your host of backstage pass radio. Randy Halsey.
Randy Hulsey 00:55
Michael, what's going on, buddy? It's good to see you again.
Michael Sweet 00:58
Good to see you too. I am here. Getting ready to hit the road. We're going out to do the kiss cruise. And do some whiskey dates out in LA. And we're building a house. So you know, I'm living in two different worlds. Right? Nice.
Randy Hulsey 01:14
Well, it sounds like you're, you're keeping it going for sure. And that's good to hear. I think it's been almost a year since you are on my show. But it's great to have you back and you got a new record out. And first of all, before we jump into the record, I just wanted to briefly ask you, how's the AI doing, man? I don't see the eyepatch like you had on last time. So is it? Is it healing good for you and no problems? What's going on with it these days?
Michael Sweet 01:41
Is so far so good. And I'm hoping and believing and praying that it stays that way. I had my third surgery three months ago. And my I did not like that third surgery. I'll tell you that right. Now they had to put a lens on the outside of my cornea. And my eyes still saying no. That, Oh, yeah. Very sensitive to touch. And it just got to be real careful. But he did that to keep it away from the retina so it wouldn't detach again. And we're all hoping it doesn't, you know, I'm doing pretty good right now actually. Good. I can kind of see out of it a little bit. And it's not terrible, and it's going to improve.
Randy Hulsey 02:22
Well, I'm glad to hear that it's on the men hopefully. And that makes 100% or close to 100% recovery.
Michael Sweet 02:29
Man, I mean, I can see your I can see your shirt right there that it's a yellow shirt. Right? It's red? No.
Randy Hulsey 02:38
Okay, so the surgery didn't work. Well, so the final battle was released, I think yesterday Correct? On frontiers records. And I don't know if you count these albums out. But I think if my math is right, this might be close to the 18th LP that stripers put out. Does that sound about right to you?
Michael Sweet 03:02
Yeah, that could be right. I thought it might have been a little more than that. But it could be right. But in terms of studio albums, I think it's our 14. Okay, actual studio albums. Okay. You know, just the fact that we're still able to produce and release music that people want to hear and that they seem legitimately excited about is really cool, man. Are you talking about almost 40 years after the fact, we formed in 83. And here we are 2022 We're not going on 40 store and it blows my mind. Every time I think about it.
Randy Hulsey 03:40
Yeah. And the amazing thing is you don't look a day over 45 That's amazing.
Michael Sweet 03:46
Well, you know, hey, I'm starting to feel like my age is catching up with me a little bit. Yeah. And more so based on just like, yeah, we our lives are a blur. You know, we're just go Go, go, go go. We never have time to chill or have facials or hang out in a spa for you know, the day. But yeah, man, I'm pushing 60. And I'll take what I got, you know, I feel like I'm in relatively good shape.
Randy Hulsey 04:14
And isn't that kind of funny how the the head and the heart says I can do all these things that I did 35 years ago, but the old body just says, whoa, whoa, hang on a second. We're not gonna go there.
Michael Sweet 04:26
Totally. It's funny. We really realize it as a band as musicians. When, you know, management says, Hey, can you guys do four in a row, and you'll be traveling to those four shows by minivans? And I say no problem. And then we get out there and by the third show, and we're getting in the van again. That's when I'm going what why did I read it this?
Randy Hulsey 04:54
Yeah, absolutely. You had a record out called even the devil believe Should I think that it was released a couple of years ago back in 2020? Was all the material on the final battle written after that record? Or is this material that you've kind of? you've kind of been compiling over the years even before that record that made it onto this one? Can you speak a little bit about that?
Michael Sweet 05:20
I'll tell you exactly what happened. No, it's not material that I had. Basically what happened was I had my rent. I was down in Florida. We sold our house, we bought an RV travel down to Florida, we were hanging out chillin down there. And my goal was when I got back from Florida to rise out, and that was in November of last year. And my retinas attached while I was down there, so that change plans came home, I had to go for emergency surgery. And when I came out of surgery, I had to lay down on a table for two weeks. In a chair, a special chair and on a table for two weeks, I couldn't raise my head up, it was very important to keep the retina attached. So once I rose up, from that two week period, I went and wrote the album, went into my studio started working on a song a day, and that's what it took. And as I wrote a song, I'd send it to the guys and then do another one, send it to the guys until there were 11 songs. And that was dead. Well, about two weeks after that process, my retinas re detached, I had to lay down two weeks again, and literally to the day when I got off of the table. We were driving to spirit house studios to record the hours.
Randy Hulsey 06:39
That's crazy. And it's crazy that the retina detached multiple times, right if the if once wasn't bad enough, you know, did it again, right?
Michael Sweet 06:47
Yeah, the reason why mine detached multiple times and could it susceptible to detachment, again, is because my I was a worst case scenario. My retina had six tears in it in the wall. So because of all the tears, they didn't have a fresh slate to start from Gotcha. And they had to literally cut away part of my retina and remove part of it. So I've got peripheral blindness in my upper peripheral vision up here, it looks like someone took a Sharpie and drew a black line across the top part of my eye. And I've gotten used to that but you know, that's that's permanent, you know, but yeah, it was just my I was just pretty much as bad as it gets.
Randy Hulsey 07:31
Well, we talked about the last time you were with me, and we won't won't go down a rabbit hole. But we said luckily the I that that detached for a guitarist was actually the best i for the attachment. Right? Because the way you look at the neck of the guitar, Has that improved any Are you still having some issues there? Is that are you playing all feel? Are you actually able to see the fretboard, I
Michael Sweet 07:54
still have issues. It's my right eye and I play right handed. So I have to look at my to my left side. So you're right about that. That's the best case scenario. But I still have issues man. And when I go out and play live every night, it's a struggle for me. In terms of guitar, what happens with me in it's because of my retina being cutaway is when I turned on my right really fast, and then I turned on my left really fast. I see two guitar necks for about two seconds. And everything gets shaken up. Yep. And that really messes with my head on stage. It really I cannot get used to it other than just keep my head in one position and don't move, too. If you come to the striper show, you will notice I'm not moving nearly as much as I used to.
Randy Hulsey 08:46
You know, what's interesting about you saying that is my son in law was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. And some years back, we went out to a baseball field locally and he was hitting some balls off of a tee just getting some swings in. And me and my boys were in the outfield kind of shagging balls, right. And I tell you, when you take a few steps and you run to try to move for the ball, it's like everything gets shaken up just like you said and I don't know if that's an age thing. It's almost like the equilibrium jacks with itself a little bit and it takes that quick second to for the for the focus to reset whereas you know, when we were 1819 25 years old, that was not any kind of an issue because it was like it would just find itself like that but now it's like just what you said even without an eye issue like you like you have right it's that way with me too.
Michael Sweet 09:43
Yeah, for sure. And it's what's happening with me as well. The doctor explained it to me is I've got stitches permanent stitches in my eye holding my lens on because it's on the outside. So with those permanent stitches I Have a astigmatism and what that causes is my vision to be warped in that eye and everything smaller that I so when I try to look through both eyes it's bizarre when I wake up in the morning it takes me about an hour to get used to it wow looking through both eyes amazing and then as I go through the day I'm pretty used to it and it's not so bad by the end of the night I say the least I can actually see pretty good then
Randy Hulsey 10:25
I gotta go to bed again or I'd start all over the next day right wake
Michael Sweet 10:28
up and do it all over again the next day Yeah, it's it seems like such a simple thing I had eye surgery big deal that's that's not a big deal but man I can't believe how something so small can affect everything Yeah,
Randy Hulsey 10:41
well hopefully it'll get back on the men for you you know going back to the the final battle this is a hard rock and 11 Song LP and I wanted to feature quickly a couple of songs off the record the first one is a song called See No Evil Hear No Evil let's take a quick listen to that and we'll come back and chat down that was See No Evil Hear No Evil off the 2022 LP and titled The final battle great song Michael. I found that all the songs on this, this new release are great. I've kind of listened to the whole thing a couple of times since it came out yesterday. What inspired that particular song for you? Was there something that jumped out at you that inspired that particular song?
Michael Sweet 12:19
Well, the first thing was the musical side of the song The riff inspired me I had to Oh wow. Oh man. Oh, wow. You know that riffs. I just thought like, oh, that's kind of a little borderline creepy, and it kind of Swavesey Black Sabbath and I liked and then as I got into the song, I felt like a lyric like See No Evil Hear No Evil would be fitting. And then it turned into almost like poking fun at my situation and asked situation, you know, my eye and his ear. So it turned into a bit of a joke along the way. And I love that song. I love the groove of it. And that was the second single released and everybody seems to like it as well.
Randy Hulsey 12:59
Do you ever feel like it's difficult or daunting to come up with topics for new songs be in that you guys have written so many songs over the years not only with striper but iconic and other projects that you've worked on? Is that a challenge for you these days to sit and listen to an effort and say, well, dang, that sounded like this other one over here.
Michael Sweet 13:24
You know, I don't think about it as a writer, okay. But I go in and write I don't think like, Oh, I gotta make this sound different. Or oh, man, this one can't. That chord sounds a little similar. I just write from the heart. If I'm feeling a song, sometimes there are little similarities, but I'm not thinking about those. Some fans will point them out, you know, but it's not like I sit down and try to cop stuff. I just writing songs is for me, like, and I say this. I don't want to come across egotistical or but it's just a fact. And I want you guys to know that. It's almost like brushing my teeth. You know, it's like, writing songs is just a part of everyday for me, and it comes very easy. It's not a difficult thing for me. And once I start writing a song, within 234 hours, there's a complete song. Yep. And it just flows out. And it's a gift. I think God's given me and I'm very thankful for it, you know? And whether it's iconic stripe or sweetness solo, what have you. I can go in if you say Hey, Michael, I need an album, you know, can you start tomorrow? I go start tomorrow and I turn in an album to you in a couple of weeks. And that's just the way I work and it doesn't it's not a difficult task for me to write songs. You know, it's harder for me to sing songs. Okay, play guitar solos on those sides. I got to think more about that. Right? Writing I don't
Randy Hulsey 14:53
Okay, well, I did have a question about the vocals. But before we do that, I wanted to give the listeners another peek to a song called Rise to the call. We'll come back and chat about that and I'll ask you my question fair enough Great? Another rockin track off the new record. I wanted to ask you first of all, when you're writing the melodies, who comes up with those melodies More times than not? Is it you? Or oz? Or do you? Is there? Is it a balanced scale a justice thing? Or is it predominantly you? Can you speak to that about where the melodies come from you or him?
Michael Sweet 16:31
When you say the melodies, you mean, guitars?
Randy Hulsey 16:34
Well, just like when you're when you're song writing, I guess the melodies kind of a melody has to come to your brain. Right? And then you write around that, maybe, but I didn't know if that was usually you or him?
Michael Sweet 16:46
No, that's me. I read all the notes. Okay. Yeah, gotcha.
Randy Hulsey 16:49
I was going to ask you also, you know, you said something about the voice earlier. And it sounds like you're still hitting all the high notes, man is it has, is that becoming more and more difficult the screams? Or are you still,
Michael Sweet 17:02
it's not, it's still easy for me to do it on a good day, if that makes sense. There are some days I have a real bad post nasal drip, so I'm always clearing my throat, okay. And the morning, it was really bad. I mean, some mornings I wake up, and I can hardly talk. And I gotta clear my throat out. I've had that my whole life. Okay, so that really roll in my vocal ability, day by day. But screaming is easy for me to do. That's not a problem. What is more difficult is when my voice is wore out. So in other words, if we go sing a set for two hours, and then you asked me to scream at an hour after the set, it might be difficult for me to screen, you know, because my voice might be tired. Gotcha. If I get this while it's fresh, that's easy for me to hit those high notes. No problem at all.
Randy Hulsey 17:52
Gotcha. Have you been thinking that you may need a little exercise in your daily routine while having a little fun doing it? I may have the solution. Hey, it's Randy Hulsey, here with backstage pass radio. And about six months ago, I purchased an electric bike from eco trick. And just thought about using it as a way to kind of get the blood flow a few days a week. And to my surprise, I find myself on the bike just about every day. Not only am I getting a little exercise each day, but I'm also having a fun time seeing the neighborhood, and maybe some areas that I probably would never have seen before I got the bike. Today, my family owns four of these eco trick bikes, and we're looking to add a few more soon. Make sure to check out the link in the description below for more details. And I wanted to ask about the name of the record the final battle. You guys are not implying anything here about the future of the band with a title. Aria? Can you speak to the listeners a little bit about the title, maybe where it came from? Or is there something being implied there?
Michael Sweet 19:01
Initially, no, initially, it was just simply about the battle of Armageddon, out of the book of Revelation. So talking about God's return and fighting the devil and casting the devil away the battle of Armageddon. If you read about that, it's pretty frightening when you read about it, but that's what the imagery was portraying. And then the more I thought about it, the more I thought, like, you know what, this could be our final hour. That's not a tease. That's not me saying that to get people to, you know, say what, you know, it's true. I mean, we're getting older. You know, we do have some health issues. We don't know what tomorrow brings tomorrow is never promised for any one of us. But you know, as we age and get older as a band, we don't know. We don't know if there will be another album at this stage. And we hope there will be and we will certainly try to make that so, but we'll have to take that day by day. Absolutely. Yeah.
Randy Hulsey 20:00
It's one step at a time. Right? Exactly. Well, nice work on the record. As always, I have a copy of the yellow vinyl, that'll be in soon. So I'm looking forward to adding that one to the collection. I think you see maybe over my shoulder there the have the sign Michael Sweet record there that I was listening to on vinyl this morning. So
Michael Sweet 20:21
looking forward to that.
Randy Hulsey 20:23
You had mentioned that you guys have the kiss cruise coming up at the end of October, then there's a couple of dates at the Whisky, early November. Anything else you'd like to share regarding striper? Or other projects that you might be working on? Or is this kind of I don't know if it's a tour or not. But you guys are looked pretty busy through the end of the year, I guess out supporting the final battle, right? Well, yeah,
Michael Sweet 20:47
I mean, yes, and no, you know, we're very busy to the end of the year, but not exclusively on touring. As far as touring goes, we've got the kiss cruise we leave for next week. And we're doing the we're doing the second week of the kiss cruise. And we'll be gone for I think four or five days for that. And then when we come back, we do two shows at the Whisky on November 4 and November 5, November 4, with the sold out November shift is selling fast. That's why we added that show. So we're super excited about that. And then we come home. I do a local Christmas show in November, day after Thanksgiving at the spire center in Plymouth mass. And then we head out to in December to Mexico. And we're doing two festivals in Mexico. And we're really excited about that, because we're playing with some big bands. Yeah, we're playing with Megadeth and kiss and priest, and it's gonna be really, really great. And then by that point time, I'll come home and start working on my next album with Alessandra. And that is going to be New Year's, New Year's Eve. And 2022 will be gone. And I'll start planning out 2023 and 2023. Already, if you look at our calendar, it's like filled in. It's insane. Yeah, that's great. We got a lot going on. And there's there's no time to breathe for the next few years at least.
Randy Hulsey 22:18
Well be careful what you wish for. Right? They could be the opposite end of the spectrum where you have nothing on the calendar for 2023. So I'd rather be too busy than not busy at all. And I'm sure you'd agree.
Michael Sweet 22:30
Oh, yeah, we've been there. I mean, during the pandemic, like every other band, we were there, we weren't doing anything. But we did find ways to rise above and go into the studio and do live recordings and, and all this stuff. So striper always figures it out and figures out a way around any obstacle that we're faced with. And we're really blessed in that way. We're super excited about the future, man. There's a lot in store.
Randy Hulsey 22:54
That's great to hear. And I want to thank you for taking the time to chat today on quick notice. I literally just reached out yesterday to you. And you responded right away had the whole suite team involved. So a special thanks to John, Shelley, and Lisa, for kind of helping facilitate the quick turnaround there. And
Michael Sweet 23:19
allergy you can reach out to people and you can make things happen instantaneously. It's really cool.
Randy Hulsey 23:24
That's awesome. And it's great chatting with you, brother. Thank you so much. It's good seeing your face again. I hope the AI continues to get well. And if a new album comes out a year or so from now, I'll be calling you back. We'll talk about that one then.
Michael Sweet 23:37
Yes, sir. Man, look at thanks for reaching out and for all the support and all that you do and I hope to see you in person soon. Okay,
Randy Hulsey 23:45
absolutely. I asked the listeners to follow Michael on social media and also get out to Michael sweet.com and striper.com and purchase the new record in the merch. They're also like, share and subscribe to the podcast. And I reiterate that word Share, share, share, share, that's the most important thing you can do to help the show. As always, you can find the show on Facebook at backstage pass radio podcast on Instagram at backstage pass radio, Twitter at backstage pass PC and on the website at backstage pass. radio.com You guys make sure to take care of yourselves and each other and continue to support your local musicians. And I'll see you guys right back here on the next episode of backstage pass radio.
Adam Gordon 24:33
Thanks so much for joining us. We hope you enjoyed today's episode of backstage pass radio. Make sure to follow Randy on Facebook and Instagram at Randy Halsey music and on Twitter at our Halsey music. Also make sure to like subscribe and turn on alerts for upcoming podcasts. If you enjoyed the podcast, make sure to share the link with a friend and tell them backstage pass radio is the best show on the web for everything Music. I will see you next time right here on backstage pass radio