Home > Music > Issue #584.5 STRYPER Interview

Issue #584.5 STRYPER Interview

Mini-Issue #584.5
March 18, 2011

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Patrick Brower, Editor

Sean P. Gahgan, Editor

Tim Wadzinski, Owner

Steve Shumake, Co-owner

-Here we go with my interview with Stryper’s Michael Sweet, plus a couple festival updates and a trio of other press releases. – Tim

*** PRESS RELEASE #1 ***
-Lion Music: Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Benefit Album In The Works


Millions have been affected by the tsunami following the massive earthquake off the coast of Japan. All at Lion Music have been deeply saddened by the terrible recent and ongoing events to have hit the country.


Instead of sitting watching events unfold and doing nothing we are in the process of putting together a benefit album from which all artist royalties and the label profits shall be donated to the Red Cross benefit for the victims of the March 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.


If you’d like to make a donation to the Japanese Red Cross Emergency Relief NOW visit http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/relief/l4/Vcms4_00002070.html .

Alternatively search online for Red Cross and your country name, from there you should be able to find out how to make a donation in your country’s arm of the charity for the Japan earthquake and tsunami appeal.


Full details of the benefit album (artists/tracks) are currently being worked on and will appear here very soon.

Pre-orders will also be taken shortly so please keep checking http://www.lionmusic.com/tsunami.html .

*** PRESS RELEASE #2 ***
-Wacken Open Air Update

Japan: Our Thoughts Are With You!!

We’re all deeply shocked hearing of the horrible tragedy in Japan. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all our Japanese friends, guests, and everyone in the country. We wish you all the strength it needs to get through these hard times.

The Wacken Open Air festival works together with partners from the Asia countries.

W:O:A Metal Battle – Germany’s Ready To Rock

German Metal Battle ruling in Bad Grund. At the 30th of April the German Metal Battle ruling will takes place in Bad Grund (Harz) in the course of the Walpurgisrock Festival.

The following five bands were chosen by an competent jury to compete on stage and give their best to win the battle:



Dust Bolt

Entomb the Machine

Trinity Site

The winner of the German Metal Battle then will attend the international Metal Battle at Wacken Open Air Festival. In Wacken there will be all in all 29 bands from different Nations worldwide to compete against each other. Besides glory and fame the attendees here await great prizes.

For more information about the Walpurgisrock Festival have a look at:

But also in preparation of next year’s edition we can mention some news. Next year Russia will attend the W:O:A Metal Battle!

More information about W:O:A Metal Battle you’ll find here:

Metal Train – On Full Speed

As we announced already there’ll be some great surprises this year. Here the first is:

On the last part of the outward journey to W:O:A there’ll be an express steam engine to take us from Hamburg to Itzehoe. This engine drove through the distance Hamburg-Westerland until the beginnings of the 70th.

With this journey a long year dream of Metal Train e.V. come true.

Band Confirmation Of Last Weeks

In the last few weeks we again could confirm new bands for W:O:A billing 2011. Beside others there will be Deadlock, Onkel Tom, and Rabenschrey in Wacken.

With actually 85 bands the Wacken Open Air Festival will step up to summer with an amazing billing!

W:O:A New Bands


Info to all of the bands you can find at Wacken.com in the band section:

More news about W:O:A and more you will find on the W:O:A Homepage:

And now we still wish you some peaceful and restful days:

Your W:O:A Team

*** PRESS RELEASE #3 ***
-Sweden Rock Update

Sweden Rock Festival
June 8-11, Solvesborg

Last Band Out: The Hooters To Sweden Rock!

Bursting onto the Philadelphia music scene in 1980 and then released the independent album AMORE in 1983 that sold over 100,000 copies, The Hooters quickly became a huge success along their native East Coast with their blend of powerful arena rock, reggae and ska.

The Hooters two main men, Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian, wrote and played on Cyndi Lauper’s debut album SHE’S SO UNUSUAL and that became an eye-opener for the music business and these two extraordinary song writers signed a deal with Columbia Records for their own band and in 1985 they released their “real” debut album ANOTHER NERVOUS NIGHT that contained unforgettable hits like “Day By Day,” “And We Danced,” “Where Do The Children Go,” and “All You Zombies,” and their big breakthrough around the world was a fact. The band followed up the big success with the 1987 album ONE WAY HOME that yet again delivered several hit singles like “Johnny B,” “Karla With A K,” and “Satellite,” and then in 1989 the album ZIG ZAG saw the light of day with songs like “Brother Don’t You Walk Away” and “500 Miles.” Like their two previous albums, this was another big success — not at least in Sweden!

Not much was then happening with the band during the 1990s even if the band released the album OUT OF BODY in 1993 and Hyman/Bazilian was making their fame as song writers for artist like Taj Mahal, Mick Jagger, Willie Nelson, Jon Bon Jovi, and Joan Osborne to name a few.

In 2001 The Hooters, after “a much needed break,” reunited and during several years the band toured intensively over the world and in 2007 the band released TIME STAND STILL, their first studio album in 14 years.

The band actually played the Karlshamn Rock Festival back in 1993 and now, 18 years later, it’s once again time for the Swedish rock audience to get a share of this fantastic band and we can guarantee a real party on stage, lots of energy and, we can only guess, some sing-alongs!

Nifelheim To Sweden Rock!

That Sweden is one the most important countries when it comes to black metal should be well known for most heavy metal connoisseurs — but if you’ve missed out on this fact Nifelheim, formed in the small town of Dals Långed in 1990, are as good as evidence as it can get. The band’s original take on the genre gets its inspiration both from classic heavy metal as well as from old school black metal acts such as Bathory, Tormentor, and Master’s Hammer. They’ve released four albums, with ENVOY OF LUCIFER from 2007 being the latest. Nifelheim visited us in 2004 and have since been one of the most requested re-runs of their genre. With an odd, original sense of melody, uncomprising, raw vocals and unusually catchy songs considering their style their gig well most definitely be a highlight at this years festival for any fan of black metal.

Read more under Bands 2011

4-day tickets sold out! – Get your 3-day ticket now!


Wednesday June 8
Hardcore Superstar – Five Horse Johnson – Rhino Bucket – Crashdïet – Seventribe

Thursday June 9
Judas Priest – The Cult – Saxon – Joan Jett – Queensrÿche – Morbid Angel – Buckcherry – Clutch – FM – Moonspell – The Damned – Dan Reed – Groundhogs

Friday June 10
Whitesnake – Rob Zombie – Helloween – Mr. Big – Down – Iced Earth – Overkill – Jason & The Scorchers – The Brew

Saturday June 11
Ozzy Osbourne – Black Label Society – Thin Lizzy – Styx – Kansas – The Hooters – Molly Hatchet – Hawkwind – Spock’s Beard – Lee Aaron – Walter Trout – Electric Wizard – Rage (acoustic)

Confirmed bands so far out of a total of around 70:

Ozzy Osbourne
Judas Priest – last show ever in Sweden
Whitesnake – with very special guests
Rob Zombie
The Cult
Black Label Society
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Thin Lizzy
Morbid Angel
The Hooters
Mr. Big
Rhapsody Of Fire
Iced Earth
Hardcore Superstar
Duff McKagan’s Loaded
Molly Hatchet
Spock’s Beard
The Haunted
The Damned
Lee Aaron
Angel Witch
Jason & The Scorchers
Five Horse Johnson
Doc Holliday
Black Veil Brides
Electric Wizard
Agent Steel
Dan Reed Band
Walter Trout
Mason Ruffner
The Brew
Fläsket Brinner
Rage (acoustic)

The tickets to Sweden Rock Festival 2011 are now released and you buy them directly online at our homepage.

More information at:

*** PRESS RELEASE #4 ***
-Havok: In-Studio (Part II) Video Premiere Via Metal Injection

In anticipation of the release of their upcoming new full-length, TIME IS UP, Denver thrashers Havok have unveiled part II of their in-studio video footage. Brought to you by Metal Injection, the video takes you behind the scenes of the recording process with commentary from the members. Check it out here:


The follow-up to Havok’s fiery BURN debut, TIME IS UP has been reaping praise from critics nationwide. Featuring 10 tracks of meticulously crafted thrash metal anthems that transcend far beyond any run-of-the-mill rehash projects, the record will be released in North America on March 29 via Candlelight Records. For pre-order details visit Candlelight USA:


Havok, who recently wrapped up a tour supporting Florida death metallers Malevolent Creation, will be making an appearance at SXSW this weekend with additional dates to follow.

Havok Tour Dates:
3/18/2011 Headhunters – Austin, TX
3/20/2011 Dirty Dog Bar – Austin, TX
3/26/2011 Mo’s – Englewood, CO (Record Release Show)
4/02/2011 Aggie Theater – Fort Collins, CO

“This is easily the best thrash record of any type released since Toxic Holocaust dropped AN OVERDOSE OF DEATH on us in 2008.” — Popdose

“…TIME IS UP will turn out to be one of the thrash releases of the year. A furiously energetic effort, presenting thrash metal exactly the way it should be. Get this album when it comes out and mosh to some Havok!” — Metal Assault

“…a killer sophomore effort by four dudes who do justice to their musical forefathers. Cliff Burton would smile on this release…” — Rock Hospital

“Havok’s purest intention is to thrash your face into a circle-pitted-pulp, and more often than not they’re wildly successful.” — Metal Review

“Thrash metal fans should definitely appreciate the fact that the songs are tight as hell, and that these punishing riffs and pile driving rhythms are about as subtle as a punch to the face.” — Sea Of Tranquility

“…a solid example of modern thrash.” — About.com

“The album cranks open with a vicious fusillade of riffs blazing away under the fitting title ‘Prepare For Attack.’ Leaving no room for subtlety, the album starts to boil around ‘No Amnesty’ and reaches its plateau once the slow paced ‘Killing Tendencies’ launches. A pile driving thrash barrage of a title track finishes the whole ride on a Slayer note as the album waves farewell in characteristic thrash fashion, abrupt and unapologetic. Consider this recommended.” — Danger Dog


*** PRESS RELEASE #5 ***
-Aerial Ruin Sign With Vendlus Records; East Coast Dates With Agalloch This Week

Vendlus Records is proud to announce the confirmed release of Portland, Oregon-based Aerial Ruin’s upcoming full-length album VALLEYS OF THE EARTH, set for official release on April 26, 2011.

Aerial Ruin is the solo project of Erik Moggridge, formerly of Bay Area rockers Old Grandad, Drift Of A Curse, Epidemic, and other heavy West Coast acts within the metal and rock spectrums, though the mesmerizing output of Aerial Ruin is vastly different than his previous acts. Here, Moggridge focuses on beautiful, minimalist, organic passages in a very stripped-down singer/songwriter approach. Crisp acoustic guitars and harrowing layers of clean vocals combine in an engulfing culmination of simplistic, atmospheric bliss.

In support of the album’s coming release, Aerial Ruin will be joining Agalloch and Worm Ouroboros on a trio of East Coast tour dates, hitting Raleigh, Baltimore, and New York City this week.

Aerial Ruin East Coast Dates:
3/20/2011 King’s Barcade – Raleigh, NC w/ Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros
3/21/2011 Sonar – Baltimore, MD w/ Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros, Vindensang
3/22/2011 Le Poisson Rouge – New York, NY w/ Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros

Full album details for VALLEYS OF THE EARTH will be available shortly. Stay tuned for further updates on the album and more Aerial Ruin live appearance to be announced shortly.


by Tim Wadzinski (tsw512@yahoo.com)

-Interview w/ Michael Sweet (Stryper)
March 12, 2011

Christian metallers Stryper are currently on the road supporting their excellent new release THE COVERING (Big3 Records). The album features a dozen covers of classic hard rock and metal songs, plus one new original tune, and marks the first studio material recorded with original bassist Tim Gaines since two new songs were added to 2003’s 7 – THE BEST OF STRYPER. I recently spoke with main man Michael Sweet about the new album and the current tour.

DETRITUS: You have a day off from the tour?

MICHAEL SWEET: Yes, we are in New Mexico and we’re heading to Lubbock, Texas.

D: How has the tour been going so far?

MS: It’s been going pretty good, you know? Great crowds. The shows have done fairly well. We all got sick out of the box, in rehearsal. So we’ve had a few rough shows here and there, but I mean it’s been good, really good.

D: Are you touring with anyone, or playing with local bands?

MS: All local. All the promoters are booking local acts to open. We just kinda roll in. Last night in Vegas we didn’t even have an opener — it was just Stryper.

D: Did you get to play a longer set, or did you play your normal show?

MS: We did the typical show. We do about an hour and 45 minute set, so it’s a pretty lengthy set, you know? I don’t think anybody goes away feeling cheated.

D: The new album THE COVERING has been out for about a month. I did my review, and the others I’ve seen are universally positive. Is that what you’re picking up on, too?

MS: Yeah, so far all the reviews have been favorable. Pretty well across the board. The buzz on the record has been completely far better than expected, without question. Everybody seems to like it. We’re getting positive comments about the songs, the performances, the production — which is really a great thing to hear — and everyone seems to really like the sound of the record.

D: I admit I was surprised to see you guys come out with an album of covers of secular bands’ songs. I thought it was a cool idea and the track list was good, but most of all I was really happily surprised by “God,” the new original song. It totally rocks and I wonder if it was written expressly for this album, or if it was an old leftover you decided to throw in?

MS: It was written specifically for this album. I just thought it would be a great idea, too. I knew we would get some flak, and I knew people would be questioning our faith because we’re doing covers. I thought it would be fitting and great to close the record with a song that told people and showed people that we’re still serious about our faith. We haven’t walked away from that whatsoever, just because we’re doing some covers. The reason we did the record was just to show people where we come from, and to have fun. You know, you gotta have fun and you gotta loosen up. You can’t have your shirt buttoned up to your collar and be stiff-necked and so serious 100% of the time. You gotta loosen up and have a good time. That’s what we wanted to do on this record. And again, because of many requests over the years we wanted to show people where we come from, musically. So that’s why we did it — it’s a fun record. I tell ya man, we wouldn’t go back and change a thing. We had a blast making it.

D: What was the selection process? Did everyone throw their picks in a hat and you chose the most popular ones?

MS: Somewhat. A list was made and we just kinda went from there. A few changes were made to it but for the most part it was… We were all influenced pretty much by the same bands. So it was really a no-brainer; it was very easy coming up with the song choices, and which bands we were gonna do by which bands. It wasn’t a difficult process at all.

D: Back in the old days Judas Priest would list which guitarist played which solos. You play lead along with Oz [Fox], right?

MS: I do, yeah. We switch up; we do a lot of harmony solos and we switch back and forth on a lot of stuff. To give you an example, on the song “Lights Out” [by UFO] I do the first half and Oz does the second half. We do a lot of that kind of stuff, and then we’ll end the solo in harmony. We’ve been doing that from the very beginning. I mean, pretty much most of the solos have been that way.

D: Okay, I had an inkling that was your style but I wasn’t sure. The reason I asked is with doing these covers, especially stuff that influenced you years ago, there have to be some personal favorites. I wonder if there was any negotiation going on to keep everyone happy — “I’ll give you that solo but I have to do this one!”

MS: (laughs) I think we just kind of go in and do it. We’d say “Hey I’ll take this one” or “Hey I’ll take that one.” There’s no brawling or anything that comes with it. (laughs) It works itself out.

D: I thought Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son” was a great choice, showing off the vocal harmonies you’ve been noted for, and the more aggressive stuff like Ozzy’s “Over The Mountain” really rocks. But I keep coming back to the original song, “God.” I think it’s the best song on the record.

MS: Yeah, I think that one holds its own. I think it’s certainly as good. A lot of times when a band does a compilation album or a cover album and they include a new original, it’s not up to snuff with the other songs on the record unfortunately. Because a lot of times it’s a B-side or it’s thrown together, and it’s just kind of okay. I think “God” holds its own against all the other tracks on the album. It’s every bit as good as anything on the record. So that’s pretty cool.

D: Exactly, and with a title like “God” it better be good! You hit on it — you mentioned how bands sometimes throw filler onto compilations, and I thought this might be another such case, until I heard it.

MS: It was written really quickly, in about a day. It was just kind of last minute when the idea came; I thought “Hey it’d be cool to have a new song.” The melody came to me in bed — that [hums melody], you know? And it just went from there, threw it together. Penned the words the next day, in the kitchen on the island while I was having my coffee. It really came together quickly. It was a real blessing.

D: Were there any covers that were particularly hard to nail? Any that were a breeze?

MS: There were some songs we thought about doing that we chose not to do because we didn’t feel it would be appropriate. But the entire record, lyrically and musically, is totally completely appropriate for what do. We’re really pleased with the song selection, and we’re also really pleased with the flow. You listen from the beginning, of [Sweet’s] “Set Me Free,” to the end, the last song, “God.” It really has a vision, you know? The sequence is great; it really flows well.

D: It does come off like a true album, not just a collection of stuff that was thrown together.

MS: Absolutely. There was talk of maybe a COVERING 2 down the road. Who knows? We’re definitely going to do another original album. And maybe a COVERING 2, or maybe a re-record of some of the old songs we’ve been toying with. We just don’t know. But I do know this: there’s definitely going to be more. A lot more. We plan on continuing on, doing what we do.

D: A lot of bands that came to fame in the ’70s and ’80s are celebrating anniversaries now, or re-recording their old stuff, or going out and playing a particular album in its entirety. How did all this come together for you? First Tim came back to the band, and then the decision was made to “reintroduce” the original lineup with a covers album instead of an album of new stuff. Can you touch on that?

MS: We’ve been playing covers for years, since way, way back in the day. And then we added a cover back in 1990 or 1991, [Van Halen’s] “On Fire,” and then we added a cover of [Judas Priest’s] “Breaking The Law” this last tour. The response was so good, people wanted to hear more. That’s when we really started getting a lot of questions like, “Hey, why don’t you guys do a covers album? Who are the bands that influenced you?” A lot of questions like that. We just made the decision to do it. We thought this was a great time to do it, and it was a good opportunity. That’s what we chose to do. We went to the label, the label agreed, and that was it man — we were in the studio shortly after that.

D: And everything just clicked like the old days, with Tim back? Or was there any period…

MS: No, that was another thing. This is the first complete album that we’ve done with Tim since [1990’s] AGAINST THE LAW. It was really incredible. There’s a certain magic or chemistry that takes place with the original members, I think with any band but especially with this band. To have the opportunity to make a record with the original lineup was really special. I think that comes across in the sound in the tracks. You can hear and tell that we were having fun. That comes across in the energy level of the record itself.

D: Can you touch briefly on how Tim found his way back to the band?

MS: We did a tour with him back in ’09. And it went so well that we decided… Well, we did a tour with him in ’03, then we toured with Tracy Ferrie in ’05. Then we were gonna tour with both in ’09 and Tracy decided he wasn’t gonna do the tour due to family constraints and issues at home. So Tim did it and it went so well, you know? We just decided, “Look, let’s just finally do this. Let’s just make this official and permanent.” That’s how it happened, it naturally transitioned by itself. It wasn’t forced or pushed or planned out; it just took shape.

D: I’m glad. It’s always good to hear when a warhorse band from the old days can get back together.

MS: Yeah, it’s really cool. We’re one of the few bands — one of the only bands — that has the original lineup. When I think about that period, bands that still have the original lineup, there really aren’t any. It’s hard to think of any, you know? Only a few. I know Cinderella’s one… Not very many. So it’s definitely a very unique, special situation.

D: You mentioned AGAINST THE LAW a minute ago… You said with regards to THE COVERING that you felt the songs were lyrically in line and appropriate. I think you took some flak when AGAINST THE LAW came out, because of its changes in image and direction. Was it a conscious decision to avoid controversy when you picked songs for THE COVERING?

MS: No. We don’t try to avoid controversy, yet at the same time we don’t try to purposely set out to create controversy. We just do what we do. What our calling is, we’ve moved forward with that. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how you look at it — many times it creates controversy. It gets people talking and shocks people. It kind of shakes people and wakes them up and makes them say, “Whoa! A Christian band doing a covers album of Black Sabbath songs and Ozzy Osbourne songs? What the heck?” We don’t do that on purpose. We just do what we feel led to do. And if it creates controversy, so be it. I think it’s a good thing to kind of break down walls and step out and do things that are different, things that a lot of people would not typically do. Most people might play it safe; we don’t like to play it safe. We like to go out there and do things in a different way, and go out into the fire, you know? We’re out there on the front lines man. We’ve been doing that from day one. That’s just the way we are. That’s the way the band is.

D: Thanks. I wish you all the success in the world with this album and tour, and I’m definitely looking forward to whatever comes next.

MS: Well, thank you brother. I really appreciate it man.

Relevant links:

Big3 Records


Michael Sweet

*** OUT ***

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