William Clark of Music Enthusiast Magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Michael Sweet of Christian hard rockers STRYPER. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Music Enthusiast Magazine: The release of your new autobiography, “Honestly: My Life And Stryper Revealed”, was postponed for two years so [that your new solo album] “I’m Not Your Suicide”, could be released simultaneously. Which effort do you feel provides a more personal look inside Michael Sweet?
Michael: Oh gosh, well… “Honestly: My Life And Stryper Revealed” because it was a very therapeutic book for me to write and I needed to write it because there was a lot of stuff that was kind of weighing heavy on me. A lot of fans have asked questions over the years, and I’ve answered them, but I felt this way I could write a book and address everything and take care of all the questions and question marks. That’s what I did, and I tried very hard, my best, actually, to be very honest but at the same time not hurtful. I think sometimes these autobiographies you read, they’re trashing everybody. You’re just kind of scratching your head. I tried not to do that, and yet tell a story about something we did or experienced as a group, but not throw [STRYPER bandmates] Rob [Sweet], Tim [Gaines] and Oz [Fox] under the bus, you know? I gave my all, and I hope people enjoy the book. I hope they enjoy the honesty, because it is brutally honest, and it gives everybody an inside look at my life and what I’ve been through. All the ups and downs, good and bad, that I’ve had over the years.
Music Enthusiast Magazine: In “Honestly”, you touch upon the fact that despite the multiple accolades and achievements you have gathered throughout the years, Michael Sweet is still known by some as the “Bible-tossing-yellow-and-black-bumble-bee guy.” Is it sometimes frustrating being referenced simply because of your public image during the 1980s?
Michael: Yeah, it is. I talk about that during the book, how I feel certain things overshadow the more important things to me as a person. The message and the music, the yellow-and-black overshadow that sometimes. There’s a chapter in the book about my love/hate relationship with the yellow-and-black and why. So yeah, it is kind of a bummer when people can’t look past the makeup, if you will, and they can’t see us for who we are. You know, we’re regular guys. We’re not perfect and we have issues, we’re emotional, we’re happy, we’re sad. We’re in good moods, we’re in bad moods, and all of the above stuff like everybody else. To just be put in a box and known as the bumble-bee big hair guys from the Eighties, it’s certainly limiting who we are and what we are. But, you know, I guess that’s just part of the course and you have to accept it and deal with it, continue on doing what you’re doing, and in the end it all works itself out.
Music Enthusiast Magazine: You also mention during your autobiography that if fans are looking to hear stories about drug abuse and prostitutes, they should “probably read the MÖTLEY CRÜE book instead.” Was it important for you to focus on the reflective and positive stories from your career instead of heavily comprising your autobiography of tales from the darker moments?
Michael: It was, but at the same time it was also equally important for me to be honest and open, and that’s why I do get into some of the things which took place during the “Against The Law” period that caused three marriages to end and mine to almost end. I get into a lot of that stuff in the book. Is it as controversial as MÖTLEY CRÜE? No, but I think half of what we hear about MÖTLEY CRÜE is B.S. anyway, like when you hear stories about Nikki Sixx dying three times and whatnot. It’s, like, how stretched is that? I don’t know, man! [Laughs] Nothing against Nikki Sixx. Half of the stuff I read in these autobiographies I just kind of roll my eyes at, because I just think that a lot of these guys just did so many drugs and drank so much booze that their minds aren’t too clear in terms of remembering the past exactly as it went down. I hope that doesn’t come across as me being a jerk, but I guess the big point I’m trying to make here is my book… These are good or bad, boring or exciting, these are the true stories of my life. I guess that’s what I meant by the statement, you know? You’re probably not going to find in my book what you might find in a MÖTLEY CRÜE book, and that’s a good thing! [Laughs]