Any metal fan will know the name Stryper, and therefore the name Michael Sweet, and Michael is heading our way as a solo artist in November. With a successful 2018 tour with Stryper, and nonetheless as a three-piece, with the announcement of Oz Fox’s illness just weeks ahead of the tour, Michael is returning. Incidentally, I need to mention, Stryper blew audiences away and did the bands back catalogue and Oz proud, soldiering through without the full line-up. So Michael Sweet is heading back to Australia, thanks to Silverback Touring for these first ever solo shows, with the expectation of hearing the Stryper hits, his solo material, plus a few surprises, and a story or two, in a series of intimate acoustic shows. This will be a unique experience, and a once in a lifetime opportunity, to see one of metal and rocks leading frontmen up close and personal.
How did the notion of this solo acoustic tour come about?
“Well you know I do a lot of acoustic shows in the States and on occasion I’ll go to other countries. I have always wanted to come to Australia and do one, so I can present the songs in their original state, as I write on an acoustic guitar. So it is always very exciting to perform the songs like that and especially in Australia as I have a lot of fans down there.”
I know you are releasing your next solo album, ten, in September, what can fans expect from this album?
“It’s a heavy album with a great follow up to One Sided War, but it goes a step further. On this album there is a different guitar player on each song Gus G, Loomis, Tracey Guns, Mike Kerr, myself and others. The songs are melodic heavy metal and I am excited to get it out.”
When you do a solo album, how differently do you approach the writing for such releases, as opposed to Stryper?
“It’s not really, I just write and whatever comes out, comes out and what I feel good about, I go with it. It is not as if I am purposefully trying to write for whatever, I just start writing. If I come across a song that doesn’t hit me like it should, I will move on for another.”
So how would you describe the format and style of these up and coming shows?
“You are going to get a high energy set and I really dig deep and I have asked on Facebook on what people want to hear. I will play all of those Stryper songs and quite a few solo songs, some Sweet Lynch and some surprises some that people will not expect. Some of the Stryper stuff will be songs that haven’t played in years, or ever. You’ll have to wait and see.”
Can I ask how Oz is going after his health scare last year?
“He has just had an MRI and he has lost some weight and is in a great place right now. But there is a lot uncertainty and we will keep you posted.”
I must also mention, how amazing the shows were last year, even though Oz was noticeably absent, you did such a great service to the material and the Stryper name, how did it feel to be playing with him?
“It was bittersweet, there was some scary thoughts and it was still exciting. You know if I was staying at home or Robert, it is always going to be a scary thing. We are locked as a group and been together our whole lives. It makes it interesting and scary. But at the same time there was a level of excitement, and we used to be a trio, for years when we were Rock Regime with Eric Johnson it took me back to those days.”
So is there a Stryper album in the pipeline? I must say your last three release have been amazing.
“There is. We are going to start writing in November and in January we will learn everything and go into the studio. We should have it our mid next year.”
Throughout your career you have worked obviously in Stryper, on solo projects and also in collaboration with other artists, but is there an artist that you would love to work with in the future that you have already?
“Oh gosh there are so many. I am big fan of Dean Castronovo (Foreigner), obviously Van Halen, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson. There are so many across the board that I respect, who helped to shape who I am as a musician. So any time I have an opportunity to work with someone and I am conformable, I go for it. I am doing a project with Traci Guns and there will be other opportunities and I will take them on when or as they come up.”
Finally, Michael, do you have a message for your fans ahead of the November tour?
“I am always blown away by the level of support that I get from Australia and I don’t take this for granted. Thirty five years on and people are still coming and it is vert humbling and I cant wait to hang out and spend time with people and get to know people because this is the most exciting thing for me.”
These intimate shows with one of the best singers of his generation are not to be missed. These shows will be where memories are made, and experiences not forgotten. Get up close and personal with one of rock’s true legends. For more details on the tour head to silverbacktouring.com.au
Interview by Mark Snedden
Michael Sweet hits Australia’s East Coast via Silverback Touring
Michael Sweet – Solo East Coast Tour
Nov 14 @ Factory Theatre, SYD
Nov 15 @ Woolly Mammoth, Bris
Nov 16 @ Stay Gold, Melb