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Ghost Canyon

Stryper Stryper

‘Yellow & Black Attack: The Stryper Story’

Christian rockers Stryper are offering fans a head-banging view of who their influences were early on, with the arrival of an almost entire album’s worth of cover songs titled The Covering.

Released early this year via Big3 Records (Sony), the album includes twelve rocking covers, as well as the all-new original tune, 'God.'

And most significantly, the album marks the return of original bassist Tim Gaines back into the Stryper fold, setting up the first Stryper release in years to feature the definitive line-up of Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass) and Robert Sweet (drums).

Exclusive Magazine recently sat down with Michael Sweet and discussed their time spent as Roxx Regime, C.C. DeVille, the nerw album, and of course, ... Penguins!

How did a band once-named Roxx Regime make it all the way to today, some near 30 years later, to become the world's biggest Christian metal band? Any speed bumps along the way, perhaps? "I know that we gave everything to God and laid it all at His feet. Once we did, doors began to open everywhere we went and miracles seemed to take place on a daily basis. We had many bumps along the way but by the grace of God, we're here to talk about it:-)"

Knowing that the band name Stryper derives from the King James Version of the Bible, back at the time Roxx Regime was undergoing its transformation, what other band names were you toying with? "I don't recall any names on the infamous list prior to Stryper but we were called "Roxx", "Firestorm" and "Aftermath" before Stryper."

Is it true that in one incarnation of Roxx Regime/Stryper that Poison's C.C. DeVille was actually playing guitar?! "It is true. C.C. almost joined the band. He wasn't too fond of the yellow and black and that seemed to be the reason why he chose not to join the band. We we're also talking to Doug Aldrich (Dio, Whitesnake) at the time about joining the band. Doug and I we're great friends at the time and he's truly an amazing player. I guess it wasn't meant to be."

Your new album, 'The Covering' sure tells it like it is, but what other possible titles were also being considered at the time? "We we're considering Covered but The Covering won out."

Please tell us about the new album art work - what does it symbolize? "It symbolizes a falling away from God or loosing faith so to speak, which can happen to anyone of us. Amazingly enough, God's covering protects us from that when we're walking in faith and that's why The Covering is so perfect. God's love can transform anyone at anytime, regardless of your past or what you've done in it."

The set list on this new album is incredible, but at the same time very commercial, less Christian than normal (Sweet, Kiss, Van Halen, etc.) - do you worry that die hard Stryper fans will look at it with a wry raised eyebrow, perhaps? "Some have, but once we explain why we chose to do it, they seem to understand. We've never been a band follow the norm. We've always gone down our own path and in doing so, been controversial from time to time. Why change?"

Culling together musical influences to you early on in your career, it also includes an all-new original tune, 'God.' Why decide to add that one new track into the mix of covers? "I wanted to show people who might question our faith that we're more serious about our faith now then we've ever been before. The song 'God' exemplifies that and is probably one of our boldest songs to date."

This new album also sees the return of original bassist Tim Gaines, which now means the definitive line-up of Michael Sweet, Oz Fox, Robert Sweet and Gaines are back, baby! Why was the time right for Gaines to come back to the musical fold, and what was the recording process like with him back in the room? "We were all in agreement that it was the right time. Nothing should ever be forced and we always said that when the time was right according to God's plan, we would step out again and reunite. That time is now."

Being that all the band members are pushing 50 these days, and that you are about to embark on a world tour, what new limitations have you all placed on yourselves whilst on the road? "None really. We just don't like to travel as long or be away from home as long as we used to. We have to work harder at taking care of ourselves to sustain our stamina and strength and other then that, we're going strong."

And, as we're not called Exclusive Magazine for nothing, what is your newest tattoo and where is it located?! "I'm one of the few guys in rock and roll to not have any tattoo's. I feel like an original since almost everyone else does:-)"

Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love penguins ... do you, perhaps? "I LOVE penguins. Always have, always will!"

Interview: Russell A. Trunk

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