Special Report by Greg Prato
Michael Sweet seems to have a very busy next two years ahead of him, as he juggles his solo career, STRYPER, and a yet-to-be-named collaboration with guitarist George Lynch (DOKKEN, LYNCH MOB). And first up on his schedule will be the release of a new solo album, I'm Not Your Suicide, and an autobiography, Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed, both of which will be released on March 6th. Sweet recently spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato and offered updates about his plans for the rest of 2014 and for 2015.
BraveWords: Let's talk about your upcoming projects.
Michael Sweet: "The solo album is an extension of what I do as an artist and songwriter, and an opportunity for me to try different things - and I did on this album. And I hope I can rally all the troops and get the Stryper fans to come around it. So far, so good - it looks like it's going to be a good release day. "
BraveWords: How is I'm Not Your Suicide different?
Michael Sweet: "It is and it isn't. The similarities are obviously the fact that I'm singing and I've got that signature sound that I can't escape, even if I wanted to. The cool thing about it is I tried some different things. A lot of my roots lie in country music, believe it or not. I kind of roll the eyes a little bit when I hear about people doing country. Like, BRET MICHAELS took a stab at it and a couple of other people kind of crossed over - RON KEEL, I think. And I'm one of those people too, that kind of rolls the eyes, thinking, 'Oh boy. What's this going to be like?' But the thing that a lot of people don't know about me is I actually grew up around country music. My dad [PHIL SWEET] was a country writer - he co-wrote a #1 song [in 1976, for JIM ED BROWN and HELEN CORNELIUS], called 'I Don't Want to Have to Marry You,' with FRED IMUS, DON IMUS' brother. I grew up around country music. So, for me to do it, it doesn't really feel foreign. I did a song called 'Coming Home,' and brought in a steel guitar player and went down that road. Definitely more of that Nashville/country feel, musically speaking, and with me singing it. I just did a little 'outside of the box' stuff on this album. And it felt good doing so. That's the great thing about a solo album - you have the freedom to do that."
BraveWords: And let's discuss your book, Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed. Did things come back to you that you hadn't thought about in many years?
Michael Sweet: "Oh yeah, definitely. And to this day, I'm thinking of things that should have been in the book. There's so much that's happened. I tend to focus on one thing at a time. It's very difficult for me, I'm not a multi-tasker, so it's hard for me to think of a hundred different stories. I'll just think of one. But I did my best to just hit all the key points and all the stories that I felt people would want to know and want to hear. A lot of question marks over the years by fans, like, why did Tim not play on To Hell with the Devil and In God We Trust? What happened during Against the Law? We heard the rumors, but what really happened? Why did you leave the band? Why did you remarry so soon? All these things that people have really come at me with serious questions - deep questions - over the years, that I wanted to address. And that's what I did in the book. But at the same time, tell my life story - from the time I was born until now. I talk about being arrested as a kid and a lot of things that people might not expect to hear from Michael Sweet."
BraveWords: I heard there is going to be an upcoming project with George Lynch, too.
Michael Sweet: "It is going to be released on Frontiers. I was really blessed with the opportunity to produce it and to co-write it with George. It's myself, George Lynch, BRIAN TICHY, and JAMES LOMENZO. And that will come out roughly this time next year, maybe a little earlier."
BraveWords: And what is the name of that band?
Michael Sweet: "We don't have a name yet. It's been a real difficult decision for some reason. I can't tell you why. The good thing is we have probably five or six months to do so, so we're all good."
BraveWords: Lastly, what is the current status of Stryper?
Michael Sweet: "The current status is we're very busy. We're prepping for some touring. We've got a live album coming out in October or November on Frontiers. We are starting on a new album next year, I'm already writing for. We'll start recording that in January/February. That will come out next year. And then the Sweet/Lynch album that's coming out - that's being mixed right now. So I'm juggling a lot of different stuff. I'm literally on the phone calling in mix tweaks while I'm going downstairs with a cup of coffee and putting in my in-ears and running through the set with Stryper. They're all here at the house right now. So it's just been a little crazy around here. And the biggest thing for me to overcome is I'm OCD, and I've got to keep cleaning toilets and picking up after people. I want to definitely get in the ring with some guys in the band right now!"