Ps 33:3 Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.
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12/23/99 I had the pleasure of talking to Michael Sweet on Monday the 20th of December, 1999. It was really an honor to do an interview with him. I will add pictures and more to this page in the future, but wanted to get this posted for the loyal fans of Michael and NewSong Online. This interview is also the featured January 2000 Christian Music article at suite101.com. You may click the Michael Sweet-NSO icon above to hear the interview in Real Audio. Dano
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MIDI is from the CCM MIDI MeGa SiTe. Just left click on MIDI title to play a selection...To save MIDI to your computer, right click on MIDI title. A menu will pop up. Select SAVE LINK AS (in Netscape) or SAVE TARGET (in MSIE).
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Dano: Michael…How you doing?
Michael: Great…So what’s going on?
Dano: Well…Gotta get a little info from you, cause your fans need it, you know?
Dano: you got a Stryper Expo coming up and everything…
Dano: Umm…Where we wanna start? Well…Lemme ask you something…Are you and your family all ready for Christmas? Got all your shopping done?
Michael: Well, we did things a little different this year, instead of… a couple years back and last year it seem to get a little crazy with a lot of little gifts, you know?
Michael: So this year we decided to try our hardest to go back to the true meaning of Christmas, which isn't about the quantities of gifts and tons of gifts under tree, so we just went back to the old one or two nice gifts and something that we could all use that will last, and that's what we did so it was real easy and basic. So we're pretty much done with our shopping. Yeah…
Dano: That's pretty cool.
Michael: How about yourself?
Dano: Well…Pretty much…I suppose to be getting a bonus check here to finish it up. It Seems like we always end up doing the last minute thing.
Dano: I hate doing the last minute thing.
Michael: I know… Especially with the crowds this year. We went to the mall the other night, Sunday night, last night actually. And it was just crazy, you couldn't even find a place to park at all, you know?
Michael: But it gets worse every year
Michael: It seems too.
Dano: Yeah, It's so commercialized
Michael: I know
Dano: It's just crazy
Michael: I know
Dano: I was talking to a friend of mine, they went out Christmas Caroling, and somebody called the cops on them
Michael: Oh really?
Dano: (laughs) Yeah
Michael: Oh boy…
Dano: I ain’t never heard of that before. He’s somewhere in Virginia or something, and he was telling me that he had his keyboard strapped around him and they had the guitar and Their out Christmas Caroling in sort of a high class area and somebody called the cops on them
Dano: It just ain’t what it use to be
Michael: No…not at all. I know… it's not at all what it use to be. But you know, we can only keep trying to make it like it use to be, you know? And make it like it should be. Umm..so…It’s just every year you just see more and more stuff that's offered and the pushes for shopping and buying and Christmas looses it's true meaning so fast.
Dano: Hmmm…Yeah…That’s so true. Well…What’s the Lord been doing your life lately Mike?
Michael: Well, I've been just kind of doing different things. We made a move to Massachusetts a little over four years ago and ever since the move my life took some turns, good turns, but took some turns definitely in comparison to where it was at ten, fifteen years ago just doing the music thing 100 percent of the time. Been at a family business called Maple Park, it's a campground slash cranberry business and just been working there and helping out there on and off and then on the side still doing music. Was able to be put together a record called TRUTH, a record that I didn't think would ever happen, and I got a phone call from a guy by the name of Kenny Louis, who just felt led to call me, and offer his services to do the record.
Michael: He has a digital studio, he's a drummer, he called me and he's a believer, and he said “I just feel led, like God told me to call you and offer my services to you for nothing”. And I went up to his studio and we started recording TRUTH, recorded that. Spent a little over four months recording it, and then put it out.
Dano: Wow…that is so cool. Well, is the final release been… you know, Has Restless given out an official release date for it?
Michael: Well what happened with that is whole other story in itself, (laughs) there’s so much going on.
Dano: There's one version out there, Cause I hear “Blue Bleeds Through” on ChristianRock.net
Michael: That is the one that I put out. you know, That's the original version of TRUTH, it's a ten song CD, that I put out about a year and half ago, almost a year and half ago. I've been selling it to a few chains in bulk order, mail order companies, and then online over the web site.
Dano: Yeah...I seen that there.
Michael: And from doing that and people hearing it, and thank God it turned out to be you know, I feel the best record I've been able to do as a solo artist. I really think that God anointed the record and gave me the songs and ya know made it happen. And because of that, a lot of people heard it and liked what they heard and it got some really good reviews over seas and here in the states. And it created a little bit of a buzz, you know
Dano: Uh huh.
Michael: So…I got some interest from a couple companies, and one of those companies was Restless Records. And I wound up flying out and meeting with the people and hanging out with them and just felt that's where I was suppose to be and they felt that was where I suppose to be as well. So…signed a recording contract with them and went into the studio right away and started to re- record TRUTH.
Michael: The original 8 of the original 10 songs, and then we did 4 brand new songs.
Dano: Ok, you did like some re-mixing and stuff on the other 8?
Michael: Not just re-mixing, we re-recorded them.
Michael: Completely…from you know, ground floor just worked our way up and re-recorded them entirely and we did 4 brand new songs and added to those, so we wound up with 12 tracks. We got…Are you familiar with a guy by the name of Kenny Arnoff?
Dano: No, I'm not.
Michael: He’s a drummer, session guy, who's been around, he played on all the John Cougar Mellon Camp stuff.
Michael: And Bruce Springstein stuff, and then that's going back to that time. And then today he's done stuff like Smashing Pumpkins and Melissa Ephridge, and he's just this world-renowned drummer, touring slash studio drummer. you know, he's the best of the best, I mean he's just incredible. So we brought him in, got him, he laid down the drum tracks, then we just built from there and did all the guitars, and the bass and the vocals and re-recorded everything. So that record is finished, it's still entitled TRUTH, and that's the one that Restless is gonna release, not till early summer of next year, so sometime hopefully around June.
Dano: Early Summer?
Michael: Yeah…It’s a ways away.
Michael: It's still a ways away.
Dano: Well…You told me what’s gonna be different on it. I guess it will be worth the wait for everybody then.
Michael: I think it will be. Yeah…
Michael: I believe it will be. I hope and pray everyone else will feel the same. It's definitely, it's a good record, it's a really, really good record. Sonically it sounds great, the new songs are really good, it's got a lot of variety on it, you know. It has a couple ballads, it has some really edgy stuff, it has some real straight ahead rock, pop stuff , you know…it’s just a real good record. Exactly what I want to do. I'm really pleased with the songs and the way it turned out. I just want to see it get out there to people…you know?
Dano: Yeah…I miss the rock of Stryper, you know? I like that hard rock.
Michael: Well there are some songs on this record that are in that vein. Even harder.
Dano: All right!
Michael: Yeah…there’s a song, one of them’s called “Save Me”
Dano: I heard the sound clip on your site.
Michael: So you heard that one…
Dano: I've listened to them all Michael…
Michael: OK…Well that song is real, real for me very guitar, chunky, heavy, you know, tuned down to D type, just bassy, heavy, thumping type of song. Then there's another song called “The Ever After” that's real heavy, too. Oz played on that one. Those two songs have just a real built up…people that like the edgier sounds hopefully those songs will please them.
Dano: OK…So when are you going be starting on a tour, cause you ain’t done a tour for a long time now.
Michael: I know…
Dano: you gonna wait till the record is officially released like in summer or June?
Dano: Any plans?
Michael: I think so…I wanna do it right. I don't wanna go out and start touring and not have a record out. And I don't wanna wait to long after the record is released to tour, so I wanna make sure it's the right time. Hopefully any where from 3 to 4, 5, 6 weeks after the record's out, you know, I’ll get out there and there'll be a tour and I’ll be playing some shows, but I'm hoping and shooting for a summer thing. That would be ideal.
Michael: A summer release and then go out and follow up with a summer tour, you know that would be perfect. Cause that's just a good time to tour, good time to have a rock record come out, and it's a perfect time…for that you know?
Dano: Yeah…That sounds right to me. What about…you have any bands in mind for touring with you or any commitments from any bands?
Michael: No…I know it's crazy but…It seems crazy but, I haven't really thought about that stuff. The way I seem to work is once stuff is confirmed, you know once a tour is confirmed and a release date is confirmed, then I’ll really lock into to dealing with all that stuff and rapping up band members, and a band, an opening band, an agent to book the tour, and management and all that kinda stuff.
Dano: That's what they get paid to take care of.
Michael: Right…I mean…I’m without management right now, I'm without an agency. Ya know I'm signed to a label, and the record is done. But were still a little ways away from it being released, and once we get closer to that I’ll tie up all those loose ends.
Dano: Alright…Uhhh…let’s see…OK…We got the Stryper Expo coming up here in May, just around the corner…
Michael: I know…
Dano: So…What do you got planned for that?
Michael: Basically, just to go down and hang out. you know…there’s not…I don't want people to get the wrong impression, and I think some people are at this time thinking that it's a Stryper reunion and the band is getting back together, and….
Dano: Well…to play some tunes together
Michael: Oh yeah, yeah…play some tunes together, but I mean not anything beyond that. I mean, I just don't like letting people down and people getting the wrong impression and then it turns out to be not what they expected it to be, you know?
Michael: So I'm just real careful with where I want to, in detail explain what it's gonna be, which is pretty much at this point, I'm going down, the other guys are going down, and were gonna just all be there.
Dano: It's a Stryper reunion in a sort that yall be together like a family reunion…
Dano: But it's not like the band is getting back together.
Michael: Exactly…It’s not like that at all. We're all gonna be in the building together for one day. I know SinDizzy is playing, and I know, I think Irene Kelly…an artist Tim works with, I think she's playing. And then ya know…Robert, Oz, Tim & myself will do a few Stryper songs. And that's about it. I mean it's more a just to go and have fun and hang out with people, with fans of the group, and hopefully fans of what we are doing solo and just kinda see people and meet them face to face, and that's it you know?
Dano: You say that so nonchalant Michael…(laughing) That's it? I mean… This is like a lot people's dream come true.
Dano: This is one of my dreams come true. Cause I ain’t seen yall since “In God We Trust” and I just can't wait to be up there and see you guys all up there and everything…
Michael: Well, I mean it will…I don't know… Rich Serpa, the guy who's putting it on, I met him once, and I don't really know too much about it, I've never seen or been to where it's gonna be held at. you know it's kinda of a … you know…I’m not real familiar with what's gonna happen at all, but I think it will be a good thing. And think it will be a fun time again to see people, you know?
Dano: Oh yeah….
Michael: ….And to hang out with people and say hey, and sign some autographs and tell some stories and you know…and that will be it.
Dano: I printed out you know, some of your interviews and a lot of yourPages so I could read them over when I had free time….One thing I was looking at was your KICKER’s Interview that you just had done in September /October. Me and my wife was reading that and we were rolling on the floor laughing about your most embarrassing moments… (laughing)
Dano: Man that is so wild , I mean (laughing) you got any more stories like that? (laughing)
Michael: Oh gosh…(laughing)
Dano: That is just totally, totally (laughing)
Michael: I don't think stories that beat that. I think that beats all, as far as funniest stories that's happened to me, that I can remember and remember all the details. Yeah…It’s definitely an unusual story. It's not something you hear everyday. you know? (laughing)
Dano: That was just so funny, man…I was reading it today again and I just couldn't stop laughing.
Dano: OK…You were with Benson at first and they were just strictly marketing to the Christian Market
Dano: And then you signed up with Restless here last year?
Michael: I signed to Restless Oh gosh, almost a year ago...
Michael: Almost a year ago, I actually signed the contracts in January
Dano: Alright, so now your music, what audience would you say your music is basically for? Is it for one or another?
Michael: Oh gosh, I think the type of stuff that I do is pretty much there's something for everyone. I mean, you know, a lot times that doesn't seem to work or people don't think that can work… Some people in the industry… But the kind of music that I do and the lyrics that I write, and the stuff that I do musically it's pretty much for everybody. There's people in their 50’s, 40’s and 50’s that like some of the songs that I do, and there's people that are 12 and 13 years old that like some of the songs I do. So I do such a wide range of styles, especially on this new record. That there's pretty much something for everyone.
Dano: OK…well that's what I was hoping you'd say (laughing)
Dano: Cause there's a lot of people out there that wanna hear something you know just for Christians, but then again you know there's the world out there too, that needs music. Cause we can't be Christians just preaching to Christians.
Michael: Absolutely, yep, that's right, that's true. And I think pretty much the way it works is the people that are my age and a little older seem to appreciate the lighter stuff, the stuff that is a little lighter. you know the ballads and the songs that aren't real heavy and edgy and the people that are my age and under usually are the ones that seem to appreciate the edgier stuff a little more. So…like my son and his friends you know, really like the real…you know, Achilles Heel and Save Me, and those kinda songs.
Michael: That's the stuff they really kinda light up when they hear. And the other songs like Stone and Lift My Head are appreciated more so by, you know, people that are in my age group or a little older so… and that's good though...I’m happy to see that, cause that's what I wanna do. I want the music that I do to reach everybody and give something to everyone. you know, not just teenagers or not just adults, you know?
Michael: So that's exciting for me to see, cause that's exactly what I wanna do. And when I get out and tour that's what I want to see at the shows as well.
Dano: Well…that’s it. you know there's a lot of diversity out there…If you just go after one group your not getting the whole enchilada.
Michael: Absolutely…It’s hard to do though…Some people…It’s not that I… I didn't plan…sit down and make a plan as to how I would go about doing that. It's just kinda how it happened. It's what God gives me. you know, He gives me a lot of different styles of music so…it’s neat though…I’m really happy to see that. It's a great thing. I'm really happy to see that. Pleased that it's that way.
Dano: I like all different styles myself. I was born in 59 so I'm maybe a couple years older than you, maybe?
Michael: Yeah I was 63.
Dano: 63…OK…Some people can't believe I still got long hair and still like Christian Metal.
Dano: That's always been my style but I also like the ballads and the melodies.
Michael: Yeah…absolutely…Yeah…I do too, I do too.
Dano: There's a time and place for everything
Michael: Yep…there is…
Dano: Lemme see…Is there any plans for a video for the new album, for the new version of the album, I guess you would say?
Michael: Oh definitely. Definitely plans. I just don't know at this point in time what song what video or what it would it be. But there will be a video because there is a guaranteed video in the contract. So the company is going to have to release a video to some song…so the tough part is gonna be picking the song. you know, whether to go with a heavier song and shoot for more of the MTV thing or go with you know, more radio type song and shoot for the VH1 thing. So it's gonna be a tough, tough decision to make, but once I know, I’ll let everybody else know and post it on the site, and keep everyone informed.
Dano: Now the MTV thing…. Now you had a problem with them a few years back when you were with Benson trying to do the…what was it… “No Safe Way” video?
Dano: The jerks…it sortta ticks me off
Michael: Yeah…They, just for the most part, MTV, whether they want to admit or not, and they never will probably, it's not cool to play Christian videos in their eyes. you know, it's just not hip, it's not what's cutting edge, again, in their eyes. And that's why you don't see any Christian videos on MTV. Every now and then you'll see a Christian video. you know, like I know through the years dc Talk has gotten a little air play on there. Jars of Clay has gotten a little airplay. There's this new group called POD, not new but… they're starting to get some airplay. you know Stryper, of course, through the years got a lot of airplay. But MTV is just not a video station that plays a lot of Christian videos. They don't air a lot of Christian videos. And there's a lot of, you know, like any video, there are a lot of great Christian videos, there's a lot of bad ones, but there's a lot of bad secular videos. you know?
Dano: Oh yeah…That’s true…
Michael: And they play those…so I mean, it's not about what's good or bad quality. It seems to be about they don't want to play Christian videos.
Dano: It's the content. Yeah…
Michael: Yeah, right…exactly…
Dano: It's not spreading their message. Would you say it's management's decision there?
Michael: I would say so. Yeah…I mean...who knows? It's obviously, I really don't think it's coming from listener polls or viewer’s polls. I think it's coming from a higher up management. And people just making a decision not to do it or not to play it for whatever reason. Maybe they are anti-Christ ya know? Or anti-Christian and just don't want to play it and are not going to play it, and they've made a decision not to play any Christian video. I dunno, you know?
Dano: They don't want to offend their audience.
Michael: Yeah…But it's funny…They offend a lot of potential viewers, you know, with the garbage that they do show.
Dano: Oh yeah, and a lot of parents of potential viewers, too.
Michael: On occasion you'll see a video that your kid can watch, but most of the time it's stuff that most people in America don't want their kids watching. you know?
Dano: I don't let my kids watch it.
Dano: Well, lemme see…Alright…Winding down here…What are your thoughts on the next millennium and the media hype surrounding the whole Y2K issue? What do you think about it?
Michael: Well…I try, I get caught up in the worries and the fears like everyone else of what could happen, you know?
Dano: Uh huh…
Michael: Cause I'm only human, but I want and hope if something does happen or if there is major problems that's spread world wide and it just gets worse and worse I just hope that myself and my family will be lights in a darker place, you know. Cause if we get to that point it's gonna be a darker place.
Michael: There's gonna be a lot you know, crazy people out there surfacing. I just hope instead of making bad decisions that we're examples to other people who are in need or need to be helped, I just hope we can be that.
Dano: That sounds like a message my Pastor was preaching the other day, about being a lights in the darkness if something happens and all the electricity goes out. He says “We will see this…that there will be Christian families where all the lights will be out in the neighborhood and there will be one house that has electricity with no explanation”
Dano: We will have an explanation…It’s Jesus!
Michael: Right, right, right…
Dano: That's awesome…that bares witness with what I heard just now…
Michael: It's just one of those things where it's gonna be a challenge, you know, but then again we may go into 2000 and nothing happen, and it just be a big joke, you know? May have a few little minor glitches and thats it. Or we may go into 2000 and then maybe just major problems…I think at this point nobody knows, not even the computer geniuses, you know, the guys that build computers and work on them everyday, seven days a week. I mean they don't even know what's gonna happen.
Michael: Or how bad it's gonna be, or you know, nobody knows…But I just hope, again, if it's real bad that not only myself but all Christians can be an example and not join in the pandemonium and just be, the craziness, because already your starting to see it, you know on the cover of the paper today was terrorist threats, your already starting to see the crazies surface cause we're approaching 2000.
Dano: Oh yeah…
Michael: It's really sad and scary to see it at the same time. But, I just hope that Christians can hold themselves together and be examples of Christ.
Dano: Like you said we might just cross over and no major problems at all.
Michael: Yeah, yeah, nobody knows. We'll know in about how many days?
Dano: About 11 days or so…
Michael: Yep…(laughs) Right around the corner and we're all gonna know, actually maybe even before that cause other parts of the world hit that hour before we do. And I'm sure if there's anything going on we'll hear about it on the news, so…
Dano: Oh yeah, we'll find out from the other parts the world first.
Michael: Oh yeah…
Dano: I'm hoping and believing that everything's fine and if it's not we'll be here for others that aren't fine.
Michael: Yep…That’s right, that's right, yep.
Dano: That's just like the rapture, If the Lord comes tomorrow or the millennium, we'll be ready to go with Him…
Dano: It's better to be ready, than not ready at all.
Michael: That's right.
Dano: Is there anything that you would like to share with your fans, any special message or news?
Michael: Well, you know, one thing I would like to say honestly…is I have gotten a few emails over the last year of people, just a few, people who are a little frustrated, and wondering what's going on with the record, with Michael Sweet, and what he's doing, and musically and all that stuff. For the most part almost all the people that have continued to support what I do have been very understanding and I would like to obviously like say thank you to those people.
Dano: Alright…Lets see….well in closing do you got any prayer requests that your fans can praying for you, and how can we best be praying for you Michael?
Michael: Just to continue to let God lead, and to devote my life to God, and all that I do. I'm a long way from that, I'm a long way from that, I've got so much to learn and so much to change. There's so much changing needs to take place in me. But everyday I'm getting a little closer and a little closer, and just prayer for that, you know? And to just pray that I'm open vessel to be used in a powerful way, more powerful each time. Next record and next project that I do that it's even more powerful than TRUTH and the songs and lyrics are more powerful and so on and so on, you know, and after that, the next record, the next record, and just that it keeps going.
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Yasmine's Stryper Expo Site
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Click on the album title of your choice to check it out at Michael's Official Website: MichaelSweet.com
Most embarassing moment on stage
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Kickers: Tell me about your most embarassing moment on stage.
Michael: We were playing one time in Austrailia, roaring crowd, craxy night, a really fun time. There was this guy right in front of me, at my feet ,who was tattooed from head to toe, earrings in his ears, a red bandana on his head,beard stubble , missing teeeth , he looked like a pirate. This guy was just so into it, screamin and yelling...but after 3 or 4 songs, he wasn't as into it and he kept pointing and pointing at my foot and I kep looking down and I didn't see anything. This guy kept screaming at me and pinting, so I looked down and I finally saw something, what appeared to be a rolled up piece of chewed gum , kinda like rolled up into a ball, thats what it looked like to me. For some reason my brain registered that this guy is trying to warn me that there is a piece of gum by my foot, and I am gonna step in it, he is a nice guy and he is just trying to warn me about it. Dumb me. So, I hit a chord, then I bend down and flick this thing off of the stage and its like a rock..and it goes flying way back into the crowd, and it is gone forever. The second I do that, I stand up and start playing again, and this guy is just calling me every name in the book, screamin obcenities , ready to kill me. He is holding his eye open and there is no eye....
Kickers: OH NO!
Michael: So what it was , this guy was really getting into it, and he had a glass eye, and it popped out on the stage, and he wanted his eye back..and he was trying to tell me 'hey my eye!'. But I flicked his eye into the crowd. It was just so embarrassing, I didn't know what to say or do, I couldn't even look at the guy. So for the rest of the set...he just kept screaming at me.......So anyway that's my most embarrassing moment.
the rest of the Kicker's Interview from 9/99 at: http://kickers.tompyles.com/sweetinterview.htm
When Sweet's record company submitted "Ain't No Safe Way," MTV again refused to air it. Why? Two reasons. First, they said it didn't meet their minimum standards of video production quality. Second, they maintained that Sweet was an unknown artist. Of course! What else are they going to say? Sweet is one of the hottest artists in Christian music today. His well-crafted video competes with the best of MTV's lineup. As a member of Stryper, he had two number-one videos on MTV several years prior.
MTV's explanations ring hollow It seems to me that MTV believes in freedom of speech just as long as you don't disagree with their philosophical position.
Read the rest of the Robert G. DeMoss article at: http://www.siteone.com/religion/gcc05/g0596001.htm
The other stuff...
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