Interviews Parenting

Interview with Stryper’s Michael Sweet on Parenting, Faith, and Rocking at 55


Stryper band 2

JG: I grew up a Christian in the 80s and 90s and Stryper was one of the few bands I listened to that didn’t scare my mom.

MS: That’s awesome.

JG: I don’t know if you’ve been interviewed by a dad blogger, but there’s always a chance some small voice will interrupt me.

MS: Hey, I love it. That’s fantastic. I’m a dad. Two of my small voice are grown voices now. I get it. I’ve been there, and it’s awesome.

JG: That’s something I wanted to talk to you about; being a dad on the road. I read your book, Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed, and you ask in the book, “Was I a good dad? Did I fail as a father? Was I a good husband? Or am I a failure? How would you answer that now? How did you father from the road?

MS: That’s why I asked those questions because I lived my life on the road. I have struggled with ADHD and OCD and all that stuff. Being a musician and traveling and whatnot, I sadly missed moments of my children’s lives. Sometimes I was home for long periods of time. I remember back in 1993 and 94, I spent every day at home for a good year and a half or two. So, I got to take it all in. That’s what I mean by “have I failed.” The lifestyle I chose isn’t ideal for a father or a dad who wants to be 100 percent involved in their kids’ lives. I look back on periods of moments in my life and I have regrets and things I missed out on in their lives and if I could go back and be there, I certainly would.

JG: Now, musicians can go on Skype or on their smartphones to keep in touch with their kids. How were you able to stay active while away?

MS: You’re talking about back in the 80s and early 90s, so we didn’t have internet, Twitter, Skype, Instagram, and all these ways to stay connected, but what we would do was make a lot of phone calls. They would send me videos and I would send them videos. I would mail them home. If I had two days off in between shows, I flew home. When my son Mikey, Mike Jr. was born, I was on the road and when my wife went into labor, I flew home and then was back on the road. I went back and forth and back and forth. When he was old enough, 3 or 4 months old, he came on the road with us and we had a crib set up in the back of the bus. It was pretty insane and a lot of work and stress, but it was great to do that.

JG: Now that your kids are adults, how has your relationship changed? Are you still providing them with advice?

MS: Well, I touched on my ADHD and OCD. It affects my life with not only my kids, but my friends and my wife. I’m one of those guys that are hyper-focused on whatever I’m involved in at the moment. So, let’s say I’m working on an album for two months; nobody hears from me. I’m very self-absorbed and completely wrapped up in that album for however long that is. It’s something I have to work on every day and struggle with. I have to work to keep lines of communication open. Now, my daughter, I see the most. My wife and my daughter because they travel with me the most. They’re on the bus now. So that makes it really easy for me. But when I’m out on the road traveling and performing, I tend to put everything on the shelf regarding phone calls and catching up on emails. That’s just my personality. Most people know my personality, so they don’t take it to heart. My wife and kids understand me.

JG: Now that Donald Trump is calling Ted Cruz, Beautiful Ted Cruise. Has that changed your ego at all?

MS: Yeah, that Donald Trump thinks I’m beautiful is amazing. You know, I don’t get the whole Ted Cruz comparison. I look at pictures and don’t see it. I don’t get it. Some guy did a meme, and it went viral. I’m still scratching my head on that one. That being said, I’ll take it. Whatever.

JG: I wanted to ask you about the famous Jimmy Swaggart issue when he condemned Stryper. You guys were being protested a lot by the church and there was something you wrote in your book about that time that resonates with me today; “I knew I still loved God, but I didn’t like some people who claim to love God too.” Is that something you still struggle with? Because that’s something I do. I get angry at Christians because they are called to love others, and they’re not doing it.

MS: Absolutely. The problem with that is, it’s just human nature to idolize people. You look up to people and someone that’s very influential in your life and they help mold your life. You put them on a pedestal. It’s the way it works. And when you do that, and they’re Christians and you’re a Christian, then they let you down or more than let you down. They flat out destroy you. It can crush you. It can create a lot of problems within your own heart and your faith. Jimmy Swaggart was basically someone that brought us to the Lord and we watched him on television and dedicated our lives to Christ and got involved in the church through Jimmy Swaggart, and then not long after that, he’s holding up our albums saying we’re of the devil. And to see someone who was a big part of our lives, early in our faith, speak against us was devastating. But, in life, this is why I learned you don’t put too much faith in man because man will let you down. They will always let you down because we’re all flawed. We’re all sinners. That’s why I try hard to put my trust in my faith and everything that I have in God instead of man. It’s hard to do. I look at Jimmy Swaggart as a flawed human being just like myself. He fell and made mistakes and we all do.

JG: What’s the difference between playing as a 55-year-old and being in your 20s wearing yellow spandex. Are you able to jump around as much as you used to?

MS: I tell you what. It’s the same, but the only way I can describe it is if you took a video of me back in 86 and slow it down just a little, that’s today. We’re still doing all the same things and the same moves, but just a little slower. That’s the way it works, I guess.

Stryper album

You can check Stryper’s tour dates here. You can buy their latest album “God Damn Evil” now.

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