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Concert Preview & Interview - Stryper

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The multi-platinum rock band Stryper will return to their signature yellow and black on Friday October 14th at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their iconic album - To Hell with the Devil. 

Whether you have been a longtime fan of Stryper or have just recently discovered their amazing music, Friday’s show at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium will surely be a one for the ages.  The band, comprised of all four original members including Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, Oz Fox, and Timothy Gaines, will be playing in it's entirety their 1986 Grammy nominated album, To Hell with the Devil.

Released by Enigma Records on October 24, 1986, To Hell with the Devil was the band’s third studio album and the first Christian metal album to achieve platinum status. Throughout 1987, the music videos for "Free" and "Honestly" ranked #1 on MTV’s list of most requested videos, and the video for "Calling on You" reached #2. Stryper was the first band to ever have two songs in MTV’s Top 10 simultaneously.

 “Thirty years ago we made the record To Hell with the Devil,” says frontman Michael Sweet. “It was a turning point for the band. We saw how amazing our fans are, and the work God had planned for this band. We went from playing clubs to arenas, and we saw lives changed in the most miraculous of ways. We never imagined we would still be here thirty years later alongside the best fans in the world. We’re looking forward to hitting the road and seeing all our fans and friends that have helped keep the fire burning, all these years.” 

Hunnypot Unlimited’s Matthew Belter recently had a chance to catch up with Stryper's Michael Sweet to discuss the 30th anniversary of the To Hell with the Devil LP.  Michael shares some insight into this iconic album along with a preview of their upcoming show at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium.


Michael Sweet Interview – Part I

We’re quickly approaching To Hell with the Devil’s 30-year anniversary (I believe the release date was October 24th, 1986).  Looking back, are you surprised that this album was Stryper’s most successful?

I think it was the most commercial album we did, and that's part of the reason it was so commercially successful. I think everything aligned perfectly at that moment in time. The look, the sound, the label, the market, all that stuff. To Hell with the Devil is one of my favorites, it wouldn't be my favorite though.  My favorite albums by a landslide would be Solders Under Command, and then a tie for No More Hell to Pay and Fallen, the two most recent Stryper albums.

Knowing that “Honestly” was the biggest single off of THWTD, was there a song that you felt might have been bigger or even a bit underappreciated?

Aw man, we're playing “Holding On” lately, and I love that song. It's a more pop song, but it's just got something really cool about it. I love “Rockin the World” too, and we're playing that one on this tour as well.

I’ve always wondered why THWTD’s original album cover seemed to cause so much controversy.  The original art was amazing and yet was fairly tame in comparison to some of albums that were released that same year.  What was this controversy all about?

Well, we released it with the angel artwork, and they were casting Satan into the pit, the four angels, and there was a pentagram necklace that was being ripped from Satan's neck and thrown off into the distance. A lot of the Christian book stores took that as we just had a pentagram on our album. They felt offended by that and upset about it. They were even threatening to discontinue carrying the album. They weren't going to stock it. We decided to play nice and redo the album cover, and we did with just the black cover and the red lettering, that's what happened.  And it's just because that side of the fence, the Christian side, especially at that time, it was so controversial. They didn't know what to think of Stryper.

You’re currently touring to support the 30th anniversary of THWTD.  What are your initial thoughts of the tour so far? 

We've only got 5 shows under our belt (out of 36) - so the tour really has just begun.  But so far, it's been really amazing. We're starting to get into a flow in terms of how the set is performed and played and gone through. We're starting to feel like we've got it down and it usually takes a little while to start to feel that. Looking out at the crowds and seeing the reaction from the crowds, the smiles, the energy, just the reaction of everybody, it’s really been cool. It's going over fantastic so far.


Stay tuned to Hunnypot Unlimited in the weeks ahead for additional coverage of Stryper’s 30th Anniversary To Hell with the Devil tour including a full concert review, photos, and Part II of our interview with Michael Sweet.

For more information on Stryper’s 30th Anniversary To Hell With the Devil Tour (including Tickets and VIP Meet & Greet Packages), please visit Tickets for the fall tour are going fast and are expected to sell-out in most cities. 

Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

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