CCM: How do you know where the line stops and ends between Stryper, solo, Sweet & Lynch and any other collaboration?
That gets kind of tricky. Some of the Sweet & Lynch songs could be Stryper songs. Some of the Stryper songs could’ve been solo. Some of the solo songs could’ve been Stryper. It’s difficult to kind of separate that, but I just write what comes from the heart. For example, there’s a song on this album like “Golden Age,” which some people said could’ve been a Stryper song. I didn’t think about that when I wrote it. I didn’t think, “Wait a minute, this sounds like Stryper or this sounds like Michael Sweet.” I just wrote it and I liked it. I felt good about it, so it went on the solo album. But it certainly could’ve been on a Stryper album too. So I guess what I’m trying to say in a long, drawn out way is I don’t really think about it. I just write for whatever record I’m working on at the time, and if it sounds similar to other albums I’ve been a part of, that’s hopefully just a testament to my style of writing and performing.

CCM: How did the seeds to One Sided War come about?
You know what’s weird about that album is I did a deal with [mainstream hard rock label] Rat Pak Records and there was a time frame in the contract when to start it, but I didn’t think about it until it was time to start it. Then once that time came, I frantically stressed out. “Oh my gosh, it’s time.” I started writing songs and they all came, thank God. One of these days maybe that’s not going to happen. Maybe I’m going to get bit in the tail and I’m gonna have egg on my face, but with that album, same thing—there have been Stryper albums like that. I don’t want to say it was rushed, but it was certainly last minute and I think sometimes when I’m under pressure like that, it’s a good thing because it helps to drive me and pull the best out of me. So I don’t think it’s a negative necessarily.

CCM: What would you say is the source of your drive to keep writing and recording? At this point in your career, you could easily rest on your laurels.
I just have something inside that’s eternal. It’s just an ever-flowing fountain of songs and ideas and the passion to want to fulfill those songs, so I can’t explain it. I have a deep faith and I know that God’s blessed me with those abilities, so I can only credit Him for it. It’s just something that comes. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s not like I hear another song and get motivated to write or I see someone and through that there’s an experience or a story. I don’t write like that. I just write what’s in my heart and mind at that moment, and then once I start writing that first song, it’s like the floodgates open. I’ll literally write a song in a couple hours, and say “alright, [to my wife] Lisa, I’m going on to the next song until there’s twelve songs.” It’s kind of weird and some people might say, “You could be much more creative if you spent more time and took the time in between,” but that’s just not how I work. I’m an obsessive-compulsive-type guy as well as a bit of an attention-deficit-hyperactivity personality. I joke about it all the time, but it’s true and I think it motivates me to do more and to try to perfect more.

CCM: The album cover is a very striking picture that reminds me of The Passion Of The Christ with the crown of thorns. How does that imagery correspond with your message?
A label guy named Joe O’Brien came up with that. It’s as simple as that. I sent him the songs and said, “Dude, have at it.” You get what I’m doing and where I’m coming from. He sent me that imagery and I thought, “Wow, that’s really cool.” It says a lot. Some people thought it was me, but it’s not me. It’s supposed to be Christ and to me it says Christ is often fighting a one sided war because the [message] falls on deaf ears or people don’t want to hear it. It’s kind of an odd way to describe it, but it’s true. I also feel like our lives and our experiences are sometimes a one sided war. You’re trying to convince somebody to do this or not do that and they don’t ever take your advice. That’s a one sided war. Or you get into a dispute with someone online and you let it go but they don’t. Our families, our friends, our neighbors—there are a lot of one sided wars that we all experience.

Michael Sweet, Stryper, CCM Magazine - image
CCM: Tell us about this all-star band you have on the record.
I worked with George Lynch, Brian Tichy [Whitesnake, Foreigner] and James LoMenzo [White Lion, Megadeth] on [Sweet & Lynch’s Only To Risebuy]. After working with them, I just thought, “Gosh, this is really nice working with guys of this caliber.”


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