It isn’t often that a musician is successful not only with a band, but also as a solo artist! Not only has Michael Sweet released 12 studio albums with Christian rock band Stryper (who last visited Australia only last year), but he is releasing his tenth studio album ‘Ten’ later this year. Then to add a cherry on top, he also played in Boston from 2007-2011!
You could be asking what else is left for Sweet to accomplish in his illustrious career, and the answer is come to Australia as a solo artist. Not only will Sweet be crossing that off his to-do list come November, he was kind enough to take some time out his busy schedule to speak about the upcoming visit.
Sweet kicked off the interview happily pointing out, “It’s a first, as I’ve never been as a solo artist. Last time I was there with Stryper we were a trio, which was a little scary as it was different… I mean, the last time we performed as a trio was pre-Stryper days when we were called Roxx Regime. Whilst it was nerve-wracking, everybody came out and supported us. This time around, it’s just me and an acoustic guitar so it will be a much different setting; I’m equally as excited about it though!”
Regarding new album ‘Ten,’ Sweet explains, “After naming it ‘Ten’ because it’s my tenth studio album, I wound up writing a song called Ten based on the Ten Commandments; all of a sudden it then came to fruition and it all made perfect sense with the meaning behind it.”
Sweet enthusiastically listed out a few things that will get fans excited: “Not only is it coming out in October, but we’ve also got a new song coming out within the next few weeks! I’m really excited about it, as I’ve got a different guitar player on every song; guys like Gus G, Jeff Loomis, Andy James, Tracii Gunns, Joel Hoekstra, Mike Kerr, Ethan Brosh, Marzi Montazeri and a whole list of players. I’ve always wanted to have an album that is a bit of a shredfest and whilst it still has the songs, there’s some really incredible guitar playing on this album. These are all guys that I really admire, love to watch/listen to on YouTube and are some of my favourite guitarists right now!”
When asked to deliver an insight into what songs fans could hopefully expect to see at the upcoming shows, Sweet was quick to point out that the decision has been left in the hands of fans. “I put out something on Facebook recently asking the Australian people to help me compile the setlist and I’ve already received a ton of song ideas! For the most part they’re songs I perform on a regular basis, but some of them are songs I haven’t performed in a while like All This and Heaven Too, Some Day, Real, plus some Sweet and Lynch songs. I’ve been performing Dying Rose and I may add another on top of that, plus obviously the Stryper classics like Calling on You, To Hell with the Devil, Soldiers, Honestly, Always There for You. Having said that, I also want to throw out and present some songs that might be unexpected for people to hear. Like the B tracks and the deep, deep cuts people haven’t heard in a live setting; I want to make this trip and these shows very unique and very special!”
Sweet then took some time to elaborate on one of the few struggles he comes across as a solo performer, quipping how, “The tricky part is setting everything into a set that isn’t too long and going to put people to sleep, as when you go out and do a three-hour acoustic set, you run the risk of that happening!” before delivering a great insight into how he goes about finalising his set list:
”I’m gonna do my best to fit in the classic songs that everyone expects to hear, whilst throwing in songs people don’t expect to hear. I’ve even had people requesting I perform When the War is Over by classic Australian band Cold Chisel, so I might throw in a song or two that makes people question what they’ve heard! Something I’ve been doing at my recent shows is stopping mid-set and asking the audience what they want to hear; then I’ll perform a song and a verse of five to eight requests. Whilst I’m going to keep asking what they want to hear, I’m going to play some songs I am comfortable or feel led to doing. At the same time, I want everyone who goes to the show to leave thinking ‘Wow, that was everything I expected… and then some!’ I want the surprise element and for people to be blown away in a good way. This might mean having to re-learn a couple of songs people would never expect me to do!”
Not only is this going to be an intimate time from a musical perspective, Sweet is going to be storytelling as a cherry on top. Touching further on what stories fans can expect to hear, Sweet states, “I’ll definitely dig deep and make sure that I tell the story that goes along with each song. At the same time, I like to talk and I love to converse whilst hanging out with people, so I never run out of words to say. I’m sure I’ll be able to elaborate on those stories and share some things with Australian fans that the world has never really heard before.”
As the interview drew to a close, Sweet was more than humble as he made sure everyone knew, “It’s such an honour for me to come back a year later (after Stryper’s visit) and perform to my Australian fans and friends. I’m just so blessed to be able to do that and I look forward to getting off the plane, finding a good cup of coffee and a Tim-Tam!”
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