Stryper brings his gospel to Indy

INDIANAPOLIS — A staple of ’80s hair metal says he’s…finally…starting to lose his hair. That’s life, however, for many of us. “Thank goodness we’re not defined by our hair,” said Michael Sweet. Rather, he and his band Stryper have been defined by taking a markedly different path with their musical style than most of their peers have chosen.

The Christian metal band that became the unlikely kings of 1980s MTV before hair metal fell out of favor isn’t just still touring. Stryper has also been releasing new original music for much of the past two decades – a comeback that followed a decade away from the limelight. You’ll hear some of that music, along with their old-school headbanging and ballad hits, when Stryper performs The Vogue on Broad Ripple on Tuesday, May 17.

Sweet and his brother (and drummer) Robert Sweet first formed a band 40 years ago, and they did so after reconnecting with a faith they had briefly left behind. “Hard rock and heavy metal…most people think it’s natural to sing about sex and drugs and Satan,” said Michael Sweet. “We were a bunch of guys who were your typical hard rock/metal band on the strip in Hollywood. We’ve been through a lot, and we decided to dedicate our hearts and our lives and our band to God, and we didn’t never looked back.”

The success of the EP “The Yellow and Black Attack” and the album “Soldiers Under Command” in 1984 and 1985 respectively allowed Stryper to secure tour dates with Bon Jovi. This led to criticism from all sides – Christian fans who thought Stryper was selling out and the secular world who thought the band was too Christian to be mainstream. But the band’s popularity became universal with the release of “To Hell With the Devil” in 1986.

The album not only featured the hit songs “Free”, “Calling on You”, “Honestly” and the title track, it coincided with Stryper’s first widely promoted music videos. The videos became a staple of the daily “Dial MTV Countdown” top spot where fans voted for their favorite videos each day by calling a toll-free number. Striper seemed to be at or near the top of the list for the rest of the decade.

After a well-publicized hiatus in the 1990s, the band reunited in 2000 and began making new music again later that decade. Eight albums followed, three more than before the breakup. “That day may come when I can’t do that anymore, and until that day I want to do as much as I can,” Sweet said. “That’s why I do so many side projects. That’s why I do solo projects, and that’s why I do all the music with Stryper. I can do it, I have the opportunities to do it, and I want to enjoy it.”

Stryper plays The Vogue in Broad Ripple on Tuesday, May 17, with special guest The Protest. Click here for more information and tickets to the show.

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