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MICHAEL SWEET: THE LOVE IS POP INTERVIEW 2

interview by Michael McCarthy

Earlier this year I finally had the opportunity to interview Michael Sweet, lead singer and co-lead guitarist of Stryper, after wanting to interview him for 20 years since I started doing music journalism. During the interview, Michael revealed the probable title of his forthcoming solo album, One Side War. Well, that is now and forever the official title of the album, which was just released on August 26, 2016. If you’re a fan of traditional heavy metal with monstrous drums, scorching guitars, slick bass and powerful vocals then this is one album you must own. “We could move mountains and do anything,” Michael sings on the opening track, “Bizarre,” and it’ll certainly have you feeling empowered. Technically, it’s a song about the ills of society, but, as with all of Michael’s music, there are rays of sunshine in the lyrics, too. Now, I’ll admit that some of Michael’s solo albums have been far enough removed from what he does in Stryper that it’s possible to be a Stryper fan and not be into them, but that is not the case with One Sided War. If you liked Stryper’s Fallen and No More Hell To Pay then this one is for you. It’s easily just as heavy and, at times, I think it’s even heavier. That said, it doesn’t sound like another Stryper album. In some ways, sure, obviously you have the same guy singing it and it’s heavy metal, but instead of doing all the lead guitars himself, this time Michael brought in Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake and a talented newcomer named Ethan Brosh to spice things up. With three lead guitarists delivering their best work, the album has plenty of diversity. But you’re not here to hear me talk about it, right? So, let’s get to it…

MM: I just bought your autobiography. I meant to buy it when it came out and then I forgot about it, but I remembered it when I was writing questions so I bought it. So, I’ve just started reading it.

MS: I was gonna say, if you’ve read it already then you must have a deeper hate for me now.

MM: [Laughs] No. I haven’t gotten through all of it yet, but the big surprise for me so far is that I didn’t know Robert was your half-brother. Because you look so much alike I just always assumed that you both had the same parents.

MS: Right. Yeah, some people know that – that’s been out for a long time – but most people don’t. And we have the same mom and there’s strong genes on her side. We get a lot of our features from her. But, yeah, we have different dads.

MM: So, let me ask you – were you trying to make a heavier album than Stryper with One Sided War?

MS: Not heavier than Stryper – because it’s not. It’s not necessarily heavier than Fallen. I was trying to make an album that just had a really high level of energy. And I think that I accomplished that.

MM: Oh yeah.

MS: I wanted to just have the drums, the bass, the guitars – all the tracks – just rolling down the track, man. 100 miles an hour. Just not letting up.

MM: And that really shows. Because a lot of the bands that have been around as long as you guys, they put out new albums and there’s just no energy. Even like The Cars, for example, got back together and put out a reunion album and it would’ve been so good if the tempo was higher but with the songs as they were it was kind of slow and plodding.

MS: It is very odd. I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t know what that is other than probably a number of things. Maybe they’ve lost some of their steam. Because of age and time. Maybe they’re a little burned out. Maybe it could be just poor direction. Like whoever’s producing it or guiding the ship – steering the ship – isn’t quite steering it in the right direction. For example, like Boston, which I feel I can speak of because I was a part of Boston for a while. They did an album not that long ago and when I heard it I wanted to love it because I’m a big Boston fan. Their first album is one of my all-time favorite albums ever. And there was an energy to that. And when I heard the new album that energy wasn’t there. I started listening to it and, as a producer, I started figuring out why.

MM: Why was it?

MS: First and foremost, the foundation of that album – the foundation is the drums – that’s the backbeat, that’s the foundation everything else is laid upon and they were using programmed drums and drum pads for synthetic drum tones. That’s half of the battle right there. When you have a real drummer, you’re gonna up that level of energy tenfold. So, there’s just reasons why some of these albums by some of these classic bands don’t have that energy that you’re referring to. I feel like I’ve kind of found the fountain of youth and the way to achieve that and I’ve got a system going, and a format going, that I plan on sticking to.

MM: Cool. Is it a secret formula?

MS: Not really. No. [Laughs] The only secret that I have is I’m very blessed with the studio and the engineers and the people involved. Like I couldn’t do it without the studio we record at, Spirit House, Danny Bernini, who’s the engineer, the other engineer that I’ve worked with for years, Kenny Louis – I couldn’t do it without the wonderful musicians. Drummers, like on my first solo album, I had Kenny Arnoff. Sweet & Lynch, I had Brian Tichy. On this album I’ve got Will Hunt. Those are the cream of the crop, you know?

MM: Absolutely.

MS: I’ve been making wise choices in terms of the set up and the layout of how records are being made and I’m really thrilled with the outcome and I’m gonna stick to the same way that I make albums. Same studio, same engineer and working with great musicians.

MM: What software, if any, do they use at the studio? For example, do they use Pro-Tools?

MS: Yes. They’ve got a Pro-Tools rig – an updated Pro-Tools rig – and they’ve got also, if you want, they’ve got two inch machines as well if you want to do the analog thing completely. You could do analog for basics and then bring it and put it into Pro-Tools and then carry on from there in the digital realm or you could do what I did. We recorded everything in Pro-Tools, but we recorded through an analog console. So, it gave us a lot of that warmth and air that you’re gonna get from analog output gear.

MM: I love how the chorus of “Bizarre” just ends with that one word instead of ending with a phrase like how a typical chorus would end. How did that come to you?

MS: Well, you know what man, as I’m writing songs I start with the riff and then I’ll program a drum beat with my software on my computer, get the vibe, and then I’ll start working on melodies and lyrics and all of the songs just kind of fell into place in terms of the melodies. It’s not like I had to sit there and struggle with melodies [like] OK, yeah, that doesn’t work, ah, let me try that. And “Bizarre” just came very quickly. The title and the phrasing and the melody came very quickly.

MM: You sing about the negative effects of society on “Bizarre.” If you could change one thing about society, what would you change?

MS: The internet. I think the internet is a necessary evil. There’s obviously great things about it, but, sadly, I think there’s far more bad things about it. It separates people. It causes lots of problems. It destroys relationships. It’s terrible. And everyone, as you see walking around at airports and malls and what not, you see everyone just lost in their phone. Either on the internet or what have you. It’s really sad because it’s robbing us of our social skills. Those days are gone.

MM: That’s true.

MS: It sucks. I mean, I took a funny picture in Italy. We were on the island of Capri, my wife and I, and we were walking – gorgeous, beautiful, over-looking the ocean – and there was a really expensive restaurant and four people, two couples, sitting at a table on the water, sun setting in Italy, and every single one of them was on their phone. Not even talking.

MM: Yeah, that’s crazy.

MS: I took a picture of it. Because I couldn’t believe it. And I said to my wife, unbelievable. [Laughs]

MM: I was at a cafe the other day and there was a couple out on a date or something and the guy was constantly on his phone and I was like, if I had a girlfriend half as beautiful as she is, I wouldn’t be looking at a phone.

MS: It’s crazy. I mean, I’m guilty of it, too. I think we all are. When I’ve got an album release and I go to dinner with my daughter or my wife – it happened the other night, I’m checking my phone constantly and answering texts and e-mails. And it doesn’t make it right. How did we get by 25, 30 years ago when we didn’t have phones?

MM: People used the old phones.

MS: I know, but we managed and I think we were a much healthier society. I really do. And I’m not trying to be a prude here, but I think the internet – and I think technology – cell phones, are really doing a number on us.

MM: And I think that because it’s so easy to get so much information about people it encourages stalking and obsessions and all that.

MS: No doubt about it. I mean, look at what happened with, who’s the girl, Grimmie?

MM: Christina Grimmie.

MS: Thank you, Christina. Look at what happened with her. Something happened online. She offended some whack-job and he goes and kills her.

MM: She seemed like such a sweetheart, too. I saw her on The Voice and my parents and I went to see The Voice on tour and she was one of them.

MS: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, in the old days, you didn’t have that. You heard about incidents like that on occasional but nowadays that’s all you hear about. And the other thing that it’s created, unfortunately, it’s robbed the mystique of rock ‘n’ roll. Back in the ’70’s and early ’80’s and and what not you went and bought a magazine and read about someone and that’s all you knew about them. There was a mystique. Now, because everyone’s on Twitter saying whatever they want, sharing all their business, there’s no mystique left anymore.

MM: It’s true.

MS: It’s sad. Everything has change. Everything has changed.

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MM: On “Can’t Take This Life,” I was wondering if that was directed at the devil or just whoever gets in someone’s way in their life?

MS: It’s directed at whoever gets in someone’s way in their life. Don’t let people take your life. Don’t let people rob your joy. And we all let that happen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a situation where I’ve been in a really good mood and then something’s said to me, “Oh, yeah, someone said this about you online,” and I’m like, what? Then my joy’s robbed. It could be talking about that. Or it could be talking about the extreme where people literally let other people take their lives. They take their joy so much that they get depressed and they contemplate suicide, ending their lives. So, it’s a powerful song, musically and lyrically.

MM: On “You Make Me Wanna” and “Who Am I,” both of those have the word baby in the lyrics. So, I was wondering if those were written for your wife or…?

MS: They were, actually. I write love songs and I’m a guy who’s in love and I like to write about love. Love’s the most powerful emotion and thing on the planet earth and it’s what makes the world go ’round. So, I love writing songs about love and sometimes when I do sometimes some people, not all, some people get bent out of shape because they think I should write every song about Jesus. And the funny thing is, Jesus is love. [Laughs] It all ties in, you know?

MM: On “One Way Up,” you sing “I remember walking on the wrong side of the tracks as a kid.” Could you tell us a story or two about getting in trouble as a kid?

MS: Well, yeah, that’s in my book. You’ve got my book. I talk about being arrested a few times as a kid. I got in some trouble when I was a kid. I went down a bad path and, thank God, I went down a different path at an early age. So, around the age of 13, was when I started realizing. Like, hold on, wait, I’ve gotta stop this. And that was the second time I was arrested in my Freshman year of high school. That’s when I turned my life around and I got involved in music. And I really think music saved me.

MM: On “Radio” you poke fun at rockers who head to Nashville thinking they’re gonna become country stars. Are you kind of making fun of yourself, too, because I know your album Real was a bit in the country vein.

MS: I am poking fun at myself a little bit. But a little more so at other guys. And the reason why I’m saying a little bit with myself is I’m not trying to become a country star. I dabbled in that sound on occasion. I did on the last solo album with “Coming Home.” I grew up around country. I used to play on my dad’s country sessions. My dad wrote a number one country song in 1976 called “I Don’t Want To Have to Marry You” and I used to watch Hee Haw – I love country music. Especially classic country.

MM: Yeah. Me, too.

MS: You’re never gonna see Michael Sweet try to be a country star. And that’s what I take issue with and I feel like it’s… I don’t know, man. Borderline disrespectful and almost borderline offensive when you see these rock stars trying to be country stars and you’ve gotta wonder is it just because the rock market is a lot harder to break into these days than the country market is? I don’t know. I can’t really figure it out. So, I wanted to have a little fun with that. It was done in a funny, light-hearted way.

MM: You know what I think is even more disrespectful is when they try to go country and it doesn’t work so then they go back to their heavy metal band and the fans are supposed to make like nothing ever happened.

MS: I know. And we don’t need to name names because we all know who they are. And just reverse that coin. I said this to Eddie Trunk the other night, imagine if country music became unpopular tomorrow and hard rock and metal was the number one selling music in the world. And then all of a sudden all these country guys – Keith Urban grew his hair out, put on some metal clothes, bought a V [guitar] and started trying to do metal. Would anyone ever believe that?

MM: It’s funny you mention Keith Urban because his new album is a pop album with all these programmed pop beats and everything.

MS: Well, I know… I’m not a fan of the artists that jump on bandwagons because it’s the thing to do and it’s the popular thing. You know, like Taylor Swift she did kind of the country thing and she’s full blown pop now. And she’s having a lot of success with it, selling great, and maybe that’s why Keith Urban is trying to do it? I don’t know. It never sits right with me. It’s just always a little odd. I don’t know, man. It’s kind of strange. I feel like I really want to give the fans what they want and I want to stay true to my roots and who I am. I’m a rock guy. So, again, never in this lifetime expect me to try to go full-blown country and become a country star. That’s never going to happen.

MM: Well you, especially with your solo albums, you’ve always done different stuff anyways, so it wouldn’t be a sell out thing because all along you’ve done different things.

MS: And I do it a little differently. For example, take my album Truth. Take every album for that matter. Almost. Truth, and even the last album, on Truth I had a song called “Save Me,” which was full-blown metal, and then I had some really light, poppier kind of stuff. On the last album I had “Taking On the World” metal and I had “Coming Home,” which is kind of country-esque. I like to experiment and try different things but I’m not gonna ever go make an eleven song country album with a cowboy hat on and cowboy boots sitting there smiling and grinning saying I’m a country star now. [Laughs]

MM: I love the [“Radio”] video. It’s hilarious.

MS: Well, good, man. I hope you got a laugh out of that. I know a lot of people are and I’m hearing the comments from everyone that we agree and we feel the same way.

MM: I imagine even the country fans would feel the same way.

MS: Oh, totally. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people in Nashville who say they’re kind of burned out on all the rock stars coming to Nashville trying to, or thinking they can, become country stars.

MM: I understand some of the guys who are in the video aren’t the guys who played on the album, that you had to make some changes for the video.

MS: That’s right. Will Hunt played drums on the album. He wasn’t able to make the video shoot. It was all planned out. He was going to be. But he had a real serious problem in his family. Someone that was very ill at the time and he was not able to make it. So, we wound up, frantically, trying to find somebody, and I wound up finding Scott – Scotty Coogan – who I love. Dear friend, great guy, and he was able to do it so he came out and he did it and I’m really happy he did. And, obviously, on bass the local guy, session player John O’Boyle, wasn’t able to be a part of it and I wound up hiring and bringing in Todd Kearns and the reason why I thought of Todd was because I actually asked Todd to play on the album and he was going to but it didn’t work out because of our schedules. So, I wound up hiring John O’Boyle, who’s a brilliant bass player. John’s as good as they come. I think he’s proven that. But, yeah, Todd’s in the video and if I tour I’d love to take Todd, that’d be great.

MM: Did you write all of the songs on One Sided War alone or did you co-write some of them with [guitarists] Ethan or Joel?

MS: No, I wrote them all by myself except for two songs. Two songs are co-writes and, oddly enough, and funny enough, the co-writes are two big Nashville writers. [Laughs] “One Sided War” is a co-write with Blair Daley, who also co-wrote with me on the song “I’m Not Your Suicide.” He’s a great writer. And the song “Only You” is a co-write with a writer out of Nashville by the name of Bruce Wallace. They’re very talented writers. Great guys. I love them.

MM: Are there any songs you didn’t play guitar on at all? Because I know you really emphasized having Ethan and Joel doing the guitar solos.

MS: Yeah, I play guitar on every song. I play all the rhythms. Well, I played rhythms on every song. Joel added some over-dub parts and rhythm parts on the three he played on, which was “Radio,” “Who Am I” and “One Way Up.” That’s Joel. And Ethan is on “Bizarre” and “Golden Age,” “I Am,” “Can’t Take This Life.” I think you can instantly recognize what songs I am. I’m on a song called “You Make Me Wanna.” I’m playing the solo on that. I’m playing the solo on “Comfort Zone” and I think you can recognize instantly, that’s Michael. Because they have a little bit more of a Stryper kind of sound and feel. And that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to bring in Joel and Ethan because I didn’t want the album to sound so much like Stryper. Plus, they’re just stupid talented. Two of my favorite players right now. And I’m just so honored and proud of those guys and thrilled to have them on my album.

MM: If you do solo dates, will it be Ethan who’ll do them with you or…”

MS: You know what man, that remains to be seen. It’s all dependent upon who’s available. What would be really cool was if they both were available and I could take them both out.

MM: Yeah, that would be sweet.

MS: And we could have a triple guitar attack going at these shows. I’d love to take Will. Will Hunt. And I would love to take Todd. That would be a pretty stellar band. I would even venture to say and go as far as to say about as good as it gets. Todd’s an amazing singer and a great bass player. And you know how great Joel and Ethan are. And Will is one of my favorite drummers going right now in rock. He’s amazing.

MM: John wouldn’t do it because he’s a session player?

MS: Well, no, John does things as well. He’s in a couple bands. But, you know, John’s a family guy as well. I don’t know if John would want to pick up and leave for a couple of months. He may. He may. I mean, we’re all family guys, but I think, if I’m not mistaken, John’s in a position where he’s gotta be there to take his kids to school and all that kind of stuff.

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MM: So, you haven’t been doing any solo dates at all yet?

MS: No. No solo dates yet. I’m planning on doing the Stryper tour this year – To Hell With The Devil – then a Stryper album in February and then a Sweet & Lynch album right after that, back to back, and then after I want to start touring next year with a solo band and I also want to do some Sweet & Lynch dates with James and Brian and George and myself. And we’re gonna do some Stryper dates sprinkled throughout the year.

MM: You have a guest [on “Can’t Take This Life”] called Moriah Formica [pronounced incorrectly] –

MS: Moriah Formica [pronounced correctly]. She’s fifteen years old.

MM: Really?

MS: Yup. Fifteen. Blew my mind. I did a solo show with her acoustic and I kept coming out to hear her play and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She was singing Heart “Barracuda” and killing it. “I Remember You” by Skid Row and killing it – singing better than Sebastian ever dreamed of singing it. And she’s a guitar player. She’s amazing guitar player. Not just rhythm but she plays lead guitar. She solos. She’s a rocker. She’s a rock star. My wife suggested we work with her and I reached out to her and invited her to be on my album and she agreed and the rest is history.

MM: She’s got such a powerful voice. I never would have suspected that she was that young.

MS: Fifteen and I think she’s a rock star in the making and I think the world’s gonna be hearing a lot about Moriah in the near future.

MM: One Sided War is out on Rat Pak Records, which have put out a few albums by classic metal artists, but just out of curiosity I was wondering why it didn’t end up on Frontiers like the last Stryper album?

MS: Well, the truth is – you want the truth? Or do you want the white-washed story?

MM: Whatever you’re most comfortable with.

MS: Rat Pak just showed me that they had a stronger vision for me as a solo artist. Joe was much more excited about working with me. There was a lot of respect there. He made me a great offer. And, I’ll tell ya, Frontiers does a great job. I’ve got nothing against Frontiers but I am blown away at the job that Rat Pak and Joe O’Brien has done with the solo album. The videos, top notch. I think “Radio,” the quality of that video, is better than any Stryper video in the last 10 years.

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MM: Definitely.

MS: So, he’s just shown me that he’s doing quality. He doesn’t release a lot of albums but everything he releases is great. So, he’s done a fantastic job and I’m really thrilled and honored to be a part of the Rat Pak family. I did take the album to Frontiers. Out of respect, I went there first. And I said, do you guys want to do this? They made me an offer that just wasn’t do-able. I could not have gotten the job done the way I like to do things. I would’ve had to compromise the quality a lot. And Joe made me a better offer. He just did. And he seemed much more excited about working with me and I just felt like that was the place to go. That’s an exclusive right there, man. That’s no disrespect to Frontiers. I don’t mean any disrespect to them. As a matter of fact, Stryper’s getting ready to do a new album with Frontiers. So, I think Frontiers does a great job as well but it wasn’t the place for Michael Sweet’s solo album.

MM: Will One Sided War be released on vinyl?

MS: That’s a good question. I hope so.

MM: Yeah, me, too.

MS: I haven’t heard anything about that yet, but I think that would be something we would want to do.

MM: Especially where it’s gotten so popular again.

MS: Oh yeah, absolutely.

MM: You had also talked about wanting to do a whole album with Joel Hoekstra. Is that something that’s scheduled in on your busy schedule yet?

MS: It’s not scheduled in yet. But Joel and I have talked many times about doing that. And we’ve agreed that we’re going to do it. So, it’s gonna happen. It’s just a matter of time. I’ve got the Stryper album and then the Sweet and Lynch album. And I would safely say at the very latest by the end of ’17 and no later than the beginning of ’18 we will be in the studio making an album.

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MM: How many dates will there be on the To Hell With The Devil tour?

MS: We’re looking at 40 plus dates. I think right now we’ve got 25 plus dates on the books. We’re gonna be adding more dates in the next few weeks and we’re hoping to have 40 plus dates on the books when all is said and done.

MM: It killed me that I couldn’t go to your show not too long ago at Mohegan Sun.

MS: You know what, maybe we’ll have another one? Who knows?

MM: The really frustrating thing about it was that I was there the two previous nights. I saw The Killers and then I saw Gin Blossoms –

MS: – We saw the Gin Blossoms. We were there that night in the audience watching them.

MM: I remember he said that, but from where I was sitting I didn’t see you guys.

MS: Great show. I love the Gin Blossoms.

MM: Yeah, after that I had to go home with my ride. I couldn’t afford another night at the hotel and a bus ride home.

MS: Well, you’ve gotta come for sure and see us next time we’re local. You’ve gotta come.

MM: Will you be performing To Hell With The Devil front to back at these shows or are you changing the order around a little?

MS: We’re not. We’re gonna perform it front to back in the original sequence order that is on the album. But we’re gonna also be adding six, seven, eight songs to the end. So, it’s a nice, long full set.

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MM: That sounds like what Extreme did when I saw them on the Pornograffitti tour.

MS: Yeah, I mean, because the To Hell With The Devil is only like 43 or 4 minutes long. So, if we only did that album with talking it would only be a 55 or 60 minute set. So, we want to make it a good hour and a half. So, we’ll add at least five, six, seven songs. Before the set we might show some video footage and old stills of the band and give it a little bit of a history. It’s gonna be a cool show, man.

MM: The To Hell With The Devil album has you at your prime, hitting high notes galore. Is it tough to hit them still?

MS: It is. I don’t hit them all. I only hit some of them. As I get older, it gets a little tougher. The toughness isn’t hitting them, it’s hitting them over and over again and consistently. In the old days I could hit [them] one song ten screams a night per song. It was easy. But now it’s not so easy. The vocal chords change and what not. That’s the way life works.

MM: Do you have to do anything special to keep your voice in shape when you’re on the road?

MS: A bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes. [Both laugh] I don’t man. I try to take care of myself and stay away from people that are sick and get good sleep and that’s about it.

MM: How have you managed not to wind up with a Massachusetts accent?

MS: You know, I don’t know, man. I’ve been here for 21 years. I have no idea. Some people tell me I have a little bit of one but I don’t hear it and I hope not to hear it. [Laughs]

MM: I lived in Glendale, California for three years and I kind of lost it but I came back here and it came back.

MS: It depends, I think, on where you live in Massachusetts. Some areas have much stronger accents. Like certain parts of the Cape, it’s really strong. Where I live here in Plymouth, most people you run into don’t have an accent.

MM: Mine’s really bad, right?

MS: [Laughs] Well, hey, man, wear it proudly, you know?

MM: I’ll tell you one thing, when I was living in California I had no trouble making friends because everybody thought my accent was so cool. It was crazy. I was like a novelty item but I didn’t mind.

MS: That’s awesome.

MM: At the end of our interviews we always ask some random questions. When we did your first interview I had a million questions so I didn’t get to that, but I was wondering if we could do a few of those now?

MS: Absolutely.

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MM: OK. What was the first album you ever bought with your own money?

MS: First album I ever bought with my own money was – people are gonna laugh at this one – it was a Donny Osmond album. It was a Donny Osmond solo album and that’s the first album I ever bought.

MM: Do you remember the name of the album?

MS: I don’t, but one of the songs on it was “Puppy Love” [Laughs]. I was young man. We were living in Oklahoma at the time. So, I was really young.

MM: Name three artists in your parents record collection who you actually like?

MS: Oh, man. Elvis Presley. Huge Elvis fan. My dad was the biggest Elvis fan. Still is on the planet. My dad loved Creedence Clearwater Revival, so did I and so do I. One of my favorite bands of all time. And the Beatles.

MM: If someone was giving you a million dollars to give to charity and it all had to go to one charity, which charity or cause would you give it to and why?

MS: I’d definitely research that a little bit and give it to a cancer charity for sure. I just don’t know which one at the moment. But, I mean, hopefully soon there is a cure for cancer all together.

MM: What I wonder is if there’s a cure and they just make so much money treating it that they don’t want to.

MS: I hope not. Because that would be just about as evil as it gets.

MM: It’s funny how they came up with this cocktail of drugs where if you have HIV and you take it, it doesn’t progress to Aids and you can live a relatively normal life.

MS: I know.

MM: How is it they can come up with this cocktail that works so well but they can’t cure it?

MS: You know, I’m not a conspiracist, and never have been, but I would agree that with the technology and advancement that we have and all the years of research and money that we would have something, as you said, that would prolong life and that would get people through or outright cure it. And you would think that’s achievable in 2016. But it’s not. It just seems to be this ongoing thing. Again, not to sound like a conspiracy theory guy but I’ll never forget going to the hospital and level after level chair after chair with people getting chemo. And I’ll never forget that and just thinking to myself, oh my gosh, and the cost of having that done – what the insurance companies are paying, or people who don’t have insurance, it’s just through the roof. So, you can only imagine the billions and billions of dollars that someone’s making. It’s crazy.

MM: So, what are some of your all-time favorite books?

MS: I’ll be honest, I’m not a big reader.

MM: Well, then why don’t we do all-time favorite movies?

MS: All-time favorite movies. I do read, I’m just not a big reader. I don’t make the time to do that. All time favorite movies, I’m gonna sound like a geek again, but I love the movie The Breakfast Club. I could watch that movie 100 times in a row and never burn out. There’s another movie that I love – I’m a chick flick sucker. There’s a movie called Music & Lyrics. It wasn’t the greatest movie, but it made me feel good. I think because of love. I think because of music. I could relate to it. And, again, one of those movies I could watch over and over again.

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MM: That was Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore?

MS: Exactly.

MM: That was a good one.

MS: Probably got out of five stars, three and a half or three or whatever. [Laughs] But I love that movie. I’m a sucker for some of the old classics, too. Especially, I love the old cheese ball Elvis movies. Like Loving You. I love it. Because I’m a big Elvis fan. I do love movies. I’m real picky about movies. And a lot of the new movies I think are just garbage compared to the past. The depth isn’t there. It’s all about effects now.

MM: The story isn’t there.

MS: Not there. The writing is lacking but the effects are booming. Then it looks spectacular but you leave there going, OK…

MM: What’s the strangest gift you’ve ever received from a fan?

MS: Oh, man. Strangest gift? I think the strangest gift for me – because the moment was strange – somebody made a portrait of me and the portrait looked nothing like me. I mean, it looked like another person. There was not one thing that was recognizable and because of that when I saw it I think I actually gasped a bit. I think that was the strangest moment. Maybe the strangest gift.

MM: That’s an odd one.

MS: But, you know, they took the time to do that and that was very sweet of them, obviously.

MM: Is it sitting somewhere in your garage now?

MS: I don’t even know where it is. Probably in storage. I definitely didn’t get rid of it. I have a lot of stuff in storage. Bins of stuff that I’ve collected over the years, so it’s probably in there.

MM: One last question: if you could resurrect any one musician from the dead, who would it be?

MS: Oh, man. Oh boy. I would say Randy Rhodes. Randy was definitely an inspiration to me as a player and as a person. I never met him but I heard nothing but great things about him and what a kind human being he was. And, as a player, he really influenced me a lot. I’m nowhere near the level of player he was, nor would I ever claim to be. But he really inspired me to want to be better. And I’ll never forget when he came on the scene I started getting more and more into guitar. Him and Eddie Van Halen. Those two were my biggest influences on guitar.

Extra special thanks to Michael for doing this interview and to Brian Mayes at Nashville Publicity Group for setting it up!

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Written by

Paris365

An entertainment journalist for 20 years, Michael McCarthy was a columnist and contributing editor for the magazines Lollipop and LiveWire. He co-created and wrote for Cinezine, one of the '90's most popular movie E-zines. The only time he's not listening to music is when he's watching television shows and movies or reading, usually music magazines.

2 Comments to “MICHAEL SWEET: THE LOVE IS POP INTERVIEW 2”

  1. Boba Fee says:

    What a wonderful interview. I love how you talked about things I’d never expect to be discussed in an interview with a rock star like this. Like how so many bands are releasing albums without much energy and the evils of prescription drug companies.

  2. gizmo8989 says:

    I wish the whole interview was one long conversation like those big chunks of it are.

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