Stryper The Fathers Of Christian Metal

Stryper The Fathers Of Christian Metal (Mark Weiss / May 15, 2013)

In 1984, heavy metal was the realm of hairspray-abusing, Smirnoff-guzzling degenerates, its imagery favoring the roasty "Southern" end of the religious spectrum. Out of Orange County, Calif., a black-and-yellow-striped quartet, calling itself Stryper, arrived and announced, loudly with two albums: "To Hell With The Devil!" and "In God We Trust!" Christian metal was born, and it was good. Thirty years later, the original members of Stryper — Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass), and Robert Sweet (drums) — are still rocking out together. They'll play the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den on Friday, Jan. 3, at 8 p.m.

CTNow: 2014 will be the 30th anniversary of the birth of Stryper. Did you have any idea at the time that you'd be playing together for so long?

MS: Actually no. I had no idea, and to think that not only are we still together and actively touring but we're still making relevant music and it feels as though we're in our prime.

CTNow: Christian metal was a new thing at the time, and Stryper was pioneers of the genre. What do you hear now coming out of the Christian metal scene?

MS: I'm not too tapped into the Christian music scene, so I'm not an expert. I do, however, love a few select Christian bands such as Skillet and Switchfoot. They are amazing.

CTNow: What would you have done differently with your career?

MS: I would have tried harder to make certain that Stryper wasn't labeled or put into a box. We often are and unfortunately I feel that it hinders our efforts. I also may have gone with red and black instead of yellow and black.

CTNow: What do you think you would be doing if you never became a musician?

MS: I'm quite certain I would have been a doctor. I almost decided to do just that many years ago.

CTNow: Do you remember the first record you ever purchased with your own money?

MS: I believe it was the first Boston album when I was 13 and oddly enough, I wound up becoming a member of the band 31 years later! Funny how life works itself out.

CTNow: Beatles or Stones? Sabbath or Zeppelin? Nirvana or Pearl Jam?

MS: Undeniably The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Nirvana. That was easy.

Information: Jan. 3, 8 p.m. Free. Mohegan Sun Wolf Den, Uncasville, mohegansun.com