A bunch of guys with long hair playing flashy guitars in a claustrophobic room, with arty images interspersed. If Stryper’s new video for “Pride” — the first single from the group’s latest album Fallen (out Oct. 16) — looks a little old school, the group takes that as a compliment.
“It’s hard when you make videos for a band like Stryper these days, ’cause a lot of times you don’t have the budget,” frontman Michael Sweet tells Billboard about the clip, which Billboard is premiering exclusively below. “Back in the days when we made ‘Calling On You,’ those big videos in the ’80s, you were talking $100,000, $200,000 budgets. Right now you’re very fortunate if you have a $5,000 budget to make a video, so you’ve got to be more creative. Sometimes they’re not what you expect them to be or aren’t comparable to what you did before, but I think ‘Pride’ is an exception. We’re very pleased with it.”
Watch the exclusive premiere of “Pride” below.
The song itself, meanwhile, is a characteristic Stryper cautionary tale warning about excessive, well, pride, and incorporating the dual aspects of the Christian headbangers’ musical personality. “It’s a perfect merger of the melodic side with the heavy side,” Sweet explains. “If you were to combine ‘To Hell with the Devil’ and ‘Calling On You’…In the old days we always had the heavy songs and then poppier songs. This is a merge of the two. It’s got it all, and I think people are going to like it — the feedback we’ve been getting from people who heard it is great so far.”
The “Pride” video, which features subtle nods to Stryper’s black-and-yellow striped costumes of the ’80s, isn’t the only throwback aspect about Fallen, which comes out Oct. 16. To Sweet’s ears, the group’s 11th album returns Stryper to its metal roots, hitting harder and louder — by design — than some of the group’s best-known material.
“It’s definitely Stryper getting back to its heavy side. We’re never gonna be a thrash metal band or anything like that, but I think it’s our heaviest album to date,” Sweet says. “Y’know, when we were kids we started off just doing what we loved to do, which was metal. If you listen to our first couple of albums, it was heavy, heavy stuff. Then we got pressure from the label to give them radio-friendly songs and ballads and blah, blah, blah. Once we started down that road we continued down that road, and it took a little while to get back to our foundation, which we finally did. Now we’re not really thinking about radio at all, not caring about it. We’re just doing what we want to do with an album.”
Fallen will send Stryper back on the road in 2016, which coincides with the 30th anniversary of the group’s platinum best-seller To Hell With the Devil. After having new versions of the old outfits made for a festival in Japan a few years back, the group is considering donning them once again, and possibly playing To Hell… in its entirety along with the material from Fallen and other favorites.
“As corny as it sounds, I think other people would view it as a great thing,” Sweet says. “If we wait for the 50-year anniversary, I’m afraid the suits won’t fit us anymore! Honestly, it doesn’t feel like 30 years. Maybe 30 weeks. It feels like the past 30 years have gone by very quickly. But I have a feeling Fallen is going to be pretty successful, so we’re ready to go out and tour again and get the next 30 (years) going.”