By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
Stryper's own fall from grace was just around the corner: For the 1990 album Against the Law, the band took a decidedly secular stance, dropping the Christian themes from its lyrics, ditching the yellow-and-black costumes in favor of a harder-edged look, and even dabbling in a little drinking and partying on the road. Within a few years, they broke up. "At that point in our career, we were just bitter," Michael says. "We had had enough of getting beat up on from every side, and we were angry. But the way we handled it, I felt like we had become hypocrites. I'd love to go back and play that part of my life over again, but you live and learn."
These days, Michael is unfazed by his critics, though he points out that "in some ways, we have it even tougher today. Now we have to contend not only with being a Christian band, but also being an '80s band." But perhaps there are new possibilities on the horizon. Last year, he dipped his toe into the secular music world, signing on as a singer and guitarist for classic rockers Boston; he has plans to record and tour with the band in the near future. And then there's Stryper's big-screen debut: Whip It, the upcoming Drew Barrymore–directed roller-derby flick, features Juno girl Ellen Page draped in an oversize To Hell With the Devil–era tour T-shirt.
"I heard about that," says Michael. "I suppose it could mean there'll a little bit of a resurgence in what we do. But I don't know—a lot of times when a band has a resurgence, it goes to this next level, like what happened with Aerosmith in the '80s. But with Stryper, it's always been one little thing here and one little thing there."
He continues: "Because of the Christian aspect, it sometimes feels like we're banging our heads against the wall. But we'll keep doing it, because we have the same goals and desires when it comes to the music and the message as we always had—to give people hope for tomorrow, to be a light in the dark. We want to give back to God. So we'll bandage up our heads and just keep going."
Stryper play the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza September 18