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Oz Fox – Guitar for Stryper

Date: 3/10/11
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Stryper recently put out an album of all covers. Which are your favorites and why?

OZ: It’s hard to pick a favorite because I’m partial to many of those songs and there’s something to like in every one so its an experience every time I turn one on which makes it hard to pick favorites. If you’re doing music like this and you record it, listen to it and enjoy it yourself, like it’s a different band, I guess you’re going in the right direction, hahaha.

2. What songs were on the B-list?

OZ: Ones that didn’t make it...we were toying with a few ideas. We mentioned doing something by Queen, like ‘Keep Yourself Alive’, I wouldn’t have minded doing ‘Brighton Rock’ which is old school stuff. And then I would have loved to do a Journey song but we wanted to stay more in the metal zone, and Kansas’ ‘Carry On Your Wayward Son’ kind of also crosses that line but we do it more metal and its also more progressive so it fit. We were thinkin about doin ‘Aint Talkin Bout Love’ from Van Halen instead of ‘On Fire’, we played that on the "Against The Law" tour in the 90s. We were also thinkin about doing ‘Blue Collar Man’ from Styx, and Michael kinda sounds like Dennis DeYoung at times.

3. Did you guys consider doing any songs by bands who were much heavier than Stryper? Like something in Metallica or Slayer territory?

OZ: No, because we were picking songs from bands who influenced Styper, bands like Metallica and Slayer did not influence us and we didn’t listen to them growing up. And Metallica and Slayer were coming on the scene when we were too, not to say they’re not great bands, but we just wanted to show off our roots.

4. Tell us about the one original song, ‘God’, on "The Covering"?

OZ: It’s a song Michael (Sweet – vocals, guitar) had an idea for, it had a cool run and melody, but the reason why we did it was we wanted to show people we haven’t left our faith because so many took us doing a covers album the wrong way.

5. Really? After 25 years of doing Stryper people still think you would leave your faith?

OZ: Yeah, its just the way (unfortunately) many of these Christian groups, some, not all, feel like if you play any kind of music that isn’t Christian based or about Jesus, then it’s not of God and you’re compromising yourself. What’s ridiculous about that (one of several things), is that how do you know the streets your drive on are built by Christians? How do you know the food your are eating at a restaurant was prepared by a Christian cook? I mean its so ridiculous to think someone would have that kind of attitude. We live in a world, and being Christian like I am, I love classical, jazz, country music, there is just so much great music to listen to and if somebody can’t break that whole “I can’t listen to nothing but Christian music” attitude, well your missing out on a lot of stuff. You might as well lock yourself in a room and fill it with nothing but Christian items and never leave the house. That’s why there are so many different cultures and art, mountains, lakes, deserts, and each have their own beauty.

6. Now with that answer, does Stryper always feel like they have to write these faith based songs (I know the "Against The Law" album broke out of that mold) all the time?

OZ: Honestly I don’t think we have any set rules as to the amount of Christian based lyrics in our songs. What matters is our own lives and how we love others, and show people we are followers of Christ because of that love to other people. As far as music goes, we are going to do what we feel like doing, if that means we write a song that has to do with life, and something to do with an issue in the world, then we don’t have any problem writing music that doesn’t have just Christian lyrics. Now, out of respect for the people who do follow us in that way we may throw in a song with Christian lyrics because we do respect our fans and that’s what they want to hear. I mean its nothing new, there are R&B artists from back in the day that would throw a gospel song on to appease their parents. It’s in good form if you do something like that, to make both sides happy, it’s not selling out, just out of respect. But if we didn’t do it I still don’t think it would be wrong.

7. How many of these songs on "The Covering" are you playing live?

OZ: I think four right now and we are still playing Stryper songs (and throwing in a few we haven’t done in a while too).

8. When I saw you on the 25th Anniversary Tour, is there a reason why you didn’t do anything off "In God We Trust"?

OZ: Good question. We actually worked out one song from that album but for some reason Michael wasn’t feeling it (one of the singles), but for some reason he backed away from that album. I mean we can do one, we already rehearsed a song for this tour, but Michael has to feel good about doing it. I was bummed about not doing it so at soundcheck I always play it, hahaha.

9. I really like ‘The Writings On The Wall’ from “In God We Trust”. Do you ever play that one live and is it a consideration?

OZ: Yeah I really like that tune and it has been a consideration we just have to work on it. The problem is the vocal range, it’s a very high register and it’s very difficult to do it every night, so rather than ruin our throats (and its not like we aren’t doing it already with the stuff we do, hahaha) for the tour, it’s better that we chose a song that’s in a lower register.

10. You said you are doing a couple songs that haven’t been done in a while. In a related question about the album ‘Against The Law” which I think is one of your strongest along with "Soldiers Under Command" and "To Hell With The Devil", you usually play ‘All For One’ live. Are there any songs you’d like to do off that album? Like the title track, ‘Two Time Woman’, or ‘Two Bodies’?

OZ: I’d like to do plenty but again there’s that factor of the vocal register, I mean Michael really did a lot more in your face rock screaming on that album and in 1991 when we toured for that album his voice was in his prime for that kind of stuff and he could belt it out left and right. Now it’s a little tougher these days, and he’ll admit it, but he still has it as you can hear on "The Covering", but when you’re on the road singing like that every night O my God, haha. Its hard enough for the rest of us doing the high stuff in the background vocals. So you know ‘All For One’ is easy enough cause its in a lower register, but I’ve talked to him about doing some other stuff. We actually talked about doing the title track on this tour but I don’t know why it didn’t make it.

11. Has "The Covering" inspired some ideas for the next studio album?

OZ: Definitely, apparently Michael is writing some new stuff inspired from "The Covering". We are even talking about a "Covering II".

12. What newer metal bands do you listen to? Has anybody really caught your ear?

OZ: I gotta tell you bro, I’m a classic rock guy. There’s really not much out there that has caught my attention, a lot sounds the same. I spend a lot of my time watching VH1 Classic and watching videos from Judas Priest, Scorpions, Led Zepplin, Deep Purple…I have a bunch of DVDs from Hendrix (Jimi), because its all the foundation for what came after. The Who were great.

13. What kind of guitars are you playin now? Any from the 80s?

OZ: I still have one of my Jacksons from the 80s, but now I’m working with a company called GMW, really awesome stuff.

Official website: http://www.stryper.com


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