Since 1983, Stryper has shone the light of Jesus on a style of music typically associated with the dark, debauched side of life. The glam metal band relaxed its outrageous black-and-yellow striped look in the early ’90s, then disbanded in ’92 when the genre went the way of the flying dragon-beast-thing ridden by a big-breasted cartoon woman. The hair metal revival of the early part of this decade spurred the band to reunite in 2003, and Stryper’s been performing/preaching since. At times the band was accused of blasphemy and devil worshiping—not true, folks. Last week I spoke with lead guitarist Oz Fox, and, whoa, this band loves the Lord.
Stryper’s still rockin’ the gospel
I read that a friend of yours turned the band on to Christ—what was your life like before that happened?
At the time, before it was called Stryper, I was not following the faith. It was pretty much a party lifestyle. There was a time when a friend said, You guys just give your music over to God, and He'll take you places you wouldn't normally go if you glorify His name through your music. So we made a decision to do that.
You guys got backlash from the Christian community. Were you ever accused of being devil-worshipers?
We had a handful of legalistic Christians who felt we couldn't mix rock 'n' roll with Christianity. They felt music could only be sung with softer tones and more choir-like, operatic, angelic styles of singing. Unfortunately, that was not reaching a certain set of people, and I really believe God is dynamic and diverse in the way He reaches people. Jesus didn't have one set way of reaching a person—there were some times when He would get out and tell people to repent for their sins. Other times He spat in the mud and healed somebody with it—He rubbed it in their eyes so they could see again. There were so many different things He did; there are so many ways God can reach people.
Do you still throw bibles out at shows?
I understand you guys had got a lawsuit from that?
I'm not real sure about that. I did hear something about someone trying to sue us for getting hit in the eye with a bible. This was back in the late '80s when we were playing arenas. Robert used to tape the bibles shut with Scotch tape and Frisbee them out, and somebody got hit in the eye.
At this point, are you still having fun touring with Stryper?
Fun is pretty much in the hands of each person. Some people have fun, and some people won't. But, in my book, I have fun at times and other times it's grueling work. Living out of a suitcase isn't always that fun, being away from your family isn't fun, but it's nice to be able to perform and be in front of an awesome crowd of people.