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Aquanet and God: An interview with Stryper guitarist Oz Fox

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Stryper
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Many would consider Oz Fox a rockstar. He gained musical success in the ’80s as a guitarist in a yellow-and-black spandex-wearing heavy metal glam band. Eventually, he married a former prostitute and moved to Las Vegas. Pretty rock ‘n’ roll, right?

Now, for the twist: Fox is also a devout Christian. That Aquanet-embracing hair band he’s the guitarist for? It’s named Stryper, an acronym for Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace, Encouragement and Righteousness. And his new wife? She’s Annie Lobert, the founder of nonprofit organization Hookers for Jesus.

Fox’s meshing of electric guitars and God creates an anomaly that some simply can’t wrap their head around – even after two decades. Stryper is currently traveling the country for their 25th Anniversary Greatest Hits Tour, which stops by Chrome Showroom at Sante Fe Station this Friday. The Weekly caught up with the new Las Vegan during his downtime in Denver, Colo., to talk a little about God, heavy metal and mixing the two together.

Calendar

Stryper's 25th Anniversary Greatest Hits Tour
Nov. 13, 8 p.m., $27.50, +21
Chrome Showroom at Santa Fe Station

How was it reuniting with Stryper after an 11-year hiatus?

Well, there were still a lot of things that weren’t different. It wasn’t that long of a change where we all turned into these different guys. We’re all the same guys. I think a little wiser in certain ways, more stubborn in other ways. Ultimately, I think, as time went on we kind of learned to understand the importance of this band to so many people, and that’s just become more of the priority. … When you start thinking of things in that way, in those terms, it changes. It’s not, “Oh this is just a regular rock band” or “This is four dudes trying to make it work and strangling each other.” It’s really more of a calling than anything else.

Speaking of the band’s effect on people, do you feel, or have people told you, that Stryper has influenced newer Christian rock bands?

Yeah. I would have to say that as far as the Christian rock genre goes, there were a lot of people that were influenced by us. So many will say we paved the way for so many of them that have become pretty popular in the mainstream. That’s an amazing thing. Also, it’s kind of bittersweet. We’ve yet to still cross back into the mainstream like we did in the ’80s. We’re now on our second album that we’ve recorded since the band got back together, and there’s no real marketing or publicity going on. It’s kind of weird, but at the same time, the people come out of the woodwork to see us. We got pretty good crowds at our shows.

What kind of difficulties did Stryper face back in the ’80s?

Being in a Christian heavy metal band, you have the opposition from both sides – the Christian and the mainstream. It’s hard to please certain people when they think you can’t mix Christianity and heavy metal together – or the image. Back in the day, it was spandex pants and Aquanet and face-makeup that made you look perfect. To a lot of Christians that was an abomination to God. On the other hand, on the mainstream side, they heard that we were Christian and they’d look at us and say, “These guys can’t be any good.”

Has that changed at all since the ’80s?

I kind of feel a little more respect from the mainstream side. … It’s great. I still think there are some people who still hate us no matter what. In the Christian side, we’ve been accepted because of the track record, longevity. I believe there’s a certain amount of respect that comes from the church. [It] sees we’re not fake. We’re sincere. We’re still doing it.

How do you deal with the naysayers?

The best thing you can do is just be obedient to God, and you have to worry about what God thinks, not what people think. As long as you’re in obedience to God, then you’re on the right track. That’s pretty much it.

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