Among the few 'Christian Metal' artists and groups to rise to both critical and commercial prominence during the 1980's, none would prove to be as successful as Orange County, California-born veterans Stryper. Primarily fueled by brothers Michael (vocals/guitar) and Robert Sweet (drums), they were eventually joined by guitarist Oz Fox and bassist Timothy Gaines prior to releasing The Yellow And Black Attack (1984). Issuing a series of Gold and Platinum releases (Soldiers Under Command, 1985 To Hell With The Devil, 1986 In God We Trust, 1988), the group would sporadically re-unite after imploding amid an array of internal conflicts and 'musical differences'. Now, nearly thirty-five (!) years, eleven studio records and countless world tours later, Gaines finds himself officially out of the group and about to embark upon the boldest, most exciting era of his notable métier.
Todd: What ultimately led to your departure from Stryper? There have been 'conflicting' rumors regarding it all.
Tim: “I had been a disagreement with Michael and myself dealing with my divorce and re-marriage. ...They seemed to want to get involved with my personal life. It seemed to be a big factor within the band, so they fired me. It sounds terrible, but the whole thing went down because all of their wives are such good friends. Michael's wife Lisa said 'I'm not good with this at all'. She was like 'This is exactly what my ex did to me, so I'm having a really hard time with you doing this', so you can only imagine. I went through twenty years of being with my ex-wife and things didn't work out. I love her as a person, but we weren't in love anymore. I was miserable and I needed to get out, so when I saw my chance, I took it. Life moves on. They were very good friends with her and they chose her instead of me. (laughs) That's basically how it all went down. They choose my ex-wife over me.”
Todd: At this point, what is next up for you? Now that you are officially--and legally--no longer a member of Stryper, I would imagine there are a wealth of different opportunities available to you. How do you restart it all?
Tim: “Right now, I got three band projects that I've been working with. I'm working on another solo CD and I've got a biography that I'm outlining and slowly putting together. I'd like to get finished by the end of this year. That's pretty much what I'm doing right now. Of the three bands I'm working with, one's a local band in Phoenix. I live in Phoenix now after living in Nashville for over fourteen years. My wife and I relocated here because this is where she's from and where she grew up. I'm hooking up with a lot of new people out here that are more along the genre that I used to play in during the '80s. A lot of the Metal bands from LA live in Phoenix now versus Nashville where it was a lot of country artists. There were still some '80s guys out there, too like (Matthew and Gunnar) Nelson and the Cinderella and Slaughter guys. I'm hooking up with a lot of different guys out here that I'm able to work with. We're putting together a group of former '80s Metal rockers. A lot of us are still working in various different groups, but we're putting together a band called Sons Of Metal. It features some of the guys that used to be on MTV back in the day. We've got Bret Kaiser who is the singer for Madam X, (guitarist) Steve Conley from Flotsam And Jetsam, who are also making a new record right now as well as (guitarist) John Aquilino from Icon and (drummer) Dwain Miller from Keel. At first, we will be doing covers AC/DC, Judas Priest and other Heavy Metal stuff and we're also going to do songs of our own bands. We're also working on original music. We'd like to put out an EP and maybe get into the casinos. That's where the money is right now as far as getting out and playing. A lot of these bands that are out there right now and doing really well are cover bands. We've been doing this since June or July (of 2017), so we're hoping to make our debut next month by playing locally. Then, maybe get on the Monsters Of Rock Cruise or whatever. It's all open now.”
Todd: You're certainly keeping yourself busy. Am I correct in understanding you are also part of a Super Group?
Tim: “I've also been with another group that could be called a Super Group. I've been with this group for two years. I did an album with them that was released last year. Deon Floridio on vocals, ex-Dokken guitarist Alex De Rosso and Matt Star on drums who plays with (ex-Kiss guitarist) Ace Frehley and Mr. Big. We're also going to have a keyboardist come in and play on it, but I don't know if I can say who it is yet. I don't think everything is written in stone yet, I won't mention his name. We've got an album that's going to start being recorded this year and will probably be out by early 2019. I just joined a new group and we're working on an album called Of Gods and Monsters. It features Kevin Goocher, who was the lead singer in Omen and Joey Tafolla, a guitar shredder that plays with everybody and Deen Castronovo (ex-Journey, Ozzy Osbourne, Revolution Saints) on drums. We hope to have an album out early spring. A lot of guys are doing this right now because the music business is all so backwards. You've got to be doing all these things just so you can see if any of it will take off.”
Todd: It must feel absolutely amazing to finally be entirely in control of your musical destiny. You're a free man.
Tim: “There's a benefit to staying at home and sleeping in your own bed and having a steady gig. That's what it did for me. I ended up in management and did pretty well. In 2003, I decided to make a change and I moved to Nashville. I stayed out there for fourteen years and did some touring. I toured with Richard Marx, did a lot of recording and joined a jazz group. I played out there with a jazz band for eight years. Then my best friend Chris Eddy and put together my first solo album. Chris is the son of the guitar legend Duane Eddy (“Because They're Young”, “Rebel Rouser”) We started working on it in 2008 and did it in the vein of what his dad did with the guitar back in the '60s. There really isn't a lot of flash in the playing. It's as if the bass assumes the role where a vocalist would be. I am not a flashy player. We focused on making instrumental music for everyone to listen to.”
Todd: You toured with Richard Marx? That's quite the departure from the music you've been doing with Stryper.
Tim: “It was a real big difference, although Stryper did do Pop ballads. It was a completely different audience. When I toured with Richard, we were doing casinos and other things like that. The audience at the casino gigs were he typical casino audience. Old people with oxygen masks and everything else you typically see in a casino. We did some really cool shows where we played theaters and did a few festivals. I met some really cool people on that tour. I also did a show in Trinidad with Air Supply and Christopher Cross (“Ride Like The Wind”, “Sailing”). My buddy David Clarke was playing with Christopher Cross at the time and he introduced me to Chris. Every now and then, when he comes to town, I'll go to the show. I got to meet all these people that were an influence on me growing up, or in my younger days as a musician, that did real well. ...It's a cool time.”
Todd: For the uninitiated, how did you initially become involved with Stryper? So much has been made of your departure that the origin of your many tenures within the group appear to have been almost entirely overlooked.
Tim: When I joined Stryper, it was an odd situation because the Robert and Michael are brothers and Oz was a school friend of theirs, so they all grew up together. They had gone through a lot of bass players, so when I came in, I fit the suit. Remember (the band) Johnny Bravo from The Brady Bunch? They hired Greg Brady because he fit the suit. That's where I fell in. I had the look, the hair and everything, so it was like 'Well, I look good for the band'. I don't think they really cared if I could play or not. And that issue showed its head during the recording of To Hell With the Devil. They asked me not to play on the album and also the following album (i.e. In God We Trust) and they used studio guys. The tensions had actually started happening way back in the beginning. On the Soldiers Under Command tour, the other three guys would been by themselves off on their own. It was like I never really fit in with them. It was very stressful. And those tensions continued to happen after the tour. It's was like 'Well, I know we've got an album to record, but I haven't heard from anybody in six months'. Nothing, silence. Then, one day they called me up and said 'We don't want you'. They called me to have a meeting and said 'We don't want you to play on the album and the Producer doesn't want you to play on the album, either'. I was like 'Whatever. It's fine. I'll just go away' (laughs). ...And that's pretty much what I did.”
Todd: From an outside perspective, it always seemed as if you were pushed to the side or left in the background.
Tim: “In the '80s, we all equally did interviews and it was much more of a band or group effort. Then Michael left the band in '92 and did his solo thing. The three of us continued on for another year with Oz on lead vocals, touring Europe and doing festivals. It was actually well received. We even auditioned several different singers and ended up getting a guy named Dale Thompson, who was the lead singer for the band Bride. He came in and was going to be our new singer, but everything started falling apart, so it didn't work out. Eventually, we folded for eight years. We all went in different directions. Oz and I stayed together playing music. We put together a band called Sin Dizzy, did some touring and released an album (He's Not Dead, 1999). For the most part, music was done as far as how it was for us in the 1980's. We all took on regular jobs. I worked in retail music at different musical instrument stores. I did that for ten years and actually made quite a decent living doing it, too.”
Todd: If my memory serves, they didn't waste any time finding a 'replacement' for you. That had to be awkward.
Tim: “They immediately got somebody to replace me, which was Matt Hurich from Leatherwolf, who had been a friend of mine. They got in the studio it and turned out he wasn't working out either. I don't know what went on- because this was all within a matter of a few months. They'd already had new Press photos done and had announced that Matt was in the band. Then it came time for them to tour. During this time, I had been keeping in touch with Oz. He was informing me of what was going on. He'd say 'Well, things aren't really working out. It's just not the same'. Two days before they were ready to go on tour, they called me and said 'We want to talk to you. Can you come down and have a meeting?' I went down to the studio where they were rehearsing at in Hollywood and they asked me if I wanted to come back to the band and do the tour. I said 'Sure, no problem.' I learned whatever songs they had and we were out on the road within a few days. That was for To Hell With The Devil. Then, the same thing happened again for In God We Trust. But after that, we did Against The Law (1990). and we wrote, rehearsed and played together as a band for eight nine months before we went into the studio. Against The Law was a true band effort from start to finish. ...It is probably my favorite record we did together.”
Todd: It's a shame Against The Law never received the same amount of devotion as it's predecessor. It was great.
Tim: “I think it's a great album. It really is one of my favorites from the catalog. Overall, everything ended in 1992 when Michael left. We'd been plugging away since 2009 until earlier last year when I was asked to leave. It’s all good. I’m now focusing on the things that I wanted to do anyway. In 2009, I was focused on my own career and I put everything on hold, so, that's where I'm at right now. I'm writing songs for my next solo release that I hope to start recording by the end of this year. I am hoping to have something released by early next year.”
Todd: I'm assuming the new solo material will be intended to be the follow-up to Breakfast At Timothy’s (2009)?
Tim: “That was funny. If you see the album cover itself, it's me in my dining room sitting at the table having breakfast with all my basses. It was a weird concept, but we had a good time. It's a solid instrumental CD. There's a couple songs that I should have left off, but we were trying to put everything on there that we recorded. I finally sold out of all my CD copies. I may end up re-ordering another thousand just to see if I can continue to sell them. Everybody buys downloads now, so it doesn't really make sense to spend the money to burn up a bunch of hard copies, but you never know. It's out there for all the digital outlets like Amazon and iTunes. It's out there everywhere. The thing that drives me crazy in this business is streaming. I don't make any money off of streaming. People ask me 'Is your album on Spotify?' and I'll be like 'Go listen to it, but if you're going to listen to it on Spotify, I'm not going to make anything off of it.' I don't expect to make a killing off of music sales. At this point, I'm just trying to keep my name out there. I want to work with as many people as possible. ...I want to play with a lot of different bands. I want to be who they will call when they need a bassist.”
Todd: What can you tell us about the King James era? Considering the amount of visibility you had while a member of Stryper, it's understandable that you and Robert were recruited for new 'high visible' Christian group.
Tim: “After Stryper broke up, guitarist Rex Carroll (Eden, Fierce Heart, Whitecross) was putting a group together and he thought it would be great if he could get the Stryper rhythm section. They had Robert and myself fly up to Chicago and recorded the album (King James, 1994) with the singer Jimi Bennett, who's a great guy and is still one of my good friends. We filmed a video in Nashville and released it. I can't say how well it did because at that point, I had already started working. I had a steady job with benefits. (laughs) Rex called me and wanted me to go on the road, but I said 'I've got steady income coming in now, so I can't. I finally have something that is reliable. I can't give up my family right now'. From then on, I have no idea what happened. I think they continued on with Robert on another album, but I don't remember. Overall, it was a great time. Dez Dickerson, who was with Prince, Produced the album. He's also still a good friend of mine. We've gotten together and played a few times and I've done some sessions for him in Nashville. All the people I've worked with over the years are still really good friends. To this day, I still work with a lot of these guys. It's a lot of fun.”
Todd: How did the first reunion 'come together'? I remember it being a phenomenal success. In hindsight, I'm surprised it didn't directly lead to more touring and new music featuring the original line-up. The time was right.
Tim: “In 2003 and 2004, we did a reunion tour. We got back together and did thirty dates in the States, but it just really wasn't where I was at the time. The band roles had changed and the leadership roles went in a different direction. It wasn't really a band effort anymore. It was one person. ...Michael did his solo thing in the '90s, but it really didn't do that well for him. It wasn't as big as what we all were as Stryper. Him taking us on, as the band Stryper, and still being in control was great because he's a great leader, a great Producer and a great songwriter. I have nothing bad to say about him in that role. He took on the band and took it in the direction it is in today. But in 2004, I finally said 'You know what? This really isn't what I had envisioned' and decided to try doing something on my own. From 2004 through 2009, I did a lot of different things. I played with people that I wanted to play with and recorded with a lot of people. I went and did my own thing. Then, in 2009, Michael's wife passed away and I went to pay my respects at the funeral. That must have touched Michael's heart because he asked if I wanted to do a reunion tour. It was our 25th anniversary tour and the original plan was to have me play the old songs and have the new bass player, Tracy (Ferrie, April McLean, Seraiah, Whitecross), play the new songs that they had recorded since I had left. But for whatever reason, Tracy didn't want to do it so he backed out, so I ended up taking on the role for both the old and the new songs. We did the tour, and then I fell into place, being the bass player again. We started making records and touring again, but this time, I came back as an employee of the band rather than a member. At this point, they'd formed a corporation, so my role became that of an employee. I showed up, did what I was supposed to, went home and collected my paycheck (laughs). Later on, things started progressing and tensions began to mount again. There were all of these tensions between Michael and I and they started rearing their ugly head. Micromanaging my personal life was one thing I wasn't going to allow. They asked to end the relationship with the woman who's now my wife and I refused. We went through a back and forth battle of lawsuits and I was fired. Over what, I'm not sure. It was not a real good time.”
Live At The Whisky (2014)
No More Hell To Pay (2013)
Second Coming (2013)
The Covering (2011)
Breakfast At Timothy's (2009)
The Roxx Regime Demos (2007)
King James (1994)
Against The Law (1990)
Soldiers Under Command (1985)
The Yellow And Black Attack (1984)
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