Skillet Singer John Cooper on ‘Unleashed,’ WWE and More

2016-10-04

Story by Anne Erickson

Interview: Skillet singer John Cooper chats on tour

Skillet is a rare kind of Christian band, one that appeals to mainstream hard rock crowds, tours with secular heavy music bands and also delivers an enduring message of faith and courage. That trend continues with Skillet’s tenth studio album, “Unleashed,” which dropped in August. The set debuted at No. 1 on the Christian Albums and Hard Rock Albums charts, and it also snagged a No. 3 spot on the general Billboard 200 chart.

Now, Skillet – which includes singer and bass player John Cooper, his wife, keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Korey Cooper, guitarist Seth Morrison and drummer Jen Ledger – is playing shows across the U.S. on their “Unleashed Tour.” The show has two Michigan dates this weekend, Thursday (Oct. 6) at The Intersection in Grand Rapids and Friday (Oct. 7) at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit.

While on tour, John spoke with Audio Ink Radio about “Unleashed,” his love for WWE (yes, professional wrestling) and why this particular tour is so killer.

Skillet is out on the road in support of “Unleashed.” How is the tour going?

It’s great! This is our first headlining tour on the album, and we came to Detroit earlier this year with Shinedown on the Uproar Tour, and now, we’re doing our own tour. It’s fun seeing the fans singing the songs off the album out there. It feels like a real community. It makes me feel good. We hope to see a lot of the fans out there.

Congratulations on the new album, “Unleashed.” Did you and your wife Korey write a lot of these songs together?

We did! We wrote about 28 songs at first and whittled them down. We always write together. We wrote “Hero” together and “Not Gonna Die.” This time, we had more time, because we were on the road a lot and had a ton of time to write together. It was really fun.

Let’s talk about the first single off the album, “Feel Invincible.” This song is doing great on Christian and mainstream rock radio. What’s it about?

That was a good example of how because we were on the road, we thought, “Why don’t we just write and want have fun doing it? We wrote a bunch of songs and just wrote what we were feeling and didn’t do any rewrites. Sometimes the lyrics don’t have to be all that deep or hyper intelligent. I wanted to write a song about finding that one thing that when you wake up in the morning with all the terrible things in the world – and you can’t escape it with the violence and racial tension and terrorism – that this person or thing makes you feel strong and face the world.

“Feel Invincible” has also been licensed for synch usage by the WWE during its WWE Battleground pay-per-view series and a bunch of other sports. Are you a WWE fan?

I am! The song now has also been picked up by pretty much every major sport outlet in the U.S., form the NFL to college football to major league baseball. The funny thing is that after we wrote it, someone said, “That could kind of be a good sports song.” (Laughs) The thing I really wanted it to be on was WWE. I even made some personal calls on that one. When I grew up, it was WWF, and I loved wrestling. I still love to watch it when it’s on, and it’s such a cool thing for young boys, especially. It’s a great American thing.

Would you say life is easier or more difficult as a Christian?

I think a better way to say it for me is that it’s not easier or more difficult, but it’s more peaceful. On the easier side of things, for me, my wife’s uncle just passed away, and his family is really close. For me, knowing that he was a Christian and that belief that we’ll have that and we’ll see each other again and reunite gives me so much peace when I go to bed at night. I can fall on my faith that love can change people and heal people no matter what you’ve been through. On the more difficult end, I would say in general that there’s a natural difficulty that comes with always wanting to do things the right way. Sometimes it’s not the easiest way. But, it’s the right way. Right now, one of the things we struggle with is that we’re not accepted everywhere on rock radio and with rock promoters because they see us as only a Christian band. Sometimes they don’t think we belong, and I think that’s a little bit of a prejudice against the music, because we don’t go out and preach like crazy. We play our music, and that’s who we are.

If there is a mission for Skillet, what is it?

We do have a lot of different kinds of missions. Some of them can be narrowed down to specific beliefs, and some are more macro. In general, music has always impacted me, ever since I was a kid. It was one of the only things that made sense to me. It made me feel good. Listening to Metallica as a young person made me feel better and more understood and not alone. I hope our music is doing the same thing out there for other people. On a macro level, I hope to spread my message that no matter who you are or where you come from and how useless you may feel, God is with you and that God does love you. That’s something I’m very passionate about, and I do hope people feel that.

Courtesy photo by Joseph Cultice


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