EDITOR’S NOTE: Skillet is an award-winning Christian rock band. They will be in concert in Tyler, along with other Christian artists, Third Day, Mandisa, Brandon Heath, Peter Furler and We As Human, on March 14. Visit www.oilpalace.com for more details on the concert. The Tyler Morning Telegraph interviewed Skillet’s lead singer, John Cooper, for this Q&A.
How did you get the name Skillet?
When we originally got together, we were from different bands from my church, and my pastor said ‘Hey, you should get with that guy, then you could call it “Skillet”; it will be like cooking with all these different ingredients, throw it all in a big skillet.”
Would you say the essence of the band is the same, even with having different band members over the years?
I think due to the fact that my wife, Korey — she’s been in the band since ’98, almost from the beginning—it’s kind of our baby. We write the music, we produce a lot of the music, we’re kind of the voice of Skillet.
Because of that, we’ve been able to transition a lot of different members in and out. And the reason we don’t maybe suffer a whole lot is those members weren’t maybe the principle songwriters and it’s not like all of a sudden you lost your songwriter, that’s what’s really difficult.
Yet, it is hard, especially because you grow close relationships and you get used to playing with someone, and it takes a lot of work — finding the right person is extremely difficult — but we’ve really been able to find people we believe in, and the group we have now has been with us over two years — our guitar player has been with us two years, our drummer has been with us six or seven —so all that being said we’ve got a really great team that I hope stays together for a long time.
You don’t just do Christian music, you do some mainstream now as well. How do you feel about that transition?
Skillet always wanted to do mainstream music and Christian music. We never wanted to just be a Christian band. I did not realize that there was such a disparity between the two. I didn’t realize that when you (start in the) Christian music industry that it was going to make it extremely difficult to break into the mainstream world.
Why does it make it difficult?
Because the mainstream world doesn’t really view Christian music as viable or credible. I liken it to if all of a sudden the Jonas Brothers wanted to be a hard-rock band. Fans of metal would be like “No, those guys are a boy band.”
They would have a hard time believing in them as a legitimate rock act. So, because of that, it’s a little hard to break that mold of people’s ideas. I didn’t realize that would be the case. I think that’s the reason not a lot of Christian bands do cross over; it’s not for lack of wanting to, it’s a lack of possibilities. We were lucky enough to get signed by Atlantic records in 2003 and believe me, it was a lot of work. It still took us five or six years to have a radio hit in the mainstream world. A lot of that was due to people’s thinking we weren’t legitimate. It’s been a hard way to go, but it finally happened and I’m really proud of it. I love where I came from, I love Christian music and I believe in it. Of course I believe in the message, but I believe in the industry as well. I think we are able to help change some people’s ideas of what the Christian music industry is like; that it is credible, it is viable, and there’s a bunch of extremely talented people in the industry.