Skillet gets a sporting chance


Skil­let will be at the Para­mount The­atre Fri­day, Nov. 7 for a 7 p.m. show. Tick­ets can be pur­chased at or 866–461-6556. Pho­to by Eliza Marie Somers

By grab­bing the atten­tion of the NFL, Skil­let is bridg­ing a large gap in the music indus­try. It’s the chasm between main­stream rock and the much maligned Chris­tian rock sec­tor. And it’s a bridge the band’s lead singer John Coop­er enjoys walk­ing.

It gives us cred­i­bil­i­ty,” Coop­er said of the NFL using the band’s song “Hero” to pro­mote its Sun­day night foot­ball games. “Some peo­ple think that Chris­tian music is cheesy, but with the NFL pick­ing us up, may­be it will change some people’s mind.”

The thun­der­ous, hard-rock­in’ style of Skil­let also drew con­verts from the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Con­fer­ence, with the ACC play­ing clips and inter­views with the band dur­ing con­fer­ence foot­ball games. 

I real­ly don’t know how it all came about,” Coop­er said. “But rock ’n’ roll and sports are meant to be togeth­er. It’s like choco­late and peanut but­ter. It’s des­tiny.”

Coop­er and his wife, Korey, who plays key­board and gui­tar, didn’t know about the sports con­nec­tion. They heard about their band’s com­mer­cial suc­cess by acci­dent.

We were pack­ing for this tour and the TV was on,” John explained. “And this com­mer­cial comes on for the NFL and we hear this song, and for a split-sec­ond it was, ‘This sounds famil­iar. … Oh, that’s us.’ It was sur­re­al.”


Skil­let gui­tarist and key­board play­er Korey Coop­er. Pho­to by Eliza Marie Somers

Some might call it instant suc­cess, but the band has been around the Chris­tian rock scene for 13 years, and its music has evolved with the times, mov­ing from indus­tri­al rock to elec­tron­ic and back to its rock roots.

As a band you try to break new ground as you grow – to give your fans some­thing new to hear,” said Coop­er, who describes Skillet’s cur­rent sound as “hard rock with sym­phon­ic touch­es. It sounds a lit­tle more glam­orous than stripped-down rock.”

The sym­phon­ic touch­es can be heard on the band’s lat­est CD “Awake.” Strings and piano are inter­spersed through­out the album.

I grew up with clas­si­cal music. My mom was a music teacher,” Coop­er explained. “And the strings are some­thing that takes us over the top. It’s not what peo­ple expect.”


Skil­let per­forms at Heav­en­Fest, bring­ing a touch of a clas­si­cal music instru­ment to rock ‘n’ roll. Pho­to by Eliza Marie Somers 

Dur­ing its per­for­mance at Heav­en­Fest in Brighton in August, the band com­ple­ment­ed its con­cert with a vio­lin­ist and a cel­list — even giv­ing the band’s fans, known as Pan­heads, a strings duel while both musi­cians were car­ried above the stage on hydraulic plat­forms.

I think part of our mis­sion is to change people’s mind about Chris­tian music – to edu­cate peo­ple. And to make Chris­tian music more cred­itable,” Coop­er said. “It’s been a tough road. And that has noth­ing to do about being a Chris­tian. I’m not embar­rassed about that. 

It’s that peo­ple judge you based on a label. We want peo­ple to hear the music first, then judge. That’s our chal­lenge.”

It must be work­ing, because when the band’s sin­gle “Mon­ster” debut­ed on AOL Music, it grabbed the No. 1 video spot the first day it was released.

We don’t play music to Chris­tians. We sing songs to peo­ple,” Coop­er said. “After one of our con­certs, this girl comes up after­ward and says she is an athe­ist but that she doesn’t care what we stand for, because the music makes her feel good. 

Hope­ful­ly, we can plant some seeds and change some minds on what it means to be a Chris­tian. You don’t have to dress a cer­tain way or lis­ten to cer­tain music. You don’t need to take your pierc­ings out.”

One song that sticks out in the cur­rent CD is “It’s Not Me, It’s You.” A tune that screams, “Let’s get the sto­ry straight. You were a poi­son. … With the pain you put me through. And now I know that it’s not me, it’s you.”

That’s my favorite song on the CD,” Coop­er said. “A lot of peo­ple say it’s not very Chris­tian, but it’s about self-improve­ment. It’s about some­one, some­thing or even your­self bring­ing you down and then all of a sud­den, you real­ize that it’s not you. You are OK. It could be a rela­tion­ship, a friend. … It’s some­thing a lot of Chris­tians don’t like talk­ing about, but we need to.”


A cel­list adds an “over the top” qual­i­ty to Skillet’s sound. The band was nom­i­nat­ed for a Gram­my Award and is a Dove Award win­ning band. Pho­to by Eliza Marie Somers

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