Skillet's John Cooper on Touring Russia, Raising His 8-Year-Old Daughter
"I was getting all these tweets from Russia, so I was like, let's do it!" John Cooper, the affable leader of the veteran Christian rock band Skillet was describing for Noisecreep what prompted their upcoming fall tour of Russia, the Ukraine, Norway and several other places that the band has never been to. "We were in Japan and Australia this year, so some big travel, but after hearing from all these Russian fans it just seemed like the right thing to do."
Skillet, who formed in 1996, struck big success in 2009 with the release of their 'Awake' album, which produced the hits 'Monster' and 'Hero.' The album was nominated for and won the Top Christian Album award at the Billboard Music Awards 2011.
For Cooper, getting the message of faith out there is just as important as getting the music out - though often the two are intertwined.
"I'm proud of my faith, we have faith in our music, but I don't want to turn people away by being too preachy. That said, our style of music addresses, love, heartbreak - stuff we can all relate to. But when I am up on stage, I definitely feel that I have an opportunity to talk positive messages and let people know what faith means to this band. I have a platform up there to influence people and that's a great opportunity."
Cooper explained that growing up, he didn't have the chance to hear much music.
"My parents would not let me listen to anything with drums or guitars, not even Christian rock. It was all looked at as being evil. But at friends' houses I'd hear bands like Metallica and that's when I knew I was going to be a musician. Originally, Christian rock was created to help religious people get over the fear of modern music. It's gone through a lot of changes over the years and look, as strong as my faith is, there's no place in the bible that says you can't wear black clothes or play guitar."
At home, Cooper says he and his wife Korey (who plays guitar and keyboards in Skillet as well as singing backup) monitor what their kids listen to, though. "There's no way I'd let our 8-year- old daughter listen to Akon, you know? That's just me, but as a parent, I do think we have to be careful with what kids hear at home. You can't be crazy about it, but there are balances in life you have to maintain."
In the meantime, even though Skillet was one of the first bands to effectively use the Internet to market itself, Cooper remains blissfully low tech. "I'm still not real computer savvy," he laughed. "But we always had someone in the band who is. Remember the 1996 movie 'The Net,' with Sandra Bullock? Man, I thought that was a science fiction movie! It scared me! But our guitar player, in 1997, launched our web site. We didn't have radio play until a couple of years ago so we needed that, and in a way it helped us survive as a band."