Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: November 2009
John Cooper: Hey Brian its John from SKILLET, just wanted to thank you for the review of the show, it was really cool. The whole band went on your site and read it. It was pretty awesome and I know your wife is a fan so that’s pretty nice.
Brian Rademacher: Yeah my wife is the Christian in the family and I guess I’m the other one! I’m an old time KISS fan and I guess I compare everything to KISS. I related your show to a KISS show. Did you take anything from KISS for your own stage show?
John Cooper: Yeah, I like that, but everything we do is from the school of thought from the production to our stage show. We know from our show we have two guitar, mics, sound to everything else. We just roll it out and we’re ready to go and the more our show is compared to a KISS show the better it is.
Brian Rademacher: Cool, my wife turned me on to SKILLET and I reviewed both "Comatose" and "Awake" which are both five star albums and the funny thing is for the last two years SIXX A.M. and Brian Head Welch were the albums of the year on our site and they we’re both life experiences. Now this year SKILLET "Awake" is in the running for album of the year on RockEyez.com. Going back to your stage show some of the show just made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, they were so touching. Going to the show I wasn’t sure if you were going to have twenty people, one hundred people or a sold out show and it was sold out. I never really went to a Christian rock show, if you want to call it Christian rock, and there were plenty of songs that turned me on. After the show I was already looking for more tour date of you coming back to the area to have my whole family come.
John Cooper: Laughing, that’s good and that makes me happy.
Brian Rademacher: You played with HAWK NELSON, DECYFER DOWN, and THE LETER BLACK. Who picked the opening bands?
John Cooper: We have been good friends with DECYFER DOWN for a long time so I wanted those guys and THE LETER BLACK on the bill.
Brian Rademacher: Do you feel by having the stamp Christian Rock helps or hurts the band or neither?
John Cooper: To be honest I feel it hurt us in the beginning but we have a big fan base and our music changed and we are drawing from the mainstream now, so yes it hurt us but things are slowly changing and we are looked at as a band that plays great music.
Brian Rademacher: Do you think there will be a DVD of this tour?
John Cooper: I really doubt it because we had a DVD from the last tour and I don’t want to keep repeating things.
Brian Rademacher: You wrote forty songs for "Awake", so what happens to the rest of the tracks.
John Cooper: (laughing) well, you never know, one of the songs is on the new DECYFER DOWN record called "Best I Can". We just don’t write songs for Christian people we just write songs.
Brian Rademacher: Yeah I’m pretty much open to everything and will listen to anything. I will listen to Christian music as much as I would listen to death metal and any other genre, I’m pretty open minded and I thought your songs were phenomenal and written very well.
John Cooper: Thanks; you know I think more music buyers are more like you now. They don’t care what genre it is as long as it’s good music and that’s cool. Even when I’m talking to someone that’s giving me a hard time and they like bands like SLIPKNOT I just say we’re a rock band. We are no more a Christian band like FLYLEAF, CHEVELLE, RED or any other of those bands. You know the world is changing and we have to stop judging people that live in a bubble. When you go to a BON JOVI show you’re going to have Christians there, atheists, Muslins and all faiths.
Brian Rademacher: A friend at my wife’s church wanted to know about the song "Lucy"; can you give us any background on that song and meaning behind the lyrics?
John Cooper: (laughing) that’s the only song in my career I’m not telling the story about yet, I get that question at least five times a day. That song has such an impact on people and people have different views so I really don’t want to say yet what it’s all about. So many people have different views about that song and I want it to just do its magic, I will tell you it’s about loss and about regret, wishing you could do something over again in a relationship. Like something you didn’t say or something you didn’t do; something like that.
Brian Rademacher: I love the track "Awake & Alive" and Jen is a great addition to the track and the band. How did you decide on Jen Ledger?
John Cooper: We had a girl drummer before that and I would never in a million years thought we would find another girl drummer. I know there aren’t many girl drummers out there so I was just looking for a good drummer. We had about ten drummers try out, but cool thing was we knew her from our church and she had something. We knew she could play but we didn’t know she could sing. We didn’t want a drummer that went out on the Shinedown tour doing lines of coke, that’s not good. We knew what she stood for and she was talented and that was a big plus.
Brian Rademacher: Do you feel any growth from "Comatose" to "Awake"? They are both 5 Star releases here at RockEyez.
John Cooper: Yeah I do, I feel "Awake" was a little more aggressive and I think that was the next level for us. I’m very proud of "Comatose" but I think we could have been a little heavier and a little darker and that’s what we did on "Awake". On "Awake" we took the SKILLET sound changed up a few things and (got) a little nastier. It’s not the sound but the lyrics like "Monster", "It's Not Me, It's You". "Sometimes", even "Hero" was a little darker and a littler grittier. To me I think it helped the record.
Brian Rademacher: Recently the church that my wife attends asked her to be a layman, what would your advice be?
John Cooper: I hope you don’t think I’m an idiot, but I don’t know what that means.
Brian Rademacher: I think it means you can help others learn the word of God but not be a pastor.
John Cooper: Oh ok, some churches call it different things.
Brian Rademacher: You don’t have to worry I didn’t know what it meant either. I looked it up on the computer!
John Cooper: (laughing) So I guess we are both idiots! I think if she got the call to do Gods work I think it’s a good thing. If someone called you and needed to talk to help them though a day and she talked or read the bible I always think helping out the word is good, If they called me to teach a bible study it would be something I should do, but if someone is just doing it to be cool that’s not the right path. But if God is calling her to do his work and she feels it in her heart, I would go for it.
Brian Rademacher: When I went to your show, and I think some others would think the same way, I was watching you and I thought is he doing this just for the mighty buck or is he a real Christian, what would you say to that?
John Cooper: Sure, I know there are people out there. My parents would not let me listen to rock music growing up; I couldn’t listen to Christian Rock because they thought they were Satanists standing behind the cloth and just saying they are Christians to be famous. To tell you the truth if you’re looking to be famous this is the worst business to go into, at the height of Christian fame you sell a few hundred thousand records. It’s not really that big, SKILLET right now is having a big fan base because we are also drawing from the mainstream world. People say by being a Christian band it is hurting you, let’s be honest, we could act crazy and get chicks backstage we most likely would be more famous quicker.
Even one of the people at our record company, I’m not trying to be crass or dirty or anything. He said that if you want to be famous you’re going to have to go out there and sign a few tits. (both laughing) I’m not going to do that with my faith, I’m not going to do that and he got a little upset with me. He said look we are putting a lot of money in the band and that is the only way to work your way up. I told him this is not a publicity stunt and I’m not going to do that. He said with your female fan base, it’s not going to be good.
Brian Rademacher: Can you tell me a few things that fans don’t know about John Cooper?
John Cooper: A lot of people don’t know we’ve been around a long time and been on the road for thirteen years now. A lot of people don’t know I was trained in classical piano; my mom was a piano teacher. That’s why we have a lot of symphonic (style) on our music. A lot of people don’t know I play trombone; I played that for eleven years. I got a scholarship for that.
Brian Rademacher: I thought having a violin and cello player on your live show was excellent, that really impressed me. It also looked like Jonathan Chu, your violinist, wanted to take your place! He sang along to all the songs.
John Cooper: Yeah, he knows how to play. It was kind of fun. He’s great!
Brian Rademacher: John, I have my ten-year-old daughter here with me and she would like to ask you a question. Would you mind if she asked you a question? She’s a big fan.
John Cooper: Sure, no problem.
Ashley Rademacher: Hi Mr. Cooper
John Cooper: Hi Ashley, how are you? You want to ask me a question?
Ashley Rademacher: Yeah, what advice can you give me growing up in life?
John Cooper: Growing up in life, my advice would be, be yourself. Don’t listen to others that tell you what you have to do to be cool or you have to do this for me to like you or be your friend or fit in. Those things don’t really matter, you have to be yourself, do what you know is right and try to live for something that matters. That sounds good. It was good to talk to you.
Ashley Rademacher: It was nice to talking to you too.
Brian Rademacher: Thanks John
John Cooper: (laughing) that was cute.
Brian Rademacher: I like the idea of the meet and greet at your shows where the fans get to take a picture with SKILLET and get to talk to you, Great idea.
John Cooper: Yeah, that’s pretty cool. I like it a lot. Hey Brian, thanks a lot I gotta run. Hopefully I will get to meet you at another show or if you’re going to Rev Gen I will see you there. Bye and thanks.