Photos courtesy of PFA Media
The American Christian rock band Skillet is to perform at the Fargo Civic Center on Wednesday, February 22, and it’s guaranteed to be a performance that people from all walks of life can enjoy.
The band—consisting of lead vocalist John Cooper, guitarist/keyboardist Korey Cooper, drummer Jen Ledger and guitarist Seth Morrison—has kicked it into high gear with their newest album “Unleashed,” which is packed with what John Cooper describes as “fight songs.” Last year, Skillet was the first Christian music band to reign first on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart and earned their first No. 1 song on the Hot Christian Songs chart with “Feel Invincible.” Now, Skillet has embarked on their second United States leg of the Unleashed tour with Sick Puppies and Devour The Day, and one of the 26 stops is Fargo.
Before their concert on February 22, we caught up with John Cooper to talk about Skillet’s latest achievements, upcoming performance and newest album.
Congratulations on being the first Christian music band to reign 1st on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart. How does this immense recognition in two different genres tell you about your album “Unleashed” and Skillet as a whole?
“Thank you. It’s been a really great run with this new album, for sure. It basically says that the fans seem to like the record and the music, which is wonderful. It’s kept us in business for a long time, which I appreciate.” (Laughs) “I think it also says that Skillet has an incredibly wide and diverse fan basis. You can kind of see that we’re picking up fans from extremely different aspects of life—young people, older rock fans, people from the pop world, people from the urban world. It makes you realize there is a lot of different kinds of people coming to these shows, and we see that on tour, as well.”
"Feel Invincible" was the theme song for WWE and TBS' ELeague, meaning it can project different meaning to different people. What was your initial inspiration or real drive when writing it?
“I wanted to write a song that felt fun and uplifting, but also had a message that no matter what is happening in your life, you can survive it. It’s about climbing that one thing in your life that gets you through the day. Even though the world is getting kind of crazy and getting a little darker. Every month feels a little worst than the last. There are a lot of reasons to give up right now. So, I wanted to write a song that was about finding that thing in your life that gets you through, again that is something that Skillet does a lot of. We sing a lot of songs that we’re not directly saying what that is or who that is. It can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, which I think is really cool. It’s great for art to leave things open for interpretation and not be so specific on every lyric that only one type of person understands what you mean. We thought it would be cool to have a song that was kind of a fight song. You go to a football match and everybody in the crowd is chanting it, that is what I envisioned.”
You said that it's "kind of a fight song." Are you going to try to do a little more songs for your next album that are similar to that style?
“Not really sure what we’re going to do the next go around. It’s fun, because people would ask me, … ‘What’s the record like?’ I usually said, ‘The album feels like an album full of fight songs to me. I don’t know why. I suppose that was the place I was in my life that I felt I needed fight songs, so I wrote a bunch of them.’ It’s part of the reason why we called the album ‘Unleashed.’ It’s very much like Skillet letting their hair down.”
“Unleashed” is the ninth full album by Skillet, released on August 5, 2016.
For the tour, you'll be playing a lot of songs from the album Unleashed, which is more energetic and more of a fight song than past albums you've released. Have you seen more energy in your performances playing those songs? How has your concerts during your tour different than other concerts while performing these songs?
“Our live shows have tended to always be energetic. It’s probably the thing that people notice the most about Skillet and what they expect the most at the concerts—that kind of crazy, passion, energy and excitement on stage. I think we’ve always done that with our live shows. Even though there are a lot of added high points and low points, and kind of theatrical and dramatic moments in the show, I don’t think the show has changed. But certainly those songs seem to fit in very well with what we typically do live. They all seem to be very fun live songs, that’s for sure.”
What can your Fargo-Moorhead fans expect from your performance on February 22?
“I probably would say the first thing is energy. People always mention that, and I think it comes from several things. I think it comes from excitement from the music, excitement about what we’re singing about. I’m passionate about the songs, of course we wrote them.” (Laughs) “I mean, hopefully we would sing about something we care about and we believe in. Also what people can expect is that a Skillet show feels like more than a rock show. Skillet fans come from all walks of life. A typical Skillet show will be ages 5 to 60. Tons of different kinds of people from all different walks of life. So, Skillet concerts feel like community. People usually leave feeling very uplifted. I get tweets about it all the time, like ‘Man, I just feel good after that concert. It help me through a hard time in my life.’ We get a lot of that kind of feedback. That’s what people can expect from the show: uplifting, energetic and fun.”
You've previously performed in Fargo. How did you like the crowd? Did you get a lot of positive feedback?
“Absolutely. The good thing is that we haven’t done any Skillet headline touring in like 5 years. The cool thing is that we got a lot of great feedback from fans and now this time we get to play a little longer.”
When you were in Fargo, did you have time to enjoy the area?
“Unfortunately, no. We’re usually so busy. Every day is pretty much the same thing: you’re on the bus, you’re doing interviews in the venue. We don’t usually get to see much. Unfortunately, it’s all about the show.”
What would you like to say to your Fargo fans before you see them at your concert?
“This time around has been the most fun I’ve had on the road in years. … I’m just really excited about playing for this crowd (in Fargo).”