BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#435 - "American Noise" by Skillet
John Cooper shares about his all-time favorite Skillet song, which talks about the distractions of life.
 


Skillet is one of the best Christian rock band success stories of the past decade in my opinion. From the self-titled debut album in 1996 until now, the band has continued to redefine itself into the superstar rock band that released one of this decade's best-selling Christian rock albums, Awake. For me, the combination of strings, keyboard/synths, guitar, drums and John Cooper's emotional vocals with background vocals by his wife, Korey, and drummer Jen Ledger are meant to be heard and experienced live.
 
I've now seen Skillet perform these new songs from Rise at Creation Festival Northeast. Each time I've seen them in concert, Skillet has put on such an engaging and energetic rock show every time one can't help but leave their show as a "panhead," the name hardcore Skillet fans are proudly called. I had goosebumps all over as they sang this song. It truly felt like a worship experience, to "sing your own song, take all the noise, and make it into music."
 
I had the great opportunity to interview John Cooper in-person at the Creation Festival about his great new song "American Noise." Here are the answers to the questions I asked John.
 
Please tell me the personal story behind writing this song.
People are very surprised when I tell them that this is my favorite Skillet song. It's surprising because I'm a hard rocker. I think it's because this song is the soundtrack to my life. It reminds me of how I felt most of my teenage years. The story of this song is basically there are so many voices happening now. More than ever now, because of the Internet, there's so much information. There are so many people telling you who to be, and how to act, what you have to wear to fit in, how many friends you need on Facebook to be cool. Girls are told how many pounds they have to lose to have a bikini bod for the summer.

I have a 10-year-old daughter so I'm starting to feel these beauty pressures all around us. I tell her she's beautiful. This song is, number one, about shutting all of those voices out. Number two, it's about hearing the voice of God amongst those voices. Number three, it's asking God who to be and who He wants you to be. Lastly, how can I have a voice amongst all of this other noise, and how can God use me and my voice to be His voice?
 
Please tell me about any Bible verses that you used to write the song.  

Ecclesiastes 2:26 (The Voice): "To those who seek to please God, He gives wisdom and knowledge and joyfulness; but to those who are wicked, God keeps them busy harvesting and storing up for those in whom He delights. But even this is fleeting; it's like trying to embrace the wind."
 
Lamentations 3:22-23 (The Voice): "How enduring is God's loyal love; the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion. Here they are, every morning, new! Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day."
 
Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV): "The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
 
Matthew 6:32-34 (The Voice): "Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don't realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today."
 
Romans 6:23 (The Voice): "The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift—eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King."
 
What is the takeaway message for listeners about this song and the album?
 
As we mentioned, there's a very big story that this record is telling. It's a concept record. Song 1 to song 12 is telling the big story. Within "American Noise" and "Salvation" you're getting a quick picture of the transformation process of the character in our story. In "American Noise," which is track six, the character in the album finally decides that he's not going to be good enough to make himself happy. He realizes that no matter how much he tries to change his surroundings, in his own heart it doesn't feel right, and there's no hope. That is when he reaches out to Christ.

There's a Scripture reading from Isaiah 53 before the song "Salvation," which is read by my ten-year-old daughter, and it's a prophetic Scripture about Jesus coming to take our sins upon Him. Then it goes into the song "Salvation." That's why I feel this record is so evangelistic, because it is all of our stories. We can all relate to the search for significance and hope in a fallen world. The song "Salvation" is about feeling all alone, with nothing to live for, but reaching out for Christ and Christ is now my reason to live. He is my salvation, and He is everything to me. That song is the climax of the record. 
 
Lyrics: 
Angry words, and honking cars, satellites and falling stars distant 
Dark blue radios that whisper down my boulevards
Ghosts in chains rattle in the attic, broken headphones filled with static
Lonely room, you've got nowhere to run

Three, two, one for all and all for one
 
Times will be bad
Times will be good
Things I wish I hadn't done and
Some I wish I would
Cutting through the American noise
You've got a voice
And a song to sing
Drink deep in the morning
Drink deep in the morning
 See what the day will bring
 La da da da
Lift up your voice
Let love cut through the American noise la da da da lift up your 
Voice let love cut through the American noise

Slamming doors and cell phone rings
Hurricane force of silent screams
Don't know what to believe
Bend the rule just to break it
You're so tired cause you've gotta fake it but you just wanna be someone 

Three, two, one for all and all for one

Times will be bad
Times will be good
Things I wish I hadn't done and
Some I wish I would
Cutting through the American noise
You've got a voice
And a song to sing
Drink deep in the morning
Drink deep in the morning
See what the day will bring

La da da da
Lift up your voice
Let love cut through the American noise 
La da da da lift up your voice 
Let love cut through the American noise
No matter who you are
You've got a voice
Why don't you use it
Sing your own song
Take all the noise
And make it into music

La da da da
Lift up your voice
Let love cut through the American noise 
La da da da you have a choice 
Let love cut through the American noise
You've got a voice
Let love cut through the American noise
 
One of the main themes throughout the past two Skillet albums—Awake and now Rise, is about making a decision to live for Christ and not for ourselves. John's description of being at war with the world—in "Awake & Alive" is exactly the battle we face every day as a Christian. Jesus assures us in Matthew 6:32-34 to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." 
 
This song has quickly become my all-time favorite song by Skillet. Between John's vocals and the excellent message behind this rock anthem, I can't get enough of this song. There are several lyrics that really speak to me, in particular: "No matter who you are, You've got a voice, Why don't you use it, Sing your own song, Take all the noise, And make it into music" John's description of "let Love cut through the American noise" is a great challenge for everyone. Once you are a follower of Jesus, you know that He is Love.
 
Rise is my top rock album of the year. This album fires me up about my faith in Jesus. I want to run the race for Christ and not live for the world. Skillet has an amazing opportunity to reach the lost for the Kingdom of God with their transparent lyrics and incredible musical talent. This album completely rocks and is chock full of songs you can proudly share with your friends and family. I go on the same journey as the main character from song to song, and I am very moved by the time the album proclaims that Jesus is our "Salvation." Amen to that!
 
(You can watch the music video here.)

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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