A NRT EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
An Interview With John Cooper of Skillet
NRT's Ryan Adams talks to lead singer John Cooper about Skillet's new deluxe album songs and their graphic novel
 


A NRT EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, An Interview With John Cooper of Skillet
Posted: October 15, 2020 | By: RyanAdams_NRT
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Skillet's 2019 rock album Victorious is filled with music for all of their fans. It has heavy-hitting songs, such as "Legendary," which became WWE Raw's temporary theme song. The band has released music and lyric videos for other songs, such as "Save Me," "Anchor," and "Terrify the Dark." "Anchor" became a hit on Christian radio

In 2019, Skillet released its first novel, "Eden: A Skillet Graphic Novel."  The book was accompanied by a new song, "Dreaming of Eden." The song was included on Skillet's recently released deluxe album, Victorious: The Aftermath. The record includes three original new songs, as well as five remixes. I had the honor of talking to lead singer John Cooper about the album's new songs, as well as talking the band's graphic novel.

Your new deluxe album, Victorious: The Aftermath is out now. On your last album, Unleashed, you released a deluxe version that included remixes of older songs, as well as new songs. What's been the process for adding remixes to your albums?

On every album, we end up trying something new. I was never a huge fan of remixesuntil a couple of albums ago. And, as you mentioned, on our last project, Unleashed Beyond, the remixes really worked. I thought they were really good. We tried something new onbVictorious: The Aftermath that I thought really worked as well. Some remixes are more rearranged; more piano focused, sort of unplugged.

We were not planning on making the songs this way, but it started because of quarantine. While we were at home, I was reading a lot of messages from fans online about being depressed and lonely. They hadn't left their homes in a long time. There's a lot of people living with anxiety. 

So, on one of the songs, I asked my wife, Korey, to just play the piano while I sing. It was meant to encourage people. I didn't expect to see such a big response. I was surprised, to be honest. So, we did a few more piano remixes. The fans really loved it.

People are really responding well to these remixes. I think it's because we're living in such a hopeless period of time. It's been a tough year. The piano versions, I think, helps people focus more on the words. What's really cool is that Korey is the one who remixed them all. She does a lot for the band. 

 

The first new song on Victorious: The Aftermath is "Dead Man Walking." It's energetic; it's got some electronic elements to it. Can you tell me a little bit about the song?

"Dead Man Walking" is my favorite song
probably on the whole album. I like that it is up-tempo. And, as you said, it has a little bit of electronic feeleven though it's somewhat heavy on guitars. I really like the lyrics too, because it's based on our faith. The song's about the fact that before we knew Christ, we were dead in our sins. The Bible says that we are dead in our trespasses, but made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5 NASB).

I always tell people, "If you wonder why the world's so crazy and why there are so much chaos and hatred
it's because everywhere you look, you see people who're dead in their trespasses." They're walking dead men who need to come alive in Christ. And, without that saving, we're just going to see more of the same.
 


"Sick and Empty," another new song, has high energy with neat melodic elements. It also has a relatable message. Tell us more about the song.

With "Sick and Empty," as well as our other new song, "Dreaming of Eden," you really have the dichotomy of the world. From a Christian perspective, "Sick and Empty" is recognizing the obvious hopelessness of the world. In a relationship, for instance, we try to correct our mistakes, but, often, we end up making more mistakes. "Sick and Empty" focuses on our own failures. You can relate it to Romans 7:15-20 in the Bible: If I do this in my own strength, I'm always going to mess it up, because I'm so needing of God. 

For "Dreaming of Eden," we recognize we're in a hopeless time but we do have hope as Christians. This hopelessness comes not just from my own inner turmoil, but also with the pandemic. We don't know the future. But, for the Christian, our hope doesn't lie in this earth. Our hope is in eternity. We have the kingdom of God in our hearts.

One day we will see Him face to face, and when we see Him face to face, then we will be like Him, the Bible says (1 John 3:2 NASB). The dichotomy that I mentioned is saying "Yes, it's a hopeless world. Unless your hope is not in this world, and it is in the world to come." And that's what "Dreaming of Eden" is about. In Theology, they call it the now and not yet. And what that means is that even though we do have salvation now, and we do have righteousness now, we don't have it fully. We don't have it like we will when we see Him face to face. So, it's great news for the Christian, but we still recognize that it's a hopeless time. It feels hopeless in America.

 



That's an awesome connection between the two songs. I think that's a really creative way to get those messages across. Speaking of 'Dreaming of Eden," will there be a continuation of the Eden novel that it's based on?

Yes! Eden Two is coming out, I believe here in the next couple of weeks. We kind of co-promoted it, which I thought was cool. It has the same name as the album. Eden Two: The Aftermath and then the Skillet album is called Victorious: The Aftermath. There's a lot of parallels between the story of Eden and what we're actually going through in the real world. This is the clashing of ideologies which is causing so much pain, violence, and hatred. It is really the clash of ideologies that is causing this. And we're kind of yet to see to what degree are we going to destroy ourselves. The truth is, we don't really know that yet. We wrote it before all of this currently in the world, but we're seeing it play out a little bit here. 

In Eden, the people that are going at war with each other, they both think that they're on the right side. They both act like they are moral. In some ways, we see that in our real lives right now. We no longer believe in absolute truth in America. Even in the world, just in culture today, and on a global scale, we're in a post-truth society. We don't believe in absolute morality. And when you're this relativism, everybody thinks that what they do is right. And when everybody thinks what they do is absolutely right, then you're going to have chaos. And that's basically the world we live in right now.

 



Is there a chance that we'll be getting another song to go alongside the next novel?

No, we decided not to. "Dreaming of Eden" was not originally supposed to be on the record anyway. And the reason I put it on there was precisely because of what we're talking about. Honestly, everybody needs to hear this song. This is the hope that people are looking for. But we decided not to write a new song and just kind of let it be.

Yeah. That's fair. And I'm glad you put it on because like you said it makes a really cool connection with "Sick and Empty," too. What can we be expecting from Skillet in the future?

I think that everybody in the music business, and hopefully all the fans, is just hoping that touring is going to start up at some point soon. Right now, we finally have some sports starting back up. I really hope that we are able to get on the road again soon. I have no idea if or when we will be. But we're gonna begin writing music. We're not recording yet. We're obviously unable to make any long-term plans. I sure hope to get back on the road and start playing music for people and maybe some of these new Skillet songs. 

Will you be playing these new songs in the drive-in shows? You have a few coming up. 

I don't know, to be honest with you. "Dead Man Walking," we have performed before, so it's ready to be played. But I hadn't even decided yet. You'll have to come to find out, it's a secret!

How can we be praying for you?

Honestly, probably the best way is to be praying for me with what God is using me in other avenues., such as my podcasts and things like that. I really feel God is leading me to speak out about things that I believe and by doing so, spreading the Gospel. I just really feel in my heart that we are in a time where we could see a lot of people come into the Kingdom of God. We could see a lot of people get saved because of the darkness of the world. If you could be praying for us to know when and what to say at the right times. And for protection. There are a lot of obstacles with my new book being released, primarily because of us speaking out for what we believe. 

Ryan Adams lives in Ohio but grew up in Boise, Idaho. He graduated Boise Bible College in 2018. He fell in love with the heavy music scene through a best friend and enjoys sharing his love for it through NRT for 2 years now.

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