Skillet's John Cooper lets his heavy show on his new side project, Fight The Fury -- and especially in the video for the track "My Demons," premiering exclusively below from the quartet's just-released debut EP.
The group -- which also includes Skillet guitarist Seth Morrison -- was, in fact, created especially to showcase Cooper's headbanging inclinations. "I think it was probably five or six years ago when the idea came," Cooper tells Billboard. "I had some music that I felt might not fit on a Skillet record, might be too heavy or too this or that. So I was like, 'Do I write them anyway? Do I force it into Skillet? Do I make it a little lighter, take some of the screaming out?' In the end I just thought it would be really cool to have a side project so I can let those songs be what they want to be and just kind of do whatever I want to do. It's a real love project for me."
The "My Demons" video, filmed on woodlands property Cooper and his wife and Skillet bandmate Korey Cooper own in Wisconsin, showcases the song's kinetic, relentless fury with whiplash editing and a prominent presence for The Wanderer, Fight The Fury's cloaked, gasmasked mascot -- the group's version of Iron Maiden's Eddie or Disturbed's The Guy. "He depicts the way that I see myself going through life," Cooper says. "It's a little post-apocalyptic, I guess, the feeling of going through the struggle of life -- still surviving but also still searching. That's kind of what The Wanderer is to me."
The "My Demons" track, meanwhile, rails against all manner of abuses -- inspired by a fan's story of child abuse, and how Skillet's music helped him work through the trauma. Under Cooper's pen, however, it's broadened to encompass issues beyond that. "I didn't want the song to be so specific that people couldn't relate to it if they haven't been through that particular tragedy," Cooper explains. "So, broadly, the song is about your own demons, things in the past that haunt you -- addictions or vices or whatever -- that are always in you, looking for a way out."
Fight The Fury's new Still Breathing EP features five tracks, and Cooper is confident there will be more where that came from. The new group will tour Russia during December, with North American plans for the first quarter of next year, and Cooper is anxious to establish the band in its own right. "This music is more complex and heavier, some of which comes from the darkness in the lyrics," he says. "Obviously when I sing some people go, 'Man, it kind of sounds like Skillet,' but other people go, 'Omigosh, this is SO much heavier than Skillet!' I hear all that, and I think people will get used to (the difference) when they see us and hear more (music) from us."
Skillet, meanwhile, is getting ready to rock again, too. While Korey Cooper and drummer Jen Ledger have been busy with their side project, Ledger, Skillet has also been working on new music and is, by John Cooper's estimate, about 80 percent finished writing the follow-up to 2016's Unleashed. "We're super excited about it," Cooper says of the album, which will be produced by the band alongside Unleashed collaborators Kevin Churko, Brian Howes and others. "I'm always a little hesitant to say what it sounds like, but Fight The Fury probably inspired me to make the Skillet stuff a little heavier as well -- not screamy like Fight The Fury but definitely heavy. It feels like it needs to be played at the Super Bowl, fans with fists in the air, lots of arena rock choruses, lots of melodic stuff. That might change in the mix, but that's what it feels like to me now, so we'll see how it comes out."