Skillet’s John Cooper talks about new album ‘Dominion’ – Billboard
In a time of chaos and uncertainty fueled by the lingering pandemic, Skillet frontman John Cooper revel in what he describes as a positive rebellion on the metal band’s new album, Domination.
“That’s the best way to describe this album because the record has an attitude towards it, but it’s positive,” Cooper said. Billboard of the Atlantic press release of January 14. “It’s rebellious because we wage a spiritual battle every day against depression, anxiety and fear. People are absolutely terrified. Rates of depression are increasing. America has like an increase in suicides… Positive rebellion [says]: I will not be ruled by fear. I will not be ruled by addiction and all those internal forces that really want to take control of my life. It is to say, ‘I will not be ruled by these negative things.’ “
Cooper and his band mates – his wife Korey Cooper on keyboards and rhythm guitar, drummer Jen Ledger and lead guitarist Seth Morrison – have long combined aggressive music with positive messages, and that turned out to be a formula. winner for the Kenosha, Wisconsin-based group. Grammy-nominated group’s 2009 album Awake was certified triple platinum and won a Billboard Music Award. It also spawned the hit single “Monster,” which has streamed nearly 400 million on Spotify.
Skillet’s 2019 album Victorious earned the band their fourth consecutive top 20 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. Their songs have also been synced by WWE, Marvel, ESPN, MLB, NHL, and NFL. “Skillet’s music lends itself to sports, video games, WWE because it’s really heavy and aggressive, but it has that spirit of going beyond – you hear it in all of our lyrics,” says Cooper, who has founded the group in 1996. “I laugh sometimes, because the irony is that it was this extreme positivity that kept Skillet away because rock music just wasn’t synonymous with positivity. Rock music was all about darkness. , negativity, anger and angst and we were singing all these songs about passing. Some rock radio stations couldn’t understand that. Now it’s actually very popular in rock music to be positive. C is kind of a fun twist.
Cooper’s stellar musicality, insightful songwriting, and dominant voice has won Skillet fans among the mainstream rock and Christian music audience, and their label features singles at both demos. “Surviving the Game” is the active rock single that is currently climbing the charts, and “Refuge” is the new Christian single. “There’s something about that guitar riff at the start, it just made everyone feel like this is the song coming out the door,” Cooper said of “Surviving” , which is featured in the new Rock band video game. “There is a feeling of unbridled chaos, but it’s also very positive. There is something about all of these emotions that seems to resonate with people coming out of the pandemic. “
“Refuge” was inspired by Psalm 46. “I learned it as a child, and it is still with me today. He said, “The Lord is my refuge and my strength. He is always present in difficult times. I love this handwriting, ”says Cooper. “I’ve been holding onto it since I was a kid and right now we’re having a hard time… God isn’t telling us we’re not going through hard times. The goal is to overcome trials.
“On ‘Refuge’ I’ve tried to write some really honest lyrics and my favorite line is ‘It’s getting harder and harder to say I’m undefeated.’ We all mean we’re undefeated, but man, it’s getting a little harder now, ”Cooper continues. “It’s no fun, and it feels hopeless at times, but when the chorus comes you profess what you know to be true, which is that God is going to be my refuge no matter what. It’s where I run and it’s how we survive.
Creating Domination, Skillet worked with producer Kevin Churko (Disturbed, Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch) and his son Kane Churko. “Kevin has a very unique sound and I love his records,” Cooper said, adding that Churko had previously produced individual songs for the band, but not a full album.
Looking for Churko to play a bigger role on their 11th studio album, Cooper says they were planning to go write with him – but COVID forced them to scuttle their plans. “COVID restrictions have not gone away. It was just too hard to get on a plane, ”says Cooper. “We decided to go into Zoom and just write a song, which neither of us wanted to do. We were both like, “This is so weird and so sterile” – but it turned out really well and “Surviving The Game” kind of blew out of us. So we decided to write a few more songs and it started to go so well that whenever the time came for us to be able to fly away, everyone said, “Don’t mess this up. It has worked so well so far. I’m not superstitious but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Cooper says they were never in person when working on the album, but the process remotely was made easier than he had imagined thanks to Dropbox and Zoom. “We would hop on Zoom for a few hours and write lyrics, then me and Korey would sing the songs here in our studio, then send it back to them,” he says. “It was so easy and we really felt super inspired.”
Although the album was a very collaborative process, Cooper wrote “Valley of Death” on his own. “It was maybe the easiest and fastest song I have ever written,” he says. “It’s just an honest song about how when you go through the valley you can’t see your surroundings because there are hills and mountains and you can’t see the way to go… Qu ‘what’s really hard about the time we are’ now is that none of us know if there is light at the end of the tunnel. When is this pandemic going Are we going to live a life without masks again? All of these things are really depressing and it makes you take inventory of your life. Did you live the way you wanted to live? “Remember you? None of us are promised tomorrow. But in the end, I know I’m not alone. It’s hope and light at the end of the tunnel.”
Sonically, Domination incorporates elements that might surprise longtime Skillet fans. “‘Standing in the Storm’ is so rhythmic and so syncopated – ‘White Horse’ also has a little bit of rap that is very, very different for Skillet,” Cooper admits, giving Korey credit for broadening their sound. “She loves hip-hop. She loves rap music. She enjoys pop music and indie rock. I almost only listen to metal. If we ever try new things it’s usually because Korey has basically tried new things, and she’s like, “Hey, we should do this”, and I’m like, “Okay, let’s try” He said.
Skillet will serve songs from Domination on the Winter Jam Tour, which kicks off Jan. 13 in Augusta, Ga. Cooper hopes the group’s message of positive rebellion will cheer listeners on during these trying times. “It’s really a feel good album even though it’s heavy and has dark elements in it, but I just think people can feel the positive emotion in the songs,” he says. “It’s really an encouragement not to give up and I hope that’s what people are really hearing. I hope this will bring some hope and inspiration, especially to the young people, to help them keep fighting. “