Uplifting, loud and inspiring - Skillet to perform for Lakes Jam fans
"Loud, inspiring, uplifting and bringing the community together" are a few words used to describe live shows by the American Christian rock band Skillet.
Formed in 1996 in Memphis, Tenn., band members have seen marriage proposals during their shows and have heard from many people that their music for the past 20 years has made them feel better about their life.
Lakes Jam fans will be able to experience this first hand at 10:30 p.m. June 23, when Skillet performs as the headliner on rock night of the three-day outdoor music fest at Brainerd International Raceway, off of Highway 371 north of Brainerd/Baxter.
Skillet has released nine albums and received two Grammy nominations for its "Collide" and "Comatose" albums. Two of their albums, "Awake" and "Comatose," are certified platinum by Recording Industry Association of America and their album "Rise," is certified gold. Their hits include "Whispers In The Dark," "Rebirthing," "The Last Night," "Savior" and "Comatose."
Skillet currently consists of husband and wife John and Korey Cooper, where John is lead vocals and bass and Korey is rhythm guitar, keyboards background vocals; Jen Ledger on drums and vocals; and Seth Morrison, lead guitar.
"The Midwest is so great for rock music," Cooper said in a telephone interview in May during a cold day at his home in Wisconsin. "We do a lot of touring in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I live in Wisconsin ... And yes I am a Green Bay Packers fan.
"I'm glad to be coming to Lakes Jam to see some of our fans and we're looking forward to making new fans. People have been telling me for years that Skillet shows feel like community. When I first heard it I was like this is a rock concert and they are supposed to be entertaining and loud and uplifting, but people say its community ... And the more people I have met I learn they met their wife or husband through a Skillet chat or show. Just at our last show of our tour about four weeks ago as we were playing a song someone proposed to his future wife in the front row ... Skillet music is very uplifting and something very spiritual about our music, yes religious, but you don't have be religious. The music is a very spiritual ... People constantly are tweeting me from all walks of life that our music makes them feel better about their life."
Cooper and his wife write all their songs and the songs have to be real and something they believe in.
"The songs don't have to be serious, but they have to be real," Cooper said. "I think that is why people can relate to the music so well. It is genuine and authentic and we've never been accused of pleasing other people. (In the songs,) people will pick up on things like everyday struggles that people go through or how they feel alone or useless, but they do not give up hope. There is a thread that God loves you no matter what. There is someone who loves you."
And at the same time, Cooper said the music is loud and aggressive.
Skillet spends 60 percent of its time at rock and roll shows and 40 percent at secular shows.
"A lot of bands can't do that," Cooper said. "I just didn't want to sing to Christian people. Not all our songs are religious. This is a show for all sorts of different people and that is what I really like. Everyone is a part of Skillet."
This past spring, Skillet completed its Unleashed Tour and now they're busy performing at summer festivals and different venues.
Cooper said all their albums are special, but if he had to pick one, "Comatose" in 2006 would be the one. This album was the band's "game-changer" as their fan base really expanded with this album. Last year, the album went platinum and because one of Skillet's biggest selling records.
A few of the accomplishments for Skillet include they were the No. 9 Rock Streaming Songs Artist of the Year and the No. 1 Christian Streaming Songs Artist on the 2015 Billboard Year End Charts; nominated for "Rock Song of the Year" at 46th Annual Dove Awards; winners of "Rock Song of the Year" and "Rock Album of the Year" at the 2014 Dove Awards; 2014 Billboard Music Award Nominees for Top Christian Artist and Top Christian Album; winner of Best Rock Album on Loudwire Music Awards Rock Song of the Year "Sick of It" in the 2013 Dove Awards; and the 2011 Billboard Music Awards Winner for Top Christian Album.
Cooper said growing up he was only allowed to listen to Christian music. He eventually was able to listen to musicians, such as Michael Jackson and Prince. Cooper looked up to Bono of U2 and believed in Bono's platform in that music can change the world because it can change people.
"Music is one of the most powerful forces in the whole world," Cooper said. "There is nothing like it. If you think back to your childhood ... you remember the kind of music you were listening to. Whether you were fighting with your parents or breaking up with your girlfriend or getting married, you remember the kind of music you were listening to. All the eras of our lives you can probably remember the music you were listening too and it defines you ... Music changes our mind about things."
When Cooper is not on stage, his other love is comic books and science fiction. Cooper was recently featured on Marvel's Playback.
"That was one of the coolest things in my career," Cooper. "They (Marvel) do an amazing job. I've loved Spider Man since I was 3 and as I got older I really enjoyed the stories."
If You Go
• Lakes Jam 2017
• When: June 22-24
• Where: Brainerd International Raceway
• June 22: Dylan Jakobsen, 2 p.m.; 32 Below, 4 p.m.; Chris Hawkey, 6 p.m.; Locash, 8 p.m.; and Chris Janson, 10:30 p.m.
• June 23: Fabulous Armadillos, 4 p.m.; Buckcherry, 6 p.m.; Bret Michaels, 8 p.m.; and Skillet, 10:30 p.m. On the secondary stage will be Analog Drifters at noon; and Fookey at 2 p.m.; Kat Perkins at 11:30 p.m.
• June 24: Maiden Dixie, 4 p.m.; Montgomery Gentry, 6 p.m.; Trace Adkins, 8 p.m.; and Jake Owen, 10:30 p.m. On the secondary stage will be Steele River Band, time to be determined; and Chris Hawkey at 11:30 p.m.