"Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon" conducted an interview with SKILLET frontman John Cooper at this year's Heavy Montreal festival. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the creative process of putting together a graphic novel and the band's latest studio album, "Victorious":
John: "It was interesting. It was my first time doing a graphic novel, so the big difference for me was that I was a complete amateur at one, and a bit of a veteran at the other. I would ask questions, and I started realizing on the graphic novel, 'Hey, we got to get the script correct.' And they say, 'We're not at the script part yet.' They turn in a script, and I would make changes: 'Hey, I don't like that part. Let's change it to this.' And I would never see it come back, so I was concerned they weren't making my changes. 'That happens later, man.' I was supposed to be making a record and complaining about mastering when you haven't even mixed the record yet. That was an interesting thing for me, but I love the process. I kind of embraced the whole thing. We wrote it, we did the art for the graphic novel, all at the same time we were writing and recording a record. I was, like, 'Just screw it. I'm going to do everything ever at one time.' Maybe the madness of everything will make me sharper, rather than dull me down. Sometimes when you're stressed out, you don't give anything enough attention. Sometimes, in that madness, you're, like, hyper-alert and at your best. I just felt at my best. I was loving it. I'd do it again. [Laughs]"
On whether "Victorious" is an evolution of SKILLET's sound or reinforcement of it:
John: "I think as the artist, it's funny because we never really know. Sometimes I go, 'Oh yeah, this is totally something SKILLET.' And then somebody will review the record and go, 'Man, this is so fresh. It's brand new. They completely went off script.' I'm, like, 'Did we? I just don't know.' The truth is, is I don't have an answer. What I aimed to do was to do something that was a little bit of a continuation of our sound because we had a successful run; our last record was very successful. So I was, like, 'Don't screw it up, John! Make it a little new, but not so new that it freaks people out.' So far with the reviews of the record, I've seen both. I've seen people praise it for being so different than the last record, and I've seen people praise it for not being too different. The truth is I don't know. I just hope the songs connect with people. I find if I'm writing from my heart, if I'm writing from what I'm experiencing with the fans at a show, I usually get a win. So that's what I try to do."
On whether he sees SKILLET as a band that will continue to experiment like U2 or stick to their core sound like AC/DC:
John: "Very much the former. Very much in the U2 and I would even put COLDPLAY. COLDPLAY is another band. I wish that we could be AC/DC or METALLICA because METALLICA is my favorite metal band of all time. I don't want them to change because they have their own thing. For us, we're not that lucky. For us, it's been fun to change it up. We always are trying new things. It's invigorating and also you get new fans. I think SKILLET has this thing that every album we have a brand new fanbase of 18-[to]-24-year-olds and it's every record. It's just made us that the breadth of the base keeps spreading. We're not afraid to try something that might even be out of the rock and roll box. A lot of rock and rollers, I don't think you experience that as much in Canada. I spent a lot of time in Canada on radio and listening, but in the States, there are a lot of things in rock and roll that you just don't do. If there's a great guitar riff, you don't layer it with synthesizers, unless you were more of an industrial band like [MARILYN] MANSON or [ROB] ZOMBIE. In the States, they don't really love that. I love that. They don't necessarily always love drum machines. Sometimes drum machines sound cooler than live drums every once in a while. When ROB ZOMBIE came out with 'Hellbilly Deluxe' in 2001 or 2002 [Editor's note: It was 1998], I was, like, 'Those are not real drums.' It gave it a dance flavor that I really liked. I like to try these things and who cares if it's out of the box? It makes it fun."
On whether he minds SKILLET being labeled a "Christian rock band":
John: "The truth is that I don't really care. I don't really care what people call us. The thing about the labels, I don't really mind the label of 'Christian rock' or the label of 'rock.' People like to put something in the box so they understand it. Our religious fans, they always ask me, 'Are you a Christian rock band?' If I say, 'We're just a rock band.' What they feel is, 'Oh, you're embarrassed of your faith.' That's how they take it. So, I just go, 'Yeah, we're a Christian rock band.' I'm not embarrassed of my faith. But I never wanted to sing to only religious people. That's the opposite of what SKILLET is all about. I wouldn't even say that all of my songs are religious. Our new song 'Legendary' is not religious at all. It's about enjoying your life; making your life matter. Positivity. You got a short life to live and make it count. Not all of my songs are religious, but I am religious, I've always embraced that and I'm not embarrassed of it. The truth is, I don't think listeners really give. They don't really… I love [NINE INCH NAILS mainman] Trent Reznor. I probably don't agree with everything he thinks, I would imagine, because I am very religious in certain ways. I don't know him. But I listen to some songs and I go, 'Yeah.' 'Closer' is not exactly my theology on life, but I'm a fan, but I believe he believes what he's singing and it makes good art to me, so I really don't care."
SKILLET is currently on the road in support of its tenth full-length album, "Victorious", which was released on August 2 via Atlantic.
SKILLET has sold more than 12 million albums. The band's past four releases — from 2006's "Comatose" to 2016's "Unleashed" — have been certified at least gold by the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA). SKILLET's 2009 album "Awake" has gone double platinum.