Skillet sizzles in Atmore concert

Published 5:35 pm Monday, January 22, 2007

By By Doug Chandler
Friday night the Escambia County High School Auditorium was filled to near capacity as young people cheered and praised God to the heavy rocking sounds of two excellent bands.
The night began with "Among the Thirsty" from Clearwater Florida. They are a lively band that has a wonderful progressive sound and paved the way for the headlining act Skillet.
Skillet took to the stage with everyone on their feet. The fans sang along to all their favorite songs as the band put on a show that was top caliber.
Not only did they bring invigorating music with a positive message but before the encore the lead singer gave a stirring message reaching out to young people who may be hurting. This was followed by a time of prayer. They finished the show with one more thrilling number which left the fans jumping for joy.
2006 marked the 10th year the band has been together and to date they have released 7 albums. Before the show I had the privilege to sit down with John Cooper the lead singer and talk about the band and their mission.
If you listen to Skillet's music beginning with their first album you will notice that their style evolves as the popular genres evolve. This helps keep Skillet on the forefront of the popular music front allowing them to touch the lives or more people. I asked John about the bands evolution. "We have changed a lot more than most would. When we first started we had the rock/grunge sound then phased into electronica which I love. Our new record Comatose I love more than any of our others but as far as playing live, I enjoy our last record Collide because it is full of guitar riffs. It's just fun to play lots of guitar riffs live and headband (laughs). To me Comatose is our best musically."
Skillet's music is filled with messages of hope and many people draw different things from them. One particular line from their song "Collide" has always stuck with me. "Something deep inside it keeps my faith alive, when all you can do is hide, from the fear that's deep inside of you." I asked John what was the motivation behind these words. "This was right after 9/11. We had the sniper shootings and were heading into war. Kids in America have a good life compared to other parts of the world. For the first time they were fearful about their future. They wondered how do I keep my faith strong and my belief in God while everything around me is crashing down. A lot of people look at it and say there is no room for hope but we know that God has done something inside of us that can't be shaken."
Touring the road, city after city can be a grueling life. Many musicians' marriages end because of all the time apart but John's wife Korey is also in the band and is right there by his side. They also have two young children who are touring with them. I asked John if having Korey on the road with him has hindered or strengthened their marriage. "We got married about 3 months after our first record was released and have been touring for 10 years. That's all we know. We are lucky. We are lucky to have our kids with us. If we weren't together things would be very hard. We are still learning how to try to have a normal life, how to have time with the kid and make sure we're doing what we need to do with them and not letting someone else raise them."
Being a Christian band they step on stage every time with the hope that they touch someone's life. I asked John, if the fans leave here tonight with one thing what would they want it to be?
"That people know they aren't alone, they don't have to go through hard times alone. Whether they are afraid of the future, violence, or just their home life. Maybe they don't feel like they have any friends at school. They are loved. God is passionate about them just like they are, without changing, without being perfect. And the other thing is for Christians to wake up out of their comatose state and be there for those who are hurting."
Skillet hopes to return to Atmore again and the evenings sponsor Atmore First Assembly of God hopes to bring other groups to the area in the near future.