Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

Shoutfest 2005 featuring Skillet, KJ-52, ZOEgirl, Disciple and others is coming to Little Flock Ministry Center on Preston Highway Sunday, September 11. I got a chance to talk recently via telephone to Skillet lead singer John Cooper about what's going with the band and his family. But first we talked about...Saliva.

Louisville Music News: I appreciate you taking the time to talk today. Where are you today? Where am I talking to you?

John Cooper: I am playing in Ohio, somewhere. I can't remember where (laughs).

LMN: (Laughing) I hear you! Now is this a Shoutfest date or is this Skillet by themselves?

JC: No, this is just (the band). Shoutfest for us doesn't start for another few weeks.

LMN: I tell you what, you guys have been together for some time, but just the last couple of years has been amazing to watch, particularly I know a lot of people have talked to you about this, but seeing that you did the tour with Saliva, tell me about that tour. How was that? What a great opportunity.

JC: Oh, yeah, it was great! It was awesome! The guys were really great. It was our first kind of mainstream tour just playing at clubs just seeing what that whole experience is like because we've been doing Christian music for so long we'd pretty much been playing mostly the same kinds of places for, well, almost ten years now. So it was very cool, man. It was just a great experience. I think the best thing about it is that I just knew we were supposed to be there and it was cool, the guys were really nice to us and it was awesome, man.

LMN: What was their reaction, knowing that you were Christian people? Was that strange, I mean, backstage debauchery and things, was anything toned down or I don't know. What was that like? It's almost surreal to even think about it.

JC: Yeah, well, the funny thing is, I mean I didn't know the guys before the tour and their singer, Josey (Scott), kind of came out to our bus one of the first shows just to say, "Hey" and talk to us and tell us he was glad we were on the tour, he knew we were Christians and he said, "That's great! I'm a Christian, too."

LMN: Wow.

JC: I think we come from very different worlds and very different backgrounds/lifestyles. He was so supportive. He was like, "Man, I think it's awesome that you guys are out here in this market. Man, people need to hear the truth and hear hope and I'm so proud of you guys." So he was really, really cool to us. You know, different people have different experiences with Josie and Saliva, but they were so great to us. I couldn't say anything bad about them. It was great.

LMN: Well, that is fantastic! Now to completely change the subject, I hear you're a new daddy. Is that right?

JC: Yeah, that's right! Let's see, my son was born three weeks ago.

LMN: Well, congratulations!

JC: I'm yawning. That's why I'm yawning.

LMN: (Laughing) Congratulations!

JC: Thank you, thank you!

LMN: What's his name?

JC: His name is Xavier.

LMN: Alright. That is wonderful.

JC: I've got an almost three-year-old daughter, as well.

LMN: That is fantastic. Boy, is it difficult trying to balance - now I realize with your wife being right there, I understand - is it difficult to balance family life and just being an artist and having to be on the road as much as you guys are?

JC: Yeah, it is. Like you say, normally my wife and family are out with me, but even then it's hard to balance. You're together all the time which is great, but I do know like just the stress and the busyness of kind of running this band and this business is . . . there are definitely times that I think it would be better for my personal life if I would take some more time off. You know, (it would be) better for (us) if I would just say, "No, we're not going to do that. We don't have time. We're going to take two weeks off and just be at home together, go on vacation." or something like that because me and my wife don't get a lot of alone time. We're together all the time, but we're not alone ever, you know? You're sleeping on a bus and, you know, if you've got to have an argument or discussion - me and Chloe need to talk about something - you've got to ask everybody to leave the back of the bus. You work out all of your problems in front of everybody. It's a very different kind of life. It's a lot better than leaving my family at home, that's for sure. But, it's still pretty difficult, but yet it's wonderful, it's a blessing, you know, I'm so lucky to have them out with me, but the only reason I say all that is every once in a while you'll meet people who think that it's all glamorous, rock star lives and we go in the bus and party all night long and play concerts. Actual playing shows is part of the smallest part of what we do.

LMN: Wow!

JC: You know what I mean? It's a fairly insignificant part of my day even though it's the most important thing.

LMN: Yeah, yeah. I understand completely what you're saying. It's sort of like that Jackson Browne song about the roadies. You know, it always talks about the shortest time we get is the time we get to play.

JC: Right.

LMN: Tell me about Skillet and your sound a little bit and the way it's changed over the years and where is it headed. Do you see you guys - people think of you as sort of a heavy band, not a metal band, obviously, but just a heavy rocking band - do you see more of that in the future or what do you see happening with your sound? How has that been developing?

JC: Well, we have changed our sound quite a bit. Every record we usually try some new things and usually I don't think it sounds that different, but everybody else is like, "Whoa, it's way different! You guys really changed!" and I'm like, "Really?" because you know I'm going through constant changing and evolution with my sound and with my band and a lot of times I don't notice it as changing as much as it is. I think the reason is that I don't really see Skillet as having a Skillet sound. We're not usually identified by anything in particular like that. I think the things that have identified Skillet probably number one, my voice. You know, no matter what record it is or no matter what style it was, that's kind of the only thing that people go, "Wow, is that Skillet? It sounds like a familiar voice." So whether that's good or bad, my voice is the most distinctive thing and I think secondly is probably the style of our lyrics are a little bit different-kind of identifies that.

Big thanks to John Cooper for taking time out to talk about what's happening with Skillet. Shoutfest tickets are available through itickets.com.