In the song, "Hero," Skillet vocalist and bass player John Cooper sings about losing faith in the world.
"Every time I turn on the TV, it's like, 'Really? Another sex scandal?'" he said. "This is absurd, from wars to violence going on all the time to the earthquake in Haiti. It's a scary time to be alive, and it's an easy time to lose your faith."
Skillet makes no secret of its faith. It's rare when a Christian rock band can cross over to the mainstream, but Skillet has done just that: charted on rock radio without denying the roots that got it there in the first place.
The Grammy-nominated band brings its "Awake & Alive Tour" on Friday, May 21, to the MSU Auditorium in East Lansing. Joining Skillet are fellow faith-based hard rockers RED and The Letter Black.
Cooper was kind enough to chat with us about the band's No. 2-selling album, his faith and how Skillet's song landed on WWE.
NOISE: Is it true music was forbidden in your house growing up?
Cooper: Not all music, but anything with drums. Drums and guitar were the devil's instruments. My mom was a piano teacher and voice teacher, so she loved music, just a certain kind. Classical, hymns and opera were okay. When I first heard Christian music, I felt vindicated, like, "It's not the drums that's evil."
NOISE: You're one of the few Christian rock bands that didn't abandon the genre after getting mainstream success.
Cooper: Thanks. I think I'm so adamant about not wanting to get rid of my Christian stance because it helped me so much in my early life. I'm not embarrassed about it, and I'm not silent about it in interviews. If people ask, "Are you a Christian band?" my response is, "Yeah. I love it."
NOISE: Your 2009 album, "Awake," debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. Why do you think so many fans relate to this album?
Cooper: I think it's because Skillet has a lot more fans than just Christian music fans. We are a Christian band, but we work very hard at writing songs about issues that, in my mind, everyone can relate to: atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims. I see that in bands like U2 and Switchfoot. Those bands have done a good job of having positive and hopeful messages, without alienating certain people.
NOISE: What's it like being in a band with your wife Korey (keyboard, guitar)?
Cooper: It's awesome. She's my go-to person to lean on when it comes to making the set flow and making songs sound better. She'll do keyboard programming and songs will come to life. Personally, it's nice on the road, because it makes the whole band feel more stable. We have our kids on the road, and it feels like a big family traveling and loving each other and having fun.
NOISE: Your song, "Monster," was No. 4 on the active rock chart last year and featured on WWE wrestling. How cool was that?
Cooper: It was awesome. "Monster" is a song a lot of stations said they would never play because it came from a Christian band. But the song kept doing better and better, and eventually, most of those people ended up playing the record.