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Skillet Talks 'Very Modern' New Album & Writing About What They See in the World

Skillet
Joseph Cultice

Skillet

Skillet is "about halfway done writing" for the band's 10th album, but singer-bassist John Cooper reckons he and his wife Kory still have more to do before they feel ready to start banging the project into shape.

"We're writing and recording now, and we probably have about 15 songs and another 15 songs to go," Cooper tells Billboard. "Right now we're just enjoying it, so the good news is I'm not dreading the next 15. I'm really having a great time, so writing the songs has not felt like work at this point."

The difference when the group does hit the studio again is that the Coopers plan to take greater control behind the board. They produced the song "Breaking Free" the new deluxe edition of 2016's Unleashed (Unleashed Beyond), and the bassist predicts they'll be doing more of that the next time around.

"I think with Unleashed, in the end, we had a lot of control, but I would say there was a lot of arm wrestling and sometimes a lot of heartache to get done what we wanted done," Cooper says. "I don't mind a little blood, sweat and tears to make a great project, but sometimes when it's blood, sweat and tears just to get what you could've gotten without all that... it really is annoying. On ['Breaking Free'] we didn't have to ask anybody what to do, and we didn't have to compromise on anything. We just recorded the song the way we wanted to, and it was kind of thrilling. So that's opening the door for us to do that in the future."

Cooper predicts that the new Skillet material will be "hopefully very modern and very hooky." Lyrically, meanwhile, he describes the material as "very heartfelt, very passionate, kind of not afraid to say things that are on my mind that perhaps other people would not like me to say." But he stops short of categorizing the songs as topical or political.

"They're just...honest," Cooper explains. "I like writing about the stuff I see in the world happening -- a school shooting just (last) week in America and all the anger you see right now. People are so angry about politics. Everything's so polarized. It's unbelievable to me. You can't be friends with people that aren't like you? That's not a healthy thing, whether it's politics or religion or anything. So I'm writing a lot of that kind of stuff. It doesn't take positions, but it feels a little darker, a little angrier -- or communicating a lot of anger that a lot of people are feeling, because we are feeling so hopeless and we’re feeling not heard, and I think that's not good."

Skillet is having a good time at the moment, however. The group is headlining this year's Winter Jam touring Christian music festival, its fourth time on the bill. It's taking the band back to its roots, of course, but pivoting there from secular rock tours is nothing new for the group, either.

"I'm used to it, but there are times where I'm like, 'Wow, this is way more different than I thought it was gonna be,'" Cooper notes. "But what's cool about it is [the package is] very eclectic, and the more diverse the better for an event like this 'cause there's such a chance to win new fans. The people who don't normally come to see Skillet may come to see Kari Jobe, more of a worship act, and then they get to see Skillet and what we're all about and hopefully buy a CD and two T-shirts -- or at least one."


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