From outlawed to listen, to rock star for Skillet frontman

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@brandonspeck

Skillet is in Tupelo, Miss. tonight, the birthplace of King Elvis Presley. Elvis moved from Tupelo to Memphis, also the native home of Skillet frontman John Cooper. But that’s the only connection the child version of Cooper would have had.

The hard rock star wasn’t allowed to listen to Elvis.

“I wasn’t allowed to listen to rock music. So Elvis was kind of like the anti-Christ at our house,” Cooper said. “I couldn’t even listen to Christian rock music for years and years. My parents are very religious and they really believed that, you know, drum beat was from the devil and all that kind of stuff and thought the devil was using Christian rock music to get people out of Heaven and into Hell.”

Cooper fell in love with rock ‘n’ roll at friends’ houses and coupled with his faith, has turned into his passionate pulpit.

“I just fell in love with rock music. It was passionate and aggressive and it described the way that I felt,” Cooper said. “I got really into Christian music because I loved the idea that this music that meant so much to me could be used for a good purpose, could have a good message.”

Skillet is a touring machine, Christian circuits like Thursday’s Winter Jam, but also with secular bands including Seether, Puddle of Mud, Stone Sour and Halestorm.

Cooper is passionate about his Christian beliefs and never hesitates to make that known from any stage, but he never intends on anything becoming preachy. Music, though, is intended to be personal expression.

“I think it’s important that we are free to be ourselves,” Cooper said, “free to say what we believe and hopefully get that message across in a way that is not necessarily preachy, but just honest. And I think that that comes through in the lyrics, but also I talk about it in interviews and yes, from stage, I talk about my faith in Jesus, because it’s very natural.”

It’s where his lyrics, written alongside wife and rhythm guitarist Korey, are founded.

“We’re honest about who we are and what we believe and we kind of let the music hopefully inspire people, but yes, that message has always been very, very important to me and I think if you take that message out of Skillet, I think you don’t really have Skillet anymore. I think that’s what defines us and makes our music inspirational to people.

“Even people that aren’t religious at all say, ‘Something about your music makes me feel good and I think the heart of that is my faith in God and the fact that we’re so open about it.”

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