By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Naming an album “Victorious” could be seen as a gutsy move, but Skillet lead singer John Cooper isn’t quite sure how he feels.
“I suppose maybe it is,” he says with a laugh about his band’s latest album.
“I like big titles. They grab me. I don’t like really long album titles. They’re hard to remember. The ones that are memorable are short like ‘Slippery When Wet’ or ‘Appetite for Destruction.’”
Skillet is set to release “Victorious,” its 10th album, on Atlantic on August 2. The follow-up to the gold-certified “Unleashed,” “Victorious” is set to cement Skillet’s position as a top-selling rock band. It racked up more than 1 billion streams in 2018.
“Victorious perfectly describes how the record makes me feel,” Cooper says. “You wake up, face your own demons every day, and never give in. There’s an introspective side to it. We might’ve commented on the world explicitly on previous albums. This one is about looking inward. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve gotten a little older, and I’ve accepted struggle as part of the journey. When I listen to these songs, I want to fight for my life, I want to fight for who I am, and I want to fight for what I believe in.”
Cooper says he likes to consider himself an optimistic person of faith. He hopes it comes across in his music.
“There are a lot of songs on this record about not giving up and continuing to fight,” he adds.
Persistence is a thread that runs throughout Skillet’s music. The Wisconsin quartet scored a double-platinum hit, “Monster,” which was the eighth most-streamed rock song of 2015. It has 182 million plays on Spotify, making it Christian music’s best-selling digital single.
Nine of Skillet’s songs have been used by organizations like the WWE, Marvel, ESPN and the NFL to name a few.
Despite the success, sometimes albums and songwriting are difficult. Cooper said “Victorious” was a trying project because he put so much passion in it.
“I put my heart and soul into it because I was really working hard to make the best record I could,” he says. “Every record is different, but this one was a lot of fun because my wife and guitar player, Korey, produced it with me.
“It’s nice to produce an album on our own. We can try things and if they suck, they suck. We’re not wasting someone else’s time or money.”
So far, so good. Cooper has been overwhelmed with fan stories about how Skillet’s songs have helped them. It’s a moving experience for him and the storyteller.
“They say our shows are positive, and unifying and all of that,” he says. “I just love connecting with fans. They get really excited about songs. They say a song saved their life, or helped them get through their parents’ divorce, or check into drug rehab. That’s what the live show’s all about—connecting with the audience and seeing them sing our songs.”