Throughout their fourteen year career, Skillet has been a staple in Christian rock music. They have released eight albums, two of which were Grammy nominated. Skillet has sold over 1.5 million records worldwide, and their last two albums, Comatose and Awake, were certified gold. Skillet has also been widely used in the media today. Their songs have been featured in many television shows, video games, and films. Skillet’s music has been used on such shows as Joan of Arcadia, America’s Next Top Model, One Life to Live, WWE, MLB World Series, and Sunday Night Football. Skillet has also been featured in the video games: Guitar Praise, Rock Band, and Rock Band 2. Their music was also used in the trailers for the movie Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
But, before their immense success, Skillet was formed in 1996 in Memphis, Tennessee. The founding members were John Cooper, Ken Steorts, and Trey McClurkin. John, Ken, and Trey were in different bands before Skillet, and they decided to start a side project. They named the side project Skillet because their band was like putting a bunch of ingredients in a skillet, mixing it up, and then seeing what would come out. To this day John Cooper still laughs at this name, and he claims that he still does not like the name of the band.
After being a band for only a couple of weeks, the band received major interest from the label Forefront Records. Soon after, they released their self-titled debut album on Forefront/Ardent Records. On this album, Skillet mainly played grunge rock music. This album was not huge on the album sales chart, but it was well received. For this record, Skillet made three music videos for the songs Gasoline, I Can, and Saturn.
This first music video is of the song Gasoline. This song is all about having God come into our hearts and consuming us. The video features a man trapped in a caged jungle, along with live shots of Skillet playing.
Skillet’s second album, Hey I Love Your Soul, came two years later in 1998. Skillet is known for constantly changing their sound musically from record to record. Unlike their debut grunge rock album, their second record featured a much lighter alternative rock style.
This next video is of the song More Faithful. This ballad is a simple song all about God’s faithfulness.
After the release of their second album, Skillet went through a number of member changes. Ken Steorts left the band and Kevin Haaland took his place as guitarist. John Cooper’s wife, Korey Cooper, also joined the band as keyboardist and back-up vocalist. Their third album, Invincible, once again featured another shift musically for the band. Invincible was more of an electronic album than anything they had done before. Shortly after the release of Invincible, Trey McClurkin left the band and Lori Peters filled in as new drummer.
Their fourth album was released less than a year after Invincible. Ardent Worship is a live album featuring the members of Skillet leading a worship service. The album features ten songs, five were written by Skillet, and five were covered from other musicians. This is Skillet’s first album where no music videos were recorded.
Skillet’s next album came in 2001. This was their third album released in a year and a half. Alien Youth proved to be their first huge hit. The album peaked at 141 on the Billboard 200, and the title track went on to be a number one single on the Christian radio charts. This is also the first album that featured Ben Kasica on guitar; he replaced guitarist Kevin Haaland.
The concept for the video Alien Youth is the band performing in the middle of a street. This song is all about the youth of America standing up for their beliefs in Jesus Christ and having a major impact on the world. Here is the music video for the number one single Alien Youth.
Skillet’s sixth album came out two years later in 2003. Collide is known as Skillet’s heaviest album. Unlike previous albums, this album features heavy guitars, driving bass, and a pounding drum beat, with very little electronic rock mixed in. Lead singer John Cooper is also known for screaming on multiple songs in this album. Collide did not do as well on the Billboard 200 as previous albums. It maxed out at 179 on the Billboard 200, but it did reach number five on the Heatseekers Chart.
This next video is of the hit single Savior. This video features two boys and their abusive father. In order to escape the pain of living at home with their father, the boys flee to a park.
Comatose was released three years later in 2006. This album is by far Skillet’s most important, popular, and influential album to date. Comatose debuted at number 55 on the Billboard 200 and it later went gold, by selling over 500,000 units. Skillet released six singles from the album, and two more Comatose cds were also released. A deluxe edition was released along with a live Comatose record. This album was also nominated for a Grammy award.
Comatose definitely proved to be another diverse album from Skillet. Collide dabbled in orchestra music along with hard rock, but this album dove headfirst in that concept. Many of the songs feature string instruments, including violin and cello, along with the driving hard music that has made Skillet so popular. For me personally, this is probably my all time favorite album. From start to finish, the album absolutely blew me away. I have never heard a perfect album before, but this record definitely came as close as possible to perfection.
Two years after the release of Comatose, drummer Lori Peters announced that she would be leaving the band permanently. She was replaced by eighteen year old Jen Ledger from England.
This music video is of the fifth single off the Comatose record called The Older I Get. This song is about John Cooper’s strained relationship with his father. After Cooper’s mother died, John and his father had a very hard time getting along. This song is all about the repaired relationship Cooper had with his father. This video features behind-the-scenes shots of the band recording the album Comatose. It is also the last video that features Lori Peters as drummer.
Skillet’s latest album, Awake, was released in August 2009. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling over 68,000 copies in its first week. In less than a year, this album went on to be certified gold. Skillet currently has three music videos for this album: Hero, Monster, and Awake and Alive. All three videos are doing very well on youtube. Hero has over 9 million views, Monster has almost 12 million views, and Awake and Alive has around 300,000 views.
This is the first album that Skillet did not make a drastic leap musically. For all their past albums, they always switched up each album musically. For Awake, Skillet mainly stuck to the same formula that made Comatose popular: using string instruments with driving hard rock melodies. This was also the first album that featured Jen Ledger on drums as well as back up vocals on the songs Hero and Awake and Alive.
This music video is for the song Hero. Lyrically, the song talks about how we as Christians should stand up for our beliefs and become true heroes in today’s world.
Skillet has also lent their talent to the Christian kids TV Show Veggietales. They were featured on the Veggie Rocks cd along with many other well known Christian rock artists including: Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, Relient K, Sanctus Real, Superchick, O.C. Supertones, and many more. Skillet recorded the song Stand Up for the Veggie Rocks album.
Skillet has toured with many popular groups in the secular and Christian markets. In the secular market, they have toured with bands such as Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Shinedown, Puddle of Mudd, and Creed. They have also toured with many well known Christian rock bands including: Red, Disciple, Thousand Foot Krutch, Flyleaf, TobyMac, The Letter Black, Decyfer Down, and Hawk Nelson.
Skillet is known for having a very close relationship with their fans. Skillet is active on many social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter. They also have a special name for their fans. Skillet calls all their fans, panheads. Finally, Skillet is known for their podcasts. Skillet records many podcasts, throughout the year, that feature behind the scenes content of the band. All of these videos can be seen on Skillet’s youtube channel. Here is an example of one of Skillet’s behind the scenes podcasts.
For the last 14 years, Skillet has defined this generation of Christian rock music. Through many member changes and album releases, Skillet has been a staple in the Christian market. John Cooper said it best in the chorus of their hit song Awake and Alive when he described his faith as a Christian. “I'm awake I'm alive. Now I know what I believe inside. Now it's my time. I'll do what I want 'cause this is my life. Right here, right now, I'll stand my ground and never back down. I know what I believe inside, I'm awake and I'm alive.”