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Skillet is a Christian rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996 and based in the United States. The band currently consists of husband and wife John (lead vocals, bass) and Korey Cooper (rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), along with Jen Ledger (drums, vocals) and Seth Morrison (lead guitar). The band has released eight albums, two receiving Grammy nominations: Collide and Comatose.Awake has been certified Platinum and debuted on No. 2 on the Billboard 200, with Comatose certified Gold by RIAA.

Skillet went through several line-up changes early in their career, leaving founder John Cooper as the only original member remaining in the band. They have sold over 2 million albums in the U.S. alone and are known for a relentless touring schedule, which garnered them a top five ranking in the Hardest Working Bands of 2011 by Songkick.com.

Band history

Self-titled and Hey You, I Love Your Soul (1996–99)

Skillet formed in 1997 with two members: John Cooper, former vocalist for Tennessee progressive rock band Seraph, and Ken Steorts, former guitarist for Urgent Cry. The two bands met through touring together, but those bands disbanded soon after, so John and Ken's pastor encouraged them to form their own band as a side-project. Coming from different styles of rock music, they decided to name the experiment Skillet. After Trey McClurkin joined the band as a temporary drummer. Skillet was only together for a month when they received interest from major Christian record label ForeFront Records. In 1996 they released a self-titled debut Skillet. It was well-received, and the trio continued to write new material as they toured the United States. One topic that comes up often among fans and the band itself, is the name 'Skillet'. John Cooper, the lead vocalist, explains that it was a joke at first. Each starting band member was already in a separate band, and all decided to start a side project. Since each other band had a different sound and style to it, the side project was said to be like putting all of those styles in a big skillet to come up with something unique. Hence the band name 'Skillet'. The band name is still somewhat of a joke between the band members, especially Cooper, who claims to still not like the title.

Skillet recorded their follow-up album throughout 1997, titled Hey You, I Love Your Soul, which was released in April 1998. Their second effort was a change in style from the band's first release. With this release, Skillet would abandon their post-grunge approach for a lighter alternative rock and style. His wife Korey was enlisted soon after to play keyboards live in order to alleviate John's live performance duties.

Invincible, Ardent Worship, and Alien Youth (2000–02)

Shortly before the band began recording for their third album, Invincible, Steorts left the band to be with his family and launch Visible Music College, a modern music ministry college located in Memphis, and Kevin Haaland joined the band as their new guitarist. Korey Cooper joined the band permanently and played keyboards for the recording of Invincible. Because of this change, the musical style on Invincible changed to a more electronic sound. Soon after the release of Invincible in early 2000, Trey McClurkin parted ways with Skillet, and Lori Peters filled the drummer's position.

The band released their first worship album, and fourth album overall, Ardent Worship in late 2000. The band kept much of their sound from Invincible on their next album Alien Youth. With little time between touring and recording, Skillet released Alien Youth on August 28, 2001, which was the first album that John Cooper took on production duties. Before the release of Alien Youth, Haaland left the band, and Ben Kasica took over on guitar. The first single, the title track, was a major hit in the Christian market and drove Skillet into their first headlining shows.

Collide (2003–05)

In 2003, Collide, the band's sixth studio album, was released by Ardent Records and contained ten singles, including "Savior" and "Collide". This album was extremely popular and it soon caught the attention of Andy Karp, the Head of A&R of Lava Records. In 2004 the rights to Collide were bought by Lava Records, an imprint of Atlantic Records. On May 25, 2004, Collide was re-released by Lava Records, with "Open Wounds" as an added track. The album was nominated for "Best Rock Gospel Album" in 2005. Collide was yet another musical shift for the band.

Citing P.O.D. as inspiration for the musical shift on Collide, Cooper said, "Well I'm one of these song writers, everything I hear goes through my John Cooper filter of what I like and what I don’t like. [...] All these things [...] have been an influence on me."

Comatose (2006–08)

Skillet's album Comatose was released on October 3, 2006. It features the singles "Rebirthing," "Whispers in the Dark," "Comatose," "The Older I Get," "Those Nights," "The Last Night", and "Better Than Drugs". The album debuted at No. 55 on the Billboard 200 and No. 4 on the US Top Christian Albums chart.

In January 2008, Skillet announced that their drummer, Lori Peters, was retiring from the band, feeling that "it's time for her to come off of the road and start a new chapter in her life." Peters' last concert with Skillet was on December 31, 2007. However, during the 2007 Christmas season, she took the time to train Skillet's next drummer, Jen Ledger.

On October 21, 2008, Comatose Comes Alive was released; a CD/DVD combo featuring live recordings of the band's May 9, 2008 concert in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was shown on the Gospel Music Channel on December 5, 2008. Skillet's Comatose Comes Alive CD also had a B-side with "Live Free or Let Me Die" as a single, also with five acoustic tracks which purchasers could download by inserting the CD in their computer.

The Comatose album was certified Gold in sales by the RIAA on November 3, 2009.

Awake (2009–11)

Skillet announced that they went into the studio January 12 to finalize the new record with Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson. They added two songs ("Hero" and "Monster") from the new record to their setlist on April 2, 2009 in Evansville, Indiana as part of their Comatose Tour 2009.

Skillet's eighth album, Awake, contains twelve songs and was released on August 25, 2009. It charted at No. 2 on the Billboard top 200 selling around 68,000 units in its first week. "Monster" was released as a single on July 14, 2009. Contrary to popular belief, John Cooper stated that "Hero" was not the album's lead single. It was, however, released as a single in March 2010. They also released a deluxe version with the extra songs "Dead Inside" and "Would It Matter", along with the original, radio edit of "Monster" that does not have the distorted growl as in the single and in the CD. A remix on "Monster" was featured on one of their popular podcasts.The song "Hero" was used in the publicizing of the first football game of the 2009 NFL season between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans, and the song "Monster" was used in the episode "Jason: The Pretty-Boy Bully" on MTV's Bully Beatdown. "Monster" was the theme song for the WWE event WWE Hell in a Cell while the song "Hero" was the theme song for WWE Tribute to the Troops and Royal Rumble 2010, as well as both songs being included on the official soundtrack for the WWE video game WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010. "Monster" would also become the theme song for the AHL team the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland, Ohio, being played in the player intros and after a Lake Erie goal, and serves as the opening theme of the Fresno Monsters of Fresno, California. "Monster" was aired at the beginning of several ACC football games on Raycom Sports during the 2009 season. The song would become a marching band recording and be performed by schools all across the country because of its booming sound and lyrics. In the first week of April 2010, "Monster" was released for the Rock band music store in Rock Band 2 It also tied the record for highest-charting Christian album on the Billboard 200 with Underoath's 2006 release Define the Great Line and Casting Crowns' 2007 release The Altar and the Door, as all three albums debuted at No. 2.

Skillet was nominated for six Dove Awards for the 41st Annual GMA Dove Awards.Awake was certified gold July 2, 2010. Also in 2010, Ardent released The Early Years, a collection of their songs from 1996 to 2001. On November 12, Skillet released an iTunes sessions EP consisting of songs from Comatose and Awake. "Monster" was certified gold a day later.

On February 14, 2011, Skillet officially announced that longtime lead guitarist Ben Kasica would be leaving the band. Kasica was with the band for 10 years, contributing to the albums Alien Youth, Collide, Comatose, and Awake as well as the live album Comatose Comes Alive. He played what was planned to be his last concert with the band on March 20. The band announced that they had chosen solo artist Jonathan Salas as their new guitarist, but Salas confirmed he had left the band on April 9 via Twitter. Kasica returned and continued touring until a new guitarist was trained. On April 16, Seth Morrison replaced Kasica as the lead guitarist, and now tours full-time with Skillet.

Skillet announced the release of Awake and Remixed EP in early March 2011. The remixes were mainly done by Korey Cooper and Ben Kasica. On March 2, 2011, Skillet unveiled the album artwork for the album. John Cooper says the idea was conceived when Korey Cooper and Ben Kasica remixed the song Monster for their popular podcast. The four-song EP was released on March 22.

"Awake" was nominated for and won the "Top Christian Album" Award at the Billboard Music Awards 2011, and the song "Awake and Alive" was announced to be on the Transformers: Dark of the Moon Soundtrack in May 2011.

Rise (2011–present)

On June 21, 2011 John posted to his Twitter account that the band rehearsed new music for the first time and that they are getting ready for a new album. At a question and answer session before a concert, John Cooper said that they would be recording a new record in January/February 2012. However, the band was then scheduled to headline the WinterJam Tour. In January 2012, Skillet announced that they will not be touring for most of the summer so that they can record the new album. They plan to enter the studio at the conclusion of the Winter Jam eastern tour, approximately in May, for a release in late 2012.

During a July 18, 2012 interview with RadioU, John Cooper stated the band currently had 61 songs written and would be heading into the studio in October to record the album with Howard Benson for an early 2013 release.

In an interview with CCM Magazine, John Cooper described the new album as "a roller coaster ride". He states: "We have aggressive tracks, artsy and musical tracks, which is new territory for Skillet. A couple songs are classic American heartland anthems, and a couple songs are signature symphonic-classical rock Skillet. Guitars are dirty and edgier, with absolute shredding solos by Seth." One of the songs mentioned in the interview was titled "Salvation".

In an Interview on January 26, 2013 in Beaumont TX, John Cooper announced that the new album, Rise, would be coming out in May 2013, but was later scheduled for a June 25, 2013 release. In an interview with NoiseCreep, John Cooper stated the first single and music video is scheduled to be released by late April. The first single from the album, "Sick of It", will be released to US Rock radio on April 23, 2013. It was later confirmed that the first single, "Sick of It", would be released on April 9, 2013. The album debuted at No.4 on the Billboard 200 and No.1 on the Top Rock Chart and Christian Album charts selling 60,000 copies in US alone during the first week of the release.

The band performed the title track off Rise on the July 11, 2013 airing of Conan.

Skillet was nominated and won a Dove Award for Rock Song of the Year for their song "Sick Of It".

Musical style

The band's style has been described as rock,Christian rock, Christian metal,alternative rock,hard rock,nu metal, and symphonic metal. The band's eponymous debut album characterized by its grunge influences, while their follow-up album, Hey You, I Love Your Soul was noted for "its electronic elements and industrial feel."

Allmusic reviewer James Christopher Monger described the band's musical style as a fusion of "alt-metal, hard rock, post-grunge, and soaring alternative rock," in his review for the band's 2013 album, Rise.

Touring

In the middle of 2006, Korey Cooper took a break from performing, due to her pregnancy with their second child. Her rhythm guitar and keyboard roles were temporarily filled by two people: Andrea Winchell (who would later become the Coopers' nanny) on keys and Chris Marvin (lead singer/guitar of The Spark) on guitar.

Skillet toured with Ron Luce and Teen Mania Ministries on their Acquire The Fire Tour across the United States and Canada in 2007. When they returned, Skillet had plans to co-headline the Justice & Mercy Tour with Flyleaf, but the tour was postponed and ultimately canceled after a number of shows due to Flyleaf lead vocalist Lacey Mosley's vocal problems. They then toured with Luce's Global Expeditions program on a summer missions trip with teenagers to Mexico. In 2008 they joined Teen Mania Ministries and toured with Acquire the Fire.

Skillet joined Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, and Seether on the first half of their tour in fall 2007. Then Skillet headlined their own Comatose Tour alongside Thousand Foot Krutch and traveled to approximately 30 cities. The tour started on March 28 and ran through May 11, 2008. Skillet toured again from April 2009 through June 2009 with Decyfer Down and Disciple. This tour was called Comatose Tour 2009 (essentially a second branch of the 2008 Comatose Tour). In fall of 2009, Skillet began touring with Hawk Nelson, Decyfer Down, and The Letter Black to promote Skillet's album Awake. The Awake & Alive Tour encompassed 52 cities from October through January.

Skillet appeared at the 2009 Night of Joy Christian Rock festival at Disney Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. This marked the band's first absence from Universal Studios Orlando's Rock the Universe in five years due to conflicting schedules. However, they were able to perform the following year, in 2010. On September 26, 2009, Skillet appeared at Awakening Music Festival in Leesburg, Virginia, alongside Jeremy Camp, Kutless, Hawk Nelson, Disciple, Decyfer Down, and others. Skillet also played at the Super Dome in New Orleans for the ELCA National Youth Gathering in 2009.

Skillet headlined two separate Rock the River tours, run by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and hosted by Franklin Graham. Those tours were Rock the River: Midwest in the summer of 2009 and Rock the River: West in the summer of 2010.

In January 2010 they toured with Puddle of Mudd and Shinedown through the East Coast of the United States. They also announced on their live chat with fans on December 5, 2009 that they would be touring with TobyMac in March and April 2010. This was later expanded upon as the "Awake Tonight Tour" named after both artists' new albums.House of Heroes joined them on the tour as the opening act.

In April and May the band continued on a second branch of their Awake and Alive tour with The Letter Black and Red. In April it was also announced that the band would be touring with Creed and Theft in August and September 2010. In October the band will be co-headlining the "Monsters of Annihilation Tour" with Papa Roach. Trapt and My Darkest Days will be supporting acts. They toured again with TobyMac in November and December as the 2010 version of the Winter Wonder Slam tour. On July 4, Skillet played at Creation Festival East and John Cooper called it the best show of Skillet's career.

In January 2011, Skillet confirmed that they would be touring with Stone Sour and Theory of a Deadman on the Avalanche Tour. The tour began at the end of March 2011 and concluded on May 8 in Jacksonville, FL. Other supporting acts include Halestorm and Art of Dying. The band had a small international tour in January and February 2011 visiting Australia, New Zealand's Parachute Music Festival, and Japan. In October 2011, the band continued their Awake and Alive tour with Disciple, We as Human, and Manafest.

Skillet headlined the Winter Jam Tour 2012 for the central and eastern parts of the United States.

Starting on August 13, 2013 Skillet toured with Shinedown, Papa Roach and In This Moment on the Carnival of Madness tour. In October and November the band arrives Europe supporting Nickleback's tour in twenty one shows. The band closed the year headlining their own tour in Russia and a show in Ukraine.

Skillet started 2014 coheadlining the Roadshow 2014 with Third Day during January and February. Upon completion, the band continued coheadlining alongside Third Day in a Spring tour. Later in May, toured with TobyMac and Lecrae in the Summer Shed Tour. Starting in the end of May, the band traveled to be part of European festivals during six weeks. In August and September they joined Godsmack, Seether, and Buckcherry in the Rockstar Uproar Festival in twenty one American cities. In October and November the band will have its own Autumn tour in Europe, offering twenty-two shows.

Band members

Current
  • John Cooper – lead vocals, bass guitar (1996–present)
  • Korey Cooper – rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1999–present)
  • Jen Ledger - drums (2008-present)
  • Seth Morrison – lead guitar (2011–present)
Former
  • Kevin Haaland – lead guitar (1999–2001)
  • Ben Kasica – lead guitar (2001–2011, 2011)
  • Trey McClurkin – drums, backing vocals (1996–2000)
  • Lori Peters – drums (2000–2007)
  • Jonathan Salas – lead guitar (2011)
  • Ken Steorts – lead guitar (1996–1999)
Touring
  • Billy Dawson – rhythm guitar (2000)
  • Faith Stern – keyboards, vocals (2002–2003)
  • Chris Marvin – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2002–2003, 2005–2006)
  • Andrea Winchell – keyboards (2005–2006)
  • Jonathan Chu – violin (2008–present)
  • Tate Olsen – cello (2008–present)
  • Scotty Rock – bass (2009–present)

Timeline

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Discography

Main article: Skillet discography

Studio albums

  • Skillet (1996)
  • Hey You, I Love Your Soul (1998)
  • Invincible (2000)
  • Alien Youth (2001)
  • Collide (2003)
  • Comatose (2006)
  • Awake (2009)
  • Rise (2013)

This is a list of major releases only. Additional releases including EPs, live albums, singles, compilation albums and videos may be found at the full discography article.

Awards and recognition

Year Award Nominee Category Result Source
2002 GMA Dove Awards "Alien Youth" Rock Song of the Year Nominated
Alien Youth Modern Rock Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
2003 "Vapor" Hard Music Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
2004 "Savior" Modern Rock Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
2005 Grammy Award Collide Best Rock Gospel Album Nominated
2007 Comatose Nominated
GMA Dove Awards Rock Album of the Year Nominated
"Rebirthing" Rock Song of the Year Nominated
Skillet Artist of the Year Nominated
2008 "Comatose" Rock Song of the Year Won
Skillet Artist of the Year Nominated
2009 Group of the Year Nominated
Comatose Comes Alive Rock Album of the Year Nominated
Long Form Music Video of the Year Nominated
2010 Skillet Artist of the Year Nominated
Group of the Year Nominated
"Hero" Rock Song of the Year Nominated
Short Form Music Video of the Year Nominated
"Monster" Nominated
Awake Rock Album of the Year Nominated
2011 Billboard Music Award Christian Album Won
2011 GMA Dove Awards "One Day Too Late" Rock Song of the Year Nominated
"Lucy" Rock Song of the Year Nominated
2012 Drummies! Award Jen Ledger Rising Star Won
Independent Drummer Nominated
2013 GMA Dove Awards "Sick of It" Rock Song of the Year Won
Loudwire Music Awards Rise Album of the Year Won
Rock Album of 2013 Won
HM Awards Best Album Won
Skillet Best Band Won
Best HM Cover Won
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