Collide #5 ("Interview @ Rock The Universe")
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Skillet Interview In Person at Universal Studios' "Rock the Universe" Festival - 9/6/03
(By: Chad Olsen from

(Yeah, this is a loooong, but good interview)

Chad Olson: So, John's feeling better. Did anybody else get sick with what he had from Alaska?

Ben Kasica: I think that I gave it to him actually.

CO: Oh, really?

BK: Being near each other.

CO: He was hocking up a storm on the phone.

BK: I think were doing okay, though.

Lori Peters: Over and done.

John Cooper: We're over it.

CO: I forgot to ask John where and when you guys recorded the new album.

JC: We started in January, right?

BK: Yeah. We did three songs...

JC: We did three songs in January, one of which didn't make the record. And then we spent five days, and then we didn't do it again until, I wanna say April.

CO: Oh, wow.

JC: The last day of April. Or was it March?

BK and Korey Cooper: I think it was April.

JC: Something like that, so I'd say by the time we got in we spent another two months on it. All we do is weekdays.

CO: Okay, and where did you record it at?

JC: At Ardent in Memphis, Ardent Studios.

CO: Oh, okay. They have their own studios. I wondered if you could just tell me, and I'm sure youve answered this many times, how did you come up with the band name?

JC: Well, when we got together, it was me and two other guys, and we were all from different groups, and it was like kind of starting a side-project, taking different ingredients from different bands and putting them in a Skillet.

CO: Gotcha. Also, I'm not sure why you left Forefront Records. I never was real clear on what happened with that. If you could tell me about that, and how you ended up on Ardent.

JC: Sure. Well, actually we were signed to Ardent Records, and Ardent had I don't know what you'd call it....a deal with Forefront where Forefront was distributing and marketing their albums. And the deal Ardent had with Forefront was only for three records. So, we didn't really go anywhere, but Ardent began to market our albums starting with, really our worship record, if you count that as a release. So, it wasn't like we left.

CO: Okay.

JC: We have really good relationships with Forefront to this day.

CO: What was the title of the worship record?

JC: It was called Ardent Worship.

CO: I know that John and Korey are involved in youth ministry, but do Ben and Lori, do you have other jobs outside of the band?

LP: Nope.

BK: No. We help out a little bit with the youth group.

KC: They went on a camping trip with us.

CO: Ben, I didn't realize how young you were until I was poking around the bands website yesterday.

JC: He's a teenager.

CO: Yeah, he's young. How did you end up in the band?

BK: Um, I was good friends with Korey's sister, actually. She was my youth leader and stuff, and I was on the worship team. And we played some worship outreaches and stuff, and it just kind of worked out.

CO: Lori, how did you come into the band? I know how you came, Korey. (Laughs)

LP: Well, I'd known Korey for a long time, for like 15 years or so.

CO: You're both from the same town, is that right? Kenosha?

LP: Same town, same church. We went to high school together, and played on the worship team at church. Then when she married John, I met John and the rest of Skillet. So, later on when they needed a drummer, I just decided to audition.

CO: Korey, tell me about playing guitar now. Has it been challenging, and do you enjoy it more or less than keyboards?

KC: Yes, it's been challenging because...Well, I guess overall guitars a lot easier than keyboards. But it's just a matter of the technique; once you have the technique down then you don't even have to know theory or anything to be able to play. So, that was work for me because it's so different than playing keyboards that I had to just retrain my hands to be gentle. It's hard for me to really be passionate on the guitar because you have to be so gentle. I can't really rock my face off, you know what I mean?

CO: Uh, huh.

KC: So, I guess the most challenging thing at the moment is trying to be expressive while still playing the right parts.

CO: Yeah.

KC: So, I enjoy keyboards a lot more than guitar, even though I enjoy being able to play the guitar. But, yeah, keyboards...I don't have to think about 'em, I can just go up there and rock and not have to look at what I'm doing. And's a little bit of work.

CO: Okay. Have you played piano/keyboards for a long time?

KC: Yeah, since I was a little kid.

CO: Alright.

BK: That was a long time ago!

KC: That was a long time ago.

BK: It was one of the first keyboards, and...

CO: (Laughs)

KC: I've really only been focusing on guitar for the last year because I knew that I was going to play live. And I had a baby in that year, and I've been really busy. So, it's not like I can really focus on it like you can when your'e a teenager. I write songs on guitar, but because I didn't know anything...I didn't know any theory, I only knew a few open chords on acoustic. So, I can't say that I knew anything as far as playing guitar. It's totally different playing on an electric than an acoustic, as well. So, yeah, it's only been about a year.

CO: That's what John said. I see you all have your piercings in. They didn't make you take them out, huh? (Laughs)

JC: That waswell, worth mentioning.

CO: Where was that actually, if you don't mind me asking?

JC: It was actually in...(Writers Note: location withheld to protectwell not exactly to protect, but the band would prefer we keep the location to ourselves.)

CO: At a festival?

JC: No...(Writers Note: again, event withheld for a reason.) Maybe you shouldn't mention where and what it was so they won't know that I'm talking about them specifically.

CO: Alright. I presume they didn't make the ladies take theirs out, did they?

KC: No, no.

BK: (Laughs)

CO: (Laughs) Let's see, John and I talked about this already, but who would the rest of you list as influences and/or favorite bands?

KC: Christian or secular or...?

CO: Yeah, anything. Both.

JC: It's HM, so you don't have to be...

BK: Steven Curtis Chapman.

CO: It's not, well, you know, [some other magazines we won't mention].

BK: I would say definitely Petra.

JC: (Laughs)

CO: (Laughs)

JC: No, that's true for me actually.

KC: For me, I like U2, their old stuff especially.

JC: Phew! Yeah.

KC: Peter Gabriel, Sarah McLachlan. Those are probably mine.

BK: This is Ben. I like Tool and Dave Matthews Band. Sort of different ends...

CO: Yeah, those are some extremes.

JC: They're both prog rock, though. Wouldn't you say?

CO: I think I follow you there.

JC: I think Tool is prog rock.

CO: Oh, yeah.

JC: Super heavy prog rock.

BK: I would definitely agree with that.

CO: I caught a hold of a new cd today that reminds me a lot of Tool, except the songwriting is more interesting....Katatonia. Have you guys ever heard of them? They're a secular band.

JC: No, uh uh.

CO: It's amazing.

BK: Really?!

CO: It's really cool stuff, but anyway...Go ahead, Lori.

LP: Um, I like the band Live. He's my favorite drummer. I like old White Heart stuff. I love Michael Jackson's Thriller. (Laughs) That's one of my favorite albums. So...

KC: She's a heavy metal chic at heart, though.

LP: Yeah. Van Halen.

CO: Okay. Who's the heaviest band you guys listen to?

JC: (To Ben.) Tool probably.

BK: Yeah, probably Tool. Yeah. And Korn as well. Anything more heavy than that is like.....(Makes funny face.)

CO: Okay.

LP: When I was a teenager, I liked to listen to really heavy stuff, but probably Linkin Park for me right now is the heaviest stuff I listen to.

KC: Yeah, same with me.

CO: Okay. So nobody likes Cradle of Filth or...(Laughs)

JC: Nah. Nobody really likes hardcore, or I don't know what you'd call it.

KC: Anything that goes, Rah, rah, rah!

CO: Okay. So nobody would be like a ZAO fan?

KC: No. It's gotta have a pop element to it.

JC: Nah. I like Living Sacrifices lyrics, but I'm not into that kind of music.

CO: Okay, so nobody liked John's growling on the new album then either? (Laughs)

BK: It's done tastefully. It's not...

LP: Oh, wow! (Laughs)

JC: What's so funny?

KC: He said, "It's done tastefully."

JC: Yeah, it's every once in a while. Probably if I did it the whole album nobody would like it. I wouldn't like it for sure...

CO: (Laughs)

JC: We're going to play a couple new songs tonight.

CO: Just a couple?

JC: Yeah, we don't know all of them. Savior, Energy, and maybe A Little More. I hope the crowd is good.

CO: Have you guys played this festival?

JC: A couple of years ago. The week Alien Youth came out, we played here. It was one of our first shows doing all that new music. We were all talking today about how....

CO: Is it a fun show? I've never been to the "Rock the Universe" thing.

JC: It was great. It was Relient K, us, and dcTalk. The funny thing was back then we were playing after Relient K. (Laughs)

BK: (Laughs)

JC: That was right when...That was a great, fun show.

CO: What festivals did you guys do this summer?

JC: Pretty much all of them except for like...We don't do Purple Door.

CO: Did you play Cornerstone this year?

JC: Yeah.

CO: Oh, you did? Main stage?

JC: Yeah. Then we did the new Cornerstone out in...

KC: North Carolina.

CO: Yep.

JC: Kingdom Bound, Sonshine.

CO: Did you guys do Main Stage at Sonshine?

KC: No.

JC: Sonshine's afraid of the rock, man.

CO: (Laughs)

KC: Pillar was Main Stage.

JC: Yeah, usually they don't let heavy bands do Main Stage. This year, maybe it was because Pillar's selling so many records. I was really surprised. They usually have the heavier bands play the side stages.

CO: Okay. John and I also talked about this, but how do the rest of you think Collide is or isn't different than your past albums?

BK: Hmmmm.

LP: For me, it is different because it's not as electronic. It's more straight ahead rock. As a drummer, I guess, I get to play a lot more. Live, it feels like I get to play a lot more. The triggering and...

CO: Did you do a lot of triggering on...I didn't see you guys...I've seen you guys once and nobody was in the band then except for John. That was like '98 at Creation.

JC: Oh, wow!

CO: Did you do a lot of triggering, and did you have to run any sequencers? Did you do anything with the electronic stuff? What was your role in that?

LP: Yeah, on the album it's all Korey, but live I have a sampler...MIDI plug and Roland sampler. Some triggers. A lot of Invincible and Alien Youth were like that.

CO: And you've liked not having to do so much of that?

LP: Yeah. Yeah, it's fun. It's kind of like freeing. I dont know. So, on the new music I'm not triggering anything right now. I dont think I ever will.

CO: What about Korey and Ben...How do you guys think the new album is or isn't different?

BK: Um, I definitely think it's the heaviest album, by far. I think its the most like mainstream sounding. Like the past albums came out, and they were a lot different than what was going on in music, you know? It was totally unique, and Christian bands were stuck writing the same things. I'm totally kidding.

Everyone: (Laughs)

JC: Never been done before, incredibly unique.

CO: (Laughs)

BK: No, but like the first album came out when ska was big. And you know, now hard rock is just real big right now.

CO: Gotcha.

BK: I play acoustic guitar on the album. A lot.

JC: You don't see any records with a lot of acoustic guitars...

BK: Yeah, like five songs have acoustic on it. And then piano and strings and stuff.

JC: Another funny thing is, the biggest influence Ben had on the album, too, was....I think he put his strong things through, classical type things. He did a lot, and made up all the acoustic parts.

CO: Korey, what about you? How do you feel about the new album being different than?

KC: I think its just great. I know everybodys said its really, really different. But I think it just sounds so much better.

CO: Why is that?

KC: I dont know. I mean, I know it's heavier, and I know theres a little less electronics. But I guess for me, the things I do are just more different sounding, changing up what I do. And I guess a lot less stuff as far as....There's still a lot of things going on, but its just really loose. To me...Maybe I've gotta listen to our other records....Maybe, I think its just...

JC: Maybe if we sat down and listened to Alien Youth tonight, next to the new album.....Maybe we'd be like, "Oh! People always say were much, much heavier live than our records are."

CO: Yeah, you talked about that last week.

JC: Did I talk about that?

CO: Yep.

JC: I think that's part of what makes doesn't seem like we've changed a ton. We scream and all that stuff live on our older music.

KC: Everybody's been like, "Whoa, dude! The new stuff is..."

CO: Something that John mentioned, too, is just that the change has...You know, the change happened like what, did you say over a year ago or something like that? So it's hard for you guys to remember...It was hard for him to even really remember how different it was.

JC: We were talking about...

KC: Well, when we first talked about it was a couple of months after Alien Youth came out, I think.

JC: Yeah.

KC: When we first talked about it. Obviously that record came out, and it was...You always have to look at yourself, and this is a bigger change than between Alien Youth and Invincible. There was a change there; it was heavier and more live sounding. But it was time now for a more drastic change.

JC: Yeah, at about two or three months when you're record is coming out, it's time to start writing for your next album. So, when you record a record, say after about 11 months after your record's been out...

CO: Are the strings on the record real strings, or are they?

BK: Yeah, I played....No. (Laughs)

CO: (Laughs)

LP: All Korey.

JC: Those are all samples. Korey will do those tonight when we play.

CO: Okay. Yet again, John and I spoke about this, but what do the rest of you wish to accomplish with the new album? Oh, here, have a copy of the interview. (Laughs)

KC: Wow!

CO: Now the rest of you can read it and see all the bad things he said about you. No, but what do the rest of you hope to accomplish with the new album?

KC: I think it would be....I'm tired and older, and theres one thing that I feel like Gods called us to do that hasn't happened yet. That's to get into the mainstream. So for me thats the biggest goal for this record, is seeing those doors open. I feel like God told us that they were going to be, and they haven't been yet. I feel its time. It's not like were out here disregarding the Christian market, but it's just time to see those doors opened. So that's the goal for me with this record.

CO: What about Ben and Lori?

BK: Go ahead.

LP: Just reach different people, an older audience.

KC: She's tired and old. I'm a year behind her.

BK: I'm 10 years younger, so uh(Laughs) I think I'd just like to broaden our audience a bit. I want people that don't necessarily like techno music...not that our stuff was techno, but it was electronic and stuff. I hope people that didn't really like that style will hear this new album and go, Yeah, I like that. I want people to buy my record. (Laughs)

CO: (Laughs) Ben and Lori, you both seem so familiar for some reason. Where are you from, St. Louis?

BK: Yes.

CO: Is that where you grew up?

BK: Yes.

CO: And you grew up in Wisconsin? Kenosha?

LP: Yep.

CO: Can't put my finger on it. John had spoke about your last three albums being different than your new stuff and the older stuff. And I just want to clarify, would that be Invincible, Alien Youth, and Hey You, I Love Your Soul? Is that what you would lump into that?

JC: Yeah.

CO: How do you guys do this, and have the baby? I mean, I can't imagine...I have a two and a half year old. She's high maintenance. I can't imagine trying to do what you guys are doing.

JC: It's hard. It's not unbearable though, is it? It's hard, but it works.

KC: As far as babies go, she's an easy baby.

CO: Is she?

KC: Yeah, but she's a baby, so it's a lot of work still.

JC: She's pretty good. We have somebody that watches her.

CO: Yeah, you said you have a nanny on the road.

KC: This morning she woke up at 4 in the morning, and we had two flights, and now she's just chilling out. She should be hungry and tired.

CO: So you guys flew down here?

KC: Yeah, we had our bus down here. My sister got married last night.

CO: Oh, wow. Busy stuff.

JC: Yeah, she's pretty good. Like last night, she didn't go to be till 11, 11:30. So, she only got like four or five hours of sleep. She's doing pretty good. Another thing is we kind of just knew that God was speaking that to us. We knew...I mean, we felt like he said it was time to have a baby, and we were like, Well, what is that going to mean? We'd never talked about having a baby on the road; we kind of thought we wouldn't do that. And we believe it was the Lord and stuff. So, when that happens you just go, Well, I guess God's gonna make this work out. And it really has. It's hard, but it's...

CO: And she was planned.

KC: She was planned, yes.

CO: Our's was not. (Laughs)

Everybody: Oh!

CO: That's all I've got. Does anybody have any closing comments or anything else that anybody would like to touch on? Where do you guys go after this?

LP: Georgia.

KC: Yeah, Georgia.

CO: Do you guys drive, take the bus up there?

JC: Yeah, this is our bus. We go...

LP: We go to PA...

CO: When does Shout Fest start?

JC: Shout Fest actually starts the 11th I think. We're not on it till I think the following week.

CO: And it goes for how long?

JC: 11 weeks? It'll be pretty good, play some new music.

CO: Do they make you have the baby in a car seat in the bus, or are there no laws like that?

JC: No laws on the bus, which seems strange to me. There's no way you could do that all night long, though. I wonder why that is? I guess...

KC: We don't have to wear seatbelts.

CO: That's true.

KC: So, do you live down here?

CO: Yeah, I'm actually originally from Iowa, and I actually used to work at HM Magazinemy wife and I moved to Texas, to Austin where HM is for a year. And then moved back up to Minnesota, and now just in December of last year we moved down here.

JC: Wow.

CO: We've kind of been everywhere.

JC: Are you just freelancing then?

CO: Yeah, freelancing. Yep. So, you bet. Well, I don't have anything else. When did you guys pull into town?

JC: 1:30 or 2.

CO: Have you done anything in the park?

JC: No, soundcheck was dreadful, dreadful man.

KC: We literally just got done with soundcheck at 5:30 or so.

JC: Then we went over and got merch, and had about a five minute break before you showed up.

CO: Wow.

JC: Yeah, that was pretty...

CO: Islands of Adventure is really cool, by the way. If you ever had any time...Islands of Adventure, that is the park in Orlando to do if you can.

JC: I love Spider Man. I love rides, but I just love Spider Man. I don't think we'll have any time, though.

CO: The Spider Man thing is cool. When do you guys take off, tonight or tomorrow?

BK: Tonight, yeah.

CO: Cool. Well, try to get a little rest before the show.

JC: Yeah, you got it, man.

CO: I will take off.

JC: Well...

CO: This was really great. Appreciate it very much.

KC: Yeah, thanks.

JC: When is this due to come out in HM?

CO: It's going to be in the November/December issue which will come out near the end of October.

BK: What?!

CO: The November/December issue

JC: It comes out every other month.

CO: Yeah, it's bi-monthly.

BK: Oh!