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John and Korey Cooper

Skillet: Love Sizzles In Skillet

Interview by: Carol Crenshaw

John and Korey Cooper of Skillet have been married almost five years. As members of a Christian rock band, theirs is an attention-grabbing tale of infatuation, love and marriage orchestrated between gigs. They talked with Air 1 recently and told us how they first met. John and Korey also shared the joys and struggles of working side by side on stage, in the studio, and on the road.

How did John and Korey meet?

They met while Korey was visiting friends at John's church in Memphis, Tenn. Ironically, John, then 20, met Korey a week after he made a commitment to God to quit dating. Because John dated frequently, he felt that dating had become an idol for him. On the flip side, 23-year-old Korey, a resident of Wisconsin, had never dated. "I never thought there would be any way she would like me," John says. "I thought she was amazing and it never crossed my mind that we would get married. Although they lived in separate states, they kept running into each other. About a 1-1/2 years later, they began dating. They were engaged two months later.

How did John propose to Korey?

John took Korey on a picnic lunch on the shore of Lake Michigan in July. First, he carried water from the lake and washed her feet. After she was thoroughly pampered, and the sun began to set, he sang an acoustic version of a song he had written for her. In the lyrics, he asked her to marry him. He sang the song again for her at their wedding the following March.

Air 1: What are the benefits of working together on the studio and on the road?

Korey: We're able to be part of each other's lives in every way, creatively and work-wise. John writes most of the music. We also have songs we have written together.

John: We get to be together which is great. We do work great together. I think the main reason is that she is very humble. She has no agenda and she is not there to outdo me. She is a great songwriter and singer in her own right. I really trust her opinion, and I bounce everything off of her. If she doesn't think it's cool, then I say, "Yeah, it must not be." We are becoming like each other. I'm the outgoing, crazy person and she is the intelligent, not-so-loud person. It's amazing that God put us together because we are so different, but our passions, our hearts are so much alike. To see people come to Christ is the reason I get up in the morning.

Air 1: How does being on the road all the time affect your marriage?

John: We have been on the road full-time for about five years. So, we don't know what it's like not to be on the road together. We travel in a van with the band. So, we have had to learn how to work out our problems in front of the others, and to make time alone with each other. It's difficult, but we have been doing it for so long. We usually laugh and say, "When God tells us to get off the road, that's when we will start having problems in our marriage".

Korey: When we got married, John was a great communicator. He was the first person I dated, so I wasn't used to communicating with someone on that level. I had to learn to communicate better because we had about eight people (in the van) listening to us discuss our problems. I don't have any kind of space, and I'm one of those people who likes to be alone. I can never be alone, and it's hard for us to create space.

How do they keep the romance alive?

Korey: It's hard because we are always working. We're together but we're always working. We manage to do it, but I'm not sure how. I still think he's cool, maybe that's how. I always try to do special things for him. Because he loves donuts, I will get up really early in the morning when we're on the road, and walk to a donut shop to buy donuts for him. I buy him root beer floats and I scratch his back. I do little things I know he likes.

John: You have to make time even if it's for instance if it's a drive day, we will stop at a mall and tell everyone, "Hey we need some time alone." If everyone is going out to eat, we will go somewhere else. It sounds easy, but it's hard when you're with people all the time. We get our own hotel room, which is really nice, instead of everyone cramming into two rooms. That is what most bands do. It's very hard to keep the romance alive. It's hard to keep things spontaneous, because your whole life is spontaneous. When we're home, I will buy her flowers or plan a really nice day. The nicest thing I ever did for my wife was sleep on her side of the bed to warm it up for her. I went to bed early and she had to stay up to do something. Our bed was freezing because it was the middle of winter and the heat wasn't on.

Are there any downsides to spending so much time together?

Korey: I think there could be, but it doesn't seem to affect us. When we're off the road and I don't see him for a whole day, I miss him.

John: It's hard to have time alone and also personal time for myself. I think we work better together than most musical couples because she is great. She's humble and she doesn't have any agenda.

Do you think working together has strengthened your relationship?

Korey: I think there is a deeper understanding that we have because a lot of our giftings are the same. It would be weird to be married to someone who couldn't appreciate playing, writing music or ministering from stage.

John: Working together has made us more secure with each other. When we both saw that the other was talented, I think we were intimidated by each other. I know for her, by getting married, she gave up the band she had been a part of. And she gave up her dream to have her own group and to minister. I was the frontman (of Skillet). Now, I will tell her to lead worship and that I will support her and she says, "No, that's not my role." Playing together has made me a better musician and a better person. The more we touch each other in a musical sense, the better we become.

How does working together affect your spiritual life?

Korey: We sharpen and strengthen each other. The things that God is speaking to him, and the directions that God is taking him sharpen my walk and help me hear the voice of God.

John: Because we are so serious about our ministry, and what God has called us to do, we are constantly talking about how we can do things better. Korey has her degree in pastoral studies and we talk together about spiritual issues. We just got off the road touring for the past 2-1/2 months with two other bands. I feel it's my responsibility to be the tour pastor and to bring up and teach these two other bands because they are younger than us. So, I'm always asking Korey, "Do you think I was too hard on them?"

Air 1: Do you get inspiration from Korey when you are writing songs?

John: I do. There are some songs that, when I'm writing the words, I think, "This is more a Korey song than a John song." There is a song on our new record called "Come My Way." I was thinking as I was writing it, "What would Korey say right here, because this is a Korey lyric. My lyrics aren't like this. It is like the more I become like her I'm realize that it's a part of me, but it's not who I used to be, it's who Korey is. It's like the reason I'm thinking of these things is because I'm getting to know Korey and I'm beginning to write from her perspective.

"So then, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." (Matthew 19:6)