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Skillet at Little Caesars, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Saturday, February 10, 2018

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Skillet is in victory lap mode right now.

The quartet’s most recent album, 2016’s “Unleashed,” debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Christian Albums chart and was nominated for three Billboard Music Awards. It also, er, unleashed the hits “Stars” and “Lions” and has kept the group in heavy road mode.

The beginning of 2018 finds Skillet headlining the annual Winter Jam tour, with more live work ahead. And singer-bassist John Cooper promises that it shouldn’t be long before we hear some new music from the group, too...

• Cooper, 42, says he’s both happy and a bit relieved that “Unleashed” has done so well for Skillet. “I thought our fans would really like it, but I didn’t know what that would mean,” he says. “You’re always hoping, but you never know if it’s going to sell or not. We had some great opportunities with the NFL and NHL and Major League Baseball; There wasn’t a sporting event in the country that wasn’t playing our music when this album came out. And then we had ‘Stars’ on the soundtrack for the movie ‘The Shack,’ so Skillet’s profile seemed like it was very big, and that’s something I was not prepared for and it really propelled the record, and I’m thankful for that.”

• Last fall Skillet also released an expanded edition of the album, “Unleashed Beyond,” that featured five new songs. “Just on principle I hate releasing new versions of something for people to buy if it doesn’t have something worth buying on there,” Cooper notes. “So the fact we recorded five brand new songs, that’s a lot of songs. Usually you get, like one, or two. And I was excited because my wife (Kory) and I got to produce one of the songs (‘Breaking Free’), which meant we didn’t have to ask anybody what to do and we didn’t have to compromise or anything.”

• After that, in fact, the Coopers plan on taking more production control for Skillet’s next album. “I think with ‘Unleashed,’ in the end, we had a lot of control but I would say there was a lot of arm wrestling and sometimes a lot of heartache to get done what we wanted done,” Cooper says. “I don’t mind a little blood, sweat and tears to make a great project, but sometimes when it’s blood, sweat and tears just to get what you could’ve gotten without all that...it really is annoying. (‘Breaking Free’) was great; We just recorded the song the way we wanted to, and it was kind of thrilling. So that’s opening the door for us to do that in the future.”

• Cooper says Skillet is “about halfway done writing” for its 10th album, but there’s more work ahead. “We’re writing and recording now, and we probably have about 15 songs and another 15 songs to go,” Cooper explains. “Right now we’re just enjoying it, so the good news is I’m not dreading the next 15. I’m really having a great time, so writing the songs has not felt like work at this point.”

• This is Skillet’s fourth time on the lineup for Winter Jam, a touring Christian music festival, which the group likes mixing in alongside the secular rock tours. “I’m used to it, but there are times where I’m like, ‘Wow, this is way more different than I thought it was gonna be,’” Cooper says. “But what’s cool about it is (the package is) very eclectic, and the more diverse the better for an event like this ‘cause there’s such a chance to win new fans. The people who don’t normally come to see Skillet may come to see Kari Jobe, more of a worship act, and then they get to see Skillet and what we’re all about and hopefully buy a CD and two T-shirts -- or at least one.”

If You Go:

• Winter Jam featuring Skillet, Kari Jobe, Building 429 and more

• 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11.

• Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

• Tickets are $15 general admission at the door.

• Call 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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