John Cooper of Skillet Talks "Awake and Remixed", White Zombie Influence, Next Album, and More
Mon, 18 Apr 2011 14:52:15
"Whether I knew it or not, I've always looked for music that made me feel good," declares Skillet singer John Cooper.
That's precisely what Cooper and his cohorts create every time they hit the studio. It's uplifting hard rock that takes flight on propulsive, powerful riffs and dreamy electronic textures. That hybrid comes to life on their brand new Awake and Remixed EP. Re-imagining choice cuts from their massively successful Awake album, the group add a vibrant vulnerability to the song's more open moments, while infusing electrifying industrial to make the heavy parts hit even harder. It's the perfect hybrid between electro and rock, and it shows just how versatile Skillet are.
Skillet mainman John Cooper sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Awake and Remixed, culling influences from industrial rock, the band's next album and so much more in this exclusive interview.
How do you view the remixed songs? When did the idea to do a remix EP come about?
Some of it is remixed, but some of it re-invented. Korey [Cooper, vocals/keyboards] did a really great job on the vocals. Several years ago she said, "We need to do a remix album." We all liked the idea, but we never had the time or thought anyone would be interested in hearing it. She and I decided she would do a remix of "Monster" to place at the beginning of our video podcast. As soon as we put it up, people were asking, "Where can I get this version of the song?" There was excitement around just one track so it seemed clear fans would like to hear something like this. You want the songs to feel genuine and feel real.
Did the meaning of the songs change for you with the remix EP? How have they evolved?
As a songwriter, it doesn't change the meaning, but on one track in particular "Awake and Alive," the lyrics come across a little bit more. There's more depth on this version than on the original rock version. I do find myself experiencing the song a bit differently. It feels darker, but that's pretty cool. "Don't Wake Me" also feels moodier.
Was there anything you got to add to the songs this time around that you didn't initially?
I thought it would be really cool to do a super heavy "Monster" remix like an early White Zombie song. It's the kind of sound which we might do somewhere down the line. That would probably be the only thing I'd like to add to it. Other than that, I never would've dreamed that "Monster" and "Awake and Alive" would have come out the way they did.
Is the version of "Don't Wake Me" particularly special to you?
I loved it when I heard it. That was one where I didn't want to make any changes, and I probably like it better than the original. It really hit, and it's got a totally different vibe. "Don't Wake Me" and "Hero" certainly have that industrial vibe. I'm a fan of that music. I was definitely like, "Let's throw some Nine Inch Nails in the mix!" [Laughs]
Do you tend to like many electro bands?
Absolutely, I had my industrial phase when that was happening in the mid 90’s. We’re not hyper-electro, but we do have more of an electronic sound than your typical rock band does. I really like White Zombie as well as Rob Zombie's early music, and I was a very big Marilyn Manson fan—even Orgy too. I also liked the other side of the genre like Enigma. It's outside rock, and there's an electronic feel.
Could that influence further creativity on the next album?
Absolutely! "Hero" and "Awake and Alive" have a lot of electronic elements. Sometimes, those elements are less noticeable because the guitars are so heavy, but it still makes Skillet sound a little bit different than all of your other rock bands. Since we did the remix album, everybody loved what they heard so much that we can go even further into mixing those worlds. I can definitely see adding that attack on future recordings.
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