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Skillet brings the heat to Hagerstown

Christian rockers will perform at North High on Sunday

Christian rockers will perform at North High on Sunday

April 17, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Still hot off the success of their 2006 album, "Comatose," members of Christian rock band Skillet are showing no signs of cooling off.

But they are a band at a crossroads.

"There's a lot of pressure to keep it up," said frontman John Cooper days before the band's Sunday night gig at North Hagerstown High School.

The North High show is part of Skillet's spring "Comatose" tour, the band's largest headline tour since it debuted in 1996, Cooper said. The tour comes after a long jaunt with Fly Leaf, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and Mercy Me.

After two albumless years and spending much time on the road, Skillet will be making its way back to the studio in September to start a new album.

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But Cooper said the prospect of a starting new album is bringing lots of pressure with it. Skillet's most recent albums, "Comatose" and "Collide" (2004), each earned a Grammy nomination.

Cooper, who writes Skillet's songs, said he's not sure what Skillet will cook up next.

"We've been doing this for so long," Cooper said. "It's not like we're a household name, but all of a sudden, it's strange. Where do you go from here?"

Formed in 1996, Skillet has enjoyed comfortable stays on Billboard's Christian and mainstream charts and has been building up a broad spectrum of fans. Skillet started off as a grunge rock band, but has dabbled in electronica and progressive rock.

Most recently, Skillet entered the hard-rock arena with "Comatose," picking up an entirely new set of fans.

Some of the hard-rock edge may be subconscious nods to Cooper's own musical tastes.

Growing up in a strict Christian family where he wasn't allowed to listen to music with drums or guitars, Cooper was exposed to rock music by his "metal head" friends. Cooper said his parents never warmed up to rock and metal. For them, it was all about classical church music, Cooper said.

But they did tolerate contemporary Christian acts of the time such as Amy Grant and Petra, artists who have also influenced Cooper's music.

On "Comatose," Cooper said he drew from some of his classical training and took strains from Skillet's prior albums. On some tracks, he even tried to evoke a '70s Fleetwood Mac vibe in duets with his wife and bandmate, Korey Cooper. John Cooper said his wife objected to the idea; she preferred to stay in the background.

"I think the only time we had a sincere fight was when I made her sing on the record," Cooper said.

Cooper said that whatever the future might hold for Skillet, he's grateful the band has had such a loyal fanbase over the years, especially in an industry where commercially successful albums can be thin on hits.

"Now, you've got people who are fans of a song, when it used to be that you had fans of an entire album," Cooper said. "We want to bring back some accountability to the music industry and make good records."




If you go ...



WHAT: Skillet, a Christian rock band, will perform with guests Thousand Foot Krutch

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday, April 20. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: North Hagerstown High School, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown

COST: $18. Organizers strongly recommend purchasing tickets in advance, as tickets might not be available at the door.

Tickets can be purchased online, http://verticalconcerts.com/tickets.html, by phone, 717-491-1955, or at LifeWay Christian Stores in Hagerstown, at 17229 Cole Road, and in Chambersburg, Pa., off Sheller Avenue.

MORE: Hear Skillet's music at www.myspace.com/skilletmusic.

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