Friday, November 23, 2012

Flashback Friday: Cooking Something Up

Among the top tier of Christian Rock, and definitely Christian Industrial, very few have survived as much change as Skillet. Begun in 1996 as a trio (Skillet Trio, sounds like something at Denny's), the band was originally a side project to three bands which no longer exist. The original lineup consisted of:
  • John Cooper: Vocals, Bass, Piano (fmr Lead Singer of Seraph)
  • Trey McClurkin: Drums, Vocals
  • Ken Steorts: Guitars, Vocals, Guitar Synths (fmr Guitarist Urgent Cry)
The bands eponymous debut made my list of albums I want to Strand on a Desert Island. But what a difference two years can make. Though the lineup was unchanged, Hey You, I Love Your Soul (1998) showed that a vast improvement had been made. Still, no one would predict that the band would be anything more than a pretty good band.

Three years old and the first change occurred. The trio became a quartet. Ken Steorts left to found the Visible Music School (responsible for creating the band Luminate among others). The new lineup was:
  • John Cooper: Vocals, Bass, Loops, Keyboards, Guitars
  • Korey Cooper: (John's Wife) Keyboards, Loops, Sampling, Programming (fmr lead of the band Alkeme)
  • Kevin Haaland: Guitar
  • Trey McClurkin: Drums
This lineup didn't last very long. McClurkin soon left and, after Invincible (2000), was replaced by Korey's Alkeme drummer Lori Peters. One note on Invincible. The album featured the band superimposed upon a skyscraper, and a song entitled "Earth Invasion" which contained the lyrics "Changing History, when the colliding comes, where will you run. Come with us if you want to live." Since this came out just months before 9/11, I think they were strangely prophetic. One thing Invincible was noted for was two awesome "duets" between Korey and John, Will You Be There (Falling Down) and Come My Way. I would love to see an entire album of those duets.

The lineup of The Coopers, Peters and Haaland recorded a live worship album which will go on the Night Beats list of the Best Albums ever. I went to Christian Bookstores a lot at the time, and this was the only album which I remember forgetting to advance through the songs quickly. I went from song one, to two, to three, to four, before getting a little embarrassed. Needless to say I bought the CD. If you believe, like me, that "it ain't worship until your ears bleed", then this album is for you. Plus the extended "worship jams" (like the 5 minute Angels Fall Down jam).

Beginning with Collide (2003), the now firmly established Hard Rock/Industrial band began a practice of turning the title track on a CD into a signature piece, complete with massive orchestration and the like. More change occurred after Comatose when Peters left to be replaced by (now) gorgeous redhead Jen Ledger from Great Britain, the bands first reach out into the international talent pool. Haaland was replaced by Ben Kasica in 2001 and left to be replaced by current guitarist Seth Morrison. Comatose (2006) has a record three "love songs", which somehow mean a lot more to me now than when I originally bought the album.

Awake (2009) was the last time they were in the studio, but word is we may soon see something in the next year.

For A band which has thrived on change, even going so far as to have an Upright Bass and Violin in its lineup, the sky is the limit. And though they are now entering their forties, John and Korey still look like they're about twenty, so I don't forsee the band going away any time soon. And neither will The Night Beat, though we must take a bit of time off for Thanksgiving. Until we next meet, I am Awaiting Your Reply.