Move over a picture for info; click a picture to toggle the size.
Randy: Obviously, the big thing is the new project coming out.
Randy: I don't know a thing about other than it's new and it's coming out, so let's start off by talking about that a little bit.
John: Yeah, okay. Hopefully August is what we're looking at. New project, new project...it's hard to talk about this. I feel like I just did that. (laughs) Well, the new project is going to be a bit of an extension from Collide. It is definitely not the same record. It's a little bit less metal. People have been asking, "Is it still really heavy?" Yeah, it's still rocking, but it's different. On Collide we kind of entered a little bit of the string orchestration world...did a little bit more piano and acoustic guitar on Collide, and we're just kind of taking that further. We're kind of going more into that. It's just that...I would say it's just more dynamic. Collide had that real heavy thing, and then that real soft thing. It still has that, but it's kind of mixing the two, and it's just kind of making it more dynamic. I like that aspect of it a lot. Still keeping the heavy guitars and things like that. For some of our older fans--they'll be happy--we're kind of adding in some of the old keyboards and the programming we used to do. It's like we went a bit far away from that, bring some of that back in but it definitely sounds more of an extension from Collide than it does Alien Youth. It's not industrial like that. It's more soundtrack oriented. And Korey's singing a bit on the new stuff as well, which adds another dynamic to it. We're trying a few new things we've not done in the past. We're still only like three weeks into the project. It's been going really good so far.
Randy: What's the target?
John: Hopefully sometime in August is what we're looking at. The songs are written, and lyrically it's a little different as well. Collide was the most different album we had done lyrically than other records. The other records we had were geared really more towards a Christian audience. Collide more dealt with issues. Christian or non-Christian, just issues that people were going through. I just really felt as I prayed about it that that's what God wanted me to do with this record. So again, it's an extension. It's about issues, but even more about issues. We do have our songs that are faith based. First single--as it stands right now, this could change--is called Rebirthing. Rebirthing is just straight up about being born again. We also have other songs like...there's a song on the record called Those Nights that I wrote for a friend of mine in high school. Basically it's just when I was going through really hard times. My mom died from cancer. My dad got remarried and just began this really bad home thing. We just fought. I never wanted to go home. I tried to leave home. I just hated my family. Pretty much the only good times I remember is staying up with my friend all night long talking. They were the only times that made me feel life was worth living. So I wrote a song about that. It's not solely Christian, it's not about Jesus...it's just a song that people will relate to. I think a lot of Christian kids will relate to it. They'll be like "Oh, I totally know what that's like." And that's what I feel God's speaking to me. Having these songs that people are going to relate to and draw them in to a positive message. So that's kind of what we're going for lyrically.
Randy: Are you doing any of the new stuff yet on tour, or is it all Collide still?
John: Not yet. Starting summer festivals, which is here in a few weeks, we're going to start playing a couple new songs, testing some of the music out. We have a little blip online. It's a video we did for the album...for the first week of pre-production. A lot of our fans are like "Is that some of the new music?" They responded really well to it, because it's kind of incorporating some of what made Skillet a bit more unique with that hardcore Collide sound. Our fans have--so far--been receptive, but they've not heard very much. (laughs)
Randy: Last time we saw you, my son and I saw you play in Boulder, and Korey was pregnant at the time, and I showed you the CCM page where my son and your son are mentioned on the same page there.
John: Yep. (yawns)
Randy: So how's that going? You're yawning. Is that a sign you're not getting enough sleep?
John: I always feel like I'm not getting enough sleep! It's going well. He's eight months now. He only just started sleeping for the night about three weeks ago. We had a really hard time with him. He's a really good baby, but he just doesn't like to sleep.
Randy: Future musician?
John: Oh, Lord. (laughing) Maybe. Please. I am really tired because we've been recording really hard during the weeks. Twelve hours a day. Then we leave on the weekends and do shows all weekend long. And then straight from shows, like last night I was in the studio all day. Left straight to come down here. And then we go straight from here to the studio, and someone from Atlantic Records is coming in to hear songs.
Randy: Where are you recording?
John: We're recording in Chicago. Which is about an hour from where we live. I get to be home with the kids. It's awesome. It's going very well. By far the most fun I've ever had doing a record. It's fun and it's exciting. Stressful, but it's just...
Randy: Who's producing?
John: The producer's name is Brian House. This is his first Christian project to ever do. He and I are co-producing the project and he's a songwriter--singer/songwriter. I've never worked with a singer/songwriter before. It kind of gives a whole other dynamic. Certain things that are important to singers, that only singers understand, I've been noticing some of those. It's been really cool. They are always little things, but most all singers think alike. It's been a very good experience so far.
Randy: Talk a little bit about how life has changed for Skillet since the Lava deal and how that's affected your ministry, your life, and touring.
John: Yeah. Ever since I was young, I felt called to do Christian music in the mainstream market. I remember feeling that God spoke that to me when I was quite young, before I was doing music and stuff. I always had a sense of that, I always wanted to sing my songs, but I always wanted it to be in that market. And evangelism has kind of always been what my life's been about. What I'm all about is evangelism. The Lava thing, it seemed like maybe God is opening these doors. It's hard to know exactly to what extent that's going to be. It's not in any way like we're really big in the mainstream market. That's not the case. We've not had any massive radio singles. But it's interesting to see what God might do. But what I do know is from the little bit of mainstream publicity we've had...we went on tour with a mainstream band called Saliva...did some mainstream shows, and God just, God changed my life during that tour. I've been a Christian since I was five. I've never "lived in the world", never been a partier or all that, so for the first time ever, I got to see what that lifestyle was about. After that tour I felt like I know a lot better now what people are really going through. I think that's a big reason my lyrics are changing on this record as well. I'm like, "I see what people live like," I understand a lot more, and it was a heartbreaking tour for me. Seeing people at these clubs and...usually after a show you come back really like stoked and all like "That was rock, that was fun" and I would come back after these shows just heartbroken. I couldn't believe the way that I felt and the compassion I had for people. And I knew that was God. I think God really taught me a lot on that tour. Whatever happens in the mainstream thing, that's all up to God. I don't even know...whatever. But I know that God has taught me a lot that I'm using now in my everyday life with people. I think God's kind of given me more of a love for the lost, more compassion for people that just can't get their lives sorted through. You know, the kind of Christians that want to live for God, but they just can't quit doing drugs or something crazy like that, and you just want to smack them around. You know, "What's wrong with you? Quit looking at pornography on the Internet." Now I have a lot more compassion for these people because I've seen where they come from. It's different than coming from a Christian family and not being exposed to things.
Randy: Does it make you feel a little old when the younger bands talking about Skillet being an inspiration and mentoring them?
John: That's actually really cool. If that ever happens, it's very flattering, and I'm like, "Oh, that's so cool to me." What makes me feel old is just playing with these young bands...I'm like, "Oh, man..." I definitely--my publicist would probably say I shouldn't say these things--I definitely feel old sometimes. Here's why it is: we play these shows and these kids come to shows, and they just keep looking younger and younger to me. They're not younger, they're just...I'm older. I'm like, "These kids look like they're thirteen!" When we do these mainstream shows, especially, I hope this doesn't sound weird, but we do these mainstream shows and you've got these really young girls hitting on you and stuff. "You're hot" or whatever, and I just look at them and I'm like, "You could be my daughter." I'm like, "I'm thirty. You're thirteen." You don't even know, man. It's just weird. I just feel like if these kids knew how old I was, maybe they wouldn't be buying my records, right? (laughs) Yeah, that can't be positive to say about myself. I feel fine, but I definitely have to work out a lot harder these days to look like these young kids, they're like--
Randy: You could jump off the speaker stacks...
John: Oh, gosh. Me and my wife, it was funny. We're coming to the bus one night, my back is hurting, my neck is hurting, and all these young bands are eating pizza and drinking soda after shows, and I'm like, "No, I can't eat any of that, I'm going to get fat." It's definitely a different world. People say "How long are you going to keep doing it?" I don't know. I could do it...I'd love to do it for twenty more years, but it just depends if people start thinking I'm old or not, right? (laughs) If your music's cool I guess you keep selling.
Randy: You just can't be quite as athletic on stage and break down.
John: Oh, never, man. See, that will never change. Before I calm down on stage, I will hurt myself. I know I will.
Randy: It's just like when John Elway retired. He goes, "Sundays are still fine. It's just the day after." Recuperation is the tough part.
John: That's hilarious!
Randy: So, as long as you can recover in time for the next gig, right?
John: That's right!