RISE follows the band’s 2009 blockbuster, Awake, which was recently certified platinum for sales in excess of one million copies in the U.S. It’s worth noting that Skillet was the only active rock band to achieve platinum certification in 2012, and were one of only three rock bands (the other two being Mumford & Sons and the Black Keys) to strike platinum in 2012.
The band maintains momentum with RISE, a gripping coming-of-age narrative that stands as their first concept album-though lead singer/bassist John Cooper says it wasn’t premeditated. The album tells the story of a typical American teen coming into adulthood and trying to figure out who he is in a world riddled with problems both within and outside his control.
“The narrative idea happened after we had 10 or 11 of the songs chosen,” he says. “As we recorded them, we started to realize that there was something going on-that the album was really telling a story. Realizing that, I knew we needed to make it as powerful as we could, and say that even though all of those things are happening, there is hope and there is love and there is a God that will be there for you; if you reach out to Him, He will reach back out to you. That message is in all of our records and most of our songs. It certainly is the message of this record.”
The result is a wildly ambitious work as heady as it is visceral. Sonically, the disc sees the band expanding their musical palette, integrating natural, acoustic instruments like accordion, mandolin, dulcimer, harp, tympani and bells to their trademark slashing electric guitars, strings, churning synths and pummeling drums.
Skillet (Cooper, guitarist/keyboardist Korey Cooper, drummer/vocalist Jen Ledger and guitarist Seth Morrison) recorded the album in Los Angeles, where they re-teamed with producer Howard Benson (Three Days Grace, All American Rejects, My Chemical Romance), who helmed Awake.
Awake debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart and No. 1 on the magazine’s Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums Chart. In addition, the record hit No. 1 on the iTunes® Top Album Chart, garnered 3 Billboard Music Awards and spawned four hit singles including the No. 1 Active Rock smash and gold-certified “Awake & Alive,” the gold-certified “Hero,” “It’s Not Me It’s You” and the platinum-certified “Monster.” “Monster” lived up to its name, selling more than a million copies and hitting Top 5 at Active Rock radio (the first in a string of multiple Top 5 active rock hits), while its companion video has generated over 47 million YouTube views. The hook-happy “Hero” was featured in season-long spots for NBC’s NFL Sunday Night Football and served as the official theme song for WWE’s Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View. The band toured endlessly in support, playing to sold-out crowds across the country, which earned them a spot on Pollstar’s Concert Pulse Chart of the Top 50 Tours for fall of 2010. Awake followed the band’s 2006’s gold-selling album, Comatose.
Over the course of the past few years, Skillet has sold more than two million units in the U.S. alone, racked up more than 150 million YouTube views and amassed a diehard following (dubbed Panheads) whose members number in the millions, including over 3.8 million on Facebook alone.
In related news, John Cooper has partnered with Zachary Kelm’s Q Management Group and music business attorney Todd Rubenstein to form Hear It Loud, an imprint the three began to develop and recruit new talent. The imprint’s first signing, WE AS HUMAN, is the first band on the roster and will release their debut album this summer via Hear It Loud / Atlantic / Word.