John Cooper on “Awake”

If you want to know the story/inspiration behind some of the songs on Skillet’s new album “Awake,” here’s what John Cooper had to say courtesy of Stereotruth.

“Hero”- This song is the platform over which the whole record was written. Basically every day seems to get weirder, darker and scarier with thousands of people losing their homes and hurting over a wide variety of reasons. You see so much negativity on the news, especially this sense of violence that’s getting really crazy. With all this going on, it’s easy to feel on the edge, but no matter how dark it gets, there’s always hope in a new day and staying positive is the first step. And when you boil it all down, Christ is the one who gives us a reason to live and He’s our “Hero” who’s fighting for all of this oppression and injustice.

“Monster”- It’s a song about being fake and putting on a face for people that’s not the real you. But it’s basically about the nature of sin and the nature of the divine, which is the duel nature we have as Christians. Everyday we have to strive to throw away the old and be that new person in Christ.

“Awake and Alive”- Tying in with “Hero,” here’s one about feeling like you’re falling under from all the stresses of life. Even though you feel like everyone around you is trying to take your hope away from you, no one has the right to do that and you shouldn’t allow those negative influences to weigh you down. Live what you believe and don’t be afraid to stand up for your faith.

“Forgiven”- I am really excited about this song, which is probably the most overtly Christian song on the album. I think “Forgiven” is a very hopeful song, and even though it’s not the first time a song has been written on the subject, it strikes a balance between being very worship oriented and honest as well. This is a song about letting yourself or someone else down, but finding the power to not beat yourself up over it and to find closure with the person you hurt.

“Never Surrender”- The original inspiration for this came with someone I talked to that was battling an eating disorder. Though it’s not specifically about that topic, it ties in to the fact that sometimes you feel like you don’t like who you are, but you’re crying out for someone to be there for you instead of giving up- whether that be God, a family member or a close a friend.

“Lucy”- Typically I don’t write in a way where a song can have an open ended interpretation, but this is a song about loss and can be applied to a whole range of situations. It has a gist of regret where you wish you had done things differently and it could be about mourning the loss of someone who died or a relationship. It seems sad, but it’s strangely hopeful because it gives off the idea that you can change your life right here and now – you have been given a second chance so you can remember to live and love with no regrets.

“Sometimes”- I’d say this is probably the darkest song on the record, but a lot of people I’ve played it for find it strangely therapeutic. I’m not sure why it makes them feel better since it’s so dark, but maybe there’s a relatable aspect to it. Basically it’s saying there are times you don’t like yourself and times when you don’t do the right thing, even if you’re trying to be a better person deep down inside.

“One Day Too Late”- Here’s kind of a special song on the record in the sense that it’s very introspective and pensive. It has me thinking about life and what really matters, questioning “if I die today, would it matter that I was here?” It’s about making the most of each moment because tomorrow might be one day too late.

“It’s Not Me It’s You”- This is definitely an angry song, but it’s also tongue in cheek. So many times this is something you say during a break up, but it could also apply to an authority figure or a parent who treats you bad. Even when people weigh us down, we can turn to Christ and find ourselves empowered by putting our hope in Him instead of letting someone who’s giving you a hard time wear you down.

“Don’t Wake Me”- It’s about someone you lost- either someone who broke up with you or died- and the fact that dreaming about them is the only time you’re both together, which is why you never want to wake up. This is the ‘80s prom song for the record that’s a slow dance all the way!

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