In a new interview with "The Dr. Jeff Show", John Cooper, the frontman and bassist for the Grammy-nominated Christian rock band SKILLET, spoke about his musical upbringing and his introduction to rock music. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "My parents were Christians. My mom was a fanatical Jesus freak, all right? A fanatical Jesus freak. And I always give the stipulation that I mean that in a one-hundred-percent positive way. Sometimes people wonder if I'm saying it bad. A fanatical Jesus freak. My mom was the person that would take her kids to the grocery store, and in the middle of the frozen foods section, she would meet a stranger and start sharing the gospel with them, and [she would say], 'Can I pray for you?' And as a kid, you'd be sitting there holding your mom's hand and be, like, 'Oh my gosh. Here we go. How long is this gonna last?' My mom was just fanatical about Jesus. I cannot remember a time every morning when my mom was not reading the Bible to me. I had an older brother; my brother was four years older than me. So before school every day, she would read the Bible. So he started going to school when he was five. That puts me at one, two years old, and I just remember sitting at the table and listening to the Bible. So my whole life was like that.
"A funny thing [was that] my mom really felt that rock music was like the biggest tool of the devil," he continued. "If there was any tool of the devil that he had ever made that was going to ruin the world, it was rock music.
"When I was five years old, I was at my friend's house, and he had MTV… So I was, like, 'MTV? What's that?' He was, like, 'They play music videos.' I was, like, 'What do you mean music videos?' And he showed me the video for the Michael Jackson song 'Beat It', which was the awesomest song I'd ever heard. And I came home, and I was singing 'Beat It' to my mom. And my mom gave me the holiest butt whooping of all history for singing the devil's music. She just really believed that rock music was that evil, and it was created by the devil, and freaked out about rock music."
Asked if his mother eventually came around and became more supportive of his interest in rock music, John said: "My mom actually passed away when I was 14. So I would say around sixth grade, my mom got sick with cancer. That is also when I first heard of Christian rock music. 'Cause I was complaining to my buddies that I couldn't listen to METALLICA. Because I heard METALLICA at the gym, at the workout room… And METALLICA was [being played] in there. And I was complaining to my friend, 'There's no way I can ever bring this home.' And he said, 'Well, you know there's Christian rock music.' And I said, 'No. Why has this been held back from me?' And so I brought a PETRA [Christian rock pioneers] tape home thinking my mom would like it 'cause it was Christian. And my mom was so mad. In fact, Christian rock music was worse than mainstream rock music because it was wolves in sheep's clothing. And she's, like, 'These people are serving the devil.'
"Before my mom died, PETRA was coming in concert, and all my buddies were going," John added. "My parents wouldn't let me go. And my mom was kind of on her deathbed for about a year — chemotherapy three times a week; she was going through all sorts of weird dialysis and everything; it was horrible. And I think my mom realized that this is gonna be the last major fight. It's a really sad way to say it, but is this the way she wants to go out? I think she had that feeling of, 'All right.' So she said, 'John, I'll make a deal with you. I will take you to the PETRA concert, and when they start praying to the devil, we're going to leave. [Laughs] She really believed they were going to pray to the devil. So we went to the concert. And my mom said on the way [out], 'I still don't like Christian rock music, but I believe that those PETRA boys love Jesus.'"
Last month, Cooper told the "Undaunted.Life: A Man's Podcast" that it was perfectly fine for Christians to play rock music. "I would say that music is created not by the Devil; [it is] created by the Lord," he said. "All things were created by God. So instead of thinking that the Devil owns a genre of music, I would say capture that music and bring it back into subjection under the lordship of Christ."
Cooper recently published his first book, titled "Awake & Alive To Truth (Finding Truth In The Chaos Of A Relativistic World)". It "tackles the reigning philosophies of our day of post-modernism, relativism, and the popular view of the goodness of man-and combats these viewpoints by standing on the absolute truth of the Word Of God," the book's description reads.
In various interviews over the years, Cooper has said that he "always had faith in God." He also claimed that he was willing to put his career on the line to take a stand for Christ.