When the music starts for the Third Day and Skillet tour in the River Center on March 29, it will include a wide range of sounds.
Even the two bands sharing the headliner spot sound different: Third Day leans Southern rock, whereas Skillet has more of a hard rock or metal sound.
And for John Cooper, vocalist and bassist for Skillet, that’s what makes the tour “cool.” He says the variety of music means the audience will have kids and teens, as well as parents and grandparents.
David Carr, drummer from Third Day, said his band was even taken aback a bit when asked to consider the tour.
“Their audience and our audience seemed like two very different things, but we’re finding that while there are some very die-hard Skillet fans and very die-hard Third Day fans, they are fairly compatible,” he said.
Carr says that it’s the message that ties it all together, “the subject matter is the same.”
He said, “Christian music is unique because it’s about something specific. It’s not just about poetry or saying something off the wall or a lot of mysterious stuff. You just put a different music tone underneath these lyrics that are fairly similar and you get what Christian music has to offer.”
Both headliners have careers dating to the 1990s.
Carr said of Third Day, “I think we all realize that what we’ve been doing these years has really worked. It’s really touched a lot of people’s lives, and it’s been successful. We’ve all been really fortunate as a result of what we’ve done and accomplished with the band. ...
“Until we feel called for something else or until it’s just obvious its time to hang it up, I think we are going to keep fighting for it.”
Third Day has produced 12 albums and is looking toward the next.
“We are about to start working on a new album. In about another month, we’ll start laying out the tracks. It’s always a snow-ball effect. It just builds on itself. … We never really know what it’s going to be until we actually get going – actually, until we get it finished. Then we sit back and look at the whole thing and say ‘This is what it is.’ It’s an exciting process, a still somewhat scary process.”
For Skillet, the immediate future holds lots of touring.
“We’ve been doing a lot overseas. Last year we toured as much overseas as we did in America, and this year, we are going back this summer to Europe doing festivals, (and) Russia for about six weeks. And then we’ll be back here.”
Skillet’s success includes the Christian and the mainstream markets.
In 2012, Skillet was one of three rock bands to sell more than a million albums. The others were the Black Keys and Mumford & Sons.
Cooper said, “Some of the things that used to hurt us, once people got used to them, it began to help us.”
For the Christian market, Cooper said people want them to be “more overtly Christian, and say Jesus in our songs.
“I think had we been that way it would have helped us in the Christian market in our first 10 years of touring.”
He said, “We also talk about a lot of issues that some Christian people think are edgy. Is it OK to say you are having a bad day or you are losing your faith?
“I think it is OK, and so those things used to hurt us.”
Then on the mainstream side, Cooper said, people want them to “not talk about Jesus at all.
“They’re like, ‘I like the music, I don’t like this Jesus thing.’”
Cooper said that in the end, it’s all worked because Skillet has “stayed true to our belief … We’ve never faltered on who we are and what we believe. ...
“In the end, I think people who listen to music, they want to hear something that sounds genuine to them,” he said.
“And I still talk about Jesus on stage, and I talk about why I write my songs. I think those are reasons why it’s stayed true with people. I think that’s the reason it works in the Christian market and in the mainstream market.”
La. a slice of Carr’s childhood
When Third Day’s David Carr visits Baton Rouge, it comes with memories.
Playing with Third Day, “It seems like the city we’ve been the most protested in is Baton Rouge. We look forward to the picketers. They’ll probably be out in full force. I don’t know why, we just seem to draw them out.”
However, his Louisiana memories start much earlier.
“My mother is from New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Mississippi. She kinda grew up all along that area. She’s semi-Cajun/Creole/something.”
While he hasn’t brought his wife and children to the area for vacation, he said that as a child, “Every summer, we would make a big trip to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast where my relatives live. It was very much a part of my childhood. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Café Du Monde and beignets.
“And I remember being ridiculously hot and sweaty most of time. It was always in the summer.”