On Valentine's Day, '11, guitarist Ben Kasica announced that he was leaving Skillet, a Christian Metal band, to focus on other projects.
"I had no idea how long the ride would last but have enjoyed it immensely," said Kasica in a statement. He'd been Skillet's guitarist for a decade, nearly twice as long as his predecessors - Ken Steorts and Kevin Haaland - had logged combined.
Skillet was formed by John Cooper and Steorts in '96. That same year the band issued their self-titled debut. "Hey You, I Love Your Soul," dropped two years later. But just as recording began for the group's third effort, "Invincible," Steorts left. Haaland became the band's guitarist and Cooper's wife Korey was added keyboards. She subsequently co-wrote many of Skillet's songs with her husband.
Even though the changes resulted in the band's best-selling effort to date, drummer Trey McClurkin left with Lori Peters signing on.
The list of musicians who backed Skillet on tour is lengthy. Bands can double track all they want in the studio but need actual musicians to replicate that sound on stage. But another reason for the additional musicians had to do with Korey's maternity leave when her children were born (in '02 and '05).
Before the release of "Alien Youth," Haaland departed, and Kasica took over on guitar. The title track was a major Christian hit.
'03's "Collide" was followed by "Comatose." That album debuted at #55 on the Billboard 200 but went to #4 on the US Top Christian Albums chart.
Before drummer Peters left to "start a new chapter in her life," Skillet recorded "Comatose Comes Alive" in Chattanooga, TN. Peters was replaced by Jen Ledger.
'09's "Awake" landed at #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart (#1 on the Alternative Albums and Top Christian Albums charts) and eventually went gold. The track "Alive & Awake" was the Skillet's first #1 single (on U.S. Active Rock and Christian Rock charts).
Later, the group took home the Billboard Music Award for "Top Christian Album.
"Rise" dropped four years later and debuted at #4 on Billboard. Not surprisingly, it went to #1 on the Top Rock and Christian Album charts selling 60,000 copies in the U.S. during the first week of release.
Skillet won a Dove Award (Christian music). "Sick of It" was the Rock Song of the Year.
"Sick Of It" was a drawing card on "Rise." "Feeling Invincible" did the same for '16 release "Unleashed." The track was the group's first to top Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart after becoming an official theme for WWE Battleground.
1998 Hey You, I Love Your Soul
2001 Alien Youth