Skillet recently wrapped up an extraordinary year by being recognized as one of 2011's biggest mainstream rock acts, according to year-end charts featured in Billboard and Mediabase -- both publications considered bibles within the music industry.

The two-time Grammy-nominated band were among the highest ranking artists featured in Billboard's annual 'The Year in Music' issue, with their RIAA Gold certified album, 'Awake,' approaching 900,000 in sales. The album's chart-topping single, 'Awake and Alive,' came in at #3 on the Active Rock Songs tally, with Skillet also being named among the top 10 acts on the Active Rock Artists chart.

But as Skillet frontman John Cooper told Noisecreep, he takes none of the success for granted. "We are honored, blessed, thrilled, thankful - all of those things and more for what's been happening to us. "It's hard to describe sometimes what it feels like but trust me, it is all good."

The effusive, upbeat Cooper, who founded the band in 1996, is well-known for his positive and grateful view of his band's musical landscape. And he makes no bones that feels that his Christian faith and approach to the music helps the band thrive.

Watch Skillet's 'Awake and Alive' Video


"We try and be a band that any age can appreciate," he told Noisecreep. "There are no strippers on stage at our shows and we watch what we say onstage - it's important to us that we deliver a great rock show, with production values and songs we're proud of, but that we also deliver something that everyone can enjoy - everyone. There's a lot of negative things in the world today, a lot of ugliness and so we look at our music as a chance to put something positive out there. Not to preach to fans, but rather to just balance things a little with music that has some positive meaning and values."

Atlantic Records

Cooper added that he's looking forward to being home for awhile (with his wife, Skillet keyboardist/guitarist Korey and their children) as the band has spent much of the past two years on the road, touring alongside Atlantic labelmates Shinedown, as well as headlining their own Alive & Awake Tour. Having recently returned from a major European tour (including dates in Russia, Germany, Finland, Norway, and the Ukraine), Skillet are now in the midst of a U.S. tour that runs through April 1.

But a main reason Cooper wants to get off the road is to focus on the next record. "I've got about 30 or so tunes written," he laughed, "and I have plans to get about another 20 written on top of that before we start picking the best ones. I'm really liking a few of these so I'm sort of anxious to get everyone back in the studio as soon as the tour wraps. Then of course, this summer we will be back on the road."

No doubt 2012 will be just as monumental for Skillet, led by Cooper's refreshingly positive approach to music, the sweeping, soaring and dramatic songs, and his mission to shine a brighter musical light.

Skillet tour dates:

1/26 – Reading, PA @ The Sovereign Center

1/27 – University Park, PA @ Bryce Jordan Center

1/28 – Columbus, OH @ Schottenstein Center

1/29 – Cleveland, OH @ The Wolstein Center

2/2 – Evansville, IN @ Ford Center

2/3 – Louisville, KY @ Freedom Hall

2/4 – Greensboro, NC @ Greensboro Coliseum

2/9 – Augusta, GA @ James Brown Arena

2/10 – Greenville, SC @ BI-LO Center

2/11 – Birmingham, AL @ BJCC Arena

2/12 – Chattanooga, TN @ McKenzie Arena

2/16 – Council Bluffs, IA @ Mid-America Center

2/17 – Kansas City, MO @ The Sprint Center

2/18 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Ford Center

2/19 – Little Rock, AR @ Verizon Arena

2/23 – Cedar Park, TX @ Cedar Park Center

2/24 – Wichita, KS @ Intrust Bank Arena

2/25 – Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center

2/26 – Tupelo, MS @ BancorpSouth Center

3/2 – Memphis, TN @ FedEx Forum

3/3 – Bossier City, LA @ CenturyTel Center

3/4 – Mobile, AL @ USA Mitchell Center

3/9 – Columbia, SC @ Colonial Life Arena

3/10 – Lexington, KY @ Rupp Arena

3/11 – Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena

3/15 – Norfolk, VA @ Scope Arena

3/16 – Knoxville, TN @ Thompson-Boling Arena

3/17 – Cincinnati, OH @ U.S. Bank Arena

3/18 – Peoria, IL @ Peoria Civic Center

3/23 – Houston, TX @ VENUE TO BE ANNOUNCED

3/24 – San Antonio, TX @ AT&T Center

3/25 – Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center

3/26 – Springfield, MO @ JQH Arena

3/29 – Ypsilanti, MI @ EMU Convocation Center

3/30 – Indianapolis, IN @ Conseco Fieldhouse

3/31 – Champaign, IL @ Assembly Hall

4/1 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Van Andel Arena