Despite its inescapable chorus and slick guitar riff, 'Monster,' the second single off Memphis veterans Skillet's eighth album, 'Awake,' was never expected to be a hit song by singer/bassist John Cooper. "We've been a band for a long time and had other singles that I thought were going to be big," Cooper tells Noisecreep. "['Monster'] was radio-friendly, but I wasn't sure. Now, people always tell me that they first heard about us through hearing 'Monster' on a ringtone."

The success of 'Monster,' which cracked the Top 5 of the Mainstream Rock Songs chart, helped push 'Awake' to a No. 2 debut on the Billboard 200 upon its release last September. The song has garnered over three million plays on the band's MySpace page, and has appeared in the 'WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010' video game as well as on MTV's 'Bully Beatdown.'

Although Cooper (who plays with wife Korey Cooper on rhythm guitar and keyboards, Ben Kasica on lead guitar and Jen Ledger on drums) kept his expectations low for the mainstream potential of 'Monster,' the frontman went all-out for the track's music video, which premiered on Noisecreep in September. Multiple directors approached Cooper with ideas for the clip, but he says that none of the initial concepts weren't extreme enough.

"The song sounds like a horror film. I was like, 'I want to be chained down and abused!'" he says.

The band finally settled on the Erwin Brothers' vision of creepy medical experiments and a zombie SWAT team, although Cooper wanted to do even more with the video. "I really wanted to shoot in an abandoned medical facility," he says, "and for the ending, have blood come down from the ceiling sprinklers, like in 'Blade'. Unfortunately, it never happened."

Skillet is now gearing up for a year filled with live shows in support of "Awake". They kicked off in February with a brief tour alongside Shinedown and Puddle of Mudd. The band embarks on the Awake Tonight Tour with TobyMac on March 4 in Aurora, Ill. before playing a handful of summer festivals, including Rock on the Range on May 22-23.

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