Skillet's Ben Kasica Leaves the Band

After 10 great years, guitarist Ben Kasica for Skillet has regrettably announced that he's leaving the band.

In a message to Skillet fans, Kasica said on Monday that he will be focusing on other projects.

The Christian rock band recently got back from touring Australia, New Zealand and Japan. They were sad to announce Kasica's departure.

Lead singer John Cooper wrote, "I always knew the time would come for Ben to leave and pursue other dreams, and now it is here. We are a family and we are going to miss him."

Cooper added that working with Kasica, whose full name is Benjamin Judah Kasica, allowed him to watch the guitarist transform "from the kid who was nervous to play a guitar solo, to the rocker who now plays a solo...with his teeth!"

Kasica began playing for Skillet shortly after turning 16 years old. He shared that he basically grew up on the road, traveling to "loads of places" and drinking way too much coffee."

In a message to his fans he stated, "I had no idea how long the ride would last but have enjoyed it immensely and been thankful to God for everything I've been a part of."

His plans for the future will be geared towards building his other companies, producing and developing artists at Skies Fall Studios, designing for LifeLoveMusic Clothing as well as "look[ing] forward very much to being home and catching up on churchlife, family and friends."

Kasica added his thanks to his band members for encouraging him and suffering along with him while on the road.

"I want to thank John and Korey for the opportunity of a lifetime. They've been encouraging, compassionate, long-suffering with me and it's been what's kept me going on all these years. I'm grateful for their years of input in my spiritual, personal and business life."

He added, "They're amazing, inspiring hardworking people that I have the utmost respect for. I wish them the absolute best in their future in and outside the band."

The 26-year-old artist concluded his message by saying, "I want to thank you panheads for 10 years of incredible support. You've been encouraging over the years and made touring an amazing experience. You are the absolute best fans ever."

While Skillet's Wikipedia page already shows an update today with Kasica as a "former" lead guitarist, there is no word yet as to who will be the next guitarist for the band. They are set to kick off on their Avalanche Tour on March 1.

Skillet formed in 1996 with two members. Only the lead singer, Cooper, remains as an original band member for the band. Other current band members include keyboardist/vocalist Karey Cooper and drummer/vocalist Jen Ledger. The band received two Grammy nominations as well as a Dove Award for their song "Comatose" in 2008.

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