THE SHINEDOWN INTERVIEW - Matt Lawhorne 4/13/04
Melodic hard rockers SHINEDOWN hail from Jacksonville, Florida and feature vocalist Brent Smith, guitarist Jasin Todd, bassist Brad Stewart and drummer Barry Kerch. Snapped up by Atlantic Records during the early 00's during a flurry of post-Creed and Nickelback signings, the group released their debut album ďLeave a WhisperĒ in 2003.
Jacksonville, Florida has enjoyed a long and stirring rock and roll tradition. From the time the seminal guitar crunch of Lynyrd Skynyrd first put the vibrant city on the rock and roll map, Jacksonville has played an integral role in the on-going evolution of contemporary music. Now a young Jacksonville-based hard rock band named SHINEDOWN appears ready, willing, and more-than-able to add another exciting chapter to their home town's noble rock history book. I had a chance to talk to Brent about everything from what he was doing before SHINEDOWN to what he misses most while on tour- his own bed or his own toilet paper. Here is how everything went down:
ML- First off Brent thanks a million for giving us some time for this interview I know youíre a really busy guy.
BS- No problem man, Sorry though that Iím kind of in a rush. Iím supposed to be on stage in like 30 minutess but until then Iím all yours! So whenever youíre ready.
ML- All right cool. I guess we will start with, what were you doing before SHINEDOWN was formed?
BS- What I was doing before SHINEDOWN was formed is, I was in another band out of Knoxville Tennessee, it was signed to Atlantic records. Basically what had happened was the band had been let go and I came back in with a development deal. And basically it just took me from then and I worked my ass off for about 6 months and I found the guys in Jacksonville through mutual friends and SHINEDOWN was formed. But what I was doing before SHINEDOWN was formed was I was in a lot of bands that tried to make a living with myself and trying to be a musician. Thatís what I was doing.
ML- I feel you. Its hard work what we are doing right now.
BS- I understand man its hard work.
ML- How was it working on ďLeave a WhisperĒ (Shinedownís current release) not really knowing each other before you went into the studio and whatnot?
BS- Actually working on it was one of the most intense times of my life. As far as us not knowing each other very well, from the moment we all met each other we knew we were supposed to be together. I mean everybody that knows this band knows that if you hang out with us for about a day its pretty much like packing 20 years into 2. We were meant to play music together and we are all brothers. So the intensity of the songwriting which transferred over to the making of the record was just as intense. So when we met each other was when we were in the middle of making the record so we were just basically learning about each other everyday just as we are still. So it was a big deal but with doing the record together we knew this was a big deal but we knew from day one that we were supposed to make music together so from that stand point it was easy.
ML- Cool sounds like fun. What were your first thoughts you heard your song on the radio?
BS- My thoughts. Umm-just joy. Absolute happiness. I had a mixed amount of a feel of accomplishment I have to say. Thatís the only way I can describe it. Absolute happiness.
ML- Cool. How do you feel about how well ď45Ē and ďFly from the InsideĒ have taken off on new rock radio?
BS- I just feel blessed everyday to be out here and working and being able to tour right now. There are so many bands and people out there that arenít getting an opportunity to work and tour. We have a lot of really really developed relationships with a lot of the radio stations because we have done a lot for them and they have done just an absolute enormous amount of stuff for us and really have supported the band from day one, and from the beginning with ďFlyĒ and including ď45Ē they put it in their rotation. But at the end of the day the listeners have to tell you if they like the song, and as it seems right now they seem to like ď45Ē. Again the fans are all that matter. They are the ones that will tell you if you will have a career or not and either you touch them or you donít. You have to do it for yourself before you give it anyone. But as far as the success that the songs have had I hope it keeps going. Itís a gift to play music for a living and to play every night for your fans and for the new fans. So all I can say is I feel blessed and knock on wood. But I really just feel blessed to be doing this every night.
ML- Wow cool thatís awesome. Tell us, how is your tour going with TANTRIC?
BS- Aww their awesome dude. They really are great guys. We were on tour for eight months with 3 doors down and they kind of came on like around the last month which was December. They were hitting all of around the same markets that we were in or getting put in and they asked us to come out with them. Of course they had a great record that has sold about a million copies worldwide and we were just like we would love to come with you, and they are just the greatest guys. Were also on the road with another band called Silver Tide who is just amazing so itís been a really great tour.
ML- What is it like being on tour every day? Such as what is a normal day like for you?
BS- A normal day is honest to God a lot of repetition. Itís kind of the same thing everyday. Some days are really relaxed you wake up and you donít have very many interviews or radio to do and you just get up do sound check and do the show, and you will just give everything you are. After that you will go and talk with the fans and talk to people and sign and do this and that. Then you have some days that are really hectic. You have to get up at 8 in the morning and go do a radio show then you get done there and you go to another radio station and do an afternoon show there, you do an in-store, you do a meet and greet, you cone back and have 3 or 4 callers that you have to call in for different radio stations, TV, newspaper, and such. Then you have another meet and greet and then the show then another meet and great and then a signing. So days can vary.
ML- Wow yeah that sounds like a pretty busy day.
BS- Yeah we have a lot of those days but that means that youíre working and people want to know who you are and if they stop calling or asking you to do things then thatís a bad day.
ML- Yeah that would be no good. Are there any special things that you do to get ready for a show or come down after such a high-energized show?
BS- We just all get in a room together be it in the bus or the backstage area and stretch out and everything. I go through a vocal exercise, which takes about 20 mins, and we just get all stretched out and we all get into a huddle and I always say the same thing. Every night I say: ďStay in time, stay in tune and stay in pitch.Ē Whatever city or state that we are in I say lets give them what they came here for. if they donít know SHINEDOWN they are about to and there we go.
ML- Whatís the craziest thing that has happened to you on tour so far?
BS- God man too many, there are too many to name just one. Probably the craziest thing for me is I have had certain people come up to me and tell me that we have saved their life. Thatís a heavy thing for a person to hear, amazing but also really heavy. There is also 5 people in the United States right now that have the SHINEDOWN SD logo tattooed on them. Thatís Pretty Crazy to see. The other things we canít print so Iíll just keep those at bay.
ML- Haha, Yeah there are some crazy people out there.
BS- Yeah itís all good. People are just people. They just want to be a part of something and in the end itís all just about the music.
ML- Do you have any advice for new artists trying to make it out?
BS- The best advice I can give anybody thatís trying to make it into the industry and get your music acrossÖ donít take this the wrong way but you really have to whore yourself out. You have to do any and everything you can possibly can. You have to grab people by the hair and make them listen to you. You can not give up and you have to constantly put yourself in front of them. You have to work really hard and thatís just the way it is. There are some success stories where people got it and made it really quick. But to be honest with you, none of the stories that I heard that things were given to them ever panned out. The ones where they worked so hard to a point where it was almost inhuman were the ones that worked out. You have to remember that being a musician is a gift and can be taken away at any time. When we get on stage itís our honor to be up there on that stage not the crowds honor because weíre honored to be up there playing for them not the other way around because we wouldnít be up there without them. That is very much how this thing works.
ML- Wow thatís great advice thank you. Do you have a lot of bands that are trying to give you demos and such?
BS- Yeah but we just donít take them, because of problems that could arise in the future. Unfortunately you donít want to think like this but you kind of have to be thinking there is always a chance that they could sue you. Later on down the line you have something that sounds similar to them something like that. It sucks to be like that but we just donít solicit anything. It really sucks to be like that but we just donít take anything.
ML- Thatís cool and understandable.
BS- Yeah its nothing personal itís just the way we are.
ML- Oh yeah I understand fully. So what are your hobbies or what you like to do in your free time?
BS- In my free time Iím always writing. I love to write lyrics and everything. Later on I would like to get into maybe writing books or something like that. In my heart though Iím always going to be a musician because that is what I love. But in my spare time we write now, we donít have a lot of spare time. I really have to be half business and half performer. When I get on stage that all goes away and Iím just a performer but being in this band right now and the level we are trying to get to, my ass is consumed with music so I guess I donít really have any hobbies because music to me is not a hobby. To me its how I live my life. Itís saved my life so I am completely consumed by it right now and probably will be until Iím put in the ground.
ML- Cool. When youíre on tour is there any special places that you like to stop at the most like to eat or anything?
BS- Man there are so many I canít really even count them. Back in Jacksonville there is a place called Jenkins that we really like to go to. Itís a barbeque joint but itís bad ass. There are some other places but that would be the one we love to go to the most.
ML- What do you miss most about being on tour, your own bed or your own toilet paper?
BS- Haha. I havenít had my own bed in about five years so some Charmen toilet paper would be nice about right now.
ML- Haha. Does anything bother you about any of your band mates?
BS- No we all get it out in the open. If there is a problem we like to just get it out. We arenít that bad. If there is an argument or a misunderstanding or something we just get it out in the open and discuss it. There are no egos in this band. We donít like the drama.
It was about this time Brent got called away to get ready for the show. I assured him everything was good to go and we were all looking forward to seeing them on April 15th at the Boathouse. So for any more information check out the bands website at www.Shinedown.com on the website they even have a journal of their tour and how things are going. Also be sure to pop over to the media section and check out some live acoustic tracks including what is rumored to be a single soon with their cover of Lynyrd Skynyrdís Simple Man, great stuff. So with that I leave you with the phrase, remember with out music life would be dull, and that the music you hear is the making of the soundtrack of your life
Donít forget on April 15th Live at the Boathouse, Atlantic recording artists Shinedown and lokal heroes Jemani and this years Masters Massacre winners Knowface. See you there!!