Shinedown have dominated the hard-rock world for well over a decade, constantly thriving on top of the charts with each release refining their distinctive rock ’n’ roll sound. With every tour and album, the band fully dedicate themselves to fans and continue to spread positivity through their music after many years.
Born out of pensive songwriting and an overarching theme, ATTENTION ATTENTION was written during a hectic period between tours and celebrated three No. 1 singles. Riding high on the album’s success, Shinedown are staying on the road this year with exciting plans on a feature-length, visual reimagination of ATTENTION ATTENTION.
Following last year’s success of ATTENTION ATTENTION, how is 2019 treating you so far?
BRENT SMITH: This year particularly has been extremely strong on the touring side. The audience is getting bigger, and this is one of the defining years for us. The last couple of years we’ve been co-headlining a lot of tours in North America from 2015 to the back half of last year, but for 2019 we all made a conscious decision that we want to be the headliner and be able to tour with the bands we’re into so we can bring something different to the audience—not just for North America but from a global standpoint too. Right now, we’re on tour with Badflower, Dinosaur Pile-Up and Broken Hands, and [the last two are] both from the U.K.
You just got your 14th No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs chart with “MONSTERS” last month—how do you feel about that?
We don’t take it for granted. A lot of the success comes down to the audience. They’ve given us the platform to be ourselves, and there’s something about us that they identify with, and ultimately, we identify with them as well. But we don’t take it for granted, man.
With ATTENTION ATTENTION being the band’s first concept album, how did the songwriting process come about?
Eric [Bass, bassist] and I started working in the studio early 2017, and we had written “BLACK SOUL” and were in the middle of writing “MONSTERS.” We took off and had 44 days with Iron Maiden in the U.K. and Europe, so we had a break from the studio [to] go on tour. Then we came back and actually wrote “BRILLIANT” that was inspired by that Maiden tour in the U.K. and the European audience.
And Eric had this piano part for a while, and it became the song “GET UP.” Interesting thing about that was I wrote the song about Eric, and that’s also what made it a very unique process. He had the song [and] showed me the music. I didn’t come back to the studio for about 11 days, and finally he called me. I came in, [and] we recorded the song. I came in the studio the next day, and I listened to it once. I looked at him, and I said, “Can I hear it again?” And we listened to it again. I turned around and looked at him and said, “You know what this is about, right?” And he said, “Yeah, it’s about me.”
The amazing thing about Eric is that in my mind, I have maybe stepped over a line in our friendship and partnership. But Eric was like, “I love the song, and I love what you presented here, but if we’re gonna go this far and do this deep of a dive psychologically, mentally and even physically, then we’re gonna need to go all in and be a 100% transparent and honest. So really, “GET UP” was the sounding board for the album because after “GET UP,” we wrote “KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE,” “PYRO,” “DARKSIDE,” “special” and “THE HUMAN RADIO.” It all came after “GET UP.”
With the story arc of this album, what message do you want to convey to the audience?
The dynamic of everything was built around humanity and the fact that we don’t want people to lose their empathy for one another. We don’t want people to lose communication in a world where technologically, people are most connected with each other, but the fact of actual communication is becoming a lost art with people. It’s a record about not being afraid of your failures. All those songs present the fact that you’re gonna need to fail in life—that’s what prepares you for the next chapter in your life. You’re not gonna be defined by your failures, you’re gonna be defined by the fact that you didn’t give up.
You’ll be playing alongside Skillet, Taking Back Sunday and the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus at INKcarceration Festival soon.
We’ve never played INKcarceration, and it comes down to the audience once again. It’s about what I want the audience to get out of it. I want them to know how important they are to us. I want them to know that without them, none of this exists. I think the audience should be ready to go because we’re gonna give them one of the most extraordinary shows that they’ve ever seen in their lives. The set is shorter, unfortunately, so what I can say [is] what we’re gonna play is all killer and no filler.
While we’re on the topic of INKcarceration Festival, what are some of your favorite tattoos?
The one that has served me well and continues to serve me well is the one that’s on my left hand that says, “Your pain is a gift.” When I look at that, I think to myself, [pain] has been a gift for me because it’s made me the man that I am. It reminds me of what I’ve been through and what I can ultimately overcome. You’re not promised tomorrow, so what you do today is very valuable. It reminds that the struggle and the tough times are what help you become a better, stronger and more caring person. To quote The Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” I think that’s what the tattoo represents for me—you get one life here. Make sure it counts before you go on to your next journey.
Aside from wrapping up the world tour, what’s Shinedown’s next move?
All of August, we’re actually finalizing the last nine songs of the album from a visual standpoint because we’re putting a feature film together that’s part realism and part animation in 2020. Couple [of] years ago, people were hearing us talk about basically “The Shinedown Movie,” but that’s more of a documentary-style film that’s still in the works right now. In regards to the film we’re gonna be putting out next year and how we’re processing it, it’s not like, “Here’s 14 songs and 14 videos.” Everything is linked because the album tells a complete story, and it’s not just about one person. The album is about many people. It’s going to be more of a feature film. There’s a lot more vignettes in between everything. It’s definitely gonna be a roller coaster ride.
Shinedown are playing INKcarceration Festival July 12 at the main stage. Tickets and more information can be found here.
Check out the animated video for “MONSTERS” below.