Interviews anglais

SHINEDOWN (07/03/18)

Version française

This Friday, May 4th, Shinedown is releasing “ATTENTION ATTENTION”. For this great opportunity, we met the charismatic leader of the band, Brent Smith to reveal a little more about this new album. Here’s a pleasant, honest and rewarding interview.

You’re releasing your sixth album called “ATTENTION ATTENTION”. Who came up with this title?

Brent Smith (vocals): It was a collective idea. It’s a story album, it’s not a traditional concept album. The concept albums are often very long, there are like 18 tracks. When we decided to make an entire album built around a story, it kind of raised the theme of the songs, as we did not songs would sound like but we looking at the dynamic of the album is saying and is about. And the artwork is so specific with the exclamation point, the contrast between the yellow and the black. It’s like it’s screaming that’s how it should be called. We got that the album should be called “ATTENTION ATTENTION”. It’s basically how it happened.

It’s a bit like you’re warning us against something that’s going to happen. But what?

Brent: This is the way it can be perceived. Everyone has a different opinion. That’s what’s beautiful about music, especially in songs. But “ATTENTION ATTENTION” is more like something necessary is about to happen. It could be looped as a warning, but it is an alert. It’s more like “Hey! Wake up!”. Like “I have to tell you something”.



Where does the inspiration come from?

Brent: For this album or in general?

For this album.

Brent: In 2016, we finished the tour in America. Eric Bass, our bass player, was like: “I cannot do anything when I’m on tour, whether it’s interviews or something else.” So he started to compose and record during the tour, no lyrics, no melodies. It was only compositions, so some of them lasted three minutes, others four minutes, and at the end of the tour he had 20 pieces of songs, but I did not want to listen to them when we were on tour. I cannot work on two things at the same time. For me there is the studio and the performance. When I’m on the road, I’m only focused on the live performance. The road is much more physical. But the studio is more mental. So when I heard those 22 pieces, in January 2017, I remember we got together and he just played them off for me, as we were listening to them all, it probably had to do with the fact that there are no words and no melody yet, there was just music, it was just incredible. And I was like: “All of it kind of sounds like a concept album”, there was really a common thread. That’s where came from the idea of these 22 songs. What’s interesting is that none of his compositions were used. The only thing we kept is the verse of the final song, which is “BRILLIANT”. There is like a synth that starts off in the background but this particular sound is the only thing that we used from those 22 pieces.

Can you tell us a secret about this album?

Brent: A secret? Interesting! I do not know if it’s a secret but we’ve never done a story album before. Traditionally, we write 100 songs, we choose the 10 best for the album. This is the first time we’ve self-produced because Eric produced the album but also mixed it. So all members of the band were involved throughout the realization of the album. It has been recorded in South Carolina. I spent 117 days in South Carolina last year. The album is coming out soon now, but in the first place, people did not want to support it so much because it was an album that was self-produced, people were like: “I do not really know”. The interesting thing that happened for this record, it is that people said that: “I do not need to listen to it 30 times to appreciate it. I just have to listen to it once, and I want to start over it again. It’s instantaneous”. But we also listen to our audience. They wanted a heavier album. We thought about it when we were in the studio. Not only that they wanted it to be musically heavier, but they also did not want to have to look for the lyrics. They wanted it to be very direct. And that was exactly what I wanted too. So, I was very direct. Well… I do not know if I gave you a secret. But I’m trying to find another secret. I really have to find one. Ah! I can tell you that. On “ATTENTION ATTENTION”, the song, we had a different sound for the alarm and that’s because we woke up, in our hotel room, a day in… I do not remember exactly where we were. But we were going up the stairs, and Zach, the guitarist, started recording because we heard: “there’s been an emergency, there’s been an emergency”. So we asked our A&R, Steve Roberston, the one who signed the band, to sound like the alarm at the hotel because he has a super cool voice. So what you’re hearing is actually Steve who says “attention attention”. So basically we’ve created the alarm.

It’s a very good secret! So, if you met someone who had never heard of the band, what song from your entire discography would you recommend to represent your music?

Brent: I would tell to listen to them all. (laughs)

You cannot cheat, you have to pick just one.

Brent: From this album in particular? It’s a very difficult question. Just one? It’s impossible (he’s thinking for a while). I think if I had to look at the full extent of our discography, it’s very difficult. Because I try to find a song that has all aspects of our universe. And it would not be the essential songs that you would think. I know you only said one but I have to change a little bit. I would probably say “Sound Of Madness”. But from the last album, I would probably say “Brilliant” which is the last song of the story. I know you asked for just one, but it was impossible to choose. If you tell me that I only have to give one, it has to represent the entire universe of Shinedown. It would be “Sound Of Madness”. But it’s a little similar with “BRILLIANT”, I know it’s newer, but I see it like that. I could not choose a ballad or a slow, because that does not correspond completely to us. Anyway, it’s difficult because we do not do the same album twice and we will not necessarily do anything because we think that people will like it. If we want someone to love it, we have to write it for ourselves first, otherwise it is irrelevant. You must first be honest with yourself.

Do you often read the feedback from the journalists or the fans about your art?

Brent: Yeah, totally! I love the real critics, obviously I love the “you guys are fantastic”, I do not have any problem reading this stuff, it makes me know where people are in relation to our music because finally, for me, I’ll do what I do, because I’m comfortable with myself. So does it affect me? It depends, it makes me definitely think about it, but it’s not going to change who I am (ed. it suddenly starts to rain very hard) I’m making it rain! (laughs)



You’re going to play Hellfest this year. Can we hope to see you soon for a headlining tour?

Brent: Yes, we are just preparing all that. We will do a European tour probably towards the end of the year like in November/December. We’ll also probably do a UK tour in fall. But it will def happen in 2019.

Do you feel a difference when you play a concert in Europe than in the United States?

Brent: Yes for sure. The thing in Europe is that it’s obviously a different culture, different languages. But the truth is that no matter where I am, it’s the audience that is important. They always want us to be at the top of our game, to be honest with them, and to give the best of ourselves. If we do, they will be with us forever. This is what happens with the European market. Finally, this is exported more and more to the United States. Our fan base is really respectful. But there will always be a different approach with the European market. The Europeans are very passionate about music. And really, it’s very beautiful! In the United States too. For example, at the last tour, we toured absolutely everywhere: in Australia, Asia, China, India, South America, Japan, but we did not play in Canada during the last tour for the previous album. The last time we played in Canada was in 2013 when we opened for Kiss. So the first show we’re going to do, we start in three weeks, I think, we’re going to do nine shows in Canada. We decided to start there. We must really be everywhere. But it’s a big world.



Do you know any French bands?

Brent: I know Phoenix and I really like it. It’s an interesting band, the way they play and the way they approach music. I do not think there is any band that sounds like Phoenix. They do something different every time and I really love that! I am always curious about band that speak another language but sing in English. I find it very interesting, and obviously Phoenix is French but sing in English. And I’m always really surprised when I come to Europe to see that people can speak like five languages. Not everyone, but in our label, in Atlantic Records in Germany, all the staff speak five languages. And fluently. And that’s something I have to do in the next few years. I speak only one language but I would like to speak another one and fluently. I do not know yet which one.

Let’s say French.

Brent: But French is difficult! I think I need a teacher, someone who helps me every day. I would love to speak French simply because I think it’s a very romantic language. It’s very passionate and very emotional. Like when you’re at the restaurant, we tell you “you want to eat something?”, You answer “yes, a burger” and there is someone that answers something in French, and you will be like: “fuck”. No matter what you say in French, it’s terrible.

What do you think about VIP packages, M&G, etc.?

Brent: As far as I’m concerned, all that is like bundles, VIP packages, and regarding of paying for something, whether it’s to have the opportunity to have something signed for us -and I specify that it’s really signed by us, it’s not a stamp (laughs) – and in paying to meet us, what we’re trying to do, and it’s different from other bands, we want fans understand something: We don’t use this money to buy a car for example, or like buying a fancy house. The money we earn we reinvest in the band, to have the opportunity to do big shows for the fans. Also, there is limited access to the M&G’s. We refuse to make it like there’s a big table and we arrive, we get behind the table and that’s it. In general there is a line, Zach and I are often the first to arrive, but it’s really chill. We spend time with them, we talk with them. It’s very warm and welcoming. And then they take a picture with us, or even as many photos as you want. But we do not do anything else. We impose a limit on all these packages from about 30 up to a maximum of 50 people. Because when you start having a limit of 100 people or more it takes like 2:30. And when you perform five days a week, you also do interviews during the day, you have to eat, work our, get ready for the stage, it’s not fair for them not to give them our full attention, for the money they put in it. A few years ago, there were like 100 people, and it took us two hours. I already lost my voice even before starting the show. I can not talk that long. And after you have to sing again for 1:30, five days a week, and it’s impossible. So we reduced all that. I think now we only have 30 people, but that way fans can have time with us. The bands I usually see, they just do it for money. But we do not do that.

Last question: we are “RockUrLife”, so what rocks your life Brent?

Brent: What rocks my life? Fitness. Being strong and healthy, take care of myself, because a few years ago, I was in a unique position. To be where I am now, I am very proud of it. Sometimes you fall into a hole, and you have to figure how to get out of it. The way I look at things now, regarding my health is indifferent. Being healthy rocks my life. I am the opposite of the other rockstars. (laughs) “Give me the Jack, give me cocaine”. (laughs) That guy did exist but thank God I buried him.