Last year, with the release of Attention Attention, Shinedown’s sixth studio album, fans got to see a different side of the band. A more personal side. Never ones to rest on their laurels, the lads from Florida enjoy a challenge and are always looking to push themselves.
So, came the idea to create their first ever concept album, something that isn’t done much in today’s music scene. Attention Attention is a story of truth, a story of adversity and a story of triumph. The music takes you on a journey with someone as they overcome negativity and life’s problems to a new outlook and to becoming a new person.
Recognized as the hardest touring band in rock, Shinedown has spent the first half of this year on the road with their Attention Attention World Tour, and starting tomorrow night in New York, it’s the next leg of the tour with friends Papa Roach, Asking Alexandria and Savage After Midnight, which will take them through to the end of the year.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with frontman, Brent Smith via phone to talk about the album.
Shannon: It took a lot of guts for you guys to create something like this.
Brent: I appreciate those comments and don’t take them lightly. The album is about not being afraid to fail. A lot of times in this day and age from the younger generation and the older generation as well, there’s a stigma of you’re going to be made fun of, or you’re going to be embarrassed by expressing to the world that you need help with certain things in your life or all the sudden things are just different in your life and you’re trying to figure out how to navigate that. But in the same breath, Attention Attention as an album isn’t about just one group of people, it’s about everyone, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re younger or older, the color of your skin, that’s irrelevant. Your religion, that’s totally on you and no one else’s business. But the reality of the album is, we don’t want people to be afraid to be uncomfortable in certain situations or that failure is a death sentence, because it’s not. You’re going to need to fail in life to learn what to do next time. You’re not going to be defined by your failures. You’re going to be defined by the fact that you refused to give up. Inside those elements it’s also about not necessarily subscribing to the idea of having a Plan B in your life, I’m not a fan of that. Mainly because, I never had a Plan B, and the reality of that is too, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get to Plan A, just get there.
The sounding board to the album was obviously the song “Get Up”. The interesting thing about Attention Attention as a record also, is that fact that [Shinedown’s bass player] Eric Bass is also the Producer, the Engineer and the Mixer of Attention Attention I remember once we wrote “Get Up”, me and Eric, him looking back at me after we wrote it, recorded it and listened to it on playback, I stared into his eyes and said ‘you know what this song is about, right?’ He goes ‘yes, it’s about me.’
Eric deals with something called Clinical Depression. There’s a difference between Clinical Depression and Depression. This isn’t a case of the “Mondays” with him. This is something he deals with on a daily basis. And I felt like that when I said to him, ‘you know what this song is about’ and he said ‘it’s about me’ that I might have stepped over a threshold or a line with him in our friendship, and that couldn’t have been further from the truth because he said to me, ‘it’s exactly what it needs to be, but, if we’re going to go this far and do this deep of a dive, then we’re going to have to go all in.’ Ultimately, “Get Up” got us to “Brilliant” to “Pyro” to “Dark Side”, “Monsters”, “The Devil” to “Special” and it helped us navigate what this album was about and who it was about; which it’s about everyone. So, going back to what I said, it’s a record that expresses the dynamic of you did not need to be afraid to fail in life because you’re going to need that, you’re not going to be defined by failure.
Shannon: Now that you guys, as a group, have taken such a personal journey and experience to create this thing, where do you go from here, as far as the band and as far as the music?
Brent: Well the interesting thing, where do we go from here is, we just recently were in Los Angeles, California for 14 days because we just have finished the nine remaining videos for the nine remaining songs on the album, because in 2020, there’s going to be a trailer that is released in January of – and you guessed it – our motion picture of the album, Attention Attention It’s not going to be something where you go and watch 14 music videos, this is unlike anything that’s been done. This is not about going straight to DVD, or to streaming services, this is a theatrical release on a global scale.
Shannon: Back to the album, and the message within it, I know how important the fans are to you, have you had fans come up to you and share their experience with their personal devils and demons and how this album has helped them?
Brent: 100%! The cool thing about the fan base that we have is, it’s consistently growing all the time. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been there from day one, or if you just found out about Shinedown recently, there’s something about what we do because it’s very honest and very upfront. People know that we’re not phoning it in. So, none of the fan base is ever shy with us with regards to how they feel or what the band means to them. They should also know that, we have a saying in Shinedown that is very real, and that is “we only have one boss in Shinedown” and it just happens to be everybody in the audience. So, we’re always there to listen, and we’re always there to smile, and give hugs and take pictures, talk to you, and just to the things that human beings should do. You don’t want to lose that empathy; you don’t want to lose that conversation with each other. There’re so many stories and so many different people that we meet on a daily basis that are so massively inspiring. It’s humbling too in a lot of ways. We saw something on the last touring cycle, when we were finishing the summer, one of the last three shows, the meet & greets we do are unlike other bands. Most bands, their VIP packages and stuff like that is, it’s a picture line, you don’t really get to talk to them, and that’s it. Or sometimes it’s even less personable, because the band is sitting behind a table, they run you through like cattle. We don’t do that. We go right in the middle of everybody. The first ten minutes of our meet & greets in the VIP section is a Q & A, you can ask us anything you want, then two of us start on one end, two of us start on the other end, and you get a personal connection with us, and we sign things, and talk to you and what have you.
I remember we were in Irvine, California, and this young lady, and her teenage daughter, as we’re going through the Q & A section, had a question for us; ‘how can we help you get out into the world more?’ And I’m like ‘you do it all the time.’ For whatever reason, it was kind of a lightbulb that went off in my mind because what was cool about that moment, yeah, we try our best to be there for our fanbase, but it was very emotional for me, because I realized, just like we’re there for them, they’re there for us, and that means a lot to us. It really, really means a great deal to us.
Shannon: You guys always come across as tight friends, and you never hear any drama about Shinedown. There’s gotta be some drama behind the scenes. (laughs)
Brent: I’m going to be honest with you, this band, we don’t go to bed angry. It is a marriage. We don’t air out our dirty laundry. The moment you lose the art of conversation with the people you around about 90% of the time, I’m on the road 280 days, if not more, I’m with these guys a lot! We have a genuine love and respect for one another. The only drama I could tell you is Zach and is freakin’ shoes. He will take up the entire back lounge of the bus, and I swear to God, I’ve never seen so many NIKE shoes. It’s like a shoe closet. It’s hysterical. That’s the only drama I can give you.
And with that, I’m looking at the calendar, counting down to October 13th when Shinedown’s Attention Attention World Tour hits Calgary, and that just happens to be my birthday. So you know what this girl will be doing on “her” day! Visit shinedown.com for a tour date near you.