As a global pandemic impacts the world economy in unprecedented ways, so too, has the music industry fans know and love been affected. COVID-19 has put a damper on not only our employment and day to day lives, it also put a stop to many of the things we love, like concerts. No one knows when live music will return, and some experts have speculated it may not be till 2021, but one thing’s for sure, when it does, not only the fans will be thrilled, working musicians will be too.
Recognized as the hardest touring band around, you’d imagine the guys of Shinedown are bouncing off the walls unable to be on the road. Their “Deep Dive Tour”, originally slated for earlier this year, has been rescheduled to August and September. As of today, those dates are still a go.
Fans might be surprised to learn that Shinedown’s touring schedule was already slated to be lighter than normal this year, as 2020 was to be a creative year for the band. The list of projects currently on their plate is quite impressive, considering we are all in a social distancing lockdown of sorts.
Marking the second anniversary for the release of ATTENTION ATTENTION, the prelude to the upcoming feature film based on the album was dropped via the band’s Youtube channel earlier this month. The feature film is set for release later this year.
They are also in the final stages of editing their last show while on the Alter Bridge tour back in 2019, which was recorded, and plan to release by year’s end, and the writing process for Shinedown 7 will begin in June!
Add to all of this, Brent and Zach have been working on their side project, Smith & Myers with a double record coming out later this year as well.
Recently I had an opportunity to speak to Brent while on an extended stay at a Marriott in Ventura County, California for the last 13 weeks, about Shinedown’s partnership with Direct Relief and how everyone is doing.
The first thing I asked was how he and the band were holding out.
Brent: Extremely busy. I’m not hard wired to sit around and let time go by. Me and Zach were putting together the Smith & Myers double album coming out later this year, and then 7 weeks ago, when everything transpired my biggest thing was getting him out of California and back to Memphis and I’ve been pretty much in the situation room since then. The good thing is everybody is safe. All the families are well, the kids are well. The people that we do know that have either contracted the virus or have family members that have, 99% of them have a recovery rate. No one has had any major effects. We did have a very close friend of ours who did lose his father to it, which was very difficult. We’re all just pushing through as we know what to do. More than anything, I’m just trying to maintain a massive level of educating myself daily as much as I possibly can. Because now’s not the time to stick your head in the sand. There’s a lot going on right now.
Then there’s “Atlas Falls” and the unique partnership with Direct Relief. As our world is turned upside down, the Shinedown family felt they had to do something more to help those on the frontlines of this pandemic. I asked Brent how this wonderful initiative came about.
Brent: The only way I know how to present this, I have to walk it back 7 weeks ago. I never heard the term “shelter at home”. I didn’t know what “social distancing” meant, I didn’t know what coronavirus was, I didn’t understand what COVID-19 was and is. So, I began to educate myself as much and as vigorously as I could. I started to do a lot of research online. I’m lucky in the course of a two decade career, I’ve had the pleasure of befriending a lot of people in high positions in the world, especially doctors, and certain people in military and what have you and had conversations with them early on about what’s going on, and still continue those relationships to try and see exactly what the initiatives are here and from a global standpoint. While I was doing that, I came across this organization called Direct Relief and I’d never heard of them before. What Direct Relief is and what they do, they’ve been around since 1948. They’re based in Santa Barbara, California. They work in all 50 states in the US and over 100 countries, Canada being one of them. Inside of that, their initiative and entire mission statement is, they are not biased, non-political. Their goal is to get the men and women in the medical and scientific community all the resources they need on the frontline, no matter where they are in the world so they can save as many lives as possible. So, these men and these women have the proper PPE to be able to turn on a dime to really squash the crisis as fast as possible. Whether that’s poverty, a natural disaster, a pandemic. Direct Relief was here before COVID-19, Direct Relief will be there after COVID-19. We partnered with them after getting in touch with them for this initiative. After finding out who they were, the song “Atlas Falls” literally popped into my mind, so for me, this was a song I always had a kinship to. It was a song written during the writing phase for the Amaryllis record back in 2011-2012. The song, even when it was written, the basis and the idea behind it, Atlas is the God of Endurance. So, if you look at Greek mythology, he basically picked a fight with the Titans because he was a young man full of piss and vinegar, let’s just put it that way, and he lost. So, Zeus, as an example, and to show him he needs to be selfless, he [Zeus] placed the weight of the world on his shoulders. So, with that being said, the question was, what happens if Atlas was to fall, who would help him? And that was us. It is a show of optimism, a show of perseverance, but it’s also very much a song about humanity. I’ve always felt that as human beings, we are at our best when we need one another, and that couldn’t be any more apparent than right now.
We formed a t-shirt that is kind of inspired by Atlas, and this was all in partnership with Direct Relief and everybody was involved in this. So, if you go to Shinedown.com you can see the link for “Atlas Falls” and hit that link. The shirt is $50, and we understand from an economic standpoint and a global stature, that that’s a lot of money right now, but the shirt costs $5 to make, and 100% of the remaining proceeds goes to Direct Relief.
With the purchase of the t-shirt, you receive an “Atlas Falls” download as a gift from Shinedown, and their way to say THANK YOU. To date, over $300,000 has been raised through this partnership, with the band giving $20,000 to kick it off. According to Brent, the song is only available with the purchase of a t-shirt, however, only terrestrial or satellite radio have permission to play it, so long as they tell people why the song exists and that it’s about Direct Relief because, as Brent puts it, “this is an organization that is doing something right now in order to get us back to being able to be together again.”
It is not available through any streaming service.
During these uncertain times, dropping $50 on a band t-shirt may not be in everyone’s budget right now, but Shinedown wants fans to know that they understand that. However, if you still want to help, you can give whatever you can, by visiting directrelief.org to find out everything they’re doing and donate directly to them. Even a $5 or $10 donation makes a difference.
In times like these, factual information is vital, and I asked Brent if he has trusted sources of information.
Brent: In my opinion, if you want actual facts about where we’re at right now, in your country, in your area, the best place to go in Johns Hopkins. That’s the first place that I would start. That’s to get fundamental fact-based news. They’re not biased, they don’t have an agenda, they’re there to report the literal facts. Another organization that I would look at is PBS. If you go to PBS and type in COVID-19, they will give you real facts as to what’s going on right now.
From a universal standpoint. This is about the human spirit and also society. I think in a way, that the universe is telling us ‘what are you going to do now? Are you going to work with each other, or are you going to continue to be hateful with each other? When someone disagrees with you, instead of letting them finish and then compromising and having a conversation, just because you don’t like what someone said, you pull a gun out. That has to stop! You don’t need to bow down to a virus, but you do have to become educated of what we need to do in order to move forward.
The day will come – hopefully – where we can all get back together again, and I had to ask Brent about that day, and what would be the very first song he would like to perform at that first show back.
Brent: Wow! That’s an interesting question. The interesting thing too, the “Deep Dive Tour” that we have rescheduled is still on the books. It was more of a tour that was deeper in the catalogue. The first song of the night, we were going to be changing it every night, because we weren’t going to stick to just one solid setlist. So that would be an interesting question. We talked about opening the show one night with “Her Name is Alice”, opening the show another night with “Miracle” things like that. So, I don’t necessarily know the first song that we will play, but I guess I can tell you that it won’t be the same song every single night. My favorite song to open up, just to get everybody to just get nuts right out of the gate, you open with “Sound of Madness”. That’s the one that’s basically going to get everybody, ‘all right, here we go’. That’s always a fun one to open up with.
I know we are all waiting for that day when we can gather in front of a stage, pump out hands in the air, and revel in that Sound of Madness!
Till then, please visit shinedown.com to pick up your “Atlas Falls” t-shift with proceeds going to Direct Relief or visit directrelief.org. Stay safe, wash your hands often and take care of yourself. I’m going to give Brent the last word, because I think it’s what we all need to hear right now.
Brent: When your back is up against the wall, there’s only one direction to go and that’s forward, and that’s what we all need to do.
Shinedown – We Stand Tall Social Campaign
Shinedown – Prelude