Jacksonville-based hard rockers Shinedown have gone through numerous lineup changes in its eight years together. Yet singer Brent Smith, who spoke via phone from his Orlando home, maintains the band hasn't suffered from it, boasting that it's "the most honest band in existence on earth today." Just back from its first European headlining tour that took it to nine countries and 20 cities, Shinedown is now touring the country behind its chart-topping new album, The Sound of Madness, a collection of grunge-inspired ballads ("Second Chance") and radio-friendly rockers ("Devour"). — Jeff Niesel
How was the European tour?
It was great. It was all sold out except for Paris and Helsinki. Paris was shy of 20 people sold out and Helsinki was shy of 30 people. Anyway, it was a sold-out thing, so it was great. It was awesome.
I read that you were signed to a label deal before you even had a band. Is that true?
I mean, yeah, it's a pretty elaborate thing. In my way of looking at things, it's a romantic story, to be honest with you. I was signed nine years ago to Atlantic Records with a band that was dropped. I was resigned and started writing with different people as a development artist. That led me to Jacksonville, Florida. I met the original members and we did two records. Now, with The Sound of Madness, we're with our new members and there you have it.
Obviously, many of the variables in the band have changed, but what for you has remained constant?
Shinedown is the most honest band that is in existence on the earth today.
Can you elaborate a bit?
I have to be upfront about that. Every single song is the reality of who we all are. The strength of the work we've done and what we've put into the thing we call Shinedown is the most honest integrity, and that's just who we are. Somebody might look at that and laugh and ponder it and go, "That's cool, dude, and that's great." But if you were to go back and look at over 1000 shows we've done since 2001, we've always been honest and straight-up. It's not always been pretty. It's not always been what you would want to see. It's always been honest. I think the record we made, which is The Sound of Madness, is a stepping stone in the history of music in general. Every song in my opinion is a catalyst to what a lot of people have wanted to say for a long time in their own life.
You think the new album is more intense and heavier?
Yeah, because the integrity level of the songs is the strongest that it's ever been. For me personally, it's the most honest record the band's ever written. It's a lot more blunt than the other albums. There's no sugarcoating anything on this album. It's a lot meaner.
Leave a Whisper wasn't popular right out of the gate. It was a slow, grassroots thing, right?
Yeah. We had four singles from the first album. We built this band off of radio. We have a lot of people we're very close to in radio. We're the biggest supporters of rock radio and in general of radio. We adore and love all formats of radio. That's how the band's been built. To be honest, we didn't build this band off media or exposure or magazines or anything else. We built it off airwaves. We're very respectful of radio. At the end of the day, long live the radio. We're very honest about it.
You guys still play your cover of "Simple Man"?
You doing any covers these days?
What's in the set?
It's between 15-17 songs. It's all the singles from the first two records and a lot from The Sound of Madness. But some venues might see "Simple Man." Some.
You have a new guitarist?
Zach Myers is the guitar player. He's the main guy. If there's any quote from me as far as guitar players in this band and the way we look at it and this, that and the other, you can quote me saying Zach Myers is the greatest guitar player in the world.
I'll make a note of that.
You can. It's totally cool. You can say it.
After the multi-platinum success of your debut, did you experience any pressure while making your second album, Us and Them.
Yeah, because it was rushed so much. It's not as good of an album.
So if you could go back, you would do things differently?
I would never go back and do anything differently. I would do The Sound of Madness. Leave a Whisper took my whole life, and Us and Them took six months, and The Sound of Madness took 18 months. There's that differentiation. But in the time between the writing of the records, I wouldn't take anything back, man. Never.
Shinedown, Saliva, Halestorm
7:30 p.m. Monday, March 9
House of Blues
308 Euclid Ave.