SHINEDOWN vocalist Brent Smith recently spoke with Jonathan Clarke of the New York City radio station Q104.3. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether any classic concept albums influenced the band’s latest album, the conceptual “Attention Attention”:
Brent: “Obviously, PINK FLOYD‘s ‘The Wall’ is pretty significant in my brain. That’s the first kind of people I ever saw where an artist, a band, took the time to not only make the music, make the album, but they had a visual with it. That was the first time I really saw something like that — the way that that band presented that. And then you think about ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ from QUEENSRŸCHE — it was the same kind of dynamic. That’s a little bit more current, per se. The big one for me really was ‘Tommy’ by THE WHO.”
On bassist Eric Bass producing the album:
Brent: “It’s a little bit different when the band goes to the label and says, ‘We’re going to do [it ourselves].’ It’s our sixth record, but we had a lot of great teachers on the other five albums — a lot of different producers, engineers and what have you. It was time for us to do it in-house… I have to give a lot of credit not only to Bill McGathy, who’s our manager, but also [to the label]. They never, ever censored us. They never, ever pushed us for time. They’re, like, ‘Bring it to us when it’s ready.’ Looking at this album, there’s nobody else that could have done it but Eric, because Eric made it sound 1000 percent authentic to us. It’s not a traditional concept record, but it is a story, and it’s a really, really big story about a lot of people, because it’s an album about the world.”
On “Get Up”, which was inspired by Bass‘s struggles with depression:
Brent: “I looked at [Eric] and I said, ‘You know what this is about, right?’ He said, ‘Yeah — it’s about me.’ My heart kind of fell on the ground because I thought I had stepped over a line with our friendship, and it was the complete opposite. He was overwhelmed with how honest it was, and he wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed by it at all. Eric deals with clinical depression. This isn’t something where he wakes up and maybe you have a case of the Mondays. This is something that he deals with on a daily basis. The powerful thing about Eric is that he is the biggest supporter — especially now — of letting people know from all walks of life. He doesn’t want people to be quiet. He doesn’t want you to feel ashamed or embarrassed or to pigeonhole yourself and put yourself in a corner, because you’re going to be judged no matter what. The reality of ‘Get Up’, because it was so honest, it allowed us to know the path we were going to take to write the record. Eric said, ‘If we’re going to be this bold and this honest, we have to go all the way in’… Once we had ‘Get Up’, we knew we were going. It’s a record about not being afraid to fail in life. You’re going to need that. You’re not going to be perfect all the time, but you’re also not going to be defined by your failures. You’re going to be defined by the fact that you refuse to give up.”
On his sobriety:
Brent: “I used to think that I had to be messed up to write material. I know that might sound very morbid… The crazy thing was with this album, because I was clean when I wrote it and when I performed it on the mic, is I didn’t even realize [I was sober]. Eric brought it up, and we were doing a short documentary about the making of the [album]. The person that was interviewing Eric at the time was, like, ‘What’s the biggest thing you were proud of on this album?’ I’m sitting next to him, and he looks at me and he goes, ‘I’m proud of him.’ I’m going, ‘What the heck?’ He goes, ‘You may not realize it, but you wrote this whole thing with me… You did the whole thing clean’… I can’t tell you what to do. You’ve got to find that out for yourself. But something that helped me was a friend of mine told me one time, ‘You are way more dangerous when you’re sober.’ For whatever reason, that made a lot of sense to me, because what they were saying was, ‘This other guy that comes out when you are inebriated, that guy’s trying to kill you.’… I’m never going to not be a drug addict or an alcoholic. I do have a past, but I also have a future. The reality of that is that’s part of who I am, and I don’t have to like it, but I have to respect it to keep it dormant.”
On the video for “Monster”:
Brent: “‘Monster’ is part of a full-length feature film that’s going to be coming out next year, which is the entire story of ‘Attention Attention’ told on the big screen… It doesn’t look like a music video. It looks like cinema, because it’s a part of a bigger story. We don’t want people to come into the theater and sit down and go, ‘This is going to be like watching 14 music videos.’ This is not what this is. This is very, very deep… We want it to have an authentic and very real theatrical release… Just like the audio takes you on a roller coaster sonically, the goal is to really put something out there that really engages an audience in a different way.”
“Attention Attention”, SHINEDOWN‘s sixth studio album, debuted at No. 1 on the Top Rock Albums chart upon its 2018 release. The follow-up to 2015’s “Threat To Survival” marked SHINEDOWN‘s first full-length effort to be produced entirely by Bass. The 14-song release that tells the story of a character who starts out defeated and slowly overcomes pain and personal struggles and becomes confident at the end.