By larry may

Many rock bands have been accused of lascivious behavior, but most don’t get stuck with the tags of charitable or altruistic. Shinedown is a group that busts the mold of rock stars as louts and insufferable buffoons. The band will be in Birmingham on October 1st to play a benefit for The Bell Center, an outfit dedicated to helping families with afflicted members cope with the scope and severity of autism, among other maladies. It seems a tad bit odd at first, that a band known for heavy tunes with sincere lyrics would be involved with a cause so sobering. A few minutes talking with singer Brent Smith will definitely change one’s take on the Florida rockers. 

SIL. The Workplay date on October 1st is a benefit for the Bell Center. Is that something you’ve been involved with in the past? 

BS. Our drummer’s wife is a behavior analyst. She works with a lot of autistic children. It has always been something that the band has been involved with. Anything that the band can do to raise awareness or help an organization by lending our voice and time has always been dear to our hearts. We have a crewmember that has been with us for eight years that has a daughter with Down Syndrome. They live in Birmingham, Alabama and are some of the most awesome people I’ve ever met. When they had their daughter and found out about the Bell Center and what they were all about as far as raising and helping their children, they were informed about the benefit that happens each year. Our friend approached us and asked us if we wanted to play and give the money for the tickets to the Bell Center. We were totally on board. It is one of the only organizations in the U.S. to help families understand how to work with their children. We were blown away by the people at the Center and wanted to help out. We’re doing a full band acoustic show and we plan to bring the house down. 

SIL. I think it’s great that you want to use your popularity to help those families. 

BS. The human spirit is an amazing thing. I’ve always said that the will to live will always outweigh the ability to die. 

SIL. Why the acoustic approach?

BS. For the last six years, our fans have asked us to do an acoustic tour. We discussed doing it, and thought this would be a good time to do something special. The benefit will be one of the first acoustic sets we will do as a band. The actual acoustic tour starts November 5th and it goes through December 9th. It will have tons of bells and whistles and some guest stars. This format will show the songs not in just a traditional stripped down form, but we’re going to make it more interesting. We plan to shake it up a lot. Birmingham will be the testing ground for a lot of what we have planned, it should be interesting. We’re looking forward to playing Workplay, we hear it’s a great sounding room. 

SIL. Are you recording any of this for future release?

BS. We just finished the Carnival of Madness that was a full on rock show with pyro, etc. 

The reason for that is we plan, in addition to the acoustic shows, to release a box set of “Sound of Madness”, but also include some b-sides that no one has ever heard. So that’s two live shows, and b-sides in addition to the previous record. 

SIL. So you plan to release more singles from “Sound of Madness”? 

BS. We do. We plan to release a new one in October, a song called “Diamond Eyes”. It was done for the “Expendables” movie for Sylvester Stallone. There’s also a possibility of releasing, “Breaking Inside”. We’ve already released five songs from the album, and it could be six. The record is still going strong after two and a half years. 

SIL. We still sell it every week.

BS. That is so wild that you own a record store. That’s so badass. It gives me a warm feeling that someone who cares about music gets to still make money and that makes me feel great. 

SIL. When you did the “Expendables” soundtrack, did you get to hang with Stallone?
BS. Yeah. He was in the middle of editing in a Beverly Hills studio, and we were invited over to check it out. Our song is not in the movie, it was used in the trailer. He was great to us, a total professional. 

SIL. Any other cool people you have met lately?

BS. When we were rehearsing the Carnival of Madness, I got to meet Robert Plant. I got my picture taken with him. 

SIL. Your label, Atlantic Records, seem to be at the forefront of the new media movement. 

BS. They do really well with the 360 deal, and I can only give you our experience with them. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being on Atlantic since I was ten years old. My biggest influence as a child was Otis Redding. I can’t say enough about Ahmet Ertegun, who was a prolific and profound influence on the music business. The 360 deal says to us that not only does Atlantic want to be in business with us, but they understand that the physical CD has taken a hit from downloading, and that in order to share in the total package with the band, other revenue sources are shared. That model allows the label to share in the touring and merch side and be total partners with the band. With them getting the extra cut, the promotion machine they offer has got to be worth it. It has been, and the  the exposure we’ve received has been monster. At the end of the day, Lyor Cohen, Julie Greenwald, and Craig Kallman really focus on the artist. 

SIL. Is the band taking advantage of the vinyl explosion?

BS. “Sound of Madness” is coming out on vinyl. We just did our first pressing, which is exciting for us. Our management has held it in their hands and it looks amazing. 

SIL. Have you started writing for a new record?

BS. We’re concentrating on finishing the acoustic tour, and next year will be a focus on writing new material. We started a bit already, but I can’t guarantee a new record next year. By 2012 there will be a new record. 

SIL. Shinedown is playing Bayfest in Mobile. Is there anybody there you are looking forward to seeing?
BS. Just my boys in Papa Roach. Anytime we see them, we’re super excited. 

SIL. What separates you from the other bands on the radio?
BS. We have a different lyrical style than most of the other stuff on the radio. We’re not “fading away”, and “falling down”. “Getting away” and “staying away” is not our thing. I’m meticulous about the words to our songs, and sometimes being prolific and metaphoric is not the best way to serve the songs. Sometimes the simplest lyric is the most profound. 

SIL. Do you see yourself on a stage with Shinedown when you’re sixty?

BS. I do. It’s in my blood, because it’s what I do. Eric, Zach, and Barry, it’s what we love to do. Why would we stop?

SIL. So no solo stuff?

BS. I don’t think my name would carry a lot of weight. I have the most boring name in rock and roll. I would have to change my name to something like Escobar. 

SIL. Javier rolls off the tongue nicely. 

BS. That’s a good one. 

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