Shinedown show is ‘all killer, no filler’
Talk to Brent Smith for a few minutes and it becomes clear that there’s never going to be any rest for Shinedown. Nor will the multi-million-selling, hit-generating rock band ever get stuck in its ways.
The latter translates to everything from switching up the band’s record-setting stage show to finding a way to navigate the tumultuous music industry that has seen sales of recordings and the money from them plunge to new depths as live performances become ever more critical.
“There a great line in the movie ‘Moneyball’ where Brad Pitt tells Jonah Hill, ‘You’ve got to adapt or die,’” the Shinedown singer said in a recent phone interview. “You have to make a decision for yourself. You can’t be finger pointing. If you want to make a change, do it. It takes work and creativity.
Shinedown swings through the region for a July 10 show at the KeyBank Pavilion.
“There’s nothing about this tour in the production that even resembles last year’s,” he said. “We believe in the theatrical. We believe in fire. We believe in pyro. We believe in make a spectacle of the show.”
The tour Smith is talking about is a headlining journey that began in February and continues into the fall, on which Shinedown will be accompanied by Asking Alexandria and Papa Roach — a very different follow-up to last year’s co-headlining trek with Godsmack.
“You’re not getting a tired four-band slog,” Smith said in full tour sales mode. “You’re getting three bands at the top of their game. Asking Alexandria, they call them a lifestyle band. They’re insanely out of control. When you look at Papa Roach at this point (that band) has legendary status and they’re showing no signs of losing it. Then you have us, and we have a lot to say with the new record ‘Attention, Attention.”
Smith wasn’t sure how many songs from “Attention, Attention,” the band’s chart-topping 2017 concept album about overcoming negativity and being reborn as a new person, would make the show – although “Monsters” (currently in the top 15 on Billboard” magazine’s Mainstream Rock singles chart) and the previous singles, “Get Up” and “Devil” (which both topped rock radio charts) seem like good bets. He was in Nashville, putting together the production and songs when this interview happened.
“I can tell you it’s an 18-song set,” he said. “It kind of goes back to the all killer, no filler. We’re going to make sure we play everything the audience wants to hear. We choreograph the show to a point. But there’s going to be four or five audibles a night. It won’t be the same set list every night. Every city will get a different set list — at least four songs from the show before.”
And Shinedown figures to do plenty of concerts in the coming months.
Last year, according to a study by Norman Records, Shinedown was the hardest touring band in all of rock, playing 136 shows and travelling 47,470 miles to do so.
“We break records every year,” Smith said. “We love what we do. I think it has to do with the audience, man. I’ve said this for years, we only have one boss. It’s everybody in the audience. This band is never going to get comfortable. We’ve been touring for 20 years and we don’t ever do the same tour. We don’t make the same album. We tour internationally. There are 8 billion people on the planet. That’s a lot of people to play for.”
A little history
Formed by Smith in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2001, who was already signed to Atlantic Records, Shinedown is one of the last bands that flourished under the old system of major label promotion and support, generating radio play and CD sales.
“We recorded our first album “Leave a Whisper” — the fans consider the album the LAW — going back to 2003,” he said. “It was a different way of doing business. Did it help? Absolutely. We came right before, a couple years before, mp3s, downloading all of that. Everybody was going ‘it’s going to be fine.’ They said it was never going to replace the CD. I was like ‘Oh boy.’
“After our second album, “Sound of Madness” was when I started to look at where it was going. It was all about your website then,” Smith said. “Then all of a sudden, MySpace became a thing, especially for bands. I was upfront on that and seeing how much it was changing. Where we are today, there’s a whole generation who doesn’t think about paying for music. They don’t know anything about CDs. They don’t know what they are.”
Today’s audience gets most of its music via streaming services, which pay artists far, far, far less for their music than do sales of physical product and downloads. Spotify, for example, now pays $0.00437 per play. That takes a lot of streams to equal even the $2-$3 bands received from the sale of a CD.
“It’s the ‘Moneyball’ thing again, you’ve got to adjust,” Smith said. “I hear an older generation of bands pissing on streaming and downloading. Let me do you a service here — you’re essentially ruining your fan base by excluding a generation. It’s old guys and old girls complaining that they are not making as much money anymore.”