Shinedown have seized their latest opportunity with both hands as they open up for the biggest metal band on the planet. HRH Mag Editor Simon Rushworth caught up with frontman Brent Smith as the band hit the UK.
HRH Mag: How did you end up bagging the support slot on the biggest metal tour on the planet?
Brent Smith: I’m still amazed at how the Iron Maiden tour came about. It was literally a rock and roll dream. It was almost movie-like. We were playing Download last year. We played the main stage for the first time. Steve Harris heard us and watched the back end of our set and liked what he saw. We got to talk to him after we played and we were offered the shows there and then. Of course we jumped at the chance and lo and behold we’re back in the UK! Steve is a genuine person and a legend in his own right. He stayed true to his word.
HRH Mag: What do you love most about playing live in the UK?
BS: The biggest thing about the UK for is that we’re in the home of our heroes. Since we were teenagers we’d get the bootleg VHS tapes of these massive festivals that would put Woodstock to shame and they were happening in the UK – every year! We would watch this grainy video footage of Castle Donington and the Monsters Of Rock. We’d watch the likes of Metallica and AC/DC and wish we were there. We couldn’t believe that there were all of these bands playing on a giant stage in the middle of a massive field. And that it was in the UK! As fans and musicians we were hooked.
HRH Mag: Do you feel as if you have a bond with the UK?
BS: We first came over to the UK in 2006 but it was more of a stopover after a trip to Germany. Even then we sensed a certain affinity with the country. Sound Of Madness was the first legitimate UK release and everything changed with that album. It was well received around the world but it brought Shinedown to the attention of UK fans. I have such an affection for the UK and I can’t describe how much that breakthrough meant to me.
HRH Mag: Why not come over permanently?
BS: I’ve often said, during the last two or three years, that when my son turns 18 and he’s out of the house I might look at getting a flat in the UK. The audiences in Britain are with you forever as long as you show them the same level of commitment and loyalty. They want to root for you and want you to be good. That’s why I love the UK. And I enjoy traditional fish and chips.
HRH Mag: Is there a certain pressure associated with opening for Iron Maiden?
BS: In all honesty the pressure is built in. Any pressure that there is we put on ourselves. We’re very humbled to be in the position we’re in and we’re dedicated to our craft. We understand that the audience is a Maiden audience and they’re not going to experience some kind of epiphany just because Shinedown are playing for 50 minutes. Having said that there’s a lot of respect on both sides. It’s not like Maiden have gone for a four-band bill. It’s just us and them. That in itself is a huge opportunity. We know that.
HRH Mag: So can you deliver?
BS: We’ve just come from Belgium and done five shows in Germany and it’s already been an eye-opening experience for me. The band is having a blast and so am I. As a live band we’ve never been tighter. Up until January we’d been on the road for something like 17 months before a few weeks in the studio preparing the next album. We were doing that during January and February and then we got back on the road and did 12 shows on the west coast of America just to make sure we were ready for the Maiden shows. We didn’t leave anything to chance. It’s a nine-song set for us and it flies by. Everyone is in the building by the time we play the first song and the venue is packed to the rafters by the time we’re playing the third song. This is a huge opportunity that Iron Maiden have bestowed upon us and it’s not something that we’re taking for granted. We got our first flag at the second of the two Frankfurt shows! I was super stoked about that. And I think people are loosening up listening to Shinedown. We’re warming them up and that’s our job.
HRH Mag: How can you explain Maiden’s longevity?
BS: It’s interesting with Maiden. We’re working with their US booking agent John Jackson. He’s been booking them for more than 30 years. He’s been with them from inception to where they are now and the long and the short of it – according to John – is that Steve Harris is the same guy now as he was in 1979. The point John made to me is that Steve and the band had a vision and they stuck to it. That’s why he believes they’ve enjoyed such longevity. And of course they had such a cool, incendiary mascot. Eddie is the face of metal – not just the face of Maiden. Maiden is a way of life for so many people. We’re talking almost four decades at the top of their game now. Being able to take that culture and that visual element and do it on a global scale is so exciting. Even as they get older they don’t give any less. I’ve had the pleasure of watching the show and I had no idea just how theatrical it was. It’s so over the top – in a good way – with everything that they do. There’s a lot of cool shit. And of course there’s the musicianship. Just watching three guitarists going at it is mindblowing.
HRH Mag: As a vocalist how much respect do you have for Bruce Dickinson?
BS: What I feel for Bruce Dickinson is beyond respect. I really admire him on many, many levels. I had no idea just how ill he was when they were putting the latest album together. What he did is what we refer to in America as ‘man shit’. That’s a real man. He didn’t want anyone to know what he was going through until he’d done his job. Having the sheer will to handle that and take care of it and do what he needed to do is incredible. I’m sure it was scary but I can’t imagine how scary. But in my eyes it’s made him 100 times stronger.
HRH Mag: So when will the new Shinedown record drop?
BS: I want to say March 2018 or even earlier. Right now we’re looking at the first week of March next year. We are 13 songs into the recording process and everything is sounding incredible.