Since the release of Attention Attention, Shinedown have performed over 230 shows across the globe in support of the album. An impressive achievement to say the least. The band recently returned to the UK alongside touring counterparts Alter Bridge and The Raven Age.
Before the CoronaVirus pandemic took hold around the world, HRH Mag caught up with guitarist Zach Myers before the opening show of the run at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, to dig deep into the band’s latest record as well as get the inside scoop on whether Shinedown has begun thinking about the next chapter, and where they go from here.
Last year you played a sold-out UK run. You’re back on this side of the pond again. The venues last year were quite intimate by comparison to tonight’s show at the Motorpoint Arena. However, even when you are playing the smaller theatre-style venues you still bring a whole arena production. I just wanted to know, do you prefer those more intimate shows where you can almost see the whites of the eyes of the audience or do you think that the sort of high octane Shinedown sound is more suited to the arena setting?
I’m glad our sound works in arenas, but I don’t think we ever have written to be an arena rock band. Do you know what I mean? So for me, I like both. I like the fact that hopefully over here soon, but in America, we can choose where we play. If we want to play arenas, no big deal, we can play arenas and sell them out – it’s fine. Or we can do what we’re doing in April of next year, which is doing like a small run of shows of about 2,500 seats. I like being able to do both of those things, it’s important to me because I liked it last when that was all we could do. But now the fact that we can make that decision and we can sometimes choose to go into smaller places, I like both. It’s an honour that we can sell that many seats in a lot of places, you know? So I’d never take that for granted, but it’s fun to get there and sweat it out sometimes. We hadn’t headlined in the UK for a long time. We had always gotten these great support tours like Maiden or a festival run. So it was like, we did it on purpose to kind of leave people outside the door.
I know that you’ve recently been out on tour in the US with Papa Roach, Asking Alexandria and Savage After Midnight – again that’s another great action-packed lineup. How was that one for you guys?
It was good man – that’s a big production, you know, there’s a lot of pyros, a lot of videos and stuff like that, so it was good. But I mean, Papa Roach is one of my favourite bands to tour with just because of the relationship we have with them as people – they are super nice. Asking Alexandria is becoming that for us, we’ve become close friends. And Savage is a band that I used to manage and they’re a great up and coming band. So it was just a good bill from start to finish. No one’s going to be bored throughout the show.
Papa Roach is one of the hardest bands to go on after. So it also gives you that little bit of a challenge and a little bit of chip on your shoulder, because you’ve got to go on after quite possibly one of the greatest frontmen in modern rock. That guy’s batteries, they don’t die, do you know what I mean? He’s just like, dude, wait, do you drink 10 cups of coffee before you go on stage? Just, you know, sweet sweet people.
Honestly man, at this stage in our lives, we’ve done headline tours that we’ve hated the bands we’ve been on tour with, and it was miserable. And so now we’re on a tour with bands we like and there’s no drama. This tour is the same way. Like it takes a lot for us to do a support thing because we don’t have to. So when the Alter Bridge guys asked, we knew how big they were here, so it was like, yeah, we’ll do it. We did it before in 2013, and there are no egos with those guys. No one has an ego. We all have egos as men, and as human beings, you have your own ego. But as far as this shit goes, nobody has an ego. Like I’m going to go on and do the show, I’m going to do no matter what and I’m going to try my hardest to make you have to work for it, and that’s kind of what our goal is.
We are here in Nottingham, just up the road from Castle Donington – home of Download Festival and Monsters of Rock. I know Shinedown played the main stage at Download last year and you’ve played the festival a few times now. What do you think it is that makes that festival so special to perform at?
I think because before it was Download, it was Donington (Monsters of Rock) and we grew up watching it on TV. When England seemed a million miles away and it seemed like you’re not going to go to England. Like that’s another world. You’re never going to be in a band big enough to play that festival. None of us thought that we would ever. And then especially to play second to the headliner or something like that is truly amazing. I don’t know, to get that many people in one place for that long and there’s no drama, no negativity, it’s just so nice. And it can be fucking pissing rain and it doesn’t matter, people are just excited. Like festival season over here there’s something really special about it.
So we were talking about that the other day. Like we always seem to come over here in the winter and I’m like, there’s no other time you can come over because you can’t come over in February or March because people have just spent all their money buying tickets to the festivals. So they’re not going to come to see your show. You can’t come over in the summer because all of the festivals are going on. So this is kind of the only time you can come over here. But yeah, it’s a magical festival. It always has been, no matter what it’s called, Download/Donington – they can call it the Ice Cream festival for all I care, I’ll always want to play it.
You are touring at the minute in support of Attention Attention and that album’s done incredibly well. I mean I read recently that the song Monsters was your 14th number-one single in the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart.
Mainstream, but 26th Number One overall. Some are on different charts.
Overall are you happy with how this record has gone so far would you say?
Yeah, I said this the other day in an interview, it’s my favourite Shinedown record and not just because it’s the newest thing. Everyone says that about every record they ever make – this is the best thing we’ve ever done. I truly feel that three records from now, I’m still going to look back at this, even if it’s not the best record. There’s a lot of weight to it in the sense that made it ourselves. We didn’t have a producer. You know well we did – Eric produced it, but it was just the band Shinedown in a room making a record. There were no other people, there were no other producers, it was just us making a record. And there’s something really special about that.
And I know Eric did not want to mix this record, he just wanted to produce it, but it ended up that he was kind of the only person to mix it. No one else could’ve. We tried, other people tried to mix it and they couldn’t pull out of it what he could because he knew what was in it. I mean that guy spent a million hours making this record. When we were long gone, and Brent to his credit, really stayed there with him, and Brent kind of dug it out with him.
Me and Barry would come and go and I would do my stuff and then I’m out. And so I think it’s just a special record. And the fact that people responded to it the way they did, meant a lot to me because I think these songs, it’s the best collection of songs we’ve ever written. We’re always honest and we’re always real and we always talk about our own situations. And it’s never a Jack and Diane type thing, you know? And so to write this honestly, to a point where maybe we thought it was too honest and should we like cover this up a little bit. And then once we wrote Get Up, it was like, no this is what the record should be.
Like you just mentioned, it’s Shinedown’s most personal record to date and you are grappling with the lows and highs of life, the depression, the demons and such like. Obviously, with the kind of current climate regarding mental illness in the music industry, did you find that this was the right time to bring these burning issues to the forefront?
Yeah, I mean we’ve kind of done that twice now. We wrote Bully before all that stuff started hitting the news. And with this, people weren’t yet really starting to be okay talking about mental health when we wrote Get Up. So I’m not saying that we Christopher Columbused it or anything, but it’s like I feel that we kind of were on the cusp of those things early, always. And that’s something I’m proud of. if I think about it, I’ve never really dealt with that until now I’m in a band with someone who suffers from it. You know, my parents never really had it, you know, my mom or dad never really had depression or anything.
So being in a band with Eric and learning what it is, you know, because the first six years of us being in a band, my kind of struggle with it was like – look at what we’re doing, we’re in arenas, we’re making money we’re adored by millions and millions of people – just be happy. And you kind of realize that what a stupid thing to say, because if you could, you would, you would love to be happy, but you can’t because there’s this thing in your brain. He always says he’s like if I could just reach in there and take this thing out my life would be that much better. So I think it’s important to realize that there are millions of people who have that same exact thing. And it’s okay to talk about it and you’re not less of a man or less of a woman. You can be a strong person by talking about it and even stronger by talking about it.
So I think it is important, especially for musicians. Artists are very fickle creatures and we’re all very sensitive. I don’t care what anyone says, and for the most part, 90% of us are codependent. That’s why every musician you see is all like, you’d never see some single musician or rock star, that’s just not how we work. So it’s interesting to see how many people are being brave enough to come out and speak about it now. If we had 0.1% to do with that, I’m happy.
The album title itself, Attention Attention is a thought-provoking title. I know that you’ve recently released a new music video for the title song, which I understand that when you’re filming resulted in the shutdown of a whole block in LA.
Yeah, a whole block.
So I was just wondering, can you tell us a little bit about that song and kind of the inspiration behind that and the video?
I didn’t write the song, I think that was Dave and Brent. But I knew the sentiment was kind of kicking around. But the song is just about, we’re not normal people, there’s a line in it. I don’t know if I’m supposed to talk about this. There’s a line in it where someone in this industry, in our world said we weren’t the shiny new penny anymore. Like talking about all these new bands that come up. We’ve been around for a long time. And so I think one of my favourite lines Brent ever wrote in his entire life was, if you’re a shiny new penny, I’m a hundred dollar bill. And I was like, Holy shit. And it’s a person that we still respect to this day. Here’s the thing, I get where the person was coming from when they said that, we’re not these new young kids coming out, but we still get number one songs and we still do these things, because we have this draw to people where lyrically people gravitate to our band and have. It’s not all fodder, people with our band and our lyrics, you have something you can grab onto whether you’re 14 or whether you’re 41 or you’re 81 I think those lyrics kind of last their time.
Our band kind of lasted because there are these bands that we came up with writing songs about getting their dick sucked and partying and having fun and banging chicks. And it’s like, dude, those kids that love that shit, when they were 17 they have got kids now – they don’t want to listen to that. Do you know what I mean? They don’t want their kids listening to it.
So I think our goal was to always write things that you could carry with you. If you were 15 and you are wanting to run away from home and your parents maybe didn’t understand you, Second Chance was your anthem. Whether you’re 50 and your mom has died Second Chance is your anthem. Or your 80 and maybe you’re towards the end of your life, it’s like that song you can take with you on every journey.
Or Sound of Madness, if you’re pissed off about something, which happens to me all the time at 11 and at 36 we just try to write things that you can connect to. And I think Attention Attention was kind of that same thing. And also kind of talking about how different we are as people, with the chorus, I love where he says, I’ll never tell him where the bodies are buried. Like that to me is great.
And the video is a bit of Pulp fiction because it’s going to be inside of a movie that we made. We made a video for every song and they’re all going to kind of be a part of each other. But the video is really, really cool. And if you watch all the videos, they’re not in order obviously, but if you do watch them, you see characters in every video. The same characters, like say five characters that are in almost every video and it’s kind of like Easter eggs.
I know that next year you’re going to be doing this SD deep-dive tour in the US which is kind of your opportunity to showcase some of the rarer cuts from your discography. How do you feel about unearthing those hidden gems in the catalogue? Is that something that you are looking forward to?
I feel great about it. I’m fairly sure my bass player hates me for it. We had a meeting last show. It’s something that people always ask for, and never in abundance. There was a time anyway where I wanted to do this Pearl Jam type setlist where it’s like, let’s only play five songs we played last night and do all new stuff. It doesn’t work with our fans. Do you know what I mean? Especially because we have pyro, we have lighting, we have video, you can’t just switch it up – your crew will lose their minds. And so this is the chance to kind of take those songs.
A song that was never really released on an album per se is a song called, Her Name Is Alice. And we wrote that for the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack. Everyone asks to hear that song all of the time, no matter what. And then, there are other songs – For My Sake, Miracle and I’m Not Alright. All these songs that people gravitate to. So you want to play those songs. And when you play an arena setting as we do in the States and headline, people are seeing you for the first time. They want to hear 45, they want to hear Diamond Eyes, they want to hear Enemies, they want to hear these singles. So we’ve done B-sides in there before and it just falls on its face because you got four people over here who are excited to hear and one guy up in section 200 that’s like you’re playing whatever lost in the crowd – so it’s a funny thing to do. I don’t see a lot of bands doing it. So we always try to just do things that we don’t see other people do.
It’s fun and maybe other bands will do it now. It’s kind of cool to just take a look back. Eric and Barry are dreading it I know just because their mind works a certain way I guess. And they can only focus on one thing at a time. To go back and relearn all this stuff, we’re going to do a lot of rehearsal.
So is that something that you think will only happen in the US or are you’re thinking about bringing this tour to Europe?
Every fan at every meet and greet has asked me this question. Maybe we would do it over here. We have a lot of different projects that we do within the Shinedown universe that the people were always like, will you bring Smith & Myer’s here? Smith And Myers would work in the UK, but it would never work in Europe, just because we talk so much and the language barrier maybe a little bit difficult. So I think with Smith & Myers when we tour next year, I think we’re going to try to do one UK show. I would like to. I would like to maybe just do one show at Royal Albert Hall and just call it. You know like everyone in the UK, you’ve got to come in for this. I could see us doing something like that over here.
UK and Europe fans are so passionate. I was thinking about this today too, the fact that all other genres of music now are single genres. If you look at streams no one’s got records going gold or platinum anymore. It’s songs and rock bands, especially in active rock, it’s still an album genre. People still listen to the whole album. I was thinking about that today. I think about a lot of things in the shower, in the shower when I was thinking about this. But yeah, it’s crazy that that’s kind of the case. I was thinking about my friend Machine Gun Kelly just had a couple of singles go platinum and I was like, that’s crazy that all these things are single, everything’s single based now. And rock modern rock is still like albums. People want to hear every song.
Apart from that, you are also doing the Allen, Mack, Myers US tour. Which again that’s like an acoustic-based tour. Do you enjoy the different change of pace?
I highly enjoy it because if I ever did a side project that was a rock thing, I feel like I would be cheating on my band because I get everything I need in a rock environment from my band. And if I don’t, I’ll go to them and say, Hey, I want to write this or I want to do this. And so to have this project, which is almost like the Eagles meet The Band meets James Taylor, that’s something, to me that’s completely different and I can change the setlist every night massively, you know what I mean?
So it’s a lot of fun to do and it also keeps me humble in the way of, you know, in the States, we go from Shinedown being in six tour buses, 10 semi-trucks to I get into a van with my other friends and do this, you know? And so yeah, it’s a lot of fun. And the records are good. I enjoy making records, I enjoy writing the song. It’s good.
Shinedown is 18 months into the Attention Attention album cycle now. Are you guys already thinking about the next chapter or do you feel there is still plenty of mileage left in this album?
No, we’re getting towards the end of it, I think. I think two years on a record for us touring is about right. We’ll be on tour when the album turns two. So I think that it’s getting towards the end. I don’t know who started thinking about the next record yet. I know that it’s on our minds. I don’t want to make a record next year. I’d rather start writing and then that’s kind of what I told the band – I don’t wanna make a record in 2020 but I’ll make one January 1st of 2021. I think we all need some time. By the time we end this, it’ll be about 260 shows. It sounds like a lot, but if you go back to The Sound Of Madness, we had 447 in the same amount of time.
You’ve got to think because we never do more than three shows in a row. We don’t even do three in a row, a day off here. So you’ve got to think of all the days off, you’re still on the road. So out of the 231 shows you’ve been on the road for 500 days. That’s not press or promo either. That’s literally just full-on shows. That’s a lot.
We are a couple of weeks away from the start of the New Year now. Have you kind of got next year mapped out? Do you know what it looks like?
Yeah, kind of. We’re going to go make a Smith and Myers record February 24th. We’re going to do the Deep Dive tour, April and May. We’re probably going to start getting the movie together in January. I don’t know when that’s going to come out.
We’re going to do three shows in August. I’d imagine after that we’ll start writing and I’m guessing Smith and Myers will do a tour in the fall and then, yeah, that’s it.
I know all of us are trying to take as much time off as we can next year because we all need it. We’re all best friends who get along better than most bands I know. But even men, when you’re living in a 45-foot space together for 500 days, you’re going to get on each other’s nerves. And I think we’re right about there. So, we all still love each other, but it’s like, come on man. A person isn’t supposed to live with as many other people, it’s not natural at this age. So it’s like we still get along great, but our good thing is we still talk about it. If something comes up, we will sit down and we’ll kind of hash it out. It’s not like, we would just, you know, fuck you and walk out. We used to do that. We don’t do that anymore. You know the longevity of our band is more important than any individual.
Words and Photos by Adam Kennedy