Heart of Steel: Interviews

Shinedown bassist Brad Stewart
Interview By Keith McDonald

Shinedown - Shinning on You
Shinedown are a new band on Atlantic Records. I got this CD in a package and at first thought of Puddle of Mudd, but with it’s own style. Their debut album is packed with radio ready songs that should break through the radio backlog and find a home for some time. I had the opportunity to speak with bassist Brad Stewart.




How did the band start?

The band started with Brent Smith, our lead singer. He had a development deal with a different band on Atlantic and the label decided to move forward with Brent and not with the rest of his band. They allowed him to write with other people, develop his songwriting craft, and find the musicians that he wanted to work with. This led him to Jacksonville where he met Brad, the bass player, through a mutual friend of Brent’s A&R guy, local Jacksonville producer Pete Thornton. The two hit it off and guitarist Jasin Todd would join the band next. Jasin was in another band and wanted to concentrate on his guitar playing and didn’t want to sing and play any more in his other band. Jasin’s fiancÚ owned the studio where Brad and Brent were making the demos and Jasin got the chance to play with us. We just fit together. His attitude, style, and personality were exactly what we were looking for. Barry was our lucky #7 drummer. The 7th drummer we tried out. He blew us away. He was confident, powerful and had mad chops. We finally had a working band. We continued to make demos in Jacksonville and Orlando and Atlantic gave the green light to record our record. This was about 3 years ago.



What are the tour plans and will you try to hook up with a big band as an opener?

We plan on headlining our own tour and playing the radio festivals this summer. Eventually we will try to get on a big tour. There is one we are shooting for right now but I don’t want to jinx us by saying what it is. If we get it though, it would be a big deal.



How do you think your band separates itself from the other bands already out there?

I think we just be ourselves. We are not necessarily trying to be different or better than anyone. We just do what comes naturally to us, and what feels good to us. I think Brent’s voice is something that might stand out these days. I think it is cool to see power singers making a comeback in the aftermath of rap/scream rock. He can really hit those notes.



How would you describe your music?

We call it SUPER ROCK. It is just high intensity rock music. The live show is definitely different than the record. It is more stripped down and way heavier. We live to play live.



Who handles the songwriting and from where does it come from?

Everyone in the band contributes to the songwriting. Whether the song comes from a melody, a beat, or a guitar riff. We all add to the song. It is what makes our sound. Brent writes all of the lyrics for the songs. He has a way of writing what he feels like no one I have seen before. We just try to be honest with ourselves and I think that transfers in the songs.




Being on a major, and seeing how much the majors have downsized in it's staff and bands, do you think this helps or hurts your band?

I think it helps. There are so many bands the label is trying to pay attention to. You are constantly fighting for their attention. There is also a lot of weird politics inside labels that go on. Oh, such and such signed this band and now he signed these guys. We should pay extra attention to them. Whether the bands record is doing well in sales or on radio or not. They will keep giving them extra chances. This sort of thing is frustrating. Meanwhile we have been touring our asses off and proving ourselves every step of the way by our own merit.



What single is going to radio and how has it fared so far? How hard is it for a new band to get airplay?

“45” is the current single at radio right now. It has reached the #2 slot at Active Rock. Top ten on the Rock chart. It is top 30 at Alternative. Our band does really well at Active. Some people call it roofer rock. I think the other formats will pay attention sooner than later. There is a lot of competition at Alternative. It has been tough for us on that side but we are focused on cracking that nut in the near future. Airplay is tough when you are a new band. You have to prove yourself at radio too. Radio stations do “Research” to test whether their listeners like the song, remember the song, or hate the song. It is tough to be familiar when you are brand new.



How did you hook up with producer Bob Marlette? What did he bring to the table musically?

Bob was one of a few producers we met with to do the record. He showed the most initiative and the most passion for the band. He knew we were green and still getting to know ourselves and our sound. He broke down barriers that exist in every band and helped make us a cohesive working unit. He is very musical too. He has great ears for sound and tone. He also has a really good feel for the song. I think he raised the bar for all of us and made us get there with out fixing us in the computer. He made us play it until we did it right.



In your album, you mention this record was written for the castoffs of society. Could you explain why?

Brent wrote the message inside the sleeve of the record. I think he, like everyone, has been put down, made to feel inferior, told that they would never achieve their dreams. It was sort of saying that when people do this to you it is up to you to turn it around and make things happen for yourself. It is about persistence, overcoming obstacles and following through no matter what the circumstances. I think it is meant to give hope.



Many bands these days don't get a chance at a 2nd major label release and that labels are quick to drop them. Why do you think that is and what do you expect from your band and Atlantic?

I think it is a tough business and it is hard enough just to get one shot, let alone two. If a band’s 1st record isn’t a huge success then people turn their attention on other projects that are fresh on the radar screen. This is not the bands’ fault either. Their record might not have been promoted fully. It could have been bad timing or a million other reasons. We will make another record with Atlantic once the first one cycles through. We are a team. We couldn’t do it without them and vice versa. We as a band must grow and deliver a fresh record that tops the first one. We expect them to push it past the first one on into multi-platinum land. They can’t do it though without really good songs. The pressure is on for everyone involved.



What's the future for Shinedown?

The future for Shinedown is more touring, more touring and more touring. We plan to tour this record for at least another year. We will appear on Conan O’Brien, our video is being played on Fuse and we expect to get MTV2 as well. “Simple man” is being put on our record. It is a stripped down acoustic tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd, another great Jacksonville band. We hope to release it as a single and will make a video etc.

Band Website: www.shinedown.com