Fri, 06 Sep 2013 11:38:30
"This is the reinvention of this tour," says Shinedown's Brent Smith of this year's Carnival of Madness tour. "It's all about the production and performance. We have something for the public that I don't think they're going to expect. It's over-the-top in all the right ways."
Shinedown have risen through rock's ranks to become one of the most powerful live acts on the scene. Carnival of Madness this summer ups the ante yet again. It's as explosive as rock shows get in this day and age—literally.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Brent Smith of Shinedown talks Carnival of Madness, Amaryllis, and so much more.
How has the tour evolved?
It tipped a hat to The Sound of Madness. That's why it was called Carnival of Madness. We wanted to make it very specific to a certain genre and style of music. Having it that first year, it knocked down a lot of doors, and it showed people it could be done. I think people have an idea that this is a tour that happens at the end of summer and competes with whatever else is out there. This year, it's a reinvention, if you will. That goes all the way down to the fact that we're going to have actual circus performers this year. We're going to make it a real carnival for the very first time. We tried that the first year, but the checkbook wouldn't allow for it. This year, we've got some amazing partners like Monster Energy. We're really making this tour about the audience. It's about making this more of an experience and an event than simply a show.
How else do you feel like you're reinventing it?
It's a very eclectic bill. I thought about the genre of heavy metal, hard rock, and rock 'n' roll in general. However, we don't really look at rock 'n' roll as a genre of music. We've always said rock 'n' roll is a way of life. It's good to preserve the heritage of Carnival of Madness and open up with an up-and-coming band. That gives them a lot of exposure right out the gate. The thing about Carnival is we don't people trickling in. We want to make it something that you want to get there and see the very first band. You don't want to miss anything. You want to see the whole show. We have a band called We As Human who has an amazing buzz right now opening. They're getting ready to release their first record, and their single is going to radio soon. They were actually signed by John Cooper from Skillet. I've heard a bit of it, and I think it's going to be a great way to start the show. Then, there's In This Moment. Let's just be honest with each other. Maria Brink and the gentlemen of In This Moment made a brilliant record. Blood is a great album. I remember the day it came out I got it. It has a massive amount of substance, and it's very metal. It's very melodic. She's an absolute superstar when it comes to performing. That brings in a whole different element right out of the gate. It's very theatrical, and there's a real carnival atmosphere. Skillet is going to bring the production like they always do. They're very upfront about being that band which will ignite the audience not only with the songs but a great performance. I'm a huge fan of Papa Roach, and I have been for a long time. It's like a do-over from last year. Jacoby Shaddix and I were on UPROAR together last year, and he had to leave because, God bless him, he had a vocal issue he needed to take care of. Now, he's like at 150-million percent. He and I look at it as a do-over. We're excited about it. There are a lot of good vibes going into this tour.
How do you continue to up the ante with each production?
I'm going to turn the whole show into a magic show, and we're going to add lasers [Laughs]. That's the beauty and fun of it all. The audience has allowed us to be artists. They've allowed us to put the bells and whistles into the production. I'm the main lyricist in Shinedown, and I've always said I write lyrics because it's cheaper than therapy [Laughs]. I can only write about what I know. I want to bring those theatrics, lighting, pyro, and video to the stage. The set we just did with Three Days Grace was more like a spectacle or a play because of the way we designed the show. It's the same thing we're going to do with Carnival of Madness. We're just going to up it a little bit. It's going to be a little more specific with the video content and how we lay everything out. I always ask the audience every night, "If this is your first time see Shinedown, raise your hand?" 80 percent of the audience still raises their hand to this day. It shows me that the band is evolving. There are always fans finding out the band. I appreciate the fans that have been there from day one. I love and adore them. They allow us to do what we do and have these crazy dreams at night and go, "Hey, what if we put 157 moving lights on one side of the stage and we set the other side of the stage on fire?" [Laughs] If you can dream it up, the audience loves you enough to let you see if you can pull it off! It's very important for Carnival to be an epic experience for everybody. We're going to up it. That's what we do.
Have you played "Through the Ghost" live yet?
We have not. We've actually been asked if we're going to do that. "Call Me" from Amaryllis also gets asked for quite a bit. It wasn't a single, but it is asked for. There might be a possibility of adding a few songs.
Is that a special song?
It is a very personal song. It's autobiographical. Honestly, when I wrote the song, I was talking about a specific day in my life. I woke up, and I didn't recognize myself anymore. I had really let myself go physically and mentally. I had just hit a very rough place in my life. My girlfriend, who is a huge part of my life, picked me up and said something to me that changed everything. She was like, "Listen to me, I love you and I respect you. You have a lot of people around you that love you too, but you are letting yourself go down". The way she put it is was like this—I am a lot more focused, a lot healthier, and a lot more dangerous when I am clear-headed. She basically said, "It's time for you to get dangerous again. Get your head out of your ass, pick yourself up, get motivated, get healthy, get your life back, and be the man everybody knows you can be". "Through the Ghost" was a reflection of that. It's like, "The world will never know you like I do". It's like talking to yourself in the mirror. Personally, I don't think the world will know me like I know myself because I live with me day in and day out. Psychologically, I go through a lot of things. We're not all perfect, and it's not going to be roses all the time. You have to find a way to balance your life.
What records are you excited for this year?
I'm hearing rumors about the Tool record. I'm always going to be interested to see what those cats do. I'm looking forward to the Black Sabbath record. I was looking forward to the Volbeat record. I love the last album so much that I wore it out. I can't wait for the Five Finger Death Punch record.
Shinedown on Tour:
Sep 06 Allegan County Fair Allegan, MI
Sep 07 Verizon Wireless Amphitheater St Louis Maryland Heights, MO
Sep 08 Zoo Amphitheater Oklahoma City, OK
Sep 10 Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Denver, CO
Sep 12 Spokane Country Interstate Fair Spokane, WA
Sep 14 Discovery Park w/ Megadeth Sacramento, CA#
Sep 15 The Joint Las Vegas, NV
Sep 17 Century Link Arena Boise, ID**
Sep 18 Washington State Fair Seattle, WA
Sep 19 Los Angeles County Fair Pomona, CA**
**Not a Carnival of Madness show
#Part of Aftershock Festival
For more info and tickets, visit Shinedown.com/tour.
What's your favorite Shinedown song?