These are the best of times for Shinedown, and especially for singer Brent Smith and drummer Barry Kerch, the two musicians who have been there since the very beginning.

Kerch says that while there were some tumultuous times early in their career, he feels great to still being around to be making music with his longtime friend. Kerch says it’s his even-keeled personality that has led to his longevity with the group.

He tells Alternative Addiction, “I’m a pretty solid, stable person. I’m basically the rock of this band and I’ve been able to deal with all the craziness that’s gone on over the years. I help and have helped keep [Brent Smith] somewhat sane. He’s the best he’s ever been right now, but he’ll admit, and he’s been quite open about it, that he’s battled with massive addictions.”

Kerch says his friendship with Smith is solid, and he knows the singer would give him support if he were ever in the same situation. That being said, the drummer sates, “I’ve got a stable rather than an addictive personality and I don’t do drugs or drink so I could support him.”

The drummer says Smith is on a serious health kick and he’s more about working out, eating chicken and vegetables, and drinking water at the moment. The only vice that the singer still has is coffee. As Shinedown hits the road, Kerch says fans will notice a leaner Brent Smith. “He looked in the mirror one day and just said, ‘Hey! I can’t be a frontman and look like this,’ reveals Kerch of Smith’s decision to get in shape.

And that health kick is paying dividends in the live performance. “He can breathe now,” says Kerch. “He can move around the stage now and he doesn’t just stand there trying to make it through a set. Not only that but it’s improved him as a person and as a result Shinedown is the strongest that it’s ever been in 10 years.”

To read Kerch’s full interview, check out