Shinedown’s Brent Smith: ‘I Was Afraid I Couldn’t Write a Record Clean’ – Interview
Substance abuse is all too common amongst musicians. Despite Shinedown frontman Brent Smith's diligent healthy lifestyle, he wasn't always free of the jaws of addiction. In a new interview with Loudwire Nights, Smith admits he was always afraid he wouldn't be able to write a record while he was clean.
For more on his journey to sobriety and what makes Attention Attention the band's most personal album yet, read a transcription of the interview's highlights below and listen to the full audio above.
Regarding touring, Smith believes the only way musicians can see a career with longevity is to have an evolving schedule. "You have to be regimented," the singer begins. "The way that we are as a band, one of the things we do that's very specific is we ride the same bus still. We don't necessarily have to do that, but we want to because we appreciate each other, and we love and respect each other."
"And we're also very scheduled. Fitness is a big part of what we do, taking care of ourselves is essential. Having the road schedule that we take on each year, you gotta be in shape mentally and physically for it. I think people would be surprised how regimented it is on the road, it's almost military-esque, in a way," he continues.
Shinedown didn't always take their well-being so seriously, the vocalist confesses. Attention Attention is the first album that he was fully sober for, throughout both the writing and recording process as well as touring.
Smith first got clean in 2011 prior to the release of their studio album Amaryllis, and lost 70 pounds. "I'm never the guy that's been middle of the road, I'm all or nothing no matter what," he says. He adopted such a strict regimen of exercising and eating well while on the tour cycle for that album that he fell off the wagon once they finished in 2014 because he didn't know what to do with himself.
"I never walked into the studio and cut my vocals inebriated, but on downtime, between tracking and writing and things like that, I started drinking again. The really tough thing about it was, I had gotten a prescription for benzos. These things are just massively deadly," Smith acknowledges.
The band released Threat to Survival in 2015, and Smith attributes his self-destructive behaviors as the inspiration for the name of the album. He has been clean since March of 2016. "I was always afraid that I couldn't write a record clean, you gotta be messed up to write messed up stuff. But I didn't need it," he says of his sobriety.
"Monsters" is Shinedown's current single, which is sitting at No. 2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart. Smith explains that he calls psychological ailments - whether they are addiction or depression or anxiety - monsters, rather than demons. "In my head, they're not really demons, because demons are just that, they're demons," says Smith. "A monster can take different forms. A monster can change and be a chameleon."
Listen to the full interview above to hear about Smith's top tips for getting in shape and his beliefs about social media.
Shinedown are heading back out on tour later this month with Badflower, Dinosaur Pile-Up and Broken Hands. See the dates here.
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