Sonically, this record is on the attack. Something that’s a welcome return for Shinedown. What’s interesting about this album however is that as a listener is that it feels different lyrically. For the past couple of albums, the lyrical content for Shinedown has felt a little too mainstream. With this record, there aren’t statements to be made by the band, there are interpretations to be made by the listener. That makes it a more fulfilling listen than listening to the same message you see and hear thousands of people making on Twitter every single day.
“Really, the thing about it is that when you look at the record, it’s an album about not being afraid to fail,” said Smith when asked about what the new record was about. “People will paralyze themselves into a corner when they have certain things that they want to accomplish. If they haven’t done it before, they’ll psych themselves out. I don’t think people are defined by their failures, I think they’re defined by not giving up. This record is a journey from the beginning to the end. It’s a lot about myself, Erik, Zach, Barry, and the last five years of what we’ve done between records and what we’ve done on the road.”
Listening to their fans was a big deal for the band, but specifically there was a guy in Europe who helped solidify the direction that the band was going with the new record.
“When we were on tour with Iron Maiden, we were in the middle of the meet and greet, and there was a young man who wanted to talk to me afterwards.
‘I want to tell you that my family and myself really love your records. We love what you’ve done, but I know you’re in the middle of making an album right now. I have a request. Can you make it heavier? Can you punch me in the chest?’
“When someone says that it can be looked at in a lot of different ways; lyrically heavier, sonically heavier, or it can be percussively heavy. I knew what he was saying, and I took him back to the studio with us to show him some of what we were working on. That’s one of the reasons why there’s a tip of the hat and a wink to the audience with ‘Devil’ being the first song released from the album. Not only is it the beginning of the story, it’s to let everyone know that you asked for it to be heavier, and it’s about to get heavy. Lyrically, throughout the record it’s all coming from a very real place. It’s an emotional record,” added Smith.
Closing out our interview with Smith, we mentioned how much we appreciated what the band did with the new album. Getting Smith’s closing thoughts regarding the new record, he recalled an interview that he had read that Miles Davis did before he had passed away. The quote certainly feels pertinent to the new album.
“We were ready to make a record like this,” started Smith. “We had a lot of teachers and we kept our eyes and ears open when we were working with people. With Eric being the producer, there couldn’t be anybody else to do it. He also mixed the record. That was a big part of what we did. When bands use the same mixers, you end up sounding like everybody else. Eric mixed this record with his heart, and you can hear it. I read this article in February of last year with Miles Davis. The quote I got from that interview, is Miles said that if you’re going to tell a story, tell it with some attitude and that’s what ATTENTION ATTENTION is.” – aa