Interview: Shinedown Vocalist Inspired by Chris Cornell, Otis Redding

Shinedown vocalist Brent Smith and guitarist Zach Myers at the Carvinal of Madness Tour, 2010. Photo by Audio Ink Radio.

Shinedown frontman Brent Smith counts Chris Cornell, Otis Redding as influences

Poised with guitars, drumsticks and fists of might, Shinedown got together in the early ’00s in Jacksonville, Fl. With post-grunge exploding, Shinedown’s sound fit perfectly, bringing chunky guitars, melodic vocal lines and Alice In Chains-style layered harmonies.

Frontman Brent Smith always knew he wanted to be a singer.

“When I was 14 years old, my father gave me a tape that changed my life: Otis Redding,” he said. “Lots of people are surprised when they learn that my biggest influences are Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald.

“After I started listening to that, I got more into rock, like The Doors, Metallica, Soundgarden. Chris Cornell is a huge influence.”

Hit-makers

Smith knows how to make a hard rock song. After all, Shinedown has scored a dozen hits since 2003: “Second Chance,” “Fly from the Inside,” “Devour,” “Save Me,” “The Sound of Madness” and, most recently, 2011’s “Diamond Eyes.”

Like many musicians, he writes from a very personal place. Take the track, “Save Me.”

“‘Save Me’ is a song about how people will take on everyone else’s problems and issues,” he said. “When they put that much pressure on themselves, they’re going to hit a wall eventually. A person in my life saw me go through the darkest times in life. They picked me up. Eventually they had that dark time and I had to pick them up.”

‘Diamond Eyes’

Shinedown teamed up with uber-rock producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Kid Rock, Switchfoot, Goo Goo Dolls) for 2008’s, Sound of Madness. The album turned out to be the band’s most successful, spawning rock hits, “Second Chance,” and, “If You Only Know,” plus going platinum.

When Smith thinks about his journey with Shinedown, what really stands out are the hardcore fans.

“They’ve been with us from day one,” he said. “Us and Them [the band’s 2006 CD] was written about our fans. The title was a ‘thank you’ to all of them, because when you’re on the road for years, you meet a lot of people with inspiring stories.”

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