They are one of the biggest selling mainstream rock acts America has seen in recent years.
And yet Shinedown still remain a mystery to the majority of music fans on this side of The Pond.
Quite capable of knocking Nickelback off their perch and the next arena band in waiting, the feisty Floridians are on a mission to carry their metal message abroad.
rushonrock has been backing Shinedown for months but with debut UK album The Sound Of Madness out now what better time to catch up with band’s aptly-named bass player, Eric Bass?
rushonrock: You’ve been going for eight years now but you’re still relatively unknown in the UK. Why is that?
Eric Bass: First of all let me say what an absolute honour it has been to finally get to play in the UK! We never really got the chance to tour over there before now and I think that really hurt us. We are and always will be a ‘grass roots’ kind of band. We tour relentlessly and have a very close relationship with our fans. We like to interact with them on stage and off. So, the fact that we haven’t gotten that chance in Britain is what I think has kept us very much unknown. Not to mention the fact that The Sound of Madness is the first of our records that has really ever gotten any exposure in Europe.
rushonrock: Why is now the right time to bring Shinedown to the British masses?
EB: We feel that The Sound of Madness is the strongest record that Shinedown has ever put out. The heavy tracks are the heaviest the band has ever done, and the ballads are some of the most epic sounding songs we’ve done. We are also clean and sober now. We do still enjoy our beer but the hard drugs and pills are gone. The band is simply at its strongest point ever. What better time to introduce ourselves than now!
rushonrock: The Sound Of Madness has been available in the US for the best part of a year now so are you still enthusiastic about pushing the record here?
EB: Absolutely, without a doubt! Like I said before, we tour non-stop. The fact that we can bring our sound to a brand new fan base is the best feeling in the world. The shows that we did in there in January have given us some of our most fond memories to date. Seeing new faces in the crowd, and listening to those individuals singing your songs back to you is an indescribable feeling. The day that this band is not enthusiastic is the day that we are all dead. I can promise you that!
rushonrock: What is it like living in two different eras? You’re constantly playing catch up outside the US but back home fans will be demanding the follow-up to SOM – how do you cope?
EB: I guess we don’t really see it that way. We are going to tour on this record until the wheels fall off of the bus! Making The Sound of Madness was an 18 month process. Hopefully our US fans will see that the wait was worth it and be patient with us in the future. That will give us time to finish our touring cycle in Europe before starting on the next record. We are demoing songs out here on the road all the time though. Shinedown is always looking to the future. That’s what drives us. Being in demand is the best case scenario I feel!
rushonrock: Similarly you’re an arena band back home and still a club size band in Britain. Is it hard to adjust or do you enjoy going back to basics?
EB: We absolutely love it! The feeling that you get playing in a hot, sweaty club is great. The thing is, I didn’t realise how much I missed it until we got over to the UK and did those first few dates. We were playing at King Tut’s in Glasgow and there was no barricade. I had a fan down front who was hitting some of my foot pedals for me! We could touch the fans and they got our sweat all over them. It was an amazing show! I wouldn’t have traded that show for 20 arena shows!
rushonrock: When you started out in 2001 what did you hope to achieve from being in Shinedown?
EB: I don’t think Shinedown’s goals are any different than any other band’s. We want to reach as many people as we can through our music. We want to help people, and at the same time enjoy ourselves. I personally want to entertain people and maybe just for a night they can forget about everything else in their lives and have a great time.
rushonrock: Why should British fans who don’t know about Shinedown rush out and buy the record this month?
EB: I think that The Sound of Madness is a great record. I am a music fan. I like buying an album that you can put on and listen to from front to back and not get tired of it. One that you love so much that you never skip a song. I would like to think that we have come close to doing that. And as a music fan I am proud of it.
rushonrock: Are there any British bands who have been an influence on your music or who might still be influencing you today?
EB: Funny you should ask. Muse is my favorite band and have been since I bought Origin of Symmetry years ago. I think Absolution is one of the best records front to back that I have ever heard. So, they are a huge influence on me. I also have a record by a band called Athlete. The album is called Vehicles and Animals. I love that CD! Then there are the ones you would expect like Radiohead and Coldplay. Great bands, all of them.
rushonrock: When you come to the UK what do you look forward to most?
EB: My ancestors are from England so I feel like I’m home a bit when I’m there. Barry and I love finding a good pub and trying out the different beers as well. We are both huge beer drinkers. Last but not least we love seeing new fans at the shows. They are the reason why we are able to do what we do!
rushonrock: How is the global credit crunch affecting you?
EB: When it comes down to it, right now, it’s the difference between making money and breaking even. We aren’t going to scale back our shows because of money. We choose to bring a big rock show to the people. They pay their hard earned money to see us play, and we’re not going to let them down. So, because of that, we take a huge hit right now. I feel in my gut that it will get better though. It has to. The unfortunate side is that no one is immune to it. Everyone the world over just needs to remember that we are all feeling it and we all have to unite and help each other through it. Shinedown isn’t going to let it stop us though!