Some bands write songs about life on the road, others compose entire albums about their travels. After almost two years of nonstop touring, hard-rockers Shinedown are talking like their next disc will be focused on the pavement itself.
"A lot of [our fans] are like, 'What are you going to write about on the next one?' " singer Brent Smith said. "And I'm like, 'White lines going down the road, probably! Lots of trees ...' "
Smith's somewhat unhinged answer is understandable when you consider how much time the band has spent trekking in support of its 2003 debut album, Leave a Whisper. Shinedown have been touring for more 20 months, and they don't plan to stop until they hit the two-year mark.
Despite the exhaustion that naturally follows so much time on a tour bus, Shinedown remain wide-eyed and excited about performing every night.
"We're lucky to do it," said drummer Barry Kerch. "When you get on that stage [everything else] goes away. Every night's a different thing, and whether it's a great show or a not-so-great show, you're still lucky."
That optimism is hard-won for Shinedown, whose frontman has struggled with drugs, alcohol and a rough upbringing (see "Shinedown Can't Ignore Pain — And Don't Think Anyone Should").
"Sometimes you have to pull yourself out of a really dark place," said Smith. "You don't have anyone to blame but yourself if you don't."
Since forming in 2001, Shinedown — which also includes guitarist Jasin Todd and bassist Brad Stewart — have worked to pull themselves up from obscurity, and on this trek the band had the good fortune of touring with 3 Doors Down and Seether, and playing more than a dozen shows with Van Halen.
"We've done so many festivals that we've basically played with any band that's been out in the last five years," Smith said. "We've played with so many different bands that we've really been able to make a lot of friends."
More importantly, Shinedown have expanded their fanbase, and as they've returned to cities throughout their lengthy tour, the band has seen its crowds steadily grow.
"You'll hit a city four and five times over the course of 20 months," said Kerch, "and you see 100 people, 200 people, and then the place is sold out. And you're like, 'Wow, we accomplished something. People are listening in this city.' "
It's the small-town crowds, though, that they enjoy playing for the most.
"They don't get it as much," said Stewart. "They're hungry for it, so the whole town shows up and they just get everything they can possibly get out of the show. A lot of people in bigger cities are jaded and they're kind of standing there waiting like, 'Show me something.' "
After so much time away from the recording studio, the band is starting to think it might be time to show fans something else — like a sophomore album.
"When you think about it," said Smith, "there are some hardcore fans that have been there since day one that have been waiting on a new record for a long time. ...We've been trying so hard to get this record to the masses and the public, and it's not a greedy thing. We just want people to know about the band. But you do have to think about those 250-300,000 [albums] that you first sold, and those people have been waiting a long time. And you definitely don't want to disappoint them."
Shinedown tour dates, according to Atlantic Records:
- 1/13 - Odessa, TX @ Dos Amigos
- 1/14 - Lubbock, TX @ Depot Warehouse
- 1/15 - Amarillo, TX @ Aztec Music Hall
- 1/18 - Houston, TX @ The Meridian
- 1/19 - Baton Rouge, LA @ Varsity Theater
- 1/21 - Wichita, KS @ The Cotillion
- 1/22 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
- 1/23 - Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom
- 1/25 - Minneapolis, MN @ Quest Club
- 1/26 - Des Moines, IA @ Val Air Ballroom
- 1/28 - Saguet, IL @ Pop's
- 1/29 - Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note
- 1/30 - Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theatre
- 2/1 - Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge
- 2/2 - Jackson, MS @ Headliner's
- 2/4 - Jacksonville, FL @ Plush
- 2/5 - Ft. Myers, FL @ Ricichet's
- 2/7 - Greenville, SC @ The Handlebar
- 2/8 - Knoxville, TN @ Blue Cats
- 2/10 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
- 2/11 - Traverse City, MI @ Streeters
- 2/12 - Flint, MI @ Machine Stop
- 2/13 - Flint, MI @ Machine Stop