Shinedown have been one of the most successful rock bands since the turn of the century. They just wrapped up their ATTENTION ATTENTION album cycle, with added to their growing legacy that includes 10 million albums and 10 million singles worldwide, 14 platinum and gold singles, five platinum and gold albums, over 2.5 billion streams, and earlier this week they noticed their 16th number one single on active rock radio, which is tied for the most ever #1’s I the history of the chart.
Additionally, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shinedown raised over $300,000 by making available a t-shirt/song bundle that included a previously never released song, “Atlas Falls,” with all proceeds going to humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief – one of the largest providers of humanitarian medical resources in the world that is working to provide personal protective equipment tofrontline health workers and essential medications and supplies for patients.
Today, though, while things at the Shinedown camp quiet down before their next album cycle, band members Brent Smith and Zach Myers have announced a new duo project together, aptly titled Smith & Myers. Together, they recorded a collection of songs that are intimate, gorgeous, and powerful, showcasing a different side to these two, proving their versatility in the music world.
The first installment of new music comes in the form of their new album, Smith & Myers Volume 1, which will be released on October 9th via Atlantic Records. On the album, they reimagine 5 beloved and unexpected covers including Post Malone’s “Better Now,” INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart,” Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” and The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody,” as well as their own 5 originals. Brent & Zach touch on everything from certain personal topics largely unexplored in Shinedown’s catalogue, to immigration and children being ripped from their parents, to our social media culture, to commentary on racial injustice – focusing not on politics, but on right and wrong. The album was produced by frequent collaborator and Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter Dave Bassett in Malibu, recorded over 10 days before quarantine began – they finished the album remotely as everyone adapted to the new normal.
Alongside the album announcement, Smith & Myers have released two singles from the album — an original titled “Not Mad Enough” and their cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” The former was written by Smith immediately following George Floyd’s death, and lays bare through direct and urgent lyrics that handle the anger and emotions that rose to surface after watching the news in his hotel room, and the former of course was written 30 years ago but remains as relevant as ever.
Listen to their cover of “Rockin’ in the Free World” here and below you can find a stream of “Not Mad Enough”, and immediately after you can find our exclusive Q&A with Smith & Myers regarding the announcement!
Pre-order their new album here.
- Fans submitted their requests to you guys, but how did you settle on which ones to pick from there?
Brent: Honestly there were so many different songs from all kinds of genres – everything from country to rap to jazz to rock ‘n’ roll, soul, R&B, pop, you name it. When we broke it down, we just started to look at each one of those songs and how we could we make these songs our own. The big element was the lyrics. We wanted to find songs that were from other artists where we felt like the lyrics were really, really powerful, but maybe they weren’t as showcased in the artist’s original recording. We really wanted to make them our own, so we focused on the songs that we felt like we could enhance on not only the subject matter, but really throw some curveballs at people. You know the song, you know who that song is by, but when you hear our version it just takes on a whole different meaning. That’s really how we looked at it.
- How did you tackle the songs and make them uniquely your own for this project?
Zach: Taking on the cover songs for this and making them our own, I went to Brent in the beginning and I think we were both on the same page with breaking these songs down to where if we were just two guys with no band and we were writing these songs, how would we have written them? If you listen to “Never Tear Us Apart” which is an INXS song with a huge sound, and saxophone and keys and all these samples – what if just Brent and I would have written it? That’s kind of how I wanted to approach things. We didn’t want to reinvent them, but we did want to reimagine them, and it was imperative to us to do it that way. If we would have played these songs how they tried to play them on the record, I definitely think it would have been less genuine. We did it the way it was supposed to be done for this record in particular – breaking them down as if we were writing these huge songs as a duo.
- Favorite original song that you’re excited for fans to hear?
Zach: It’s a tie. “Not Mad Enough” because of the subject matter and the cultural climate when we wrote that. It’s about the George Floyd incident and what was happening in the world. On the flip side, I love “Bad At Love” because it was the first original song Smith & Myers had written, and it came about so quickly and so organically that I really enjoyed the writing process of it. It has this really cool vibe and it’s obviously a personal song, lyrically. I think Brent said some stuff in it about himself that he’s never said before or maybe never non-metaphorically said before about himself and I think there’s some stuff that I wrote about me too. I have never heard Brent sing a song like that, and I think it’s so open and autobiographical about him. It’s a story song but as with any story song, there are layers of who you are somewhere underneath and I just think on this song they’re a little less underneath about Brent than anything we’ve written before.
- Tell us about how “Not Mad Enough” came to be and the emotion behind it?
Brent: “Not Mad Enough” came to be because of George Floyd and like the rest of the United States and this nation and the rest of the world, I was in shock, mortified, appalled, stunned, and just completely heartbroken not only for this man, George Floyd, but his family. Really the song came very, very quickly because we were in the studio working on the Smith & Myers record and when I went back to my hotel room one night, the news outlets were showing the video of this man being murdered in high definition on national news. I never turn the television on when I am in hotel rooms, but for whatever reason that night I came in and the first thing I did was turn on the TV and there before me I watched a man lose his life. The song came to me in a flood and wrote itself in a lot of ways. I just wish a man didn’t have to die for this song to have been written. It’s a tough thing to talk about, to be honest with you. I wish he was alive. I wish he could go home to his daughter and his family. I wish he was still here, but he’s not and we are and what are we truly gonna do about that? And also, how are we gonna move forward and be stronger together? I was raised to love everyone equally, didn’t matter their age, gender, ethnicity, background, religion. It was always about the person, it was always respecting the person and listening to the individual. That’s how I was raised. And we’ve got to get back to that. I understand that the world we’re in right now is very confusing at this moment in time and very scary for a lot of people, but we have to move forward. We have to rise above and we have to unite. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, people are at their best when they need each other and we need each other right now. I just wish that George Floyd was still alive and he was with his family. But myself and Zach, and I think a lot of people in the world, we’re gonna do our part out of respect ultimately to make sure that his memory is celebrated and that we all are able to change for the better and have a stronger future together.
- Not Mad Enough
- Rockin’ In The Free World
- The Weight of It All
- Better Now
- Never Tear Us Apart
- Coast To Coast
- Since You Were Mine
- Unchained Melody