In a new interview with Souled Out Media, SMILE EMPTY SOUL guitarist and lead singer Sean Danielsen was asked about the lyrical themes covered on the band's recently released "Black Pilled" album. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I always try and write about what I see. The old writing over and over and over again about relationships, to me, is just a little bit boring. I'd rather write about pertinent issues that are occurring around us and what I see in the world.
"The whole 'black-pilled' thing is just… I've been doing my own studies and research, I guess you could call it, for a long time — at least a decade. Trying to figure out how the world really operates, truly operates, who's really in control and what those people really want, which is, to me, a question everyone should be asking and everyone should be trying to get to the bottom of. Because what's presented to you on the news by our leaders, by pop culture, that's not the truth.
"I've done my own digging and gone down millions of rabbit holes over the last decade-plus, and I've been quote-unquote red-pilled for quite a while," he continued, referencing a common Internet term for those shifting their political views rightward. "And lately, it just seems to me like everything is spiraling so out of control that I feel like at one point I had a lot of hope, and that that hope has turned into just kind of letting go, just accepting that we just might be completely fucked. So the 'Black Pilled' title comes from that. The 'black pill' is kind of the doom take on our current situation. And I just thought it was kind of funny and fitting, so I went with that. I like to entertain myself with my own art at this point."
Sean added: "We live in times that don't look so good. Things look pretty bleak. I'd love for there to be something to come along and change the course that we're on, but I feel like that would take a lot of people digging and educating themselves to the things I'm talking about, and that takes a lot of initiative and hard work and time. And I just don't see people doing it at this point. I see the reactions I get online when I just say, 'Hey, medical freedom is important. You shouldn't let the government forcefully inject something that you don't understand into your body.' And then people hate me for it. At that point, I feel like some people are just too lost to even reason with.
"Are these people not realizing that if you allow the government to mandate an injection, they will not stop with just this situation. The coronavirus era that we're living in, it would not be the end of that; you're setting a precedent for the future. And Big Pharma has been wanting to mandate a vaccine regimen for adults for a long, long time. And Big Pharma and all the politicians and the people that are in control behind the scenes are all in bed together. You have to question the motives here. And these people that are all about — they are so full of fear, demanding that everybody gets the vaccine to protect them when, I mean, really, the vaccine should protect them if they believe in it. They aren't realizing that the pendulum swings when it comes to power. And what happens in a few years down the road when somebody's in power that you don't like, and they're trying to, or they are forcing you to get an injection that now you are questioning. These are the freedoms that we all need to come together to fight for; it's something that's really important no matter what side of the political aisle you're on or no matter who you are, what your background is — it doesn't matter. We should come together on the fact that we should be in control of what is put into our own bodies. And the fact that so many people have hate for me for saying that…
"I'm not trying to shove any politics down anybody's throat," Danielsen insisted. "I'm just saying freedom's important; we should stand for it. And people hate me for it. So that just, to me, is a bad sign for the future. It's pretty bleak. And so my lyrics — wrapping back around to your original question — the lyrics on this new 'Black Pilled' record do address these topics quite a bit. It's kind of a theme on the record."
This past August, Danielsen released a statement via social media in which he explained that he was canceling a few of SMILE EMPTY SOUL's previously booked shows because the concert venues in question were requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for fans. A number of bars and clubs have adopted the new protocol because the owners say the music industry and the artists demand a safe environment to perform. At the time, Sean said he was scrapping the dates because "I stand 100% for freedom, and medical freedom is especially important to me. I believe that you should get the vaccine if you want it, but should not have to if you don't want it."
More than 222 million Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and more than 193 million are fully vaccinated. More than half of the world population has also received a shot.
A vaccine passport is a physical or digital document that displays whether someone is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Critics say that such passports are a violation of privacy and an example of government overreach. Meanwhile, supporters point out that federal immigration law already requires that immigrants provide proof of vaccination status for several diseases.
There's plenty of precedent for having to show proof of vaccination whether for work or travel. For a century, nearly every school in the U.S. has been requiring proof of vaccinations for students to enroll. Dozens of countries across the globe require a "Yellow Fever Card" to enter their borders.
Proponents of vaccine passports, including several high-profile heavy metal musicians, have touted them as one of the most effective ways to reopen the nation's economy in a safe manner.
A number of hard rock and heavy metal artists have canceled shows or whole tours as the concert industry is rethinking its approach to live shows while the delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading nationwide.
While vaccines are exceptionally effective in preventing death and severe illness from the coronavirus and its known variants, some are far from foolproof in preventing infection altogether.
Most of the people with so-called "breakthrough" infections are asymptomatic.
According to Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), large-scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented most people from getting COVID-19. Research also provides growing evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) offer similar protection in real-world conditions. While these vaccines are effective, no vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time. For any vaccine, there are breakthrough cases.