SHINEDOWN's BRENT SMITH On GEORGE FLOYD's Death: 'We Watched In Real Time A Man Get Murdered On Live Television'
February 21, 2022
SHINEDOWN frontman Brent Smith spoke to Lou Brutus of HardDrive Radio about the lyrical inspiration for the band's seventh album, "Planet Zero", which will be released on April 22 via Atlantic Records. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "In the most point-blank way I can say it, this album was written for the people by the people. And there's a lot to it. And I'm not even talking about just in this country when I say a statement like that. It's the freedoms of the individual from a global standpoint.
"We all know what we've been through in the last two years, entering year three of what is going on. But I think that the good thing is now people are starting to become more educated on things, they are starting to ask questions. But when I rewind and go back to June of 2020 [at the beginning of the songwriting process], when I left California, got to South Carolina with Eric [Bass, SHINEDOWN producer and bassist] and then the question became, 'Okay, what do we write about? How do we do it?' And we even talked at a certain point in time about having kind of the crystal-ball method, which is you're writing for three years from now. Because at the time, everything was in flux and it was intense. And when I got to South Carolina, that's immediately following that… That's when the height of protests had been happening, everything that had gone on with the injustice of what happened to George Floyd, but then how not just America but the world was rallying around this. And making the statement of… It comes down to a simple thing: what's right and wrong. And the wrong thing happened.
"That, still to this day, is hard to digest for me personally, because it's just gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to remember," Smith continued. "I remember when we watched in real time a man get murdered on live television. And it still sticks with me. And it's difficult, because you don't wanna believe that that kind of evil still exists.
"The thing is that when we go back to June, July of 2020, when we were asking that question to each other, like, 'Let's talk about after we come out of this. Let's talk about what it's gonna be like when we come out of it.' And we were trying to do that, but it just kept getting more and more intense," Brent added. "And it kept getting more and more intense with the virus. And it kept getting more intense with how people were viewing each other and how things were being presented in this glass box here from certain media outlets and how that was becoming very divisive and how clickbait became this new way of selling or getting your media out there."
This past December, Smith told 95.9 The Rat's Carl Craft that the lyrical themes covered on the new SHINEDOWN album were inspired at least in part by the ongoing pandemic and resulting impact on the community, residents and businesses.
"Going through everything that the world went through last year, and we wrote the majority of the record [in 2020], and [in 2021], we couldn't turn a blind eye to everything that was going on," he said. "And we talk on this record, and we express on this record — we're not trying to dance around certain subject matter. We're trying to be very honest and very real. In a lot of ways, this is a very humanitarian record."
Asked if SHINEDOWN will "piss people off" with some of the lyrical positions that are taken on the upcoming LP, Smith said: "Possibly. But the thing about it is I don't necessarily think it's about pissing people off; it's about understanding what we all went through but where we need to go now. I think that it gets lost. It's never supposed to be about… And I say this because I'm being very, very bold and very honest about it. This country, it's not called the Divided States Of America; it's called the United States Of America, and we want people to understand that that comes down to the people; that comes down to us. And us being able to not only work with each other, to grow with one another. But when you have certain people in power that do not have your best interests in mind, you have to stand up and make your voice heard. When I see what's going on in regards to people's freedom of speech and it being censored and people being pushed into a corner because of their opinions and what have you. You need to be able to have constructive conversations with each other in order to get actual action to happen for positive change."
SHINEDOWN's 2022 North American tour, "Shinedown Live In Concert", kicked off on January 26 in San Francisco.