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Rockin' at the arena

Feb. 07, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Shinedown lead singer Brent Smith has "Your Pain Is A Gift" tattooed on his left hand.

"I've always told people that I write songs because it's cheaper than therapy," Smith said in all seriousness over the phone from his home in Los Angeles.

Since forming in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2001, the hard rock band, now with 17 No. 1 rock radio singles and four studio albums under its belt, has indeed benefited from any anguish the 35-year old has channeled to spin into certified gold or platinum records.

Smith said work never stops in Shinedown, be it songwriting or touring. For him, that's a good thing, and the overarching reason for the band's success.

"We headed to Europe in October of last year, got off the road in November, and we've just been setting up touring," he said. "Now it's 2013 and it's time to get this show on the road."

Shinedown will perform at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena on Saturday, Feb. 9, as part of the second leg of its 2013 U.S. tour, with co-headl Three Days Grace, itself breaking in a new singer, and P.O.D. The band released "I'll Follow You," the fourth single from its 2012 record, "Amaryllis," (which topped the Billboard Hard Rock, Rock and Alternative charts in 2012) to radio this week.

Saying he was "super, super stoked," to get back out on the road, Smith said the band is continually seeking to top what it's done before.

"This is the biggest production that we've ever put together as a band, setting up for this tour," he said. "We're ready to go and we hope everyone's ready for us as well."

In mid-January, as part of the constant process of moving Shinedown forward, Smith and lead guitarist Zach Myers played an acoustic set as part of the "Hometown Throwdown" in Myers' hometown of Memphis, Tenn. Smith, a Knoxville native, noted that all those hit singles the band has start out on the acoustic, and said playing acoustic sets are a fun challenge.

"It's always a lot more intimate, and a lot more scary to do it like that," he said laughing. "We've played in front of one person, and we've played in front of one hundred thousand people. But being in a very, very small room in the middle of Memphis, with all of that heritage, it's one of those elements where, there's 1,200 people in front of you, and they're right up on the stage, and you're kind of under a microscope.

"It really pushes you to a level of, whether or not you really are a songwriter, and you deserve to be on that stage, let alone any other stage," he added. "But the fans always speak, and they spoke very, very loudly that night. It was actually hard for me to even sing the set because the audience sang it so loud I couldn't even hear myself. That's always a plus."

Another plus is just living healthy lifestyles on and off the road. No clichéd rock star partying like you hear about. Smith, who admittedly kicked a bad drug problem, and lost roughly 70 pounds in recent years, said Shinedown's fans deserve better.

"When we're on the road, we're working," he said. "I think a lot of people have the misconception that when you're on the road it's a huge party, day in and day out. That's just not the case. We're a business, and we're an organization, and we're a machine.

"The real goal is working smarter and learning how to work smarter on the road. Sometimes, you don't have to play four months straight before you go home. You want to make sure that you're rested, and that you're healthy to be able to give the audience the show that they deserve."

This leg of its 2013 U.S. tour will see Shinedown play 32 shows between Feb. 1 and March 30, a busy schedule indeed.

"As far as the separation between the time on the road and time at home, you're still working for the same goal, which is to heighten who Shinedown is. And I'm only talking on a personal level, because I eat, breathe, and live everything that is Shinedown. But they are two totally different animals."

Smith, summing up, said he attributes Shinedown's success to hard work.

"That's why we've had the longevity that we've had up until now, and why we'll continue to keep going further," he said. "We're never going to be complacent, we're always going to try to outdo what we've already done. We've already proven that we can work really, really hard, and we're going to continue to do that our entire career as long as the fans give us a career.

"Sometimes, in this business, you will see someone else's success, and, there's this kind of evil jealousy that happens sometimes to people. And you have to squash that really, really early. Because the reality is, whoever is at the top of their game, a lot of times they worked for it. And it takes a lot of work to stay at that level."

Hard work and honest songs; a simple formula, really.

"People connect with this band, because they know that it's honest," he said. "I think people see that about the band. Everything we talk about is something we've been through. I don't think you could make it up. It has to be real.

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