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Tag Archives: Carnival of Madness
Shinedown just brings it with every new record they bring to their audiences. Their rocking sound throws us newer, bigger energy and different looks that evolves each of their members as musicians. They have been touring on their most recent album Amaryllis for the last two years and have just started their Carnival of Madness tour to complete touring on the record. It is their biggest, brightest, loudest, and most amazing tour they have put together. Amy was able to catch up with bass player Eric Bass to discuss life on tour and the close bond the band has even after all these years. To see a phenomenal night of music, Shinedown will be tearing up the PNC Pavilion at Riverbend on Saturday night at the Carnival of Madness with Papa Roach, In This Moment, and Skillet.
Amy: You guys have really been successful with the last couple albums. You have been on the Billboard charts for over two consecutive years. Did you ever expect that would happen and how do you feel?
Eric: Did I ever expect it? I always hoped it would happen I guess. You work really hard. We have this thing we say, keep your head down, stay humble, and move forward. We are blown away by the success. To be honest with you, if you had told the 17 year old me this was what was going to be happening, he’d be ecstatic. I can’t say that I expected it to happen. We wanted it to happen. We worked really hard for it. We are not surprised I guess you could say because of the hard work. It is a true blessing to be able to do what we do and have the success we have had.
Amy: The band has been touring constantly. How do you make time to write new songs on the road?
Eric: We actually don’t write on the road. We like to separate the two. We go home when we are done with this tour. We will lock ourselves away for a year and write as many songs as we can. Then, when we are done with that, we will go out and tour again and complete the process. We wrote “Diamond Eyes” on tour because it was for a movie soundtrack. That was the first experience we had with that. It worked out and everything went well with it. We work really hard when we are on tour. We are a go-go-go all day long band with interviews, meet and greets and that sort of thing. So there is really not a lot of time to get in and be creative like that. We prefer to separate the two and that creates the situation where each record is pretty different from the others because they are different times and you are not overlapping time periods. You are separating into blocks. It makes the records really interesting.
Amy: I have photographed you on your last couple tours. Your shows have grown larger and larger with more pyro and turned into huge Rock shows. How did you guys prepare for Carnival of Madness?
Eric: Well we started talking about it two or three months ago and we said, “It’s not going to be small.” That was the whole thing. We were going to make it as big as we could possibly make it. We are bringing our whole sound system with us. We are bringing our own lights. We are bringing our own pyro. We basically have carnival performers that are out with us. It is just a conscious, concerted effort to, every time, step your game up. We have sort of become known for that when we do these big headlining runs. We don’t want to disappoint anybody. People paid good money and want to see a great Rock show and that’s what they are going to get.
Eric: We actually do, yes. It’s going to be fun. I think everybody is going to really enjoy the show.
Amy: The first show was this weekend. How is it going so far?
Eric: We are one down. We have the second one tonight. The first one was great. Internally, we found a couple things we could do differently, do a little bit better. We are definitely going to do that. The first show was great. The crowd was very receptive. It was awesome. I think tonight is going to be even better. Then the Cincinnati show, by that time, we will be well-oiled machines and veterans.
Amy: Shinedown has a huge social media presence. Why is it important for you guys to stay connected to your fans in that way?
Eric: Because the fans are the reason we get to do what we do. We never forget that. The fans are the boss, the most important thing. The fans buy the tickets, they buy the records. I have to say and it’s going to sound cliché but it’s not meant to be, we have the best fans. Our fans are ridiculously loyal. We like to keep up with them. We actually know, you would be surprised how many fans we know. I’ll see fans at meet and greets that I will know from Twitter. We keep up with them and we know what’s going on. We like to hear what they have to say. They are going to let us know if something is not right. They will let us know if they don’t like something, if they like something. It’s a great tool to utilize as well. You get instant feedback on what you are doing.
Eric: It’s kind of funny. I say all my hobbies become my jobs. I produce records. I do a lot of songwriting. I engineer, mix records. A lot of my hobbies have become my job. I am a golfer. I enjoy golf a lot. More recently, I have started building model airplanes. I needed a quiet hobby I can sit in my house and do. It is something I have found solace in. It may be a little geeky, a little nerdy but it is fun.
Amy: You actually co-wrote “I’ll Follow You” correct?
Amy: I love that song. I know it is the new single and it is out, but what is the story behind the song?
Eric: The story of the song is pretty interesting. The piano part I had for a couple years. I had been playing it in sound checks. We don’t write on the road but if it’s something someone in the band hears, “Hey remember that. Record that.” We are pretty in tune with that sort of stuff. We were out on our acoustic tour that we did on the end of our last record cycle with Will Hoge, a great singer-songwriter from Nashville. Nobody had really said anything about the piano thing I had, so I thought maybe it will be good for Will. So I hit him up and said on the next day off I want to show you this piano piece I have got and we can write a song. He gave me his number and said to give him a call. I gave him a call the day of, I called him like three times, never went to voicemail, never picked up. The next day, I was like, “I called you three times.” He said, “It never came through. I don’t know what happened.” That day at soundcheck, Brent was like, “What’s that thing you are playing?” I was like, “Man, I have been playing it for three years.” He finally woke up to it. We actually had the recording that day at sound check kind of going through the song. Some of the lyrics are actually in there from that first time we ever played it through, he and I. If you fast forward six months when we finally wrote it, finally sat down and wrote the song, it happened seamlessly. We wrote it in like two hours, the whole thing was done. Lyrically, it is about the person in your life who is your best friend, your spouse or your girlfriend, your boyfriend, or someone really close to you, that person you will always be there for and they will always be there for you.
Amy: The band took a different turn on the latest album playing with the full orchestra. How did that concept come about?
Eric: We talked about how Madness had a lot of string sections stuff. We just talked while we were writing the record about how to make this record a little bigger and a little more grand. That was the first thing that came up, we need to do something with horns and full orchestra, rather than just string sections. It was fun. It was a blast to be in there to watch that stuff be recorded, watching your vision come to life was amazing. There is very little that we do that is not a conscious decision. We kind of see what we want to do next. We were talking about our next record the other day on the bus. We will probably start working on that next year. We already kind of got an idea for it of what we want it to be. It is pretty phenomenal to have this type and level of instruments on something you have worked on. You pinch yourself every once in a while because it’s so cool.
Amy: You guys have been together for some time. Are you all still friends? Do you still hang out?
Eric: It’s pretty funny we love each other so much. We all still ride the same bus even though we don’t have to. We all four of us camp out in the same place. We work out together every day. We eat together every day. We really are brothers. We have our moments of getting agitated with each other and angry with each other. There is something different that I don’t see in a lot of bands we travel with. There are some but they are few and far between. You get a group of people that genuinely like each other and genuinely get along. I can count on one hand the times I have been up in someone’s face in my band, that I have been that angry with someone. We just don’t get like that. We talk things out. If there is a problem, we sit down and we are very honest with each other. We don’t harbor any animosity toward each other for anything. “I’ll Follow You” is out right now and is a song Brent and I wrote. Everybody in the band is happy as hell about that because it is doing well. “Bully” is a song Brent and Zach wrote, and I was happy as hell that was doing well. A lot of people get caught up in the unimportant stuff like who makes more money or what’s going on with this or who’s more popular in the band. We don’t care about that stuff. It’s about the band, the entire group. We all really care about each other. We hang out when we aren’t on tour. It is really a blessing.
Amy: It is amazing you guys spend so much time together and it is still like that. There aren’t many people I could spend 24 hours a day with?
Eric: We see each other more than we see our wives and girlfriends and our families. We are married. We have to get along. There is no way around it. You can tell on stage. We smile at each other on stage. We joke around. We throw picks at each other. It’s genuine. It’s not an act. You can tell bands on stage that don’t like each other, and you can definitely tell bands on stage that do and we are one of those bands that really like each other.
Black Stone Cherry is a Kentucky based rock band that takes pride in their closeness. They are still just four guys rocking out living their dream. They have just released their third studio album Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea which reached the top 30 in the Billboard 200. They are currently on the Carnival of Madness tour with Alter Bridge, Theory of a Deadman, and Emphatic.
Amy spoke with lead singer Chris Robertson. The two spoke very in depth about the band and the personal issues he has dealt with over the past few years. They will be playing in Dayton at X-Fest on September 18th.
Amy: Let’s talk about the new album Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.
Chris: Yes. It came out May 31st.
Amy: I love it.
Chris: Thank you. We did some stuff different this time. We wrote with some outside writers. We recorded it in Los Angeles which was a big thing for us because we recorded the first album back home in Glasgow, Kentucky which is about 15 miles from where I live. The second record we did in Nashville, Tennessee. On this one, we were like, hell with it, let’s just go to LA and do this one. The weather is definitely nicer in Southern California in December and January than it is in Kentucky.
Amy: Where did the name come from? It’s kind of a crazy name for an album.
Chris: Ben was researching online trying to find album titles. We had kind of hit a wall. Ben said, “What if we call it The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” I was like, “That’s awesome. Where did you find it?” He said, “Well it’s actually an old saying called between the devil and the deep blue sea that dates back many years.” We were like, “Hell yeah. It works and we like it.” It’s kind of like the band name. We got it off of a cigar box. If things work, they just work.
Amy: I have liked your music for a long time. I am from Tennessee and you remind me of people that I went to school with and was actually friends with. You seem very most normal and down to earth as I have watched past interview footage.
Chris: We come from a town 1800 people at the most. We are just simple, southern people. There is no other way around it.
Amy: Do you still live there?
Chris: Yes. The house I live in now is literally 400 yards from the last house I lived in when my Dad moved to Greensburg. The house I bought, I didn’t know it at the time, my dad, my grandpa, and my grandpa’s father, who passed before I was born, all three worked on the brick work of the house that I live in that was built in 1974. I won’t live anywhere but there.
Amy: Not moving to L.A. anytime soon?
Chris: If I was going to have a house anywhere other than Kentucky, I would want a place over in England, like a vacation home in England. I love it over there.
Amy: It’s funny because I just interviewed Cage the Elephant again and they love England too. They are Bowling Green boys and they also love England. Why?
Chris: There is something about England, the entire UK, Scotland, Ireland, Wales.
Amy: They drink a lot.
Chris: They drink a lot. It is like a breath of fresh air when you are in a rock band and you struggle in the states and you go over there and things happen for you. Same thing happened with Cage the Elephant, Kings of Leon, us. Even Alter Bridge does considerably better over in the UK and Europe in general. We are lucky to get to do what we do and that is the one place that we are the most successful. If I was going to get a place it would be in Scotland, honestly, out in the countryside just because it is beautiful. People speak English. It is kind of slurred and drunken but it is awesome.
Amy: You guys have been together for ten years coming up. Where do you see yourself in ten more years?
Chris: I have no idea. We started the band on my 16th birthday. We celebrated my 26th birthday on June 4th. We started the band on June 4th, 2001. I’m getting married in December, been with the same girl that I started dating the day we formed the band June 4th, 2001.
Amy: The same day you made the band?
Chris: She called me the morning of my birthday and she said, “I couldn’t ask you out until you were 16. Will you be my boyfriend?” I was like “Hell yeah!” So ten years later, we are getting married in December and the band is doing better than it has ever been.
I am currently overcoming this severe depression and anxiety thing that I have dealt with since I was about 15 years old and have been really dealing with it hard core for about three and a half years right before we released the second record and it finally got the best of me. I never drank much before that but now the two medications I am taking for the depression will not allow me to drink anymore. I wake up with a smile on my face every morning now that I have been on the medications for about three months. I would rather take that medication the rest of my life and not be able to drink and be happy. I am an open person about this stuff because I am like every other person who deals with internal issues. The only difference is that I play music for a living instead of doing what you do working for a paper, doing photos, or working in a factory, or going into the army. I’m a human and a lot of people are afraid to open up. I remember saying because I have friends that are in very successful bands that have dealt with addiction and depression and stuff and I go, ‘What do they have to be depressed about?” and then it hit me. I actually had a nervous breakdown a couple months back. We were in Europe and we had a week of press scheduled and I had to cancel all that and come home until my medicine started working and we came back out for this tour. You have to take every day as it comes.
Amy: So you are feeling better now?
Chris: Yeah, I am feeling better now. The best thing is I spoke openly about it on stage in England when I first started taking my medication. We had always done meet and greets at the end of the night. We headlined the state fair here last year. We went out and sat for two and a half or three hours and signed for every single person that wanted something signed and I can’t do it anymore. I can’t, with the anxiety and everything, I can’t stand big crowds of people. I told the people when we were in England doing headlining shows, I said “I hope you understand. I want to do it but I just can’t do it anymore.” The outpour and the ovation I got from those people was very emotional to me because they were happy that I talked about it and there were people that came to the back of the bus at the end of the night and before they would ask me to sign anything or take a picture, they would thank me for talking about it on stage because they were going through the same thing and were afraid to get help. I told them when I was on stage that I am going through this and I went to a doctor and got medication and it is one of those things that you just can’t beat on your own. You can’t trick your own mind. Your mind controls you no matter what it is. A lot of people would look at me and go, “What in the hell does this guy have to be depressed about?”
Amy: You do write songs like “Blame it on the Boom Boom” which are very “happy” songs.
Chris: Yeah and we did. We wrote that and “White Trash Millionaire” and “Let Me See You Shake” which are very happy songs. Then you have “In My Blood” which was the last song written for the album and I think it was about all this stuff starting to pour out of me. We all four write the songs together. I think that song was a lot of this starting to come out of me. But the best reward I have gotten from going through all this is I have actually had people send letters from England to venues that we are playing thanking me for talking about it. I had one letter from a 55 year old lady from England telling me that her and her husband came to see us play. She wrote a two page letter on the inside of a card thanking me for talking about my depression and anxiety issues because it inspired her to get help for hers. It’s like, I am 26 years old and I have the world in front of me and sometimes it takes hitting a low point, I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my life. It had gotten extremely, extremely bad. The thing is, the three guy I share my passion with Ben, John Fred, and John and our tour manager Joe, our guitar tech Cougie, our merch guy, and our sound guy Brandon are seven of the best people I have ever met in my life and they really helped me through all of it. My fiancé was also a big help because she went through it when she was 18.
It is one of those things that run in my family with manic depression. I went to a doctor and I went to a psychiatrist and talked and he put me on some medication and it works. I would wake up and for the longest time I couldn’t even do interviews. I couldn’t sit and talk to people. I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with someone I didn’t know. I have gotten over that and I am doing better. I am enjoying playing music again. Anybody that reads what I have to say, if anything, to hell with the music, if you have got a problem, don’t be afraid to go to a doctor and get some help. I had to do it. I’ve never been one to really want to go to a doctor for anything. I’ve always been the guy that goes, “Hell, I can fix it myself.” I finally realized that you can’t fix everything yourself and sometimes people need help and I had to get help. I may not be here if I had not gotten help. I am happy to say that I love my life again. It took three months of being on medicine to get to where I can say that but I do. I love my life, I love what I do. I love the opportunity to talk and do interviews and play concerts and meet people and stuff like that. I still can’t go sit for two hours at a merch table but anybody that wants stuff signed, they can come back to the bus, I’ll be more than happy to come off and sign whatever you have and that’s how all four of us are. We are human beings just like anybody else. People portray people in bands as this super thing and we are not. Nobody is. I don’t care if it is Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, Chad Kroeger from Nickelback, or if it is Chris Robinson from Black Stone Cherry, that’s three levels, a newer band like us, the biggest rock band going right now in Nickelback, and one of the most legendary bands of all time, each person in that band is a person. Just because they get to play guitar and sing doesn’t mean they are any better than anybody else and they don’t deal with the same problems.
Amy: What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Chris: That’s a hard one because I am 26 years old and have been fortunate enough to travel the world many, many times playing music for countries that English is not the primary language and get to hear people sing the songs I was a part of. I guess the best advice I’ve ever been given was follow your heart because whatever is inside your heart is what you are supposed to do. I had a lot of people tell me I should cut my hair and get a job and everything and not worry about music. I didn’t graduate high school the way most people do. I needed two credits at the end of my senior year and I took the course requirement test and passed them both and the principal was still like, “I’m still not going to give it to you.” So I ended up doing a program where I got an actual diploma from the high school. But you just have to follow your heart no matter what.
Amy: You said you started this at 16 right?
Chris: I started playing guitar when I was 13 and we started this band at 16.
Amy: You were all friends forever right?
Chris: Me and John Fred have known each other since we were four years old. I have known him for 22 years. We are best friends. The three guys that I am in a band with are not my friends, they are my fucking brothers. They are my brothers just as much as my little brother is. I have known John Fred for 22 years and my brother is 20 years old. I have two younger siblings. I am the only guy in the band with younger siblings. John Fred is an only child. John has older siblings and Ben has an older sister. There is a pretty good age gap between all of us and our siblings. I am six years older than my brother and ten years older than my sister. The four of us found that common connection that we are closer together in age and from day one we have been open with each other. We said we are going to cut all this bullshit and there is not going to be any of this talking behind each other’s backs. If we have a problem, we say it to each other. Our bus, people make fun of us and call it the Bible bus because we are not partying like most people. The bus is not a party bus, it is our home. That is where we live. That is where I wake up, that is where I go to bed. That is my home.
Chris: Oh yeah. All the time. Our merch guy bought a little mouse at a pet store like for a cat to play with and stuck it in Ben’s shoe that he wears on stage. He goes and puts his hand in his shoe to make sure nothing is in it and goes, “What the fuck!” and drops it and screams at the top of his lungs. It was hilarious. We do stuff like that all the time because we are brothers. Even the crew guys are guys we went to high school with. It is a very family-based organization much like Bon Jovi really. He has run his business like a family his whole life. We have learned a lot from John Fred’s family. His Dad and uncle were in the Kentucky Headhunters. We learned a lot from them because there band in 1989 to 1991 was the biggest thing in the world as far as country music goes and their singer leaves and it leaves everything in shambles. I was around for all of that because we were best friends. We watched the demise of that and how they had to re-create themselves and had to come back and tour more.
Amy: You don’t want to ever have to do that?
Chris: We won’t do that. I don’t see one of us leaving this band ever and if ever it did, it wouldn’t be Black Stone Cherry anymore. It has been the four of us for ten year. Ten years from now, I know you asked earlier, I have no idea but I guarantee if you see Black Stone Cherry ten years from now, it is going to be the same four guys.
Amy: You guys also tour with these bands a lot. You have toured with Alter Bridge and Adelitas Way. It has got to be more comfortable for you to be on a tour like this where you know all the guys.
Chris: We have toured with Theory of a Deadman and Alter Bridge quite a bit. Adelitas Way and Emphatic, this is the first tour with them. But the Alter bridge guys are great. I was kind of shocked at how nice they are. You have to think Mark, Scott, and Brian were Creed, the biggest band. When I was in high school, that was the band, 36 million records off three albums.
Amy: But Myles has the voice of an angel so I like them better than Scott in Creed.
Chris: Yeah. I’m a bigger Alter Bridge fan than a Creed fan as well. Growing up as a teenager in middle school and high school, Creed was the thing. I got to go jam with Mark two days ago, we sat down and played guitar together for an hour and a half and I am like, “That’s the fucking guy that was in Creed.” I wanted to be in his band in high school. I wanted to play with him forever. Now he says, “Bring your guitar to the dressing room and we’ll jam.” I talked to Myles for about 45 minutes the other day. It was really the first time we had gotten to stand and talk together. He is one of the most genuine, down to earth people you will meet in your life. He is so quiet, so soft spoken but the thing I like about all four of those guys, when you are talking to them you can tell they are listening.
Amy: I find that some of the biggest bands are the nicest.
Chris: They are. They really are. We are not a big band by any means but we are considered one of the nicest bands in rock and it is just because if I was an asshole to somebody and my dad or mom found out about it, they would kick my ass. Seriously, my grandparents, my mom and dad, if my grandma saw me be hateful or rude to somebody, I’d never hear the end of it, she would probably smack me. That’s the way I was brought up. I was brought up in a southern home. If you did something wrong, you got your ass whipped. It’s not like today if you whip a kid you go to jail. If I did something I wasn’t supposed to, my dad ripped off his belt and whipped my ass but I am a better person for it. If I had not been disciplined like that, I would probably be an asshole to people.
Amy: It’s hard because there are people all the time that are trying to get at you. I don’t know how I would deal with that.
Chris: Before I got on my medicine, a lot of people over the past five years we have had a record deal would ask John Fred, Ben, or Johnny , “Man, is your singer an asshole or is he really quiet?” The thing with me is I was brought up that you don’t just openly speak. You wait until you are approached to speak to someone. If I didn’t really know anybody, I didn’t have much to say to them. Since I have been on my medicine, I have become more open to walking up and saying, “How the hell are ya?” and I think it’s the best thing for me. The last thing I want is for people to think I am an asshole.
I am not going to sit here and say I haven’t had my days just like everybody else where I didn’t want to fucking talk to anybody but we all have those days. Like I said a few minutes ago, just because we are on that stage doesn’t mean we aren’t normal people. I live my life by that because I don’t know anything else. I am a dude that instead of wanting to go to college or go into the army or wanting to settle down and start a family right out of high school, I wanted to play guitar. The first thing I ever fell in love with was my guitar.
Every night, I am in the back of the bus with a guitar in my hand. When the bus starts rolling I have a guitar in my hand. I fell in love with a guitar, the three guys I am in a band with, and Ashley Phelps. That’s my life, my guitar, my band, and my family. I don’t have any kids but I am the luckiest person in the world because I get to do what I love every day, I’m alive, I get on planes and travel every day. I’m grateful for every moment that I get to do this.
Amy: You are still young so it is good that you got help early.
Chris: That’s the thing. Addiction runs in my family. It runs in a certain side of my family. I was so afraid of that. I was afraid I was going to be that guy that turned to drugs or ended up killing myself. When I sat down and thought about it all, it’s just not fucking worth it. There is nothing worth my own life in the world. I went and talked to a psychiatrist, I was scared to death to go. All I saw in movies were people sitting on couches with a tissue box crying talking to a guy sitting in a chair. It’s nothing like that. I was the one in a chair and he was on a couch and he just sat there and listened to me talk for an hour and a half. Then he goes, “Here’s what I think we should try. Let’s try this. I’ll see you in a month. If this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else.”
Amy: Did the first medication work?
Chris: Luckily, the first one worked. I am on Celexa which is an anti-depression, anti-anxiety medication. I also have anxiety medication that I take which is why I can’t drink. I have to take an anxiety pill before I play, just to be able to be comfortable enough to walk out on stage. The depression side of it is slowly phasing itself past me. It was like I was telling Myles two days ago when I was talking to him, they were doing “Ghosts of Days Gone By” and I was watching them play because I love their band and am a huge fan. When he sang the line, “Ghosts of Days Gone By” it was one of those weird experiences that I have only had a few times in my life, I am not a real religious person but I believe, and it was just like that feeling when someone grabs something in your chest and pulls it out and you feel like you have that weight off your shoulders, when he sang that line, just the words, “Ghosts of days gone by” I had that feeling and got really emotional. I had to walk away and it made me realize that the days of me wanting to not be alive the next day I had left behind me, that was the “ghost of days gone by” for me. I had chills all over my body when I was telling him and I kind of got emotional telling him. He just gave me a big hug and thanked me for sharing that story with him. That’s the way it goes. At the end of the day, I love my life, I love what I do. I love the opportunity to talk to people like you.
Amy: When we write this, hopefully it will reach somebody that it needs to and they’ll come see you in Dayton.
Chris: Come to the show in Dayton and hang out. We are always on the Facebook. If someone is going through something, get help, don’t be afraid to go to a doctor. I did it and it worked for me. I am alive and playing concerts. I get to see my family every day because I went to a doctor. I had lost all hope for everything and the first day I went to the doctor was the day Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea came out. It was May 31st, my first doctor’s appointment. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I feel that I am a better person right now than I have been in ten years.
Amy: What I’ll be interested to see is now that I know this story is how it will affect the music if it will make you write different or if you feel yourself writing different.
Chris: Actually I have because the crazy thing about depression is, even though it is kind of phasing itself out with the medication, you still have up and down days. On the bus when we are writing songs because I always have a guitar in my hand and I am recording with my computer, there are about six different genres of songs that are just guitar ideas that I have recorded that not one of them sound similar because every day was a different emotion. I am one fourth of what makes up the band and one fourth the songwriting because we do everything equally. It will definitely affect it. Even “Won’t Let Go” that’s on the record, it sounds like a relationship song but it is really about the four of us in the band. It is about our friendship and our love for music and our love for each other and what we do and our love for the people that allow us to do it. Then you have “Blame it on the Boom Boom” which is just about sex. There is no two ways around it. It’s like “White Trash Millionaire,” when we wrote that song I had an ’81 Trans Am that half the car was in primer paint and the other half was still the original paint fading off. There is a couch on the porch where we rehearsed. There may have been some left handed cigarette smoke up there at one point and time. With “Blame it on the Boom Boom” I’m pretty sure we all got drunk one night, had a wild party, and the next day we practiced and wrote that song. We had our party at our buddy’s house where we recorded all of our demos. People woke up in various rooms of his house. That’s where it came from. We love what we do. We love the people that hate us. We love the people that love us. They are all an inspiration to what we do.
Theory of a Deadman is a hard rock band that has made a notch in popular music with their catchy hooks and sounds that appeal to the heartbroken everywhere. Being together for over ten years, they became hit-makers with their third album Scars and Souvenirs with the number one hit “Bad Girlfriend” along with other popular features “Hate My Life” and “Not Meant to Be.” Their fourth album The Truth Is was released last month with the current number one single “Lowlife” lighting up air waves on rock and pop stations across the country.
Amy spoke with guitarist Dave Brenner prior to their set at the Kentucky State Fair on the Carnival of Madness tour. They discussed the new record and hobbies on the road. You can catch Theory of a Deadman and the Carnival of Madness in Dayton at X-Fest on Spetember 18th.
Amy: I talked to Tyler two years ago at Rock on the Range. I was looking back at that interview today. He made a comment to me that, “It is impossible to have a good marriage on the road in a rock n roll band.”
Dave: He is divorced.
Amy: That is very apparent now in the new album. I think it is the most cynical album I have heard in quite a long time.
Dave: I think he has some good material to write with.
Amy: We have “Bitch Came Back” in addition to “Bad Girlfriend” from before and “The Truth Is” and “Love is Hell,” lines like “I’d rather be hit by a truck.” Really crazy shit.
Dave: I think sometimes you use stuff like that to prove a point. You probably wouldn’t actually want to be hit by a truck or sprayed by mace.
Dave: About girls on our bus?
Amy: You don’t allow girls on your bus anymore because of certain activities.
Dave: We have seen some crazy shit. One girl wouldn’t leave the bus.
Amy: Like laid under the tire? That’s how rules come about.
Dave: Well, you know, it’s your home. We have been on the Hinder bus and there is a party every night.
Amy: They don’t treat it well.
Dave: They don’t. Like your home. We live there more than we live at home.
Amy: I love Hinder though.
Dave: We do too.
Amy: They are super fun to have around. It’s always good to have the party at someone else’s house.
Dave: That’s exactly what I say. Any time I talk to any girl, they are like, “Where’s the party at?” I say, “Hinder bus” because I am so happy to invite them to their bus.
Amy: You guys are coming up on ten years together. Where do you see yourself in ten more?
Dave: I don’t know. I try not to think about it. Lately we have been sitting here reminiscing going, “I can’t believe how fast this time has gone by.” It’s Tyler’s birthday today and Dean’s birthday was a couple days ago. I’m 33 now, I was 22 when we started playing in this band.
Dave: Yeah, but I am a kid too. This job has allowed me to not have to grow up which is weird. I notice it more when I go on tour with Motley Crue and you start hanging out with Tommy Lee and you are like, ‘Ok, this is what it is actually like to not grow up.” I still have to go home and feel like I have responsibilities and take care of things. But when I come here I am like a kid that plays for six weeks straight nothing to do but have a good time and goof off with everybody. I’m not complaining. Ten years from now though, I don’t know, 43, holy shit, I don’t think I can picture myself doing this. It’s not cool to be a 45 year old rocker trying to rock on stage. You have to change it up. It can’t be the same. You can’t be 45 playing “Bad Girlfriend.”
Amy: You could be Nikki Sixx at 52 or 50 however the hell old he is.
Dave: I think I’ll just go and get into photography or work in a studio or something. At some point my life has to carry on from 22 what I left behind. I hit the “to be continued” button and now I have ten more years before I can unpause it and go on with life. What happened everyone is married with kids? Everybody grows up and I just keep growing the same.
Amy: You guys have been on the road a lot with Alter Bridge and Black Stone Cherry too, you like each other I guess.
Dave: We haven’t done a ton of touring with Alter Bridge actually. We have with Black Stone Cherry. We are starting to do a lot with Alter Bridge. We are doing a UK thing with Alter Bridge after.
Amy: I hope you like them.
Dave: We do like them. This tour is full of people I like.
Amy: Have you pulled any practical jokes yet?
Dave: We haven’t really yet. Usually that stuff happens at the end of the tour. We’ll fuck around with the Emphatic boys soon.
Dave: Not me. I’ll be looking at my feet and you’ll be able to see my face. That’s how I roll. That’s the kind of guy I am. I love being on stage. I love playing. I love performing. As soon as I realize there are people looking at me, I’m like, “Oh shit! They are looking at me.”
Amy: Well I guess my two favorite songs on the album are “What was I Thinking?” and “Head Above Water.” Do you know the story there?
Dave: Cool. “What was I Thinking?” I have no idea. For me to learn the thought process behind the song I need to hear Tyler answer it in an interview. I am so new to this record, I haven’t learned all of his little stories. He would probably know the actual answer to this. I don’t know personally either of those songs. I know he wrote “Head Above Water” with the singer of The Exies. Tyler and he wrote a song not thinking they were writing it for our band just getting together in L.A. and writing. I guess they started recording it and Tyler thought it turned out great and wanted to use it for us. He would rather us use it than give it to some other band. I always loved that song right out of the gate too. When I first heard the demos of it, I thought this song sounds great.
Amy: So “Lowlife” has been a hit.
Dave: Number one now three weeks in a row. That’s exciting. You never know what is going to happen.
Amy: The song isn’t bad. I don’t “not” like the song but I was so shocked at the reaction to that song. We have “White Trash Millionaire,” “Lowlife,” Kid Rock has “Lowlife.”
Dave: It’s not my favorite either. I didn’t know Kid Rock had that song. I just heard that for the first time but apparently we ripped him off. Oh well.
Amy: There’s a lot of these right now with this theme.
Dave: I think what everyone is realizing the people still into rock music are the people that could be described as lowlifes, not in a negative connotation, but because they are the working class people, people that want to have fun and party and drink and listen to rock music. There are so few of those people left in this world and the economy is so shitty. It seems like people are looking at what’s happening in the world today and I think it’s why all the singers and songwriters are writing about the same shit because we are all on tour seeing the same situations. It sort of makes sense. I am pleasantly surprised about “Lowlife” going number one. We really wanted to be coming out of the gate with a number one. It feels good. We feel like we have better songs on the record.
Dave: Well the next one is going to be “Bitch Came Back” for rock and for top 40 or pop it’s going to be “Out of My Head” which is not in your top two. “Hurricane” is the one I am looking forward to. I think that will be our biggest song. “Hurricane” and “We Were Men.” I like “We Were Men” because I think it’s fresh because it is not about a failed relationship. It’s about something different.
Amy: I wanted something different after the many songs on failed love.
Dave: For singers, they write about the stuff that is playing in their lives. I could see it. “We Were Men” was something we worked on during Scars and Souvenirs very briefly and so when we started jamming, we recorded eight or nine songs and then we started writing more and I said, let’s bring “We Were Men” back because I have a feeling there is something with this song that could be really awesome , let’s jam it. I was trying to get something else that was trying to get him off of thinking about all that bad shit that was happening in his personal life. I thought it turned out great. “We Were Men” and “Hurricane” and “Gentleman” are my other favorites.
Amy: I just had a reaction to this one.
Dave: It’s, for me, just a relief. It’s really almost theatrical. It’s heavy but emotional.
Amy: What’s been the highlight or best moment of the Carnival of Madness tour?
Dave: Every day is a new best moment.
Amy: Nobody has given me any good stories. I have now talked to every band on this tour.
Dave: Well, it’s because everyone is afraid that people are going to read the shit that you write about them and people are going to find out about all the secrets of the bad shit that we do on the road. Well last night a bunch of us did magic mushrooms and smoked mad amounts of weed and played the sandbag game. Is that a good story? You don’t believe it though. You’re not buying it. It’s all true.
Amy: You are right I am not buying it. You are in Kentucky so I assume you could get some magic mushrooms.
Amy: Any fond memories of Cincinnati or Dayton in Ohio?
Dave: What’s that, Bogart’s in Cincinnati. I remember playing there a few times and always likeing it. I like dirty rock clubs.
Dave: I’ll have to go back there. I have fond memories of everywhere I go. There is nothing better for me to be doing with my time. I have fond memories. I just have no actual memories I can draw right now because it is so much harder to come up with great answers on the spot. What are you asking for, great memories? The first night of this tour, we had a big barbecue with all the bands. That was a good time. We are going to do Frisbee football tonight. It’s like a good party, at the end of the night everybody hangs out and drinks and does drugs and parties, just like 1977. There’s a lot of man love going on except for today because all the Black Stone Cherry guys brought out all the girlfriends and wives out ruining our fun. The bromance is over for one night.
Amy: I know you are a photographer as well. What do you take pictures of?
Dave: That’s part of my problem. I haven’t really discovered what I want to do. I don’t want to shoot bands. That’s not really my interest. I think my interest is, right now, I am sort of shooting everything in the hopes of figuring out and just learn how to do it. I haven’t really decided 100%. I just picked it up while on tour as another hobby. I felt like my last hobby was playing guitar and that became my job I love people and I love architecture. I love seeing old, I love Europe and the UK. It’s a cool hobby. It’s fun to do different artistic forms of expression. I try to challenge myself. I try to capture a shot. I try not to crop shots. Part of me is like, I think cropping is cheating. You take this great picture and all you really want is this little piece. I feel like I should be able to see it before I am taking it. I should be able to know what I want in my frame and now it is all digital and changed and different. I still cheat a lot too.
Emphatic is a rock band from Omaha, Nebraska that is making waves within the music scene. They have just released their debut album Damage. They have seen great success with the single “Bounce” which has flown up rock charts. They are currently on the Carnival of Madness tour gaining new fans every night on the road.
The band is currently on tour without their lead singer Patrick Wilson due to a vocal chord injury. Grant Kendrick of Omaha band, The Wreckage, is standing in on vocal duties and holding his own with the band until Wilson recovers and can re-join the band on the road.
Amy spoke with founding member and lead guitarist Justin McCain at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville before their performance. The two discussed life on the road and his personal stories that influence his songwriting. The band is sure to be headed in the right direction learning everyday from their tour mates Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, and Theory of a Deadman. You can see Emphatic and the Carnival of Madness at X-Fest in Dayton on Sunday September 18 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.
Amy: You guys have had a big year. What has been the biggest life change you have had in the last year?
Justin: I would say just being on the road so much. We have been on the road more this year than any other. It is something that we definitely wanted and we are out here playing music everyday so we are very lucky.
Amy: You have been out with the COM tour for a few weeks. Any crazy stories so far?
Amy: We can print anything.
Justin: Nothing too crazy. We get up on stage and we like to kick ass and do what we do. Believe it or not, we are fairly tame offstage.
Amy: You guys came through with Pop Evil to Dayton and did some shows last month. You probably don’t know where you are at any given time. Do you have any fun Dayton or Cincinnati stories from tours in the past?
Justin: I know we have been to Dayton a couple of times and it has been great every time. Our rhythm guitar player, Lance, actually lives in Ohio so he has some family around there. We always have a good turn out and good time there. It’s always a good time.
Amy: I have been listening to the album. I know you write most of the songs yourself. My favorite was “A Place to Fall.”
Justin: That’s funny. That’s actually, I would say my favorite song too. I fluctuate a little bit but that is one of my favorite songs on the album.
Amy: Can you tell me the story behind it?
Justin: “A Place to Fall” is such a special song to me and I think it can be relevant to so many people in the world. It’s basically a story about that person in your life that tries to always be the caretaker or the helper, the one to carry all the weight on their shoulders. It is telling that person it is okay to let go sometimes and let me take care of you now. That is why the chorus is “if you need a place to fall, fall into me, because I am there for you too.”
Justin: To be honest with you, that song, I think is for wives and mothers out there. My mother definitely inspired that song. My brother was killed years ago by a drunk driver and my mother was the glue that held the family together. It was absolutely crushing for her and the whole family but at the end of the day it is important for everyone to be there for each other. So that was my way of saying that it is your turn to let go.
Amy: What inspired you to get into music originally?
Justin: My parents. The funny thing is that they are not musically inclined whatsoever. There is no musical talent in my family. In fact, there is probably anti-talent when it comes to music. But they are very, very supportive. One thing I can say is music was always around in my house. Nobody played any instruments but my parents always had music going, AC/DC and Bon Jovi and stuff like that in the house. It really kind of turned me into a rock guy from the time I was a little baby. That is what really inspired me to pick up a guitar. I actually picked up a broomstick first. I’d set up different toys and play the drums, and play the broomstick. My parents saw that and said, “Let’s get him on guitar.” I am very grateful for that because it became my life.
Amy: What is one thing that no one knows about Emphatic?
Justin: I would probably say that we are a bunch of big time dorks. There’s always this clichés with rock bands that they are badass and so cool. We are just normal, regular guys that are extremely happy to be doing what we love to do and extremely grateful and we want everyone out there to be a part of it. We call it the Emphatic Army. We are recruiting everyday. Just know, we aren’t very special. We are pretty dorky. So come join our dork club.
Amy: What are you listening to right now?
Justin: Actually that is my band in the background so we are listening to that right now. They are playing the CD, I think. Honestly, I don’t really listen to music which is ironic because I am in the music business. I try to keep an open mind when I do listen to music. I usually listen to something like Lil Wayne or Ke$ha, or modern rock, I love modern rock. I love Skillet and stuff like that. A lot of people say classic rock or the roots. For me, it is either a band like Korn, Skillet, Shinedown or it is something like Lil Wayne or Ke$ha. I even like country. I am a songwriter so I’ve always tried to keep an open mind.
Amy: I can’t go to sleep unless I have ____?
Justin: Said goodnight and I love you to my wife.
Amy: That’s really nice. It’s not the typical answer. We look forward to seeing you guys. You have the new album out Damage and I love it. The other song I like was “Do I.” I love “Bounce” and I am sure everyone likes “Bounce” at this point but I try to pick the next hit. What is “Do I” about?
Justin: “Do I” isn’t about a specific or event. It is more so about my perspective about someone. It is kind of like a story. I wouldn’t say it is fictional but more of an outside perspective. It is about a badass guy that is sick of putting up with the world’s crap and finally snaps and says “Nothing is going to hold me back.” Do I walk the valley or do I walk alone. It is coming to the realization that you can’t be held back in life anymore and no matter what comes your way you have to go take it head on.
Alter Bridge is a hard rock band formed by Creed members Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall, and Scott Phillips alongside their lead singer Myles Kennedy. The band released their third studio album in 2010, aptly named ABIII. The album features their first number one hit “Isolation” and debuted in the top 20 the week after release. They are currently on tour with Theory of a Deadman, Black Stone Cherry, Adelita’s Way, and Emphatic on the Carnival Madness tour.
Amy spoke with guitarist Tremonti to preview the tour coming through the area in Louisville and Dayton. They talked about the band’s writing style and his future ventures including the future of his solo career and other headlining band Creed. Alter Bridge will be playing the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville Friday night and in Dayton, Ohio as part of X-Fest in Dayton on September 18 with the rest of the acts on the Carnival of Madness tour.
Amy: I’ve seen you play several times in Creed and with Alter Bridge most recently at Rock on the Range. I love you guys in both bands. I know you write a lot of music with Myles and for Creed as well. Do you have a different writing style when you are considering the different vocals between Myles and Scott?
Mark: No, when I am writing, I am writing whatever I am feeling at the moment. Then later on I will go through and categorize stuff after the fact and kind of organize ideas once I have gotten out of the moment.
Amy: Do you write it by yourself?
Mark: Yeah, I have to be by myself when I write. You can’t really open up with anybody around really when you are writing. You have to allow yourself to make mistakes and sing off key and do all those things to create a song.
Amy: You guys have had a ton of success with ABIII. It is one of my favorite records from Rock on the Range this year. I talked to Myles at the festival and asked him about “Ghosts of Days Gone By”, but the other song I really love on the album is “Slip to the Void.” Can you tell me a little bit about the story behind that song?
Mark: Yeah, that was one that Myles came up with the intro for it and I just fell in love with it right off the bat. I wrote the guitar riff behind it from the very first moment I heard his part. It was about a year and a half before we really got back to the song. When we got back to it, we almost didn’t put it on the record because it seemed like we just couldn’t complete it. When we had the record ready to record we still didn’t have “Slip” on the list and I think I made the point that we really needed to get the song on there. I still think Myles is a little unhappy with parts of it but I love it. I’m glad we finished it and it’s the lead off track on the record and it’s what we start sets off with live.
Amy: I talk to a lot of guitarists and I love a great guitar riff on an album. A lot of the guitar players I talk to seem like it is almost like a religion for them. They go to bed playing and they get up playing in the morning. I was curious to see what is the longest time you have put the guitar down?
Mark: Probably the last time was when I went on vacation with the family. You leave for a week and you don’t touch it. Sometimes it’s good to do that. You over work your hands and you keep breaking down all the muscles in your hands. Sometimes you come back and you bounce back much stronger.
Amy: So you play every day then?
Mark: When I’m on tour, I’ll play as much as I can. When I am at home I don’t get to play it much, maybe an hour or so a day. I have my two sons and a wife that take priority when I am at home.
Amy: Have you guys started to work on new music yet? I know this album is still going strong and getting a lot of radio play.
Mark: We are always working on new stuff. We haven’t together as a band but we are always writing. Myles is always writing, I am always writing. When the time comes to put down a new record, we will have ideas waiting.
Amy: I know you have also been working on a solo project as well. How is that coming along?
Mark: It’s coming along great. I just finished writing the lyrics two days ago. I’ve tracked all the drums and all the bass. I have sang half the record and have to go home during the next break and sing the other half and track all the guitar solos, then it will be done.
Amy: When can we look for it?
Mark: I plan on getting some of the first tracks out around January or February. We are going to try to do a different release. We are going to try not to release all of the record at once but try and let people digest a couple songs a month and then release the whole thing after four or five months. We will have like two songs a month and then the whole thing plus a couple bonus tracks when it is all done.
Amy: Would you ever consider touring alone to support it or are you still sticking to the other two bands?
Mark: It depends on how well it does and how well it is received. I will take it from there.
Amy: what has been your craziest Carnival of Madness story so far?
Mark: It has not been crazy at all. It has been like a big cookout out here, just a bunch of friendly people. It’s a very easy tour. We only play for an hour a night. Most days I just get to play guitar all day and all night hang out with good people. It’s been a breeze.
Amy: After you guys finish Carnival Madness, I heard you talk about you are going to go on tour for a little bit with Van Halen in Australia…
Mark: It got cancelled. The Soundwave Revolution, the whole tour got cancelled down in Australia. So now it is up in the air as to what we are going to do.
Amy: I know you are good friends with Eddie and Wolfgang (Van Halen) as well. What has been your most memorable experience working with those two or just being friends with them over the years?
Mark: Back in the Creed days, we opened for Van Halen a few times and Eddie had given me a guitar. It blew my mind of how generous he was with that. Years later, it turns out that Wolfgang became an Alter Bridge fan and came to a show. He invited us to his Van Halen sound check and I got to meet everybody again. Every time I go out to LA, I hang out with Wolfgang. Last time I was there, he called me up and invited me to see Van Halen practice and run through their new album. That was amazing. I got to go to Eddie’s house and studio which is pretty much a little house on his property that they practice in. I got to see all their new music first hand.
Amy: What else are you listening to these days yourself?
Mark: I am into guitar music. I listen to stuff that I am trying to learn. I was just listening to Larry Carlton trying to pick up some ideas. Jazzy stuff, bluesy stuff.
Amy: I guess you won’t answer this question but if you had Battle of the Bands between Creed and Alter Bridge, who would win?
Mark: They would both win. They would both win different categories.
Amy: Are you going to be going back out with Creed this year as well?
Mark: 2012 we will be going out with Creed.
Amy: Is there going to ben new music to follow with that?
Mark: Yeah. We hope to get all kinds of new stuff out, we might do some acoustic stuff, some electric stuff, maybe some unreleased video. DVDs maybe.
Amy: I look forward to seeing you guys on Friday. I will see you guys and I look forward to hearing Myles who in my mind has a “Voice of an angel.”