Hard rock band Shinedown’s sixth studio project, “Attention Attention,” was already a hit when the band played a co-headlining bill at Salem Civic Center in May 2018.
In a sold-out show that also featured Five Finger Death Punch, the band played a few numbers off the brand new disc, which on the day of the Salem show debuted at No. 5 in the Billboard all-genre Top 200.
“We were just throwing stuff in there, trying to figure out what would work,” frontman Brent Smith said.
When the band returns to the valley, at the top of a Tuesday bill at Berglund Center that includes Papa Roach, it will be playing at least two songs that weren’t in that set. “Monsters” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s mainstream rock chart at the end of June and was still hanging around the top 15 when we spoke with Smith on Aug. 28. “Get Up” went to No. 1 on the mainstream rock list in December and crossed over to the alternative and adult contemporary charts.
Combined with the album’s lead single, “Devil,” that’s 14 top singles in the band’s 18-year run. That’s second most in the mainstream rock chart’s history, breaking a tie with Van Halen.
It’s all part of a song cycle that the band, in a first, produced on its own, Smith said. More specifically, bassist Eric Bass (prounced with a short “a” sound) produced it, recorded it and engineered it at his Charleston, South Carolina studio.
More personally, the album’s key track, “Get Up,” was about Bass, who deals with clinical depression.
“If you were ever in doubt, don’t sell yourself short, you might be bulletproof / Hard to move mountains when you’re paralyzed, but you gotta try, and I’m calling out,” Smith sings.
The singer recalled discussing its meaning with Bass.
“I remember getting the playback of ‘Get Up,’ and [Bass] looking at me, and me saying, you know what this song is about, right? He said, yeah, me,” Smith remembered.
“I kind of thought that I might have stepped over a boundary or a line with him in our friendship with this, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. I said I’m sorry if I have offended you. He stopped me and said dude, not at all. This song is everything that it needs to be, but if we are going to do this deep of a dive, if we’re going to be this honest and this upfront with the public, we’re going to have to go all in.”
It’s about dealing with depression and moving beyond it as much as possible, but it’s also about failure, and how we deal with it, Smith said.
“You need to understand that being uncomfortable in life is not a death sentence,” he said. “You have to be able to navigate through your failures in life. You can’t just completely give up because something doesn’t go your way at a certain point in time. You have to learn from that, because you’re not going to be defined by your failures. You’re going to be defined by the fact that you refuse to give up.”
Offstage, the band has been interacting with a newer audience of teenagers, often girls between 12 and 18, he said. Band members at meet-and-greets talk to them about taking charge of their social media lives in positive ways, and about watching for peers who might be suffering, reaching out to them and letting them know they’re not alone, he said.
Onstage, though, the responsibility remains what it has been: electrifying its audiences.
Smith described the four-band bill’s “healthy competition” on a typical tour day.
“You’re good with each other all day long,” he said. “You’re buds, you high five, you eat catering together. We all have an amazing workflow together. But when it is your time to get on deck, I want you to bring your hammer.”