Beasts of rock: Shinedown adding madness to carnival tour

Dan Naumovich

You’d expect that a band would be excited at the news that its songs have been added to the “Guitar Hero” playlist. More than 25 million copies of the popular video game have been sold worldwide, which translates to royalties, exposure to new listeners and a chance for fans to emulate their favorite rockers.

But in a recent phone interview, Brent Smith of Shinedown downplayed the occasion of three of the band’s songs being picked up by “Guitar Hero.”

“I’m an old-school cat. We’re really honored to have our music on there, but at the end of the day, it’s a game. If you really want to learn to play guitar, you have to do more than push buttons,” Smith said.

Shinedown is headlining the Carnival of Madness tour, a five-band bill of rock radio favorites that, if the tour’s title is any indication, won’t be keeping solemn the Sabbath.

“It’s been pretty beastly, to be honest with you,” Smith said of the tour.

To casual fans only familiar with the band through its recent hit, the power-ballad “Second Chance,” the word “beastly” might seem a bit overblown. But the Florida-based band built its following with a dark and hard-hitting sound that arose from the post-grunge scene. Smith said fans are drawn to the energy and honesty.

“I think what resonates with people is a release. And that’s what this tour is about. Our fans want a release from the day-to-day grind,” Smith said.

It also provides a release for the band. Between media engagements, sound checks and post-concert CD signings, there’s little time for the rock star lifestyle, until they take the stage.

“My day is pretty lock solid. It’s all day, every day,” Smith said. “But we never say this is our job. It’s an honor for us to be able to do this every day of our life.”

In addition to Smith on vocals, Shinedown includes Zach Myers on guitar, Eric Bass on bass and Barry Kerch on drums. The band has released three studio albums, the most recent of which is 2008’s “The Sound of Madness.” It’s scheduled to record its fourth album in 2011.

The band is starting to get noticed in Hollywood as well. Earlier this year, the song “Her Name Was Alice” was on the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s film “Alice in Wonderland.” Another track, “Diamond Eyes,” is in “The Expendables,” a Sylvester Stallone movie slated for release Friday.

The Carnival of Madness tour kicked off July 16 in Florida and will include 23 stops before winding down Aug. 27 in Washington. Smith said they’re happy with the response from fans.

“The attendance has been really good. It’s summertime. We’ve given everyone a reasonable ticket. So far, it’s been great,” he said.

Dan Naumovich is a freelance writer and business copywriter. He can be reached at dan@naumo.com.