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Shinedown Finds Meaning In "Madness"

of the Oakland Press

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Shinedown was not lacking for purpose when it made its third album, "The Sound of Madness."

"What I wanted was...when everybody in this band is dead and gone or whatever happens, that the world remembers it as a record that [i]needed[/i] to be made, and there was a reason it happened," says frontman and band founder Brent Smith. "That was a lot of the determination for this album and...why it took so long to make."

Whether "The Sound of Madness" has achieved that lofty goal has yet to be determined, but there's no denying the 11-track set had made a lot of noise. Though certified gold -- rather than platinum like Shinedown's 2003 debut, "Leave a Whisper" -- the album peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart, the Florida group's best showing yet. It also launched three consecutive No. 1 hits on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart -- "Devour," "Second Chance" and the title track -- with a fourth, "If You Only Knew," reaching No. 2.

"Second Chance" also hit No. 7 on the Hot 100 chart and went double platinum as a single, both career highs for Shinedown and entree to a rarefied territory the group would like to visit again.

"It's nice we were finally able to get over in the pop world a little bit and get some love from that side of things," says drummer Barry Kerch. "To see your band name next to Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas is pretty cool."

"The Sound of Madness' " success also represents something of a victory for Smith and Kerch, the band's sole remaining original members. The pair had to recover from the loss of two bandmates, guitarist Jasin [cq] Todd and bassist Brad Stewart; they were ultimately replaced by Zach Meyers and Eric Bass. But the album also marks something of a comeback from what Smith and Kerch felt was a disappointing sophomore album, 2005's "Us and Them," both in terms of sales and sonic quality.

"The second album was done so fast," acknowledges Smith, 32, "that there were a lot of things, looking back at it, I wished we had done differently." Kerch, 33, adds that, "it did well, but it wasn't as good as we would have liked it to be, and there were regrets." That, of course, made the duo more determined when it started "The Sound of Madness."

"We were aiming for the stars," explains the drummer. "We had a lot to prove. So on this record we didn't want to leave it with any regrets -- and we don't have any, which is nice to say. There's nothing I would go back and change."

Because of that, he adds, "The Sound of Madness" will not be quieting any time soon. The album is still going strong nearly 18 months after its release, and Kerch says the band's record company expects to release two or three more singles, while Shinedown is expecting to be on tour for most of 2010, including a first visit to Australia, a support slot with Nickelback in the spring, European festivals, another U.S. headlining tour, and possibly a short acoustic run at the end of the year.

Shinedown has also contributed material to the soundtracks of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" -- a heavy rocker called "Her Name is Alice" -- and Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables."

So, Kerch predicts, Shinedown's next album isn't likely until 2011, though the group is talking about a filming a concert DVD this year -- possibly shooting some footage this weekend at the Fillmore Detroit. The silver lining, however, is that it's allowed the band's current lineup to jell at a reasonable pace.

"I think musically now we're more of a cohesive unit," Kerch says. "We get along better. We have a good time. We actually hang out as a group and it's just a healthier environment and there's a lot of happiness there.

"And we can vamp off each other. I've noticed that during the shows, Eric and Zach will play a certain lick and we start reading off that and it almost becomes a jazz experiment where we're just playing off each other. It still sounds like Shinedown, but it's...a lot more interesting, I think."

Kerch also reports that the group's "musical tastes have changed over the years," which will lead to a "different" kind of fourth album when Shinedown settles down to make it. "I think we have a lot of work to do on the next record to keep up with this one," he says.

But for the time being he and his bandmates simply plan to enjoy "The Sound of Madness" -- and hope that nobody goes too crazy in the meantime.

"To remain humble, I think, is the biggest thing for us," says the drummer. "To remain humble and keep this thing called Shinedown going is the most important thing for all of us. It's been one heck of a whirlwind -- but in a good way, really."

Shinedown, Puddle of Mudd, Skillet and Like a Storm perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Feb. 5-6) at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tonight's show is sold out; some tickets, priced $29.50, remain for Saturday. Call (313) 961-5451 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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