Florida-based Shinedown's career is off to a good start. The band has already scored a top-5 rock single with "Fly on the Inside," which comes from its debut Atlantic album, "Leave a Whisper."

Florida-based Shinedown's career is off to a good start. The band has already scored a top-5 rock single with "Fly on the Inside," which comes from its debut Atlantic album, "Leave a Whisper."

"I think it was a relief more than anything," lead singer Brent Smith tells Billboard.com about hearing the song on the radio for the first time this summer. "It's one of those things you've wanted to happen for your whole life, so it was really good when it did."

The band is based in Jacksonville, although Smith originally hails from Tennessee. But calling the Northern Florida area home puts Shinedown in the position of having to live up to a substantial musical legacy.

"The biggest one is Lynyrd Skynrd," Smith says. "And a lot of people forget about Susan Tedeschi. And Cold's from there, another band called Yellowcard is getting well known, and another called Burn Season. As far as music is concerned, there's been a lot of great things that have happened there."

For Smith, a particularly great thing was hooking up with bassist Brad Stewart, guitarist Jasin Todd and drummer Barry Kerch to form Shinedown. "I've been in too many bands to even name," he says. "When you're an artist, a musician, through your life you hook up with people and try to find where you belong.

"This was pretty much meant to be," he adds. "Once it was all formed, we packed 20 years into two!"

The band's members clicking so well with one another resulted in "Leave a Whisper." Produced by Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Saliva), the set reached No. 7 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and No. 159 on The Billboard 200.

"As far as the writing process, it's definitely a family and a brotherhood," Smith insists. "We all have to have our opinions about what we're writing, because we wouldn't be fair to ourselves if we weren't. At the end of the day it's all about the song and what's gonna be best for the song."

And it's that attitude that produced the band's first hit. In August, "Fly on the Inside" reached No. 5 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks airplay chart (where it remains in the top-15) and No. 34 on the Modern Rock Tracks tally. New single "45" was recently shipped to U.S. radio outlets.

Since the album's release in May, the band has been out on the road, winning over fans by touring with 3 Doors Down and playing on the bills of massive radio station festivals.

"We feel really blessed," he says. "The 3 Doors guys are amazing. They've been so good to us." Along with some headlining club shows and occasional festival appearances, Shinedown will be playing with 3 Doors Down in the U.S. through November.

Should you take the opportunity to see them, don't be afraid to say hello.

"We always make a point to hang out in the merch area after the shows and talk to people," Smith says. "We sign things and take pictures with everybody. The fans, they're the only people that matter. They came to see you, so you owe it to them. They're the ones that buy your records so they're the ones who matter."

Shinedown's full tour schedule can be found on its official Web site, shinedown.com. Along with information about the band, the site also features streaming audio of the songs "Fly From the Inside," "45," "Burning Bright" and "Lost in the Crowd."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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