Five albums in and a bevy of No. 1 songs under its belt, Shinedown could have played it safe on new album ATTENTION ATTENTION and let the accolades continue to roll in.
Instead, the follow-up to 2015's Gold-certified Threat to Survival takes the veteran rockers in a new direction: a concept album. Well, sort of.
ATTENTION ATTENTION, Shinedown's sixth album, is out May 4 via Atlantic Records (available for pre-order here), and today (March 7), the band debuts the music video for lead single "DEVIL" on Billboard.
"DEVIL," the first fully formed song on ATTENTION ATTENTION following intro "THE ENTRANCE," isn't just the introduction to the album as a whole. Its music video also kicks off what frontman Brent Smith says is planned as a series, with a clip for every song on the record. So it makes sense that Bill Yukich, the lead editor on Beyonce's Lemonade film for HBO, is helming the project.
Smith says that Yukich's original treatment for "DEVIL" ended up getting shelved, but doing so led to the concept of recording a video for each song, not just what eventually came of the lead music video.
"Me and Bill, after we had been talking about it, we had to go back to the drawing board, which I am so thankful for, because ... there was a reason the universe had us redo it," Smith tells Billboard. "When we met each other face to face, and even when we talked on the phone, he got it. He was all about it. We had the most amazing time working with him, so the plan is to tell the whole story and do a video for all the songs. It may not be in order in the beginning, but eventually they will be, and they'll tell the story."
That story is the concept behind ATTENTION ATTENTION, which begins with the album's narrator -- or, if one desires, the listener, which was the band's intent -- starting in a dark, negative place, slowly going through a change within the confines of one's mind before emerging on the other side (album closer "BRILLIANT") a changed individual.
"It was all about starting the story off very dramatic," Smith says of the video. "It's not set in a traditional, quote-unquote music video style. It plays out, even in the four minutes-and-change that the song is, [that] we pack a lot of information into this first song for the viewer, because that was all built by design; we really wanted to make a statement with this video.
"The colors are very vibrant, the way that the editing is shot and the amount of detail in the story of the song, how much he was able to present, is quite frankly unlike anything I've been able to see any director be able to do for the first song you hear. It's kind of like being a new artist... because I guarantee nobody will have ever seen Shinedown in this capacity."
Adds Smith about the song itself: "'DEVIL' is about being afraid, 'DEVIL' is about being terrified of not only yourself, in some respects, but the world around you, and understanding that there are so many things and so many different situations and people and places and atmospheres and exposure that human beings are put in front of on a daily basis, [and] the world can be a really difficult place to navigate. So that's where the story starts."
ATTENTION ATTENTION finds Shinedown on the cusp of adding to its legend on the Billboard charts. Each one of its 22 charting singles on the Mainstream Rock Songs airplay chart -- dating back to debut release "Fly from the Inside" -- have reached the top five of the chart, an unparalleled achievement. Of those songs, 11 have reached No. 1, setting the band third all-time and with the frontrunners -- Three Days Grace (12) and Van Halen (13) -- in sight.
But that doesn't mean the band is getting complacent. After working with rock radio heavyweights like Bob Marlette, Tony Battaglia, Rob Cavallo and Dave Bassett on its previous releases, Shinedown goes in-house for the full album with bassist Eric Bass, who previously produced 2015 single "Cut the Cord," among others.
"When we were talking about the initial idea to what this record was gonna be and where we wanted to go and why we wanted to do something that the world is not seeing Shinedown do, it was just very specific," Smith says. "And Eric has a great statement about this record in regards to why we decided to do it ourselves... 'We would rather go crazy making it ourselves instead of watching someone else go crazy trying to make it.'"
That brought the four-piece -- Smith, Bass, guitarist Zach Myers and drummer Barry Kerch -- to Charleston, S.C., at Bass' Ocean Industries Studios in 2017. By this point, Bass had been toying around with arrangements and compositions toward the tail end of the group's 2016 tour behind Threat to Survival, eventually piecing together 22 songs in all. Only one of those ended up in any way part of the finished product, but what Bass brought to the table informed what was to come.
"The unique thing that happened from that was that's when the concept album idea started," he says, adding that, "Even though we didn't utilize a lot of that material, we ended up writing everything for the record from scratch... the fact that when I heard all of those compositions together, they had a thread to them. As one was finished, it felt like it was an extension of the next part and then the next part. So it kind of played itself out like a musical story.
"I remember talking to him... "Why don't we try and make a concept record?" Because we'd never done that before. A lot of times, we'll go in, and you'll write 100 songs, and hopefully you wrote 10 really good ones, and you pray you wrote one phenomenal one, and then you just start over again. But for this, once we established that that's what we were going to do, everything started to happen really, really fast from a creative side."
The concept rolls from the pounding, riff-driven attack of "DEVIL" to "KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE" and its cautionary tale of social media to "special," which Smith says he thinks "is one of the more interesting songs that people will probably have quite a few conversations about." By album closer "BRILLIANT," normally a spot reserved on Shinedown albums for a ballad to bid adieu the listener, the LP has transcended to a rafters-reaching major-key hook that defiantly proclaims it's "my day to be brilliant" -- certainly a 180 from "DEVIL."
"At the beginning of the record, you can feel this intensity and these bold statements that are being made," Smith says. "But as the record progresses, you hear the individual and the record start to shift, and they start to get their confidence back, and they start to understand what's going on, because they're having to face emotions that they've never really faced before. We call it digging in the dirt mentally. This person has to flush it out. In order to be able to get out of this room and out of this chair and go back into the world, they have to train themselves mentally. They have to accept the fact that it's not always going to be great. It's not always going to be exactly the way you want it.
"A lot of this record is about me, and a lot of this record is about the things in my life that I've been afraid to face in one way or another. But it's also about Eric and what he faces. And that was a very bold understanding that me and him had during the making of this record, that nothing was off limits. This record is also about Zach, and this record is also about Barry, you know? We had to come from a very real place."
To ring in the album, Shinedown has revealed a few dozen tour dates throughout North America and Europe, kicking off with a pair of shows March 23-24 in Deadwood, S.D. That includes an eight-show run in Canada, an area the band skipped on its last jaunt, as well as a newly announced co-headlining schedule with Godsmack in the summer, beginning with a July 22 set in Detroit and concluding Sept. 2 in Wantagh, N.Y. "We're not gonna do the traditional, 'play the single and maybe one other,'" Smith says, saying that the band'll "definitely surprise the audience. We always try to keep 'em guessing."
Shinedown North American Tour Dates
3/23 - Deadwood, SD @ Deadwood Mountain Grand
3/24 - Deadwood, SD @ Deadwood Mountain Grand
3/27 - Penticton, Canada @ SOEC
3/29 - Edmonton, Canada @ Shaw Conference Center
3/30 - Dawson Creek, Canada @ Encana Events Center
3/31 - Calgary, Canada @ Grey Eagle Casino
4/2 - Winnipeg, Canada @ Bell Mts Centre
4/3 - Saskatoon, Canada @ Sasktel Centre
4/4 - Lethbridge, Canada @ Enmax Centre
4/6 - Abbotsford, Canada @ Abbotsford Centre
4/7 - Yakima, WA @ Yakima Valley Sundome
4/9 - Modesto, CA @ Modesto Centre Plaza
4/10 - Chico, CA @ Senator Theatre
4/12 - Riverside, CA @ Riverside Municipal Auditorium
4/13 - Scottsdale, AZ @ Arizona Bike Week Live at the Rock Yard
4/14 - El Paso, TX @ Speaking Rock
4/16 - San Antonio, TX @ Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
4/17 - Corpus Christi, TX @ Concrete Street Pavilion
4/18 - Baton Rouge, LA @ Raising Cane's River Center
4/20 - Tampa, FL @ 98RockFest Live at Amalie Arena
4/21 - Orlando, FL @ WJRR Earthday Birthday Live at Central Florida Fairgrounds
4/28 - Sunrise, FL @ Monster Energy Fort Rock Fest Live at Markham Park
5/4 - Concord, NC @ Carolina Rebellion Live at Rock City Campgrounds
5/6 - Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
5/8 - Lexington, KY @ Rupp Arena
5/10 - Tulsa, OK @ Bok Center
5/11 - Council Bluffs, IA @ Westfair Amphitheatre
5/12 - Maryland Heights, MO @ Pointfest
5/14 - Salem, VA @ Salem Civic Center
5/16 - Birmingham, AL @ Legacy Arena at BJCC
5/17 - Evansville, IN @ Live at the Ford Center
5/18 - Moline, IL @ Tax Slayer Center
5/20 - Grand Forks, ND @ Alerus Center
7/14 - Oshkosh, WI @ Rock USA
7/22 - Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
7/27 - Chicago, IL @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
7/28 - Indianapolis, IN @ Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center
8/2 - Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre
8/4 - Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheater
8/6 - Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheater
8/11 - Houston, TX @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
8/12 - Dallas, TX @ Starplex Pavilion
8/19 - Bristow, VA @ Jiffy Lube Live
8/24 - Hartford, CT @ XFINITY Theatre
8/25 - Boston, MA @ Xfinity Center
8/26 - Camden, NJ @ BB&T Pavilion
8/28 - Burgettstown, PA @ KeyBank Pavilion
8/31 - Scranton, PA @ The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
9/1 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
9/2 - Wantagh, NY @ Northwell Heath at Jones Beach Theater