The latest effort from Florida hard rockers Shinedown debuted in the top five on the charts yesterday, landing at Number Four on Billboard and Number Two on iTunes alongside Madonna, Lionel Richie and Adele. The success of Amaryllis is nothing new for the Florida hard rockers, who have sold over 10 million albums to a devoted fan base over the last decade. But with this album, the band is also aligning itself with a cause that's recently gotten attention from everyone from Lady Gaga and Oprah to documentary filmmakers: bullying.
The band's latest single, aptly titled "Bully," is "about not feeling like you can't stand up for yourself and take back your self respect if you feel as if someone is belittling you or trying to push you around," frontman Brent Smith tells Rolling Stone. "The song is not condoning violence. What it is condoning is survival. I don't think that anyone should ever have their self-respect or their dignity taken from them."
That determination to fight back is something that comes from Smith's childhood. "When I was ten years old, my dad took me to the garage and put a pair of boxing gloves on me and said, 'I don't ever want it to come to this, but you need to learn how to fight,'" Smith recalls. "And I got my butt kicked sometimes, but I always stood up for myself. By nature I've just never backed down from what I believed in, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let someone push me around. It's the same thing with my family, too. I wouldn't let someone come into my house and mess with my girlfriend or my son."
Smith and his bandmates bring the same take-no-prisoners mentality to their music. "We're four guys that are never satisfied, and we're always trying to outdo what we've already done," Smith says. "We really are the band that looks for the biggest mountain and wants to climb it. And then once we've gotten to the top, we just want to find a bigger mountain."
For Amaryllis, the band sought to achieve new heights by reteaming with producer Rob Cavallo. "On the song 'I'm Not Alright,' we had the orchestration, but at the last minute Rob said, 'Let's put a 10-piece horn section on it,'" Smith says. "We're quite fearless on this record. There wasn't anything we strayed away from or said that we couldn't do. We just went for it. And ultimately I think that's what enhanced the album."
Shinedown is currently on tour around the country, and Smith indicates they don't have plans to slow down anytime soon: "We're very focused. We've been through a lot and we've got a lot more to go through, a lot more to do and accomplish. And we're always looking to tomorrow."
- Brent Smith