INTERVIEW: Barry Kerch of SHINEDOWN (January 2013)

With nine number one singles on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart (including its past five) and more than 6 million albums sold, Shinedown is easily one of the most successful American hard rock acts of the past decade. Its real strength, though, is as a live band, with a stage show that has gotten bigger and bigger as it’s worked its way through small clubs, to bigger clubs, theaters, amphitheaters, arenas and stadiums. Just a few days before the start of Shinedown’s winter/spring tour with Three Days Grace and P.O.D., drummer Barry Kerch called in to talk about that trek and more with Live Metal’s Greg Maki.

Barry Kerch of Shinedown

LIVE METAL: The tour with Three Days Grace and P.O.D. starts on Friday. What can the fans expect to see on this tour?

BARRY KERCH: They can expect to see a big rock show. We’re pulling out all the stops. They’re gonna have a really good time. There’s a lot of cool surprises. It’s the biggest production we’ve done as a band, and it’s kind of exciting. We’re just now getting into rehearsals. We really haven’t seen what Three Days Grace is bringing. We know what we’re bringing. We don’t know what P.O.D.’s bringing. It’s a fun moment, the early stages of a tour, seeing how the show’s gonna work out. It’s definitely gonna be a big rock show and a lot of fun.

It’s been a lot of fun to watch Shinedown grow over the years, to see the show keep getting bigger and bigger. What has that been like for you? How has that changed things as far as how you approach a show, or has it changed it things?

To be honest, I still pinch myself every day. I really do. It’s great to think that, after 11 years of being in this band, we’re still here, still viable, still touring, still writing songs and putting out records. It’s absolutely surreal and very humbling to still play rock ‘n’ roll, especially these days with radio the way it is now—rock is not exactly the most popular thing out there. And it’s great that, at this time right now, Shinedown—we’re in the best shape of our lives, we’re in the best stage of our lives, we’re the healthiest we’ve ever been. It’s a really cool thing to say. It really is.

You talked a little bit about how you’re just starting rehearsals and seeing the show come together, but what are these days like leading up to a tour? Do you get jitters? Are you nervous, excited?

More excited than anything. Luckily, I got rid of my nerves many, many years ago. I still get the jitters before I go on stage. For us, it’s very exciting to be able to unveil the show and see how the fans react to it, because we’ve played these songs a million times. We’ve lived these songs, we wrote these songs, we know them better than anybody knows these songs. But for some of these fans, it’s the first time they’re gonna see this or the second time or the third time or the 10th time. People pay a lot of money to see a rock show; they pay a lot of money for any show. (And we have to give them) what they pay for. We pride ourselves on that ability.

As the show has kept getting bigger and bigger, have you had any on stage mishaps or accidents?

(laughs) We’ve had a million, but do I really have to talk about that? (laughs) Every single Spinal Tap moment that you can possibly think of has happened to us, even getting lost backstage trying to find the stage. It has happened and will happen again. It’s part of the road. We’ve had miscues. We’ve had our bass player jumping and he decided not to wear underwear that day, and he was on the jumbotron with his twig and berries out there for thousands of people to see. Everything happens (laughs), and it will happen again.

Three Days Grace just lost their singer. I’m not gonna ask you to comment specifically on their situation, but from your experience, what are the big challenges that come when you have a lineup change in a band?

It’s difficult. We’ve suffered it, as well. We got a new bass player and a new guitar player (in 2008). The thing people have to realize is, I see my band members more than I see my wife and my kids. It is a family environment, and it’s difficult. You’re in very small quarters for a long period of time.

I have absolutely no idea, so I can’t comment on what happened in Three Days Grace, but I can only imagine that there was a lot of reasons. It’s not easy, and to lose your singer is a scary thing, especially for me, because I’m lucky and blessed enough to have a singer that is very distinctive and has an amazing voice. And I think the same stands for Three Days Grace. It’s gonna be very hard for them to rebuild from that; however, it’s been done before. AC/DC did it, Black Sabbath did it—there have been bands that have able to replace a singer—Iron Maiden has done it. It’s not easy. I wish them nothing but the best of luck.

Especially these days with modern social media, there’s so much information out there that it can be a hindrance to begin with. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and I’m only here to support. I know those guys just as acquaintances. I don’t know them very well, but I respect what they do, and I know they work hard. I know they’re going through a really rough time, and all I can do is support.

It’s been almost a year now since the last album came out, “Amaryllis.” Are you still happy with how it turned out, or are you a perfectionist and always finding things you could’ve done differently?

You know what, I’m never happy with anything. I’m totally a perfectionist, and there’s things I would change always. But this record is probably the closest I’ve gotten to what I really want from my own playing. The cool thing about making a record is that is a caption of where you were at that time in your life. That’s pretty cool.

Late last year, there was an interview where Brent said you already had recorded material for the next album. What kind of direction are you heading in with the new material?

That is true. We have recorded a lot of material. I don’t know if there is a direction yet. It’s still in the early stages. I know there’s some good material there. We’re trying not to take as long of a break as we did this past time. There’s some cool songs, there’s some heaviness, I guess some angst, and there’s the ballads.

The thing with this band and the way we write, the way we talk about things—we don’t go in with an agenda. We don’t say, “This album is gonna have this concept. This is what’s going on.” We just kind of write where we’re at, at that moment in time. Some days you’re pissed off, some days you’re not. That’s really where music comes from.

So once you finally write all these songs—and let’s say for an album, we write 30 to 40 songs—you pick the best ones, and then you kind of realize where the album is going. We don’t go in with a preconceived notion of what the album’s gonna be about and what the vibe is gonna be. That’s just how this band works. Some bands like to do concepts. Queensryche did concept records their whole life, and it worked for them. But it’s not what we do.



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