We caught up with Shinedown bassist/pianist Eric Bass to talk about touring with Disturbed and to dispel accusations of his band being formulaic, as well as uncovering the hangover cure that never fails but only works 60% of the time.
Loads of bands that are massive in the US can’t be bothered putting in the hard work to get to the same level in the UK and Europe. How does it feel to finally be a headline act over here?
“It is quite frankly one of the best feelings in the world for us. We have never been a band that gets big headed about what we do. We are never satisfied, and are always looking to the future. If you aren’t forward thinking you will get stuck in the place that you are now, or simply get left behind. So for us to be able to break into a new country is a huge honour. It is so fresh to have that feeling of starting over again. It makes us feel like we’re kids again!”
You’re well documented as being a band that wants to be successful and as one that aims to write massive pop songs. Do you feel you sacrifice something when you have distinct aims like that and are you scared that you could be perceived as formulaic?
“When I think of bands that have the reputation of “writing to a formula”, what comes to mind are bands that consistently put out songs with the same structure, and these songs have no variation in sound or style from one album to the next. If you take any of our singles and play them back-to-back I don’t think you will hear a formula and I would hope that people wouldn’t look at us as a band that has one formula that we stick to. To me, ‘I Dare You’ sounds nothing like ‘Devour’, and ‘Second Chance’ has no resemblance to ‘Save Me’ and, of our three records, none of them sound the same. We try to be as sonically diverse from one album to the next as we can. We try to look forward, not back.”
What is your favourite thing about England?
“For me, it’s the history and getting to see the different cities and towns. My ancestry on my father’s side is British. The Bass family came to the states from a small area outside of London called Olney so I feel like I get to experience a small part of my past in England. Next I would have to say the pubs. We all love great beer in a great atmosphere. There is definitely something special about the drinking establishments in the UK!”
What does madness sound like?
“To us, madness is the world around you. Very rarely in this day and age does one find his or herself without a worry, a problem, or some sort of confusion. Madness is all around us every day. We all just have to get to the positive things. In the context of the song ‘The Sound of Madness’, it’s about someone that you know who complains a lot and has a “woe is me” attitude. I did it on my own without complaining and now I’m here to tell you that you need to wake up, stand up, be a man, and get on with your life!”
Talking of madness, what was the maddest thing that ‘Mad’ Davey Draiman did while you were on tour together?
“Honestly, we didn’t see him that much. I think he sleeps in a coffin on his bus or something. I did see him play a mad game of backgammon with their bus driver one day at lunch…”
Watch the video to ‘Devour’ by Shinedown
If you could be any rock star in the world (apart from yourself, of course), who would you be?
“Matt Bellamy from Muse would be a top pick for me. He is such a talent. His sense of pitch, rhythm and melody just blows my mind. Meanwhile he throws down and puts on a fantastic rock show! Scott Weiland is another. We have played quite a few shows with Stone Temple Pilots. That guy can be backstage and not be able to put a sentence together, but when he gets in front of 20,000 people, it’s quite frankly one of the most magical things I’ve seen. He’s probably the biggest rock star in music today.”
What’s the most ridiculous rock ‘n’ roll story in the history of the band?
“There is a story that Brent tells about this time that Eddie Van Halen pissed on Shinedown’s deli tray backstage. As it goes, Brent came out of the bathroom after washing his hands and hadn’t dried them. Brent shook Eddie’s hand all wet and I think it kinda ticked him off. Eddie went right over to the deli tray and pissed all over the lunchmeat. He then proceeded to take a lit cigarette, wrap it up in a piece of turkey, and hand the tray to Brent. Eddie said, “Take this to your tour manager. Tell him it’s called a smoking gun.” It was all done in fun though.”
What’s your favourite hangover cure?
“This never fails for me: Take four ibuprofen, drink two bottles of water, and eat a p-nutbutter sandwich. Then go back to bed until you’re not drunk anymore. 60% of the time it works every time!”
Tell us a joke.
“A baby seal walks into a club…”
The Sound Of Madness by Shinedown is out now on Atlantic Records.