On January 28, the established US rock n’ roll travelling package, The Carnival Of Madness, rolls into the UK for the first time.
Mark Dean recently had the opportunity to discuss the tour, all subjects music and even cooking with Shinedown drummer Barry Kerch.
NRR: Hello Barry, Shinedown are heading our way at the end of January. Will it be in the spirit of the U.S concept as a touring festival, with stalls and other attractions in addition to the music?
Barry: Yes that is the hope. We have put it together that way. Since Black Stone Cherry is headlining the shows, they kind of have the control of what the ultimate outcome is going to be, along with Indegoot management company. We are trying to bring that idea to the UK and tour the UK with it.
NRR: I am actually surprised that Shinedown are not actually headlining the festival.
Barry: Yeah, well you know that Black Stone Cherry has a great following over there. Since we have been gone for a while and have just returned with our new record, I guess that the promoters and management and everybody else thought that would be a great idea. For us we don’t mind, we love those guys and have known them since before they were even signed to a record label, as well as Halestorm. We have known both of those bands years since they were kids. For us, it is kind of fun to put a bunch of bands together that get along, have a great time with similar kinds of music. Headlining or not that just gives me some extra time to drink a pint afterwards.
NRR: Do you feel that the bands profile should maybe be higher in the UK, given that you have been around since 2001?
Barry: You know we think so and would hope so given that some of that is on us. We took so long to come over there and start touring; we didn’t really start touring until The Sound Of Madness record. Everywhere has different tastes and wants and needs. Radio is different over there and everything else. Our band has gone through so many changes over the years and really became more consistent from The Sound Of Madness up until now. We never look back on it. You know what this is the fight for today and we are just going to keep trying to gain success over there. It has grown for us quite a bit and we just enjoy playing over there. Just as long as we get to come back then we are happy.
NRR: How long will Shinedown’s setlist be on those dates?
Barry: I think if I remember correctly,….(I will just look it up when I have you on here)..I believe it is around fifty minutes.
NRR: Do you find that it is difficult to trim and strip a setlist back to do a shorter set when it is already finely tuned?
Barry: Yeah it is (laughs) extremely hard. We actually have a conference call today with all the band members just trying to figure out what we are actually going to play in fifty minutes. It’s very difficult; we are blessed to have a lot of singles that have been released and a lot of songs that have come out, and a lot of records. We are on our fifth record now. It becomes harder and harder to pick. You want to keep the fans happy but then there are also the songs that we want to play to keep us happy.
NRR: With the release of the new album last year, will the setlist be mostly based around Threat To Survival?
Barry: No I think we will have a good mix of at least The Sound Of Madness, Amrylis, and the latest record The Threat To Survival with maybe a little off the first record Leave a Whisper. Only because The Sound Of Madness because it was released over there and that is what the UK fans are most familiar with. Aside from the diehard fans who are going to want a couple of the older songs.
NRR: Obviously fans are familiar with your cover of Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” but what other covers do the band enjoy jamming with in band rehearsals?
Barry: You know we have done some covers over the years, it’s not something that we have really focused on. When we did the acoustic record, we did a few, one on the last record. I know on the first record we did “Tie your mother down” from Queen. I know when Brent and Zakk do acoustic stuff they pull out “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins., or just different things. We have never been a cover band. Sometimes we will get into some P-Funk or some Michael Jackson and (laughs) have some fun with that-some more poppy stuff. A lot of times Zach will do some classic seventies rock or some singer-songwriter stuff. He will pull out some John Mayer and we will have some fun with that. That’s usually during sound check, just five or ten minutes fooling around on stage, before Brent gets there to check his vocals.
NRR: I have read that Brent has referred to the latest album as “a slower tempo”, “a bit darker” and “a different subject matter”. What is your personal feeling and opinion regarding the release?
Barry: I agree with him in terms of tempo-wise it may be a little slower. We certainly don’t have the ”Devour” or something really extreme and in your face but it is a heavier record. I think that it has for me being a drummer it has shown a little bit more of my groove and allows me to put a little bit more of my groove into it. I have been a little straight on the past records, so I think it has got a little bit more swagger to it. Subject wise it’s very dark. The songs may seem happy in tone but lyrically there is some dark things. For me, not only making this record, it was my favourite record to make, we had a really good time making it. Some of our Shinedown records making them we have been really in pain because we really torture ourselves. For me personally it is my favourite record that we have done to date.
NRR: Do you think looking back at your musical legacy that Shinedown have ever made a bad album? Or do you view your musical legacy with pride?
Barry: I view it with pride, I don’t see any of them as bad albums. Some may not be my favourites, I think that Us and Them is probably our weakest record to me, but then I have a lot of fans come up and say it is their favourite. Who am I judge on that? For me when you are in a band and you make a record, a band that has been together this long, and had such a tumultuous past there is always those points when you look back and think where you were emotionally when those songs were written or recorded. That puts a different feel onto a record that the outside public wouldn’t be able to understand. They were all growth into where I am today and the band where it is today. I have a positive outlook on it; I am not saying that all those times were positive.
NRR: What was your first introduction to music, a song on the radio-a first concert?
Barry: I think my first introduction was my dad listening to music in headphones. My mom has never been a real music lover, she likes music and appreciates music. She has very sensitive hearing; she had an accident when she was a child with a firecracker. Her hearing has always been very sensitive, she doesn’t like loud things. Low and behold her son becomes a drummer. My dad would listen to Allman Brothers and kind of roots rock. He would get into Phil Collins and he would like soul music. I would listen to a little bit of that but it was always through his headphones when he wasn’t using them. Then my older brother introduced me to eighties metal and I became a huge metalhead. I lived ate and breathed that forever. As far as live goes my first major concert ever and still my favourite concert that I have ever seen because it was my first was Def Leppard was on the Hysteria tour with Queensryche opening. I think that was the first time that I thought ‘yeah I want to to do that, I want to be that guy’.
NRR: Do you feel that you have personally changed since you became a professional musician?
Barry: Yeah absolutely you think about it, and you think yeah man its all going to be great and roses. All the typical rock star things that you grow up with and see on MTV and magazines. You think it is going to be the best life ever and it is, but you don’t see the business side of things. A lot has changed in the industry since you and I grew up in what it was. It is more a music business now than ever, and I kind of like that because I have never been a typical party guy. I enjoy going out and having a few drinks with my friends, doing that kind of thing but the rest is not for me. I kind of like the structure of it but getting into it I didn’t realise that “Man this is a lot of hard work.” It is really hard on your family; it is really hard on your body-doing that much travelling, beating your body up and beating the drums up on a daily basis. I just had no idea.
NRR: Outside of playing and recording music as a professional musician, do you have any spare time interests or hobbies? Perhaps something unusual that may be surprising?
Barry: I do, I love to probably first and foremost is cook, cook for my family. I have always loved to cook. That is something that I miss on the road is just doing a home cooked meal. When I am home we rarely ever go out for to eat except for something like sushi because sushi chefs are just better at it than I will ever be. I love to be out in the woods I am an outdoorsman, working in my yard, camping.. those types of things. Also, I hunt to fill my freezer, not for trophies. Once a year I would go out and hunt a deer just to fill my freezer.
NRR: I am sure that you have done many interviews since the bands inception. If you could play the interviewer role and choose a person to interview, who would that be?
Barry: Wow! There are a lot of people that I would. Are we doing the whole ‘alive or dead’ thing?
NRR: A personal hero or inspiration maybe? Doesn’t even have to be a musician.
Barry: Well my hero is my father, and he is still around and we talk all the time. If I could pick somebody, it would probably be George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or even Jesus Christ. Those formidable figures that changed the world is somebody that I would just want to sit with and go ‘How was your normal days’? Because all we know is the fantastic tales. We don’t know, what you did on a normal day and how your life really was. I think that would be interesting.
NRR: After the Carnival of Madness rolls out of the UK, what is planned next for Shinedown?
Barry: We get done with that, then we come back and do a West Coast run in the United States. Then a couple of festivals and that takes us up to the end of March. Then we take two or three weeks off because our guitar player is going to have a baby. April/May we do US festivals, kind of like your festivals in June. In June, we are coming back overseas to do Download and all the other festivals over there. The whole month of June we will be in the UK, and Europe not only doing festivals but some headlining shows. We haven’t got the headlining ones yet. So I don’t know if we are doing a proper headlining show in the UK or …
NRR: That would be pretty good, as a longstanding fan of the band I would love to see that.
Barry: Yeah I hope we do, I would love to.
NRR: I definitely think that there would be a very strong UK interest for a headlining tour by the band. Hence, my earlier question expressing surprise that the band were not actually headlining the “Carnival” dates.
Barry: Yeah we are too, I think maybe Black Stone Cherry is popular enough to bring in more tickets. Obviously, there is the business side with labels and everything else, they want to make some money and the promoters. You know whatever, we are going to get up there and do our fifty minutes of rock and have a great time. I would love to do a UK tour when its not freezing cold outside.
NRR: Realistically Barry that’s not very likely to happen.
Barry: (laughing) We would definitely like to get back over there and do a proper headlining tour. This is kind of our way of reintroducing ourselves and making sure that we are not forgotten over there because we take so long between records. From that whole June run that is going to be a mixture of festivals and headlining shows back in the States, we are going to do our version of the Carnival over here with Shinedown headlining in the States for the summer. Then we haven’t really planned out the Fall yet; that’s when I hope that we would go back over to the UK and Europe on a proper headlining run. We just haven’t planned that far in advance yet.
NRR: Thanks for taking the time to chat to me, as a longstanding Shinedown fan I’m looking forward to catching the band live for the first time in Manchester.
Barry: Awesome, is that where you live Manchester? I love it there, I have had a lot of good fun there.
NRR: Thanks again, bye.
Tickets for “The Carnival of Madness” tour featuring Black Stone Cherry, Shinedown, Halestorm and Highly Suspect are on sale now at www.carnivalofmadness.com
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Photo: Darren Doane