The Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival kicked this past Friday, August 17 off in Kansas City, Missouri. To celebrate the tour launch, Uproar‘s Rick Florino spoke with Brent Smith from SHINEDOWN, Sully Erna from GODSMACK and Rick DeJesus from ADELITAS WAY. Read the question-and-answer session here and listen to the exclusive conversation using the audio player below.
Brent, Sully and Rick discussed the camaraderie between Uproar bands, what to expect from their live performances, things they like to do when they’re not on stage, and plans for a possible onstage collaboration at the end of the night on Uproar. The guys even talked about Adele, Lady Gaga and the general state of music.
Here are some excerpts from the diverse conversation:
Brent Smith: “We were doing a show in Boston at the House of Blues on our last record, and Sully was working on an album at that time. It was like two years ago. Sully came out to the show and brought some friends. He was like, ‘Wait until he sings this cover of ‘Simple Man’.’ We didn’t play it that night though. I saw him up in the VIP area, and he was like, ‘Dude, I’m going to tell you this right now. I was so looking forward to that song, and you didn’t play it.’ I told Sully, ‘There are some personal issues going on with that song right now. That’s why we’re not playing it.’ Sully said something that changed my life actually on a professional level. He put his arm around me and said, ‘Dude, it’s not about you. It’s about the audience. All of those people came here tonight. They wanted to hear your songs, but they wanted to hear that song and you didn’t play it for them. You’ve got to remember something. It’s an honor to do what you do for living, and need to give the people what they want.’ From that night on, we put the song back in the set. He was right about that. It was something I had to open my eyes to. I never got a chance to thank him for that, but I want to thank him now.”
Sully Erna: “I was trying to get the point across that it’s about the hits. I came there as a fan. I didn’t come there as a friend of Brent‘s. I wasn’t coming there because we’d worked together for ten years. I came there because I was a fan of hearing some of the stuff they’ve written, along with that song. To me, that’s one of their hits. Yeah, LYNYRD SKYNYRD wrote it, but so what? THE BEATLES wrote ‘Come Together’, and AEROSMITH did an amazing version of that. It’s part of their thing. ‘Train Kept A-Rollin” isn’t even an AEROSMITH song. I didn’t find that out until years later. It’s part of your thing now. People want to hear the hits. They want to hear the songs they love you singing. There’s a reason why that song was huge on the radio. I try to tell young bands that all the time: ‘Do not neglect the hits.’ Do you think Steven Tyler wants to sing ‘Dream On’ every night thirty years later? Fuck no! He has no desire to sing that song, but he gets up there and does it. When he sees thirty-thousand people singing along with him, his whole train of thought changes at that point. It’s about delivering to the audience and playing the songs. A lot of bands will go, ‘We want to play the ‘B’ cuts because they’re cooler. These are the ones that didn’t make the radio.’ They try to go for this underground vibe, and that’s cool if you want to be in the clubs for the rest of your life. If you’re going to play to 20,000 people and entertain at a level like we do, you’ve got to play the hits or you’re going to be in trouble.
Brent Smith: “When we ended our last record cycle, I had interviews with quite a few journalists. They said, ‘How does it make you feel the days of selling ten million records are over?’ I said, ‘That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life.’ You have to connect with people. There’s a young lady by the name of Adele. She personifies a vocal style and honest, musical sensibility played with real instruments. She’s about a month and a half off from selling 10 million records in the United States. It’s a different style of music, but at the same time, it’s not. It’s rhythm and blues. Music is a pendulum. It’s constantly swinging. It will always come back around. You can have a gimmick and shticks that work every once in a while, but it will always come back to drums, bass, guitar, fantastic vocals, and a killer song.”
Sully Erna: “I want to endorse something Brent just said. He hit on something very important I think people need to realize. I have a different opinion about a lot of stuff. With Adele, he hit it right on the head. She’s probably one of my favorite artists right now. I listen to less rock music now than I ever have. I draw influences from so many different styles of music. That’s why when I did my solo record, it sounded completely different than anything I’ve done with GODSMACK because I’d draw from world music, DEAD CAN DANCE, and MAZZY STAR. These world artists play their instruments like we do, but it’s a different style. For me, the beauty lies in the work put into it. I’ve got to tell you. Even with the electronica and pop artists out there, at times there are people writing songs for them, but it’s still an art. For what it’s worth, it can be really powerful. Nobody wants to like Lady Gaga in rock ‘n’ roll because she’s the pop diva selling out arenas everywhere. Good for her! She’s writing huge, fat hits. She won me over at a certain point. I’m gonna tell you straight up. When I saw that HBO special and I was looking at the ‘Monster Ball’ concert, at first I was like, ‘This is ridiculous. It’s so cheesy.’ When those credits rolled at the end, they showed her in the dressing room, warming up with her backup singers and singing from her heart. That made me realize this girl doesn’t run tape, and she can sing her ass off. I don’t care what anybody says. You may love her, hate her, or think she’s a kook, but she’s the modern-day Grace Slick from JEFFERSON STARSHIP. She’s just a really bizarre artist. That girl can really sing her ass off, just like Adele. I love the diversity of music and think it’s important people keep trying different things because otherwise we all sound the same. We have to have those kinds of influences. My hat’s off to them. Raw talent draws people to her — like Brent was talking about. Adele has sold 10 million records off raw talent. Some songs are just her and a piano or her and a guitar. She doesn’t even need an instrument. She can just sing, and it’s overwhelming because it’s so amazing. Besides the lyrical content and being able to touch every broken heart in the world, there’s still a passion and sincerity to her voice that’s so important for people to hear, recognize, and embrace. That form of artistry isn’t as around as it was when people were cutting vinyl like Etta James and Aretha Franklin. I’m glad people acknowledge that and it’s becoming admired again. To me, that’s the heart of rock ‘n’ roll. To hear a singer reach for that note and crack a little bit is the most beautiful thing in the world. I don’t want it to be perfect all the time. Like Rick was saying, it gets carried away with auto-tuning and pushing buttons to make a song happen. There’s an art to rock ‘n’ roll and this music that needs to be nurtured and savored. I’m so grateful for artists like that.”