On June 18th 2018 Shinedown finally came to Budapest for the first time and threw a pretty awesome show. Thanks to a friend of mine I got the chance to make an interview with their drummer, Barry Kerch. I was nervous as hell, this being my first interview ever, in person, in english… Fortunately it turned out to be a blast and we happened to have a few things in common 🙂
I believe this is the band's first time in Hungary. How are you finding it so far?
Yes, this is the first time we’ve been here, one of the places we’ve visited for the first time. We actually had a day off yesterday, so we were able to wander around.
It was a beautiful day. It’s a beautiful city. It was great. I didn’t even realisewe were playing outside, I thought we would be in a club. I saw the place today and it looks far more fancier.
It will probably be packed tonight. I've been - with many others I guess - waiting for you guys for 10 years now.
It took us a long time to be here.
Yeah. So, how is the tour so far? You just started a few weeks ago, right?
Yeah, over here. We just started a few weeks ago, I guess it’s been about 2 and a half weeks now. It’s been a lot of fun. Big crowds, you know, the big festivals: Rock am Ring, Rock im Park and playing headlining shows. We have a blast. I love it over here. I love to come over here because it’s an experience I never thought I’d have as a kid. You always hear about all these places, the visible history in the States isn’t quite as old. So we came over here and see all these architecture and buildings such as the castles. We don’t have castles in the States. Or dungeons or anything, so it’s really just me being a history buff. I studied anthropology in college and being able to do all these things is a lot of fun. On the side I get to play music which is the best. So yeah, I love it over here. We’ll be here for another 2 weeks. We’ve just started touring for this record. We’ll be back, not in this city unfortunately, but we’ll be back in Europe and the UK in the fall. So we’ll be back pretty soon.
You have a long tour before you then. Do you have any time to relax? To look around the cities or just have some fun?
Not as much as I’d like. Yesterday was a nice day off, but we don’t have a lot of those. Tomorrow we’ve a long drive over to Holland, so we will get there at 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening, have dinner and play another show the next day. And then another long drive. A lot of our days off are travel days, so we don’t get to see as much. But when we do have a day off, we try really explore the cities, to immerse ourself in the local culture a little bit. So yeah, we try.
So you were lucky to have a chance to look around Budapest. How did you spend your time?
We were staying on this side… The side where the castle is…*
Buda, yes. We stayed on Pest, we had our hotel there. I spent more time in Pest having food and stuff. I went to the city center circle area, people watching, drinking beer, watching everybody go by, watching the football game, so that was fun. Just to see everybody get excited. But then you know there is a little bit more architecture on the other side, so. It’s all great. It’s a new experience, I can’t really pick a favourite side. I like both. The history person in me loved the old side.
How did you start drumming? How did you start playing music?
I was pretty young, I was 7 when I started playing drums. My grandmother’s brother who I didn’t really know was a jazz drummer. She said you’re going to be a drummer. On my 7th birthday I was given a snare drum and some lessons and got hooked. So I’ve taken lessons, played on the snare drums for 3 years in school bands and stuff like that. Then I received my first drum set. In college I was in a marching band and in a music program. Then I got out of there and I just wanted to play in a rock and roll band, because that was where my heart was. I was in local bands but they never really took off. Then I had to move from Orlando where I went to College up to Florida to work. At that point I was 25, I was engaged to my now wife, then I heard about this audition with this guy named Brent Smith. I got and audition tape and heard his voice and I got to try. And I did, I got the gig and 20 years later I never looked back.
That's cool. You can do what you really love and live the life.
Yep. I’ve been really lucky. It’s a lot of hard work. Lot of backstages, they all look the same after a while. *laughs*
Did you have any favourite bands while growing up? What bands inspired you?
Quite a few. A big one for me very early on was Iron Maiden. We had the opportunity to tour with them it was so nice, it was like a childhood dream come true. But I was very vivid in my music taste. I have an older brother who introduced me to a lot of different things. So growing up there was definitely a lot of the heavy metal scene, Ozzy, Def Leppard and Nine Inch Nails were a big influence on me as I was an angry teenager at the time. I was in my freshmen year at College when The Downward Spiral came out. There are a lot of bands, a lot of influences. I am a fan of music, I listen to everything. If it’s good music, it’s good music, whether it’s pop, rap, rock and roll, country, it’s all good to listen to.
For a musician music is life.
Yep, it is. If somebody touches you, doesn’t matter what sound it is. But if it touches something inside of you and sparks something, then doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, if it makes you feel something – that’s kind of what music is for. You know we all listen to music differently in the band, we’ve talked about this a lot. Brent listens to melody and lyrics, I listen to rythym more than I listen to the lyrics. That’s the way my brain interprets music. And everybody has a different way to interpret music.
I never played music, but I've been in love with it for as long as I can remember. I can't go a day without it.
It’s a thing. Some people love it, some people don’t, you know. My daughter, she loves music.
You mentioned Def Leppard. I have a Hysteria T-shirt I sleep in, which I stole from my dad.
Yeah. Def Leppard was my first major concert that I saw. They were on the Hysteria tour, my brother took me and as I was watching them I was like “I want to do that, that’s fun.” And I got to. *laughs*
Let's talk about the new album, Attention Attention. This is your sixth studio album, and the first concept one. Was it any different to make this album compared to the others?
It was a little different because typically when we wrote the other records, we had this collection of songs and so we wrote about 30-40 songs or so, and picked the best 10 to 12 for the record and that was it. This one, we didn’t write as many songs necessarily, but we had to write songs that actually told the story. In our opinion, we like to write an album anyone can listen from front to back and think all the songs are good. But we were telling a story as well. It was a little more difficult to fit the pieces together and tell the story. We had to put all those emotions onto our central character, because the album is really about the four of us, what we’ve lived through in our lifes and in the past few years. It’s no secret that Brent has had addiction problems in the past, it’s no secret Eric deals with depression issues, and Zack and myself had to try help them along and live through this and try to be supporting. That’s what this album is about. In the beginning the main character walks in a room, sits down, Devil kicks in and it’s like “all right I got to face these things and it’s gonna go one way or the other”. And that’s kind of journey the record takes you through and at the end, you know, it ends with Brilliant. It’s “ah, I gotta go out and be the best I can and a little devil still sits on my shoulder and it’s always there, I can always go back and be that person but I have to try every day to not be”. It’s a tough thing you know. Especially with those guys: addiction, people having it at that level, and depression as well. I don’t understand what it is, but to watch while my best friends and my brother go through it… It sucks.
I know. In the last few months I've got to know people who battle with depression and other mental illnesses and it's really hard to see them struggle. You can't do anything, just to be there for them and listen if they want to talk. It's pretty heartbreaking to watch them.
Yeah, it’s frustrating.
So I really get it, and I think the message comes through to the fans.
Yeah. I think it’s a good thing. It’s therapeutic for them, Brent to be able to put it in the lyrics, this is what I’ve gone through so part of their life is on this album. I think it also helps people who have these issues, they listen to the record and really take the lyrics to heart.
Do you have a favourite song on this album? Or a song you really like to play in live?
I can’t choose a favourite song from this album, because we put so much work into these songs, it’s like choosing your favourite child. *laughs*
Yes, I know, this was an unfair question.
But live I really enjoy playing Devil. People know that song as that was the first single, and it’s just ends the set really well.
You've been in the band for a really long time. What keeps you motivated still?
I truly enjoy what I love, we all do. We love to do this, we love to play for the fans, we love to create music. It’s what we do. And we still belong, we still like each other, we still ride the same bus together, we still get to dinner together. It’s a family. And I enjoy playing on stage with those guys, we have a really good time doing it. I think if it wasn’t fun anymore, we would have to stop, but it’s still fun. It’s still so much more than what we thought it will be. Look at us today, we are playing in a city, in a country we’ve never been to before. The idea is to keep going on as long as we can. We look at bands like U2, Aerosmith or Rolling Stones. Just keep doing what they do, keep making records, that’s kinda what we want to be. We wanna be around for a long time and keep doing what we love as long as we are happy, healthy and able to do it.
Barry, it was a pleasure, thank you for your time and answering my quesitons!
Absolutely! Enjoy the show tonight!
*For those who are interested: Budapest is divided by the river Danube. Originally there were 3 cities which were united in 1873. Buda is the older part of the city, its history goes back for several centuries. The Roman Empire had a city here called Aquincum. Pest is a slightly newer part, where merchants, and workers lived. Buda has the palace and some of the richest areas still.
**Cover photo’s rights belong to Évi Máté, Photographic.hu