Shinedown are going places. Already a major force in the US, its time for the Jacksonville quartet to make their mark on the rest of world. Touring in support of their soon to be released (and it is their best album to date) 'The Sound of Madness' I managed to chat with drummer (and all round nice guy) Barry Kerch before their intimate gig at the Manchester Academy 3

R13: First of all Barry, many congratulations on your latest US single, 'Second Chance' going straight to No.1 in the Billboard Rock Mainstream charts.
Barry Kerch: That’s awesome! It doesn’t really get much better than that, unless its top forty!

R13: You must be really pleased with how its all going in the US, especially after a 3 year hiatus.
BK: We're extremely lucky! Going top forty, having a number one, and everything else. Its been a great ride. We've been lucky to have three albums, where most rock bands can't even say that anymore. To still be doing this, and now getting over to this side of the pond and being able to enjoy Europe and the UK - its pretty amazing for us.

R13: The new album is pretty amazing, but why the delay in launches? I got it on holiday last year and I've been hyping it up for months.
BK: Thank you. Um... I think there was some kind of grand scheme of things with Atlantic our record company, but I don’t know what it is, I don’t understand these things. I think that they had to establish some kind of a story. Get it established in the States before the rest of the market

R13: I was very lucky in seeing you last October supporting Disturbed and even I was overwhelmed with the response you got. It's very rare I see that level of support for a support band. Did you get the same feeling that I did?
BK: It's strange for us too, because we had never been here before.

R13: When you played '.45', the audience response was unbelieveable, with the whole theatre waving their lit cell phones in the air. I'm getting goosebumps just talking about it now
BK: Do you know, what's been happening now on these smaller headlining shows, with about 300 people, or whatever these clubs hold, everyone knows the words to each and every song. Its great!

R13: The path has been paved for you, what with now regular TV time on Kerrang and Scuzz.
BK: As long as you want us, we'll keep coming back! I like it up here, the foods great, the beers better, I'm happy!

R13: I've got your band chart history, it must feel great, making big strides with each and every album in the US. Is that the plan now, to give Europe more of a shot?
BK: For sure. We want world domination! (laughs). For us it’s a paid vacation, we get to see the world and we've always wanted to do it. Its been eight years in the making and we've always wanted to come over here. We haven’t either had the financial backing to come over here, or had the backing of a label or management. Its great - its our first ever headlining tour, most of the shows are sold out, except Paris.
R13: That’s the French for you, no taste!
BK: You said it man, not me. Everything's great, I get to sit down once in a while when we get a break, sit down and reflect on what's happened in the last ten months.

R13: For 'The Sound of Madness' you’ve written 60 songs before going into the studio, how on Earth do you begin to whittle it down to the eleven on the CD?
BK: We're in a band that wants to be played on the radio. First we get it down to about 30 songs that could make the radio. From this 30 we think "whats going to make it into the Top 10", what is a good song, or is it just ok. Then you know, what songs go well together.
R13: create a good flow...?
BK: Yeah, you’ve gotta have a good flow, that’s why you have the bonus edition of the cd - its got those extra songs, those are good songs for a record, they get used as bonus songs, or maybe movies or soundtracks, some may even be reworked for the next album who knows.

R13: You started with this 'Southern' tag like Skynyrd, but you’ve progressed into this area rock sound on a grand scale, layered sound, lots of strings…
BK: And that was a conscious decision, it was definitely planned. The plan was to get bigger and better with every album and you have to shoot for what you want to do. We're not complacent, we never get happy, always looking to improve with each change we get. And the Southern thing, we get sick and tired with the tag, were happy to be from the South, but everyone frowns upon you for being a southerner. New York won't play your songs because you're from the South, that’s why its planned.

R13: This new cd shows the band growing and maturing, it’s a very personal set of songs.
BK: That’s Brent. Brent is the main songwriter, he's able to express himself a lot more. He's not afraid to say what he means, he used to paint it with a bunch of pictures, and now he says 'here I am', and its great. It’s a healthy environment too, we've been through Hell and back, he and I have, we're in probably the best shape and spirit that we've been for a long time, both mentally and physically.

R13: I don’t want to get too political, but after Brent's lyrics on 'Devour', the inauguration of Barack Obama must be very pleasing?
BK: I think everybody was ready, but we also did 'Devour' as a rally cry for the troops in Iraq. We're all huge supporters of the US military. We've been over, I have family in the military, we have strong connections, Eric Bass(Bass) has connections also. Obama has a tough job to do and we've got to support him. I'm hoping there's a change, that something good will come out of the administration, but he's not going to change the world in a day, or even four years.

R13: With the success of this UK tour what's next?
BK: This tour is only 20 days long. We've got Paris, over to Finland, hopefully come back in the Summer for one or two festivals - any of the big ones would be great, hopefully back touring in the Fall.

R13: Any final message to us fans in the uk?
BK: You know what, thank you, and to all the fans over here who have embraced us, it doesn't go unnoticed. We are very happy to be here, its an honour, and we will always continue to give 110 percent. If you keep coming to the shows we'll keep coming back.

R13: Thank you.