Eric Bass laughed when asked if producing his own band was akin to that adage: A lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client. “I don’t know if it’s the same thing, but it might be close,” Bass said by phone from Columbus, Ohio. “I once said that you should never produce your own band. I always thought that you needed that outside opinion, but I did my due diligence while working on this album trying to make this the best sounding Shinedown album possible. The songs came first and any ego stuff came second.”
“Attention Attention,” Shinedown’s sixth album, still packs the punch of the Florida band’s muscular past. However, the most recent batch of tunes, which dropped last May, are more melodic. The collection still has a number of anthemic cuts, such as the hook-laden “Kill Your Conscience.”
“We don’t want to make the same album over and over again,” Bass said. “A lot of bands make their whole career around one sound. But we’re about expanding the sand box. It’s a risk making sonic changes. I was the biggest Muse fan, but they lost me with their last album (2018’s “Simulation Theory”). But I admire the fact they’re pushing the boundaries.
“We’re always going to push the boundaries. We may lose some fans and that’s unfortunate, but we have to try to satisfy ourselves musically before we do anything else. It’s about making us happy, because we want to continue making music as Shinedown for as long as we can. It’s all about the four of us.”
Before Bass and guitarist Zach Myers joined Shinedown in 2008, there was considerable drama. Vocalist Brent Smith and guitarist Jasin Todd were going through substance abuse. The band almost broke up. The only way Smith thought the band could be saved was to clean up and fire Todd and bassist Brad Stewart, who wanted to move in a different sonic direction. Original drummer Barry Kerch stayed on.
There isn’t much tumult in Shinedown these days.
“We would make for the worst reality show,” Bass said with a laugh. “We genuinely care for each other. Our feelings are totally genuine. Our goal is to make the best music possible.”
It’s almost time for a new Shinedown album, which means fresh material.
“We always write about two or three albums worth of songs,” Bass said. “The best songs make the album, and we throw the rest away and those songs will never be heard again. Who knows what we’ll do next? All I know for sure is that it will be a rock record.”
However, some pundits have declared that rock is dead.
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“That’s fake news,” he said. “The spirit of rock is still alive. Come to our shows to check it out.”
But his pal and fellow bassist Gene Simmons of Kiss also has proclaimed that rock is dead.
“I won’t say anything negative about Kiss,” Bass said. “But I will say that rock isn’t as popular as it was when Kiss was starting out during the ’70s, but people still love rock and they come out for it. If not, we would be playing smaller venues.”
Much like a Kiss concert, a Shinedown show has plenty of eye candy. Prepare for an aural onslaught when Shinedown performs Saturday (3/16) at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
“There will be lots of fire, lots of video and lots of lasers,” Bass said. “We got a few surprises. We’ll mix things up. It’ll be a fun arena show.”
It’s curious why Bass pronounces his surname like the fish instead of the instrument he plays.
“I guess the name Bass is the best name for a bassist but no, I’m proud of my name and never wanted to change the pronunciation of my God-given name.”
Every time Bass returns to Iowa, he hopes to find a state fair in the area.
“It goes back to one of the first shows we played in Iowa,” he said. “There was a state fair. I’m from South Carolina and we have state fairs, but it was nothing like this. There were a few prize-winning pigs and there was the world’s largest bull. I was in awe and I was in Iowa.
“It’s a cool place to be at a state fair and a cool place to catch a Shinedown show.”
WHAT: Shinedown, with openers Papa Roach and Asking Alexandria
WHERE: U.S. Cellular Center, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday (3/16)
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TICKETS: $53 to $78.50, center box office, 1-(800) 745-3000 or Uscellularcenter.com/event/shinedown/
BAND’S WEBSITE: Shinedown.com