Beasley Broadcast Group To Report 2020 Third Quarter Financial Results, Host Conference Call And Webcast On November 3

Beasley Broadcast Group To Report 2020 Third Quarter Financial Results, Host Conference Call And Webcast On November 3

NAPLES, Florida, October 27, 2020 – Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: BBGI) (“Beasley” or the “Company”), a multi-platform media company, announced today that it will report its 2020 third quarter financial results before the market opens on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. The Company will host a conference call and webcast at 11:00 a.m. ET that morning to review the results.

To access the conference call, interested parties may dial 334-323-0501, conference ID 2300784 (domestic and international callers).  Participants can also listen to a live webcast of the call at the Company’s website at www.bbgi.com. Please allow 15 minutes to register and download and install any necessary software.  Following its completion, a replay of the webcast can be accessed for five days on the Company’s website, www.bbgi.com.

Questions from analysts, institutional investors and debt holders may be e-mailed to [email protected] at any time up until 9:00 a.m. ET on November 3, 2020.  Management will answer as many questions as possible during the conference call and webcast (provided the questions are not addressed in their prepared remarks).

About Beasley Broadcast Group

Celebrating its 59th anniversary this year, Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc., (www.bbgi.com) was founded in 1961 by George G. Beasley who remains the Company’s Chairman of the Board.  Beasley Broadcast Group owns and operates 64 stations (47 FM and 17 AM) in 15 large- and mid-size markets in the United States.  Approximately 19 million consumers listen to Beasley radio stations weekly over-the-air, online and on smartphones and tablets, and millions regularly engage with the Company’s brands and personalities through digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, text, apps and email.  Beasley recently acquired a majority interest in the Overwatch League’s Houston Outlaws esports team and owns BeasleyXP, a national esports content hub. For more information, please visit www.bbgi.com.

For further information, or to receive future Beasley Broadcast Group news announcements via e-mail, please contact Beasley Broadcast Group, at 239/263-5000 or [email protected], or Joseph Jaffoni, JCIR, at 212/835-8500 or [email protected]

Thomas Archer: The Stories Behind Hits By Luke Combs, Jason Aldean, Mitchell Tennpenny

Thomas Archer: The Stories Behind Hits By Luke Combs, Jason Aldean, Mitchell Tennpenny

The 100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers limited series podcast gives music fans a front-row seat for conversations with songwriters behind some of the biggest hits of yesterday and today. You’ll learn the stories behind the songs from the people who wrote them. Each episode will focus on one writer: sometimes, they’ll just talk about one song, other times, they’ll talk about a number of hits.

New episodes will be released each Monday through November of 2020.   

100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers special podcast series is produced in partnership with Beasley Media Group, XPERI (HD Radio), and BMI in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast.

Thomas Archer is quietly becoming one of Nashville’s hottest writers. He’s worked on a couple of huge Luke Combs songs — “Lovin’ On You” and “Hurricane” (the latter of which they wrote the day they met), as well as hits for Jason Aldean and Mitchell Tenpenny. He told us the stories behind all of those songs, and gave some insight on what it’s like to be a songwriter on the road with a major star.

Thomas Archer

Thomas, talk about writing Luke Combs’ “Lovin’ On You.” 

We actually just stumbled on it one weekend. It was in 2017 and Luke had just gotten his first artist bus. So he took out a couple of writers. And I believe we were in Kansas City, Missouri when we wrote this song. Funny fact: a guy brought us barbecue that day on the bus and he said, “Hey, y’all mind if I sit here and watch you write a song?” So we tossed around some ideas and he sat there and watched us write “Lovin’ On You” in about an hour and a half.

What are you playing when you’re writing? Are you playing guitar? Are you playing keyboards? Are you writing lyrics with him?

My wife had actually just got me a 1956 Gibson LG1, one that I was so proud of, and happy to bring out. She brought it for me for a present for [Combs’] “Hurricane” going number one. And so I was excited to take it out on the road, so I think I was actually holding the guitar and we started riffing around a little bit when we wrote it on that guitar.

So what is that like when you’re going on the road with a guy like that? I mean, obviously, his main concern is playing their shows every night. How how does your day go when you’re touring with Luke and getting to write songs around his schedule?

We’re on his time. We just try not to get in the way and enjoy our time and respect their space and their time. And we just kind of sit around, toss some ideas and wait on when they want to write. Like, Luke might be a guy that he might not wanna write on Thursday night or Saturday. And so, we write on Friday. I mean, you just never know. I remember we went to play golf one day and played football in a parking lot one day. And then finally we wrote the song the next day. So it’s always different. It depends on who you’re going out with.

I’m guessing at some point you’re like, “We’re out here for a reason. We’ve got to start writing.”

Oh, yeah. You start pushing them a little bit. If it’s Saturday and you haven’t written anything yet, you definitely wonder what you’re doing out there. But the artist, if they bring you out there, they definitely respect your time as well. And they want to make the best use of it and try to get a great song out of it.

Do they pay you for the time to be out there? Or is it just like, “If we get a song, we get a song. If not: hope you had a good time?”

We always get something. We don’t come home empty-handed. But you’re never paid for your time. We don’t get paid to go to writes [writing sessions]. And we’re all buddies. So it feels like we’re hanging out and we’re investing our time into something that we love and that we think that everyone else will love as well.

So talk about the intent of the song. What’s it about?

It’s sort of fast and it just felt like an up-tempo good ol’ boy redneck love song. And around the second verse, it wasn’t till then that I figured, okay, I guess we can go for this. And that’s where the “Sunrise, duck blind, birdie on a par 5” came from. I love huntin’ and golfin’ and Miller Lite. So that was selfishly some of my brain there.

A lot of times you chip away at a song and chip away, chip away. But this one, it just kind of wrote itself. It felt right all along and was just one line led to the next. And it may have taken less than an hour. And it was done.

Wow. And do you remember the first time hearing it on the radio?

I do. Funny thing is, I feel like I hear my songs for the first time on the radio in the same place. I live in Nashville now. But our families are all in Georgia and we have to go to Atlanta. And every single time we go to Atlanta, we hit traffic. And I feel like I hear my songs in traffic for the first time in Atlanta.

Have you had the experience of finding yourself in a bar or restaurant or a supermarket where somebody is listening to Luke Combs song that you co-wrote, and they have no idea they’re standing next to the guy who wrote it or co-wrote it?

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, the funniest time was a guy we were in Key West on a vacation and a guy came down Duvall Street on a motorcycle, like a biker guy, singing “Hurricane” as loud as he could. I was on the sidewalk. And he would have never known. But it made my day.

Do you ever say, “Hey, that was me?” 

No, I haven’t. I did that an Uber one time, my Uber driver was singing one of our songs. And I said, “Hey, I’m actually one of the writers in that song. Thank you for loving it.”

So what did he or she say?

Well, first off, he called me a liar and then he said, you got to be s—ing me. Excuse my language. And then he turned the radio off and said, “Will you sing it?” And I said, “No, you’re doing a great job. You finish it.”

So “Hurricane” was the first time you worked with Luke, right?

Right. That was the first time I met Luke: the day we wrote “Hurricane.”

 

How is it presented to you? Does the record label say, “Hey, we’ve got this new guy, we think he’s got something? Can you write with him?” How does it work? 

I actually heard his voice on… maybe “She Got The Best Of Me” from a buddy. And I said, “I don’t know who this is. Is he in Nashville? I love his voice. We should write with him.” And Taylor Phillips, the co-writer of “Hurricane,” set that up. And I didn’t know who Luke was, some of my buddies hung out with him. The first time I was able to be around him was the first day in the writing room.

A lot of times collaborators know each other. So this situation was like, “OK. Here are the guitars, here’s the piano or whatever. Let’s write a song.” Is that how it works? Could it be uncomfortable? What is the vibe like?

I mean, as a writer in the music business, I feel like you’re pretty numb to “uncomfortable.” It’s just another day at the office and it’s just another roll of the dice. “Let’s see if we can come up with something that people love.” And that day, in particular, we did. Writing “Hurricane,” I was tuning the guitar, I played the intro to “Hurricane” and Luke said, “What is that?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “Let’s write to that.” And then I said, “Well, what are we gonna write?” He said, “I have a title: ‘Hurricane.'”

I said, “So what’s it about?” He said, “I don’t know.” So we just had we kind of made up a story that everyone could relate to that day. And all days are different. That was definitely a rare day.

At that point, you probably had no idea he would get as popular as he has gotten.

Oh, no. I was like, “All right. See you later. What’s your number again?” I mean, it was just another day. With a lot of songs, you don’t realize how good they are — if they are good — until later down the road.

With that one in particular, remember, I was writing with my buddy Jon Langston. I think we were going huntin’ and he was playing. We were swapping demos and he played me “Hurricane.” He said, “Have you heard this song?”

And I said, “Buddy, I wrote that song.” And he said, “No way!”

So when you wrote that with him, did you know that it was for him as an artist making a record, or was he just presented to you as another writer and you were writing a song that somebody, somewhere, might record? 

A little of both. He didn’t have the biggest artist career going on at the time. But we wrote it for him. But you always think of like, “Who else could do this song?” And I don’t even know if we sent it around [to other artists] at all. I mean, from the moment I got it back, it felt like the only person that could do it is Luke, because it was so good. I can’t hear another voice on it.

Do you remember where were you when you found out you had a number one song?

Luke called me. He was in Key West at a BMI songwriters [camp] and he Facetimed me. I knew we were close [to having a number one], but the song at the top of the charts at the time was [Sam Hunt’s] “Body Like a Back Road.” And that was a monster song. The song behind this was [Brett Young’s] “In Case You Didn’t Know.” We were in the middle of two monster songs… And then Luke Facetimed and said, “Hey, buddy, we’re going number one this week.” And that I was in Georgia at my family’s farm. And that just felt like a lot of years of hard work and being told “No” was paying off.

Are there a lot of other songs that you wrote with Luke that haven’t come out yet, or are there things that he’s planning on using in the future?

I’d like to think so. You always want to have more irons in the fire, but we haven’t written the most songs. I’m sure he’s written a lot more with a lot of other songwriters. But we’ve we’ve definitely made our ones count.

Talk about writing “Got What I Got” for Jason Aldean. 

“Got What I Got,” we wrote in August of 2018. And one of my buddies, Alex Palmer, was in town from L.A. So whenever he comes to town, we try to make time for him and write. And so myself and Michael Tyler called him one afternoon. And I brought the idea in, and he had that funky track. They built the song around his track. And honestly, it took about forty-five minutes, it kind of fell out. I really didn’t go back to it for a couple of months. And after then I kept going back to it because it was just so different. And we had written maybe three songs that we thought Jason would do, and they sent us an email saying “He’s cutting ‘Got What I Got.'” And I remember texting the songwriters saying, “Are you sure he’s cutting that one? You sure it’s not one of the other couple that we wrote?” And they said, “Positive.”

So you guys do a session saying, “We know Jason Aldean is working on a record. We know that he’s looking for songs. We’re going to knock out a few and we hope he takes at least one.” Is that how that works?

Right. Usually, we think, “All right. What would Jason say? How would he do this? How would he do that?”

But on that day, we just wrote a song that we thought was cool. I don’t think we brought up his name. We didn’t bring up anyone’s name. We just wrote a song that we all liked. And I think that’s what made it authentic and made it stand out.

 

Tell me about “Somebody Ain’t You” by Mitchell Tenpenny.

That’s a weird story. It’s the weirdest song I’ve ever written, [because of] where I wrote it. Mitchell invited me to Lincoln, Alabama to a songwriting retreat. We weren’t even really writing for him. We were just all just a bunch of people, writing. And there’s about ten of us. We had a schedule. And it felt like you were being, you know, told you had to do something at a certain time. And then everyone cuts loose at night and you’re all drinking, hanging out, telling stories. And I noticed Mitchell sitting down by the lake with Dallas Wilson. And I said, “Well, let me go see what they’re doing.” And there was a boat under the dock at the lake. You could sit on the back of the boat just kind of hang your feet off and hang out. And I went down and they said, “You wanna write a song?” This is probably about one in the morning. And I said, “Sure.” And kicked my shoes off, jumped over on the boat and a storm came up, but it wasn’t lightning, it was just a storm. And we wrote the song during that storm on the back of this boat on a lake in Alabama.

We’d been up all night, having fun. And the next day I said, “Did anyone record what we wrote last night? I’m not sure if I remember how it goes, nor do I have a lyric.”

And Dallas Wilson had the recording of it, and I don’t think we changed one word before [Tenpenny] cut it. That story of how he wrote it and where he wrote it is by far the most unique songwriting experience I’ve ever had.

What is next for you? Do you have writes for specific artists coming up or are you going to do your own record?

Never my own record. I’m always just thinking, you know, two, three years down the road. I mean, after having a little taste with Jason… that’s always something you always want to have: more success. I have more irons in the fire. Always writing with Luke in mind. Trying to get cuts on some of these young guys’ [records] that are coming to town and just, you know, try to beat last year.

Do you guys have plans to get together with Luke?

He had mentioned to me he was trying to put together a songwriting retreat. I flew up to Minneapolis last year to see a show. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and sometimes to get a little face time and actually take in the show, you have to go a good ways from Nashville to get on the list, so to speak. And we flew up there. It was a great show. It sold out. It was St. Paul and he killed the show. And we talked, and he said, “Man, I’m putting together a writing retreat.” And then the pandemic happened.

So I think we’ll get around to it for sure. Hopefully here in the near future and start working on the next record.

Nick Furlong: The Papa Roach and Fever 333 Collaborator Talks Songwriting

Nick Furlong: The Papa Roach and Fever 333 Collaborator Talks Songwriting

The 100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers limited series podcast gives music fans a front-row seat for conversations with songwriters behind some of the biggest hits of yesterday and today. You’ll learn the stories behind the songs from the people who wrote them. Each episode will focus on one writer: sometimes, they’ll just talk about one song, other times, they’ll talk about a number of hits.

New episodes will be released each Monday through November of 2020.   

100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers special podcast series is produced in partnership with Beasley Media Group, XPERI (HD Radio), and BMI in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast.

Nick Furlong is a collaborator who doesn’t pay any mind to genre barriers: he’s collaborated with Five Seconds Of Summer, Steve Aoki, Kygo, Machine Gun Kelly, Waka Floka Flame, among others. But what we were interested in was his longstanding collaborative relationship with Papa Roach, with whom he worked on 2017’s Crooked Teeth and 2019’s Who Do You Trust? 

Let’s talk about some of the songs you wrote with Papa Roach. Let’s start with “American Dream.”

It’s definitely one of the songs that I feel like stood out from the minute that we started it. There was initially like a track idea that I believe Tobin [Esperance, bass] or Anthony [Palermo, drums] had brought in. And we sort of just kind of like took it and ran with it. They had this vision for the instrumental and it just sort of worked. Jacoby [Shaddix, vocals] and I sort of sat down and Jacoby had that chorus idea, like instantly it just kind of slapped itself together. And before we knew it, we had a song.

When you’re writing with Papa Roach, are you only involved in the music? Do you work with Jacoby on the lyrics as well?

So, it’s kind of an interesting dynamic. It depends on… I sort of play the role of being the man where I’m needed the most, you know? If we’re working on a musical idea and it’s myself and Colin [Brittain, co-producer] and Tobin and Jerry [Horton, guitar] and we’re kind of just playing with some sort of a track idea or coming up with a progression or something, that’s usually how it starts our process so that we have something to work off of. In this case, it was like they already had a track idea. They sort of brought it in. And we figured out a way to divvy up the team where Colin was working with Jerry and Tobin and I’m in the other room with Jacoby, and Jacoby is going through the chorus and we’re going through lines back and forth.

When Jacoby and I do that, he and go into the same room. We’re both on our cell phones and we’re just like nervously walking around the room, just typing and like mouthing words, like whispering to ourselves and hearing that beat over and over and over. And then we’ll go back to each other and compare our verse ideas.

 

For a lot of people, myself included, “Last Resort” was our first exposure to Papa Roach. I actually was working at MTV2 at that time. And we played that song every five minutes. They were one of the bands from that era that we’re really talking frankly about mental health. But “American Dream” seemed like, in some ways, an “American Idiot” moment for them. They were getting political; it was inspired by watching some of the political debates in 2016.

We started that record in the summer and the first song that we did together was “My Medication.” And then it sort of turned into like, “Hey, this song is really cool, we love working together. Let’s keep working together and see what else we can do.”

 

And then when we got into “American Dream,” it was debate season during an election year. It was Hillary versus Trump, a really controversial election. And it was just like chaos in the news, as I’m sure everybody knows. And so we kind of felt like, you know, that song and “None Of The Above” were sort of just like a way for us to vent a little steam. We’re like, “Everything’s kind of f—ed up. But it doesn’t have to be, you know?”

Was there any anxiety on Jacoby’s part, like, “We’re really not that political: I don’t know if I want to do this?”

Of course, there’s always that thought. We had the conversation about: “These things are happening.”And obviously, as musicians and especially like with a band like that, with an actual reach, we have the ability to have a platform to say stuff and have a message in the songs that we write. And the hope is that you actually are writing music that resonates with people for a reason, and we just felt like [the song] was coming from a place of concern and genuine compassion. We were concerned about soldiers coming home with PTSD. And that was a topic that we had been talking about because we had family in the military: Jacoby [did] and I did. And we had sort of bonded over talking about how it’s just kind of f—ed up that these guys go to war and then they end up like coming home to not a lot of help.

The system’s broken in a lot of ways for a lot of people, but it doesn’t have to be, and it’s always going to be a work in progress. And, you know, the song was more meant to say, like, the American dream is not something you go out and you earn is like an award or a trophy, it’s something that you award yourself, within yourself.

How does it sound to you now, four years later as we’re in another election season?

It’s funny, we did an album right after that. We went straight back into the studio and did another record called Who Do You Trust? And people will still hit me up. Like I just had a friend call me three weeks ago. He’s like, “Dude, I was sleeping on that new Papa Roach man.” And I was like, “Who Do You Trust?” And he’s like, “No, that Crooked Teeth album.” And that album came out like four years ago.

So it’s interesting to me that people are still catching on to it. To go back to the question, I definitely feel like the songs that were written then… the political climate hasn’t really improved. It’s only gotten worse, which has only made these songs more relevant, in my opinion.

 

Another song off that album is “Help,” talk about that.

That song was one of those “lightning in a bottle” moments that producers and writers kind of talk about where something just kind of magical happens in the room. And I think it was just that we were all at our wit’s end. We had just written Crooked Teeth. We poured our hearts and souls into this album and we just wanted it to be so good, to make a statement that rock and roll wasn’t dead and that this band who has been doing this for 20 years can still just pump something out that gets people pumped. So when we started getting into the record, we had done the entire thing and we were at the very end of it. And the label was like, “We just don’t hear the big radio single.” We were frustrated by that. It’s common that a label will come back to you and say that. But it’s always frustrating. But we decided to go back in for another week. And in that week, we got “None Of The Above.”

And then we also got “Help.” And we got “Help,” it was like instantly… when we heard that riff on the acoustic, everyone in the room kind of stopped and was like, “That feels good.” And then it just sort of slapped together out of frustration of Jacoby and myself both kind of going through some anxiety… I was actually just starting to suffer from panic attacks for the first time from being way overworked. I had never experienced it before. And so it was like interesting that to be able to write from a place of genuine fear. Those lyrics in that song… we lived that s—. Jacoby’s lived it. I lived it.

And it felt like, you know, a blip in time to be like writing in a journal to somebody else to be like, “You are not alone, man. It’s OK.” I feel like a lot of men don’t really stand up and talk about their struggles with mental health. And so I think it’s cool that, you know, Jacoby is not afraid to do that. And that Papa Roach is a band, has always prided themselves on being able to talk so freely and openly about that with their fans.

I remember when I was seeing the “Last Resort” video every five minutes, I was taken aback. It was a few years after Korn, but not a lot of hard rock bands used to talk about this stuff.

I love the contrast of happy-sad where you’re speaking about something that’s serious and it matters and it’s something that’s not the most happy of subjects, but it’s necessary to talk about… and you’re doing it over music that sounds like it’s a summer anthem. And I think the reason that it works so well is because of that contrast.

So let’s go to the next record, Who Do You Trust? In 2018 I was the editor in chief of Loudwire, which is when the Fever 333 came out. And that record Made An America, which I know you worked on… I figured, “The Papa Roach guys must have heard Fever 333.” It’s not that they’re ripping anybody off. But I think they might’ve gotten some energy from hearing that record.

Well, it’s interesting. I think it’s just that it might have been, Fever 333 has always been politically charged. And I started working with Fever. Me and Jason [Aalon Butler, Fever 333 vocalist] and John Feldmann [producer]  started working together and writing “Made An America” was the first song I think we did together. It was either that or “Burn It.”

 

I started working with Fever right after I did Crooked Teeth with Feldmann. And then when we started going back into Who Do You Trust? I think I was just like, “Jacoby, like, listen to some of this stuff that we’re doing over here with John Feldmann and Fever and Travis Barker.” [Barker worked on Fever 333’s music as well.]

Jacoby was f—ing pissed, too, just like most people. He was like, “I want to vent as well. I’ve got some things I want to say about how I feel about the way that… I see what’s going on and the way I feel about it. I want to express it.” And so when I got that fire in him, I was just able to kind of like, push [him] in the right direction: “Say what you want to say. Get it all out. Get it on paper. And then let’s craft it up in a way that you know is delivered the right way.”

And another song from that album that I want to ask about is “Elevate.”

“Elevate” was a great one. It was another one of those things where it was like I had like a little track idea. That was a little bit more hip-hop leading. And I played it. And Colin had this crazy idea for the verse. And then Tobin’s just playing his bassline that makes it super funky. And everybody just kind of like came together with an idea. It’s almost like when you do a table read with a bunch of actors and you’re all sort of like improvising and putting in little things. And everybody contributes a little bit. And then all of a sudden you just have this scene that works. And that was kind of how “Elevate” came together. It was everyone just kind of had a piece here, a piece there, and it all just kind of worked.

 

Back in the day in the rock world, generally speaking, the people who are writing the songs are the ones singing it. Rock bands used to not want to do the thing that Papa Roach has done so successfully with you — writing with someone outside the band. How did you get involved with working with them in this kind of way?

I’m glad you asked that, man. For me, it was just gaining trust in multiple ways, like getting people’s trust in your track record. So, when they look at other things you’ve worked on, how have those things performed? And what are you about? What do you bring to the table that makes you worthy of having input on somebody else’s brand and somebody else’s work? When I met them I was able to kind of just show them what I was capable of doing. And there was no pressure.

And I was already coming into the room with like a couple of other different relationships and had a couple of mutual friends and had worked with other artists that they respected and other people that they were into. So there was some credibility there. But there was also a little bit of: “Let’s see if you can prove it.”

And I did on the first session: Colin and I were able to just slam a song out of the park with these guys and the trust was just built by being able to deliver. You know, we weren’t “hijacking” Papa Roach. We were just kind of adding value in places where we saw that, “Hey, maybe this could be a little bit better. Maybe we could change this about that.” Or, “What if instead of saying this, you say this and it makes the line like more metaphorical?” You’re just fine-tuning a very nice car. And everything is just like a community effort.

Because of that, there’s no ego and nobody’s stepping on each other’s toes and there’s communication. So if a majority of people like something and a lesser majority don’t like it, we can have a conversation about it without it being a big drama fest. And I think having that close-knit family mentality when we make records is what makes it special.

It’s definitely unique and it’s definitely different. You could presume from listening to Papa Roach, that they were schooled on Nirvana, they were schooled on the Pixies, they were schooled on Rage Against the Machine. And those are not bands where they have their producer come and help them write songs. But Papa Roach was smart enough to realize “This will make us better.” And also maybe they realized that tastes were changing. 

I don’t think Zack de la Rocha wants help writing and I don’t think Tom Morello wants somebody to tell him what to do. I don’t think some of these bands are open to the idea of it… because it’s not necessary in some of their cases, or they just don’t feel it’s necessary. And that’s totally fine, too. I mean, some people like to just do what they do, for example, like…  I think a good off-and-on collaborator would be Tyler Joseph from twenty one pilots because he’s capable of writing and producing a full song by himself. But then he might tap one of the guys from Mutemath or, you know, on blurryface worked with Ricky Reed. And he just may phone a friend, but doesn’t necessarily have to.

In the case of Papa Roach, I think that we just figured out a way… it wasn’t like a one-off thing. It wasn’t like, “Hey, let’s go in with these guys and do one song. And the rest of the album is done by, like, [producer] Kevin Churko.” It was like, “Let’s just make it a full-fledged thing where all the songs are funky and we just do a full album.” And then, we had [songwriter] Jason Evigen guest on “Born for Greatness.” It all just kind of worked. And the cool thing about Papa Roach, too, is they’re one of those bands that can kind of do anything. You know, they can get away with anything. They can’t be really pinned down. And they Jacoby can sing and he’s just like a pot of energy. And so it’s like, what do you do with that? You can do whatever you want. You can do “Last Resort. You can do “Scars.” You can do any number of the new songs that we’ve done together and get away with it.

They’re fascinating to me too, because in 1999, if you told me this band is going to be seriously viable in 21 years and people are going to care about their new records, I would’ve been like, “Really?” I don’t know that I would have called that one. In the ’90s, you had Ozzfest and there were tons of loud guitar rock bands. I don’t know that I would have predicted that they would be one of the last ones of standing.

I agree with you. I think that nobody probably really saw that coming. It’s cool… like, we all met each other. We like to make music. And I grew up listening to them, obviously, and they were f—ing with what me and Colin were doing. And so it was just one of those weird, happy accidents. Right place, right time. We found each other. We were introduced by their manager who was working with another friend of ours that we were working with. And so it just happened. And when we made the first song and after the first song, we were like, “There’s something here to this relationship.”

There was something that we need: the ability to prove ourselves. And they needed, I think, just somebody to point them in a different direction.

Talk about Colin, you mention him a lot.

Dude: Collin’s great, man! So I met Colin when he was engineering for John Feldmann. And shortly after, he had decided that he wanted to go out on his own. But he was kind of debating on if he should go back and forth between L.A. [and Nashville] or just go back to Nashville. And one night I told him, “Just stay with me, stay here in L.A., you know, like give it like six months. And I guarantee we’ll start getting some stuff going.”

And at the time I had just started I had just come off the back of working with Five Seconds Of Summer and working with Avicii, and I had had some stuff going on with Steve Aoki. So the first thing Colin and I did was a collaboration with Steve Aoki called “Feel.”

And then, yeah, like I was working with him on some demos. I got a call from Alex Gaskarth to work on an All Time Low record. And so I went out to work with him and I just was like “Colin, why don’t you come with me?” Colin and I just loved working together. And I also saw it as an opportunity to like have another ally, who’s a young producer in the rock world, who is making dope s—. And if he wins and I win and we’re both winning and then everybody’s winning. I love seeing my peers get successful. And if I can help somebody at any time, I will for sure.

After All Time Low, the opportunity came to work with Papa Roach and I was like, “Yeah, for sure. Can I bring my buddy Colin?” That was it. He’s one of the most insane, just like crazy engineers that I’ve ever met. It’s funny because we’re almost a little like neurotic when we’re working. Like, I’m hyper-thinking about ideas and concepts and lyrics and chord progressions and how it’s all gonna be arranged and I’m visualizing the end game in my head while it’s happening in real-time, I can see where the song goes immediately in my head. And Colin’s like, ripping cables out and plugging in guitars and figuring out a tone. And it’s just being around that energy that I feel like… that’s why Papa Roach saw [our collaboration] happening.

Picture four dudes walking into a room and looking at two other dudes that look wacky just running around the studio doing this s—. And they’re like, “This is crazy, but it’s f—ing rock and roll, dude.” We’re like having fun, just loving what we do. Making music. And we do it with the same amount of passion that we would if we were stage performers.

That’s really interesting, too, because I feel like the old version of what a producer was, or even a songwriter is: the guy, like Bob Rock or someone like that, who doesn’t come off as a performer. But you see it differently. 

Do you know why, though? Because I grew up listening to hip-hop and I grew up idolizing producers like Pharrell and Timbaland and Rick Rubin and Puffy and Dr. Dre. And so I look at them, and those guys were like rock stars. Granted, most of them were also artists. But Rick Rubin wasn’t an artist but he was like a rock star. He had a “thing.” And I feel like myself and some of the other producers that I know, we all kind of like saw that that was lacking in the world of rock producers, because it’s definitely like… there are tons of personalities in the rock world and in the alternative space. There is no shortage of creativity.

But as far as producers go, I just felt like there needed to be more kooky, interesting people who wanted to have as good of a time and make making music super fun, just like it was when we were kids.

It’s true. Just yesterday, Martin Birch died. He’s this guy who produced some of the greatest metal albums of all time. He produced seven Iron Maiden albums. He produced Black Sabbath when Dio was the singer. He engineered or produced almost every Deep Purple record from the ’60s and ’70s. He’s made some of the records that have changed my life. But when he died, it didn’t get too much press, because he was such a behind-the-scenes guy.

That’s cool, though. I pride myself on the fact that I am not really a super out-there personality. I’m not in your face on TMZ, living a rock star life. But I’m out there enough in the music community. I’m making that presence known in the music community with my views just because I enjoy what I do so much. And every time we go into the studio, I just want to bring that energy, man. I feel like when I have that turned on and I go into the room and I’m having that much fun, it’s infectious. So it’s fun to be around. It makes other people excited about whatever we’re doing now.

When I first started, I was like, “Maybe I’ll be an artist.” And I kind of went into it with those intentions. And then slowly as I got older and slowly as I just watched music change and my own desires sort of changed, [I realized that] I enjoy just being a team player and working on something with a group of people that I became friends with and making something together and then watching it go out into the world.

And then they have to go tour on that for a year and I just get to like go home and play Xbox. Or the next day, wake up and do it with a totally different artist. And that, to me, is so cool and it’s so refreshing that I get to make music and I can do any sort of music I want any day.

 

Derrick Milano On Working With Megan Thee Stallion, Nicki Minaj and Pop Smoke

Derrick Milano On Working With Megan Thee Stallion, Nicki Minaj and Pop Smoke

The 100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers limited series podcast gives music fans a front-row seat for conversations with songwriters behind some of the biggest hits of yesterday and today. You’ll learn the stories behind the songs from the people who wrote them. Each episode will focus on one writer: sometimes, they’ll just talk about one song, other times, they’ll talk about a number of hits.

New episodes will be released each Monday through November of 2020.   

100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers special podcast series is produced in partnership with Beasley Media Group, XPERI (HD Radio), and BMI in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast.

Billboard called Derrick Milano “hip-hop’s secret weapon,” and it’s easy to see why: he’s written on a number of massive hits including Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer,” as well as the “Savage” remix with Beyonce, and “Yikes” with Nicki Minaj. He also worked with Pop Smoke on Meet The Woo 2. We spoke to him about all of this, as well as his social media presence.

Let’s start by talking about “Hot Girl Summer,” and you got involved with working with Megan Thee Stallion.

Yeah. “Hot Girl Summer” came together… I was in [a studio in] L.A. I was actually had like maybe fifteen more minutes left in the session. And I was able to pull up beats from this producer, Bone Collector. And I was like, “Yo, this would be a fire record for Drake.” I said, “I think it’d be dope if we had Drake and Megan [on this record].” So I did a hook on it. And then I hit up Juicy J and I was like, “Yo, I think we should add some drums to it to make it more, of a Megan vibe.” So he added some drums to it. We sent it over to Megan. Unfortunately, Drake was unable to do it. So we got Ty Dolla $ign. And then I told Nicki Minaj about the record, and then Megan asked her to be on the record and then the song just came about. That was one of the records that I really stand behind because I was able to A&R it from the beginning to the end to see it go from literally nothing to it what it is today.

You mentioned A&R-ing the whole thing. For those who don’t know what you mean, what do you mean when you say you “A&R” a song? 

When you basically put the whole thing together. Coming from the producer, the writer and then getting it to the artists and then handling all the business and then bringing everybody else in on the project.

Once they give you a verse or something, do artists want to hear the final cut before they sign off on it and it goes out?

Most of the time, depending on certain artists, you know, certain artists, just the person that they’re working with, especially if they agreed on the record prior. So I know at that particular record where Nicki ended up cutting her verse, it was kind of what it was. It was kind of already a finished product.

Once the news came out that Nicki was gonna be on a Megan remix, people were really looking forward to that. Was there a lot of expectations on you, like, “This is better be good?” 

Yeah. That was my first time really working with Nicki and her trusting in me on something. So, like, I really felt like it had to go a certain way. That’s a song everybody’s going to be singing, for a long period of time. Just off of the saying, “Hot Girl Summer.” And just with what is going on right now with women’s empowerment. It was really one of those records that was kind of kicked it off, to be honest, in my opinion.

And you know, people look at Nikki, “Oh, she doesn’t do this…” Nikki helps everybody. So, her doing that record with Megan was really giving Megan that light and that shine. And I think it was a really good look on both parts.

Was “Simon Says” the first song that really put you in the game? 

No.

What was the first song that really put you on?

Ummm…. [laughs] I signed a  non-disclosure agreement on it. But it was a really, really, really, really, really, really big record for really, really, really big female artist.

I don’t want to be a part of violating that, it sounds like there’s a lot of lawyers behind that.

[Laughing] Yeah, I didn’t say anything wrong! There’s a lot of female artists.

Was “Simon Says” the first time people knew it was you?

No, I actually did “Bestie” for Bhad Bhabie. That was a record that a lot of people kind of tuned in to just after the Kodak Black situation. And then Kevin Gates’ “Me Too.” It was big for his career, and a lot of people kind of knew about that. “Simon Says” is one of those ones that kind of just came kind of later.

To me, that song wasn’t really publicized and really big enough for people to kind of attach that to my name. You know what I’m saying? I feel like it was another controversy with that record. I had another person’s name attached to it, which kind of made them feel like they did the song and they contributed to it. But it wasn’t. I kind of left it alone just because of that type of situation, you know? And I didn’t really tell too many people that, you know, I really had too much to do with that record.

When you get involved in a controversy like that, especially early on in your career, that’s the thing that people are always going to ask you about. 

Yeah, of course. You know, because it’s because at the end of the day, you’ve got to keep your face clean and you got to make sure that you handle every situation. You know, you’ve got to handle every situation professional and certain stuff that doesn’t need to be said, doesn’t need to be said and stuff that needs to be said, needs to be said.

When I saw what was going on in that situation, I kind of just fell back a little bit just so I didn’t mess up my situation, dealing with Megan.

Probably good judgment. Speaking of Megan, talk about “Savage,” because that’s one of the songs in the conversation this summer for sure.

Yes. So the song was already done. Shout out to my brother, J. White. He produced it. And, you know, I had got a call from Daniel, from Roc Nation, and he called me. It was like, “Yo, are you busy right now?” This is literally when quarantine first started, and I was, “Nah, what’s up?” He was like, “Yo, can you go to the studio and record?”

And I was like, “All the studios are locked. I said, but I have studio equipment at the house. I could set it up. I haven’t recorded myself in a while, but what do you need? I’ll try to do it.” So he was like, “Well, B wants to jump on the ‘Savage’ remix and you know, we’re just trying to find verses.”

And I was just like, “Well, I’ll take some tries at it, you know, I’ll figure out, you know, if I can put it together and see if you like it.” So I worked on it a few times. He called me back. He was like, “Yo, we like this. We like this. Can we change this? Can we change that? Some other writers are working on it. Can you send me this part? Let’s try to do it like this.”

I kinda went blank for a couple weeks, maybe three to four weeks or something. I don’t hear anything about the record. I didn’t know if it was gonna come out. I didn’t know the situation. But me and J. White were always on the phone and I kept telling him “Something tells me that this is going to be a big record.” So then I got the phone call from [Beyonce’s team at] Ivy Park, “Hey, congratulations. B used some of your parts on the “Savage” remix.” So I was like, “What?”

It really didn’t hit me until the song came out, and the song came out literally the next day. So when the song came out and I was just seeing everybody talking about the lyrics and everybody talking about Beyonce jumping on it, it just made it a fire situation. And then once again, that was another record that I was a part of in Megan’s career. For me, coming into the songwriter world from being like an artist and trying to do both. I feel like you get a lot of credit when you help break artists. And, you know, started with Megan from the Fever mixtape to that one and then had to ‘Hot Girl Summer’ into the ‘Savage’ remix it put it on a [different] level.

You’d worked with a lot of stars by then, but the idea that Beyonce’s going to be on something you made has to be a different level of sort of pressure. 

Yeah. Being in L.A., it’s a whole bunch of producer camps, a whole bunch of writing camps and people always trying to shoot ideas and work on stuff for certain artists. So for me to get my first Beyonce a placement on a rap record… it kind of means a lot to me. Especially coming in the game and working with, you know, all the top female artists in about a year and a half span.

So you’re writing Beyonce’s lines for the remix. Yes. So how does that work? I mean, you’re writing for Beyonce and it can’t be generic and has to be something that she connects with.

They were really on trying to focus on captions and really just current event lines that people are saying every day. Stuff that could go viral, stuff that could be made into a meme. So, you know, shout out to everybody, it was a few writers on the record and everybody put together certain passages.

What’s one of the lines you wrote for her? 

“I heard they askin’ for the queen. They brought some cameras in here.” And then, “All this money in the room I think some scammers in here” and, you know, just a few other lines. But, you know, that was one of the lines… people were like, “What does Beyonce know about scammers?”

But she liked it enough to say it.

Exactly.

She’s not thought of as a rapper, but when she does, she’s good. 

Because her tone is amazing. Her delivery is amazing. And she’s so polished with music that is just kind of, you know, it kind of flows.

Talk about working with Nicki Minaj on “Yikes.”

Yeah. So, you know, Nicki, that’s my big sis. And I’m like, she’s been one of the people in the industry that really changed my life and my perspective on just the music business and understanding certain things, the game that she gives me and the wisdom that she shares with me all the time is just amazing just because I grew up listening to her.

So, you know, with the “Yikes” record, after coming off “Hot Girl Summer,” she was like, “Yo, we just need to keep working. We need to keep working.” We were in a studio and me and her were just going back and forth, laying down melodies. She would go in the booth, put words on it. She’ll ask me, “What you think about this word?”  [I’d say,] “That word is cool. What do you think about this?” [She’d say] “That word is cool.” And then she’ll come up with another word and it will be. “Oh yeah. That’s it. Let’s just try that.”

So we were able to really, like, put it together, together. And one thing about Nicki… a lot of people always wonder, like I always get tagged on Twitter where people are like, “Oh, Nicki has writers” and this, that an a third.

Nikki writes her own music. It’s just that Nikki likes to get influences off of like flows and ideas and she has no problem collaborating. And that’s what people kind of get this situation twisted up with her because she really can rap. And, you know, as times change and flows change in certain styles, a rap might change. She just likes to be around and in tune out was going on. And what’s the new thing? And that’s what somebody like me and people who she works with come in and be like, “Yo, maybe we should try this.” And she’s so open to working, she willing to give [other ideas] a chance. So, you know, that was a fun record to put together.

Sometimes artists work with ghostwriters. At least she’s giving you the credit and saying, “Hey, that’s the guy I work with.”

Exactly. Exactly.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re at a party, at a club, even at a store and a Megan song is being played and you’re watching somebody digging it and you’re like, “Yeah, I wrote a song or I helped write that song.” 

I’ll be in the club a lot. I go everywhere. [When it happens,] In my mind, I’ll be like, “Wow, they don’t even know.” But sometimes the people that I’m around might bring it up and then I just play it off. But I never really was the type of person, the kind of like, you know, kind of be in public and then just kind of take away from that artist and say, “Oh, yeah, I did this,” and “I did that.” But if they ask or if it comes up, I’ll say “Oh, yeah. I contributed to this record. This is something that I did work on.” But yeah, I went out yesterday and there was: they were playing the Beyonce “Savage” remix and I was like, “If these people only knew.”

What do you think are your signature songs? Where are the three songs that someone should listen to, to understand what you do?

I would definitely bring up “Hot Girl Summer.” I would like to let people know that I wrote about eleven or twelve songs on Kiana Lede’s album, KIKI.

And then also “Christopher Walking” by Pop Smoke masterpiece. Rest in peace. That’s the first song that me and him worked on together. And that’s the song that really got people really saying “We outside”. And then us being locked in inside and people want to go outside, just make the situation, like a bigger situation. And then, you know, due to his passing, a lot of people were tapped into his music and want to learn more about his story and wanted to hear more stuff about him. So that’s one of his. I think that’s that might be one of the last music videos that he put out before he passed. And, you know, there’s always going to be a song that touches me. Just the fact that I saw the star in him and, you know, me and him being able to come up with something that everybody is saying is kind of like “Hot Girl Summer” and certain lines in “Savage,”, which just makes it a moment.

How did you get involved with Pop Smoke?

Shout out to Steven Victor. He hit me up one day when I was in Miami, and was like, “Yo, I’m working with this kid. His name is Pop Smoke. I’m not familiar if you know who he is.” And I was like, “For sure, I know who he is.”

I said, “To be honest, DJ Boof hit up Nicki and was telling Nicki about Pop.” And Nikki ended up jumping on the [“Welcome To The Party”] remix. And at first, I didn’t really understand the record. And then kept listening to it. “OK, I understand it. It’s a whole different sound.”

So he was like, “Oh, so you’re familiar with the sound? Well, we’re working right now. We’re finishing up his album. You know, we just need some stuff, bruh. I know you can deliver. I know you can deliver. I’m sending some beats  put some stuff on it and send it back.”

So he sent me some stuff and I was like, Man, this one right here,” which was the “Christopher Walking.” I said, man, “This is special.” I loaded it up, recorded. I sent it over to Steven Victor, and then, you know, he went crazy for it. Pop Facetimed me: “This is crazy!” They recorded it that same day. Wen back to New York. Shot the video and it came out maybe four days later. So after the song came out, Steven Victor was like, “Yo, can you come in New York and just work with Pop and finish the album?”

And I was like, “Yeah, bruh, I really like his sound. He reminds me of 50 Cent,” and 50 Cent is my favorite artist. So I flew out to New York and we were locked in for like for like four days working on Meet The Woo 2, which was his last project. And then, you know, when it came out, it was mixed emotions. Some people were like, “Oh, it sounds the same.” And I’m like, “Nah, it’s definitely elevated.” He has that star quality. And then, you know, due to his passing, it made people want to go back and listen to it again. “Oh, wow. This was an amazing project.” And shout out to Steven and Victor and 50 Cent and Ryan Press for putting together the album that came out and made people want to go back again and see the growth and the development.

It’s a sad story because he was probably about to explode and get a whole lot bigger. 

Man… Yeah, it was a sad situation.

So what is next for you? You’re an artist first. Obviously, you’ve got some great writing gigs that have sidelined that. Are you working on a record or are you working on writing with other people for their records now?

So I’m really be focused on doing executive producing projects now. So I’m in the midst of me finishing my project. I’ve been working with a lot of new artists that kind of have the same effect that the Pop Smoke had, where they just need that record to just keep elevating them. So I’ve just been working with a lot of new artists and executive producer projects and also I’m also going to labels with my own situation and I’ll put my own money up to put my stuff out, you know, and sign my own acts and bring people in like that. So that’s that’s really my next step is really like boss moves. So really moving like an exec, moving like Babyfaces in and the Jay-Zs in the music industry.

So, talk about your record.

I’m putting together a project. I’m debating on a name, if I want it to be “Wow: A Legend” or “Fifty Shades of Gray.” My real last name is Gray.  The whole idea of “50 Shades” is that I can turn into 50 artists and be 50 artists. You know, when it comes down to being the songwriter. “Wow: A Legend” is just something that I’ve just been branding just so people can just be like, “Wow: A Legend” when I make posts [on social media]. My project is almost done. It sounds amazing. I got other features that I want on the project. It’s a big record that’s about to come out. And, you know, I’m really excited to get the reaction off of that. When I work with certain artists, I don’t have to give them my sound. So I’m kind of blessed to be able to put out my own music and not be compared to the artists that I work with.

It’s hard to launch a project t without being able to perform on TV shows

Yes and no. It could be if you never was an artist before and you kind of just came in brand new. But I kind of had a fan base already before. And my people were kind of like, “Where’s the music with the music? I see you working with everybody else.” And then just off my interaction on Instagram and my interaction on Twitter and just little stuff that I post that people kind of gravitate to and grab.

A lot of people don’t understand that: you have to be some type of you have to be influencer. You had to be one of those people that people see and be like, “What are they doing every day?” And I was realizing just before quarantine first started, I was doing this stuff where I was just like imitate all the artists from 2000. Like, all of them. And I was dressing up like them. And I was doing the same exact stuff that they were doing in music videos. And it was picking up. It became a moment. And then I had a conversation with somebody and they were like, “Yo, if you want to take the music serious, you don’t wanna come off as a comedian because people are going to start looking at and be like, ‘Yo, this dude is so funny, it’s so funny.’ And then you put music out, and it’s like, ‘Oh, we kind of like your comedy better.'”

So I kind of backed off of that. But I understand my influence and I understand that certain stuff that people gravitate to… like I did something on Instagram the other day when I was just like girls need to… they’ve been complaining that they need men to do this and this want to do that and get them this. And I said, “Get it yourself.” And I said, “It’s the little stuff that matters, like maybe you should pay for our haircuts and they could get you a car.” My haircuts cost one hundred dollars. And I had maybe like 13 girls or 14 girls send me a hundred dollars just for a haircut. You know what I’m saying? So I just look at the situation and that type of stuff where people are kind of like interested in seeing it. And then I look at it when it gets to a bigger platform of working with the right PR [firms] and working with the right digital marketing teams who are able to put yourself in people’s faces certain different ways and understand algorithms. And I really understand that part. And my whole thing was just getting that confidence and just understanding like certain things that I could do to get people to gravitate to who Derrick Milano. Right.

That’s smart, too, because that’s getting exactly to the people who are most likely to be most interested. Of course, since you understand algorithms you know that you’ve got to keep feeding it.

You got to! You can’t really take a break. I mean, you can. But, you know, people want to see everything I’ve been understanding people want to see visuals before they see a picture with music playing in the back. And, you know, just little stuff that doesn’t come off corny. You know what I’m saying? Because a lot of people, they use that cloutchaser word. And that’s something that I’m not going to do. I’m not going to try to force people to go to me or try to buy into who I am, doing some dumb stuff and exploiting myself and do stuff like that. Like everything that I’m going to do and what I’ve been doing has been something that I would actually do in real life. And people who know me like that, know “That’s something that Derrick would do.”

Brent Smith On Shinedown’s Biggest Radio Hits

Brent Smith On Shinedown’s Biggest Radio Hits

The 100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers limited series podcast gives music fans a front-row seat for conversations with songwriters behind some of the biggest hits of yesterday and today. You’ll learn the stories behind the songs from the people who wrote them. Each episode will focus on one writer: sometimes, they’ll just talk about one song, other times, they’ll talk about a number of hits.

New episodes will be released each Monday through November of 2020.   

100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers special podcast series is produced in partnership with Beasley Media Group, XPERI (HD Radio), and BMI in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast.

Shinedown have never been darlings of the music press, but that doesn’t matter much to them — or their fans. The band has had 16 singles top the rock radio charts, including their latest, “Atlas Falls,” and they show no signs of slowing down. We spoke to frontman Brent Smith about a handful of the band’s biggest songs.

Shinedown has become one of the most enduring rock bands of this era: you’ve had radio hits from your debut album in 2003 through today, and you’ve been at Atlantic Records this entire time.

We’ve become one of the longest standing artists on Atlantic Records. And so it’s funny because when we were launching [2018’s] Attention, Attention, the label had an event for us and [Atlantic COO] Julie Greenwald gets up and says, “The guy that I’m about to bring up here. the only other men that I’ve had a longer relationship with is my husband and also Jay Z [Greenwald is a former Def Jam executive].” The Shinedown record that we’re working on right now is our seventh album with Atlantic. And once this is turned in, I’ll actually have one more [album with her] than Jay Z. So I will be the longest artist relationship she’s had. Which is crazy.

So, let’s talk about your latest #1 single, “Atlas Falls.” It seems to continue a long lyrical theme in your songs, about not backing down to adversity and about transcending your situation. 

“Atlas Falls” was actually written during the Amaryllis writing sessions for that record [from 2012], which was our fourth album. That song is now coming to the light of day because of COVID-19. Five months ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, we were all thrust into a new world. And for me personally, I was trying to figure out a way to put optimism out into the world and also to help the medical and the scientific community during this time of crisis, because they were the ones that were battling — and are still battling — this virus. I came across an organization called Direct Relief. And Direct Relief is very essential and very important to “Atlas Falls,” because it was the song that I thought of when I came across finding out who Direct Relief is. They are a charity organization. They’re the calvary. Their main goal is to make sure that the men and women in the medical community, scientific community during times of crisis, whether it be poverty, a natural disaster or a pandemic, that they give these men and women the tools they need to save as many lives as possible. So once we had finally contacted them and we found our liaison, a gentleman by the name of Samir, I gave him the idea of I had a song that I wanted to attach to a T-shirt.

The song was “Atlas Falls,” and we wanted to give one hundred percent of the proceeds to Direct Relief and aiding them during this pandemic. We are closing in on almost four hundred thousand dollars raised since March of this year. So I have to preface “Atlas” with that because it’s very important why the song came out in the first place.

I just saw the fear in people’s eyes and I wanted to put something out into the world. The band — myself and Zach [Myers] and Barry [Kerch] and Eric [Bass]. We wanted to show optimism. We wanted to show encouragement, confidence, and we wanted to put something out there that was a beacon of the human spirit. And I always loved the song when we were writing for the album Amaryllis. We write a lot of songs for records. This was a song that didn’t make the album, not because it wasn’t good song. It’s just that the time I guess it just didn’t necessarily belong on that particular record. I felt like the song would see the light of day, eventually. I didn’t realize it was gonna be to this magnitude. But the song is about overcoming obstacles. It is about having confidence in yourself and just refusing to kneel. You know, we’ve often said that a lot of Shinedown music is about the yin and the yang. It’s why we named the band Shinedown in the first place. Sometimes you shine. Sometimes you’re down. It’s the yin and the yang. Everything that’s good has a little bit of bad and everything it’s bad, has a little bit of good, it’s balance.

“Fly From The Inside” was your first single and it was the leadoff song from Shinedown’s debut, Leave A Whisper. It has a lyrical theme about not letting people tell you that you won’t succeed at your dreams – I am guessing that some of this could have been inspired by your first experience with getting signed and then dropped, before starting Shinedown?

Yeah, the signing and then the dropping and then the resigning was very unique. I was signed to Atlantic Records over two decades ago with another band. I was dropped by Atlantic Records and then I was called back by the A&R guy, a gentleman by the name of Steve Robertson at Atlantic Records who is still Shinedown’s A & R rep to this day. He called me back about two weeks after dropping the band that I was in, and he said, “I want to resign you to a different deal. It’s a development deal.” And the idea was to give me the tools that I needed in regards to just writing with as many songwriters as possible. I just wasn’t around the type of individuals that could help me hone [my skills]. So I signed the deal.

And then three years later, we created Shinedown. And so “Fly From The Inside” was the very first single. I think that it’s very fitting that it was because the main line in the song is, “I found a way to steal the sun from the sky. Long live that day that I decided to fly from the inside.” And people have asked me, like, “What does that mean?” And “flying from the inside” just means you just believe you can accomplish anything. You believe you can fly, you believe you can steal the sun from the sky. It is just this song of pure determination.

But that was a huge moment for me. I still look on that song very, very fondly.

Was that the first time you heard yourself on the radio? 

It was the first major label record that I was on that I heard on the radio. When I was in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I grew up, we actually had a pretty solid rock scene, there was independent radio, pirate radio, if you will. College radio. So a lot of alternative music was in my area as I was growing up, and I was in a lot of local bands and on certain radio stations, they’d have “locals night” either on Saturday or Sunday nights. I’ve heard myself on the radio and the bands that I was in locally, but the first time I nationally heard myself was “Fly From The Inside.” I was in Jacksonville, I was on the interstate and it was the last song of Chad Chumley Planet Radio [show] in Jacksonville, Florida, Needless to say, I was massively excited when I heard it for the first time.

“Devour” from Sound Of Madness was another #1. I remember hearing that it was about President George W. Bush. Is that true, and if so, were you hesitant to go there knowing that it might offend some fans?

It was 2008 when the record was released and when the song came out. At the time, George W. Bush [was President]… You know, now that I look back on it, I know I’m older and I can really look at the angst of where I was at. You learn as you get older what was actually going on at the time. My biggest thing was: I wanted to see our troops get out of areas that I didn’t feel like we needed to be in anymore. And I felt like the president at the time was holding that up.

I was kind of explaining it from a soldier’s point of view, of the frustration of continuing to being in an area that we didn’t belong in anymore. And so it’s more frustrating than anything. Not to mention we do a lot with the military, all four branches. We do it because we love these men and women and “Devour” was kind of an anthem for them.

That was also when Shinedown really started to get songs licensed to video games and sports events. 

That was kind of the initial beginning stages of our relationship with ESPN. All of a sudden we just started getting a lot more opportunities with our music. But to be totally honest with you, the record, The Sound Of Madness, was a big leap forward from Leave a Whisper and Us And Them.

This is where Rob Cavallo came in as producer. This is when I met Dave Basset, who is a huge part of the songwriting process for Shinedown, still to this day. He’s kind of a fifth member of the band in the studio. And, yeah, a lot of things started to change on that record. And it was just a better record.

So at that point, your music is being played in places other than rock radio. Have you ever been in a situation where you’re at a restaurant, party or even a store, where your music is being played, and you notice someone digging your song… but they have no idea that you’re the guy who wrote it and sang it?  

Yeah, it’s always fun, too. I always seem to hear it in grocery stores. It’s always “Second Chance” or it’s “If You Only Knew.” I’ve heard “The Crow And The Butterfly” before in grocery stores. I’ve heard “How Did You Love.” Recently I was… where was I? I think I was in a Wal-Mart and they were actually playing the entire Attention Attention record. And this was in the middle of the afternoon, like 3:00. I thought that was interesting. But yeah, I always keep a low profile when I walk around.

We have a thing in our band where we don’t walk around in our everyday lives gig-ready, meaning that we’re not wearing what we wear when we go on stage. Sometimes you’ll catch people in the industry and they’re kind of gig-ready everywhere that they go. I want to be comfortable in my day to day life, if you know what I mean. So I’m always wearing T-shirts and shorts, you know, hanging out with tennis shoes to always keep a low profile.

But yeah, I hear our songs. I see people digging them. They’ve got no idea that the person next to them is one of the people that wrote those songs. It’s fun. I always get a kick out of it.

“Bully” has become an anthem – talk about what inspired that. What has it been like to see high school marching bands cover it?

It got played by a bunch of marching bands. They just kind of picked up on that song. But the inspiration of that song was… this was released in 2012. And this was in the the the early phase of, like, when the Internet was crossing over from like message boards on websites into these new apps like Twitter. MySpace was starting to kind of fade out. Facebook was coming into the fold. So there was just a lot of videos, all of a sudden, of kids getting bullied. And I remember the media kind of said that bullying was an epidemic not only in America, but globally, because of the rise of social media. The thing about “Bully” for us was that we looked at it as: it’s not an epidemic. Bullying has been going on since the dawn of man and woman.

The thing about “Bully” was we weren’t necessarily saying that it was okay to let the bully continue abusing you or telling you to try to ignore the bully, because sometimes you’re just not going to be able to do that. And yes, a lot of times the bully is the one that’s being bullied the most. But the reality is: that song is about, “Listen, if you are coming into my personal space and you are mentally or physically attacking me, then I’m going to attack you back.” You have to stand up for yourself. So that song was about not turning the other cheek. It was about standing up for yourself and not allowing people to run over you.

And to this day, I think that song holds a lot of weight with people because it is defiant. We want people to know that they’re necessary and that they’re worth a lot and this world needs them. It’s an important song because it’s a song — yet again — where we want the listener to have as much confidence as possible in themselves.

“Second Chance” – another #1 – is probably your most well-known song. What did you write that one about?  

That song was about a moment in time with my mother and my father. What I do today is what I always wanted to do. I always wanted to sing. I always want to be a songwriter. I always wanted to be a performer. So growing up in my town, it was just looked at as something that was just completely unattainable like it wasn’t realistic. I just never really listened to anyone when they discouraged me. Not that my parents discouraged me. But, you know, growing up, wanting to be a singer, wanting to be a performer and a songwriter, I got a lot of strange looks. I guess people thought to themselves, “There’s no way,” or “Good luck with that.” But I always had this passion. It’s a part of who I am. A good friend of mine once told me that you don’t pick the music, the music picks you. And I really do believe that.

But, like I said, I was signed to Atlantic Records out of Tennessee with a different band in the very beginning. I was dropped and then I was resigned to a development deal. And that’s what took me on the journey to essentially form and create Shinedown.

I was a difficult child to raise and I got in a lot of trouble in my hometown. And let’s just put it this way: I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs, but I remember my mother looking at me at the kitchen table because I literally was leaving home, the second I was resigned. I was off, I was on a plane literally the next day.

I’ll never forget it either, it was two days after 9/11 when I got on the plane to go to Los Angeles for the first time. My mother looked at me and said, “I can’t try to tell you that I understand this life that you want for yourself. I can’t try to understand that you really do feel like you can accomplish this.” And she wasn’t being discouraging. It’s just that… I wasn’t the average kid in our family. If that makes any sense. I just wasn’t like everybody else.

But my mom said, “If you stay here, you’re never going to be fulfilled. And we know that. And we want you to go, but we want you to win.” I’ll never forget the fact that she said that to me. “Go out and win. Whatever it is you’re looking for, whatever it is you’re searching for.”

I talk about having a “Plan B,” and about the fact that you don’t need to have one. Don’t have a “Plan B.” Whatever your “A plan” is, do that.

And I remember my mom saying, “Good luck. I’m gonna love you no matter what. But: win.” My father echoed that and really my goodbye wasn’t “goodbye.” This was my second chance.

[When I got the development deal from Atlantic], I didn’t know what that meant. But what it meant was: it was going to take me on a journey and I’m still on that journey and I’m very grateful for it. So that’s where the song comes in and that’s what the song’s about, that goodbye, when you leave the nest or when where you grew up. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You have to go out into the world. It’s a big, beautiful, beautiful, bold world. Go out and live it.

I imagine you’ve gotten some pretty moving feedback from fans about what the song means to them. Does any single story from a fan stand out to you?

There was a young man in 2010, who was probably twenty-two years old. And I remember he found me backstage and he said that the album, The Sound of Madness, top to bottom, meant a great deal to him.

But he prefaced it by saying that, basically, he hadn’t spoken to his mother in over two years. They had a falling out with each other. But when The Sound Of Madness album came out, he found her and knocked on the door. She answered the door. They hadn’t seen each other in two years. He said, “All I want you to do is get in the car with me right now and go for a drive. I don’t want you to say anything. I just want you to listen.” And so she did. She gets in the car and he plays the entire Sound Of Madness record to her because he felt that that that album had a lot to do with where he was at and what he wanted to tell his mother, that the songs related so much to what was going on in both of their lives.

But when it got to “Second Chance,” that was the moment. But they didn’t speak to each other. He just drove her around to listen to the record. But she was obviously very touched when that song came on and they listened to the entire recording, said he drove her back home and they just held onto each other for like 30 minutes and they were able to start their relationship over again. As you know, a mother and a son kind of hit the “reset” button. And the album was one of those things that helped them be able to do that. “Second Chance” was a big part of… whatever had happened in their relationship, they were able to let it go and move on and start over again, as a mother and son. I always thought that was an amazing story.