Shinedown's Smith Recalls Surreal Meeting With Atlantic Records Co-Founder
By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta
September 23, 2019
For over 15 years, Shinedown has proudly lead the rock division of Atlantic Records and front man Brent Smith says he wouldn't have it any other way.
As Smith tells Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke, he loves Atlantic for the same reason his heroes in Led Zeppelin maintained a relationship with the label through their career: the label's co-founder and longtime president Ahmet Ertegun.
Smith had already been signed and then dropped by Atlantic when the label asked him to return on a development deal in the early-'00s. Within a couple of years, Shinedown had formed and the band was ready to record its debut album.
Before heading to Los Angeles to get into the studio, Smith spent an entire day at Atlantic Records' New York City headquarters, getting the grand tour. By that evening, after meeting probably hundreds of Atlantic Records employees, Smith was informed that Ertegun himself wanted a meeting.
"I got to see [Jimmy Page's
violin guitar bow] from 'Kashmir,' Led Zeppelin, in his office and all that kind of stuff," Smith recalls of the waiting area. "Literally, the shelving in his office, there was like 150 Grammys. It was nuts... Meeting everybody, and what have you, I think it was like ... 9 or 10 o'clock at night."
Despite the late hour, Smith says he didn't have any hard feelings about being kept waiting for Ertegun; he was a busy man, after all. Finally, he was invited into the label head's office.
"We have a very nice conversation and [Ertegun] looked at me, very genuinely, and was like, 'I've heard some of the demos; would you sing to me right now?'" Smith was taken aback at the suggestion; he didn't have his band with him, or even a guitar.
"He was like, 'You don't need an instrument, just sing me a song,'" Smith says.
While he's not sure what song it was that he sang, he thinks it was the appropriately titled "Notice Me," which never made it to a Shiendown album. Smith was nervous but he noted how comfortable Ertegun made him feel. So he sang whatever was freshest in his mind.
"I start to clear my throat and get ready to sing for him, he's like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. I need just one second.' And he slides his slippers off...He puts his arms way up high [reclining] on this couch he's sitting on. He leans back, he closes his eyes, he goes, 'Go ahead.' And I just sang a cappella to him."
"I'll never forget," the singer continued. "He leaned up after three minutes or so of me doing this song and he smiled and he was like, 'Well, you may not have to use a microphone!' I was smitten by him anyway. He did have an uncanny and remarkable ability to make the artist feel loved and appreciated and cared for."
Smith says he was fortunate to meet Ertegun many more times, and he was always just as warm and friendly.
Smith also spoke about the band's new single, the title track to the latest album "Attention Attention" (see new video for that song below) as well as a film the band will be releasing soon.
Check out the full interview in the video player above or here.
Here's the official music video for Shinedown's latest single, the title track "ATTENTION ATTENTION":