A Brotherhood of MMA
From the Band to Security, Shinedown Bonds Over MMA
Shinedown knows all too well just how demanding life on the road can be. Like many other bands, the Jacksonville, Florida based collective spends the majority of the year on tour. Every night, the four-piece is in a different city, and usually, it’s a city far, far away from their loved ones. As a matter of fact, they are currently promoting their fourth studio album Amaryllis on a headlining run of the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival.
But the hard rock quartet isn’t alone. They travel with their extensive road crew and have formed a bond with every single member of the team—from the drum techs and roadies to security and even the bus driver. And, oddly enough, MMA is one thing, other than the music, that unites them. So when a UFC pay per view event airs live on a Saturday night, it becomes a family affair.
“We usually get it on the band bus, so it’s just the band members and our security guys, and all the guys will come over and watch,” guitarist Zach Myers says. “Or we’ll record it, and on the day off, when we’re in the hotel, everybody will come down from their rooms and watch it. I don’t wanna say it’s like a family, but in a way, it is. It’ll bring everybody together.”
Admittedly, Myers—the only member of Shinedown who lives in Memphis, Tennessee—wasn’t always a fan. Back in the early ‘90s, when mainstream audiences dismissed the sport as a no-holds-barred spectacle, the guitarist was completely turned off to it.
But over time, as MMA became more regulated (and perhaps from the insistence of his dear friend Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), Myers gave it another shot. He saw a couple of fights on Spike TV and has been hooked ever since.
“I love the realness of it. Even though it’s becoming commercial, I love that it hasn’t lost the fact that it’s two guys getting in the ring and truly fighting,” Myers explains. “I know the shit-talking has to happen. That’s part of it, and it’s also about how you pump yourself up. But I love the sportsmanship of MMA. I love the fact that two opposing guys can talk utter, terrible shit of each other, and then, after the fight, hug each other. That’s cool to me. It makes it real and not this act.”
The southern rockers have even tried learning a couple of moves as well—when they aren’t performing a set, that is. Shinedown’s former tour manager was well versed in both Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and even competed at the amateur level, so he taught the band members different types of punches, kicks, and holds.
One of the security guards even brought UFC Heavyweight Heath Herring to one of their concerts. The “Texas Crazy Horse” may have shown them a quick fighting technique, but he was mostly there to hang out and watch the show, as he is a big supporter of the band.
“It was very informal and impromptu,” drummer Barry Kerch recalls with a chuckle. “But it’s amazing how many fighters there are that enjoy rock music and come to shows.”
Kerch, who is a fan of marquee fighters like Chuck Liddell, Georges St-Pierre, and Randy Couture, is the serious practitioner of the bunch. Nearly three years ago, the drummer stepped through the doors of Atlantic
Warriors Wing Chun Kung Fu in Jacksonville to study Wing Chun under Sifu Petree and begin his own personal martial arts journey.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the Chinese martial arts. Shaolin [Kung Fu] and Jeet Kune Do that Bruce Lee did, I thought it was really beautiful, and the movement was not nearly as direct as some of the other ones like karate and jiujitsu where it’s very direct and forceful,” Kerch explains. “They’re all effective in their own ways, but it just seems a little bit more flowing to me, and looking for a Chinese style, I kinda fell into the Wing Chun thing. I started taking classes, and it really spoke to me.”
It’s the least the discipline could do for him because, quite honestly, Shinedown’s music speaks to the modern day fighter. The rock juggernaut packs a hard punch as they grab ears with pulsating rhythms that build to epic bridges and hooks, all while piercing through the beautiful audio carnage with inspirational and sincere lyricism.
“There’s aggression there, and there’s also an honesty there. We write straight from the heart, so it’s not contrived music,” Kerch says. “I think there’s a fi re that’s in it, too. It can build you up, for sure. It’s universal, and if it’s something you’re into, it’ll get you motivated. That’s what you need. And I think from a music standpoint, it could be that way for certain fighters.”
Shinedown has been motivating people since their inception back in 2002. The Jacksonville four-piece (also comprised of bassist Eric Bass and lead vocalist Brent Smith) signed with Atlantic Records relatively quickly and dropped their platinum-selling debut album Leave A Whisper a year later.
Their sophomore set, Us And Them, followed in 2005 and their hotshot single “Save Me” topped the Billboard Rock Charts. It was their fi rst song ever to do so, and there was plenty more to come. After all, the southern rockers’ third LP The Sound Of Madness produced five chart-topping singles including the emotional “Second Chance.”
Now, Shinedown is planning to keep that trend going with their recently-released fourth studio album Amaryllis. So far, so good. The band got off to a solid start already, as they dropped a pair of chart-topping singles, including the empowering anthem “Unity” and the stand-up-for-yourself hard-nosed banger “Bully.”
Much of the 12-track collection delivers those same positive and uplifting messages. “A lot of our songs are about survival,” Myers says. “A lot of our songs are about finding your way back and rising up and conquering whatever it is you’re trying to conquer.”
Shinedown’s music captures not only the warrior spirit, but more specifi cally, the underdog’s soul, and everyone within their road family can identify with that. Apparently, that’s something mixed martial artists can identify with too.
ROCKIN’ WITH RAMPAGE
Zach Myers may be the only member of Shinedown who resides in Memphis, Tennessee, but the guitarist is with good company, as former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson also reps the 901.
They formed a friendship over the past couple of years, and quite honestly, it was bound to happen. After all, the two roll in similar circles. “You’d always see him out at parties and just kinda hanging,” Myers says, “so I’ve known him for a little while now.”
But what most people don’t know about the animated fi ghter, other than “Second Chance” being his favorite Shinedown song, is that he’ll promote his favorite unknown Memphis artists. “He was a big supporter of a lot of local bands, and he would help out a lot of local bands he was friends with here, which is great,” says Myers.