Bassist with multiplatinum act Shinedown since 2008, Eric Bass produced the band’s latest album. Released by Atlantic Records on May 4, ATTENTION ATTENTION debuted at No. 1 on iTunes’ Top Albums chart and No. 5 on the Billboard 200. Among the many songs he’s produced is Shinedown’s “Cut the Cord,” which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart in 2015 and earned 40 million YouTube views. He’s produced singles for his band and others in the past but ATTENTION ATTENTION represents the first complete record that he’s helmed.
The decision to produce the album in its entirety was one that Bass says was virtually made for him. “When Brent [Smith] and I started to write this record, the demos took on a sonic personality,” he recalls. “It felt like it had a different heartbeat and a different pulse from stuff we’d done before. That was the one way that it wasn’t my decision. It was the universe making its own choice. When it came time to make the record, the rest of the band said, ‘You need to produce this.’
“I had one business conversation with Steve Robertson, our A&R guy,” he continues. “He asked, ‘Why do you think you should produce this?’ I was still coming to terms with that at the time, but there were two points. One, I knew the scope of this record; what these songs wanted to be. If I hadn’t had that, I wouldn’t have done it. And two, I’d rather go nuts trying to make it myself than watch someone else go crazy trying to.”
As a member of the band, the danger of familiarity always lurked beneath the surface. Fortunately, such issues never intruded into the production. “The only challenge I saw initially was that I had to ask the band to be patient with me,” Bass recollects. “When I asked them to play something again or to step outside of their comfort zone, there was a reason for that. They all know that I respect them, but it had to be said. The other challenge was that most bands benefit greatly from a producer’s outside opinion––an outside ear. That’s one of the reasons I brought in Doug McKean (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) to engineer.”
Producing “GET UP,” which was penned by band vocalist Brent Smith, proved especially difficult for Bass because it confronted the issue of Bass’s depression. “That was sort of the turning point of the record” he observes. “We’d worked on the music for a couple of days. Often Brent will go away to work on lyrics. I didn’t hear from him for four or five days. When he came in, he was nervous to bring it to me because it was about my depression, which was tough for me. But once it was done, we knew we could write about the demons we’d faced over the years; it made it alright to do that.”
As an engineer, Bass is largely self-taught, but has also learned a number of techniques from friends, notably Billy Howerdel, founder of A Perfect Circle. He finds new talent when he delves deep into Facebook, Instagram and similar online sources. Bass still welcomes unsolicited music of all genres via direct message. Shinedown’s lead single “DEVIL” dropped on March 7 and has so far earned nearly five million YouTube views. Bass will produce future Shinedown records if the choice feels right at the time.