When Zach Myers was offered a spot as Shinedown’s lead guitarist as the band were recording what would be their massively successful album Us and Them, he had no idea where it was headed. “The band had some success, but it wasn’t nearly where it is now,” Myers told Gibson.com. “I joined the band because I loved Brent [Smith, singer]. When I met Brent and Barry [Kerch, drummer], I was like, ‘I want to be with these guys,’ because Brent was just a driven entity himself. My thought was with this guy driving the train, we’re going to be successful, and that’s kind of where it came from, and for me, it was great.
“Being in Shinedown was something I really wanted to do, and I thank God every day for the success that we’ve had.”
Seven years later, it turns out Myers’ instincts were dead-on. Shinedown have churned out four full-length albums since their inception, and they’ve sold over six million albums worldwide. We caught up with Myers amid a busy press day to talk about Shinedown’s just-released album, the Rob Cavallo-produced Amaryllis; his favorite gear; and why “it’s not a rock and roll show unless everyone is sweaty.”
Congrats on the success of “Bully,” the first single off Amaryllis. The song went to #1 on the rock chart in weeks! Did you guys have a feeling it would be a good single from the start?
I did not think it would be a good single at first, but the reason is because I wrote it! [Laughs] For me, it’s one of those things where you’re your own worst critic. Eric [Bass, bass player] is actually worse than me. He’ll write something that’s totally amazing, and be like, “Oh, it’s not good enough,” and I’ll be like, “Dude, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
But, for us, it was a personal thing. I had the riff, and I wasn’t even playing it thinking, “Hey, let’s use this for our song.” We were just chatting about what we were going to try to achieve that day. And we were saying, “Do you want to go in and work on a new song or do we want to go in and keep working on another song?” And, bullying was sort of in the forefront of the news that in that couple weeks that we were working on that part of the album. There was a kid that very sadly had taken his own life because of his bullying situation, which is awful. I think it was one of those things where we didn’t say, “Let’s write a song about bullying,” but we’re proud of it, and we’re glad that it’s helping people. A lot of kids have been telling us that “Bully” is helping them deal with being bullied, and that means a lot.
You guys are going out on the Avalanche Tour this year with Adelitas Way, New Medicine and Art of Dying. Stoked?
Yeah! We get to go back to smaller venues, which is what we really wanted. We got a taste of that in Europe, playing smaller clubs. We’re not nearly as big in Europe as we are in the U.S., but we’re working on that, and we played clubs over there. So, it was really fun, and I can’t wait. It’s been a while since we’ve played 2,000-seat venues, and I like getting closer to those people, and this may sound kind of gross, but I like to sweat when I’m onstage! I like to get in there and get hot and make it, like, a club feel. All of us feel the same way. Even when we were doing arenas, we’d get them to turn the AC off before we went on, because it’s just so cold to us. It’s like an ice hockey arena – it’s freezing. It’s not a rock and roll show unless everyone is sweaty.
Let’s shift gears to guitar talk. How do you get that classic, big Shinedown tone?
Using five amps at one time! I use different guitars for certain songs. I use two Diezel Herberts, a Fuchs Tripledrive Supreme, a Diamond Nitrox. I have a lot of different stuff. The rig I’m on right now is five amps, and everything is in stereo, so I think that’s where we get that big sound that you hear from Shinedown. Even my clean channels are in stereo.
I’ve heard you have a colossal guitar collection.
I do! I had about 210, and I sold about 52, so I’m at about 160-something now.
Tell me about the Gibsons in your collection.
I have a great ’58 Les Paul ’Burst original. My all-time favorite Gibson guitar got stolen last year, though! It was the worst. I was going to drop my girlfriend off at the airport late one night and stopped and got food on the way home, just some fast food. I got to my house and had stuff in my hands – groceries and stuff. I was walking into my place, and I was supposed get up really early the next morning to go play golf with my brother, and it was already 2 a.m., so I thought, “You know what? It’ll be fine.” I came out the next morning, and my girlfriend’s car was stolen, and my guitar was in the trunk. It was a ’68 Gibson Dove. I still haven’t found it. I’m still looking for it, and if I ever find it, someone is gonna pay! [Laughs]
I also have a few Les Pauls. There are a couple Firebirds I’m in love with. There are a couple other Gibsons I really want that I’m looking for right now, and I’m probably going to go shopping later today in New York today looking for some.
Photo: Anne Erickson