Exclusive Content:

The Offspring Takes Over The Punk Rock Museum April 12-14th

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Smash, The Offspring...

Cirque du Soleil and UMG Nashville Present Songblazers

Cirque du Soleil and Universal Music Group Nashville will...

Rock Hall Hosts 4-Day SolarFest for Eclipse

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is hosting...

Shinedown’s Barry Kerch Talks Mental Health, Favorite Hobbies And The Perfect Day In Jacksonville

Multi-platinum band Shinedown is an American rock band formed by singer Brent Smith in 2001, and has remained together for over two decades. Composed of members Brent Smith [vocals], Zach Myers [guitar], Eric Bass [bass, production], and Barry Kerch [drums], Shinedown has released a total of 7 albums together.

Shinedown holds the record for the most No. 1s in the history of Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Airplay chart. The song “A Symptom of Being Human” from their newest album Planet Zero rose to the top of the charts, keeping their record steady. The band has 20 number 1 rock hits, 15 platinum and gold singles, platinum or gold certification on every album, billions of global streams, and 10 million albums sold worldwide. 

Taking influence from artists and groups like Otis Redding, Pink Floyd, and Iron Maiden, Shinedown has found their sound too unique to put into a genre category, and instead embrace the title of simply, a rock and roll band. Shinedown has used their platform to be advocates for issues like mental health and suicide, donating their proceeds to many well-known organizations for all types of causes.

In 2022 Shinedown released their newest album, Planet Zero. They plan to go on tour throughout the upcoming summer and the band is currently working on preliminary steps for future music.

We had a really great conversation with Barry, Shinedown’s drummer, about his hobby of finding unique bars on his travels, his love of photography, and how he stays in shape on the road.

Shinedown's Barry Kerch
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

I just heard the live version of “A Symptom of a Being Human.” It’s really beautiful. Tell me why that song is special to you.

It’s hard for me to say why because we put out so many songs and they all kind of have their own meaning. But I think this one, to me, is special. It’s the truth of all of us, it’s human nature. It is who we are, down to our essence as humans and it’s not only the positives, but our fallacies as well. 

It seems to have really also just connected with a lot of people and a lot of fans. The last time I remember this happening was with our song “Second Chance,” and that was quite a few years ago. It obviously struck a chord with a lot of people. When you are a musician and write all these songs, when it really starts to connect with people, that’s what makes it special to me. 

You’re getting that feedback and you’re helping people and you’re affecting people with your music in a positive way. You’re helping them through their day, and that’s what makes it most special for me.

The band is donating proceeds to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Why did you guys choose that charity, and why is that charity important to the band?

Our band has always been part of the mental health movement. Before it was even cool, we always talked about mental health. A lot of our songs talk about that. In the music industry there’s been suicides, there’s a lot of depression. It used to be something you couldn’t talk about. It leads to sometimes the worst outcome, which is taking your own life. And we want to bring awareness to that and let people know that there is an organization out there, and there are people out there that want to help and have the ability to help. 

We want to be those that bring it to light and say, ‘Hey, if you’re feeling this way, talk to somebody. Even if you think you have nobody, there’s always somebody you can talk to. Talk to the cashier at the grocery store if it helps you get through that next day.’ It’s really important to us and I think most people in some shape or form have been affected by this. It’s an awareness thing to us.

Shinedown's Barry Kerch
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You live in Jacksonville, Florida. What does the perfect day in Jacksonville look like?

Well, it’s Florida, right? Sunny and at the beach. Jacksonville is a big city, and people don’t realize that. Jacksonville is actually the largest city in the US by landmass, so it’s very spread out. We’ve got beautiful beaches, woods, state parks, and a big downtown. So, for me personally, I’m a very outdoorsy guy. If I can just get to the beach, toes in the sand, maybe do some fishing, that’s a perfect day for me.

Any special spots you’d recommend people visit?

Definitely the beaches, Atlantic Beach, if you’re into that sort of thing. We also have a pretty vibrant area outside of the downtown area. There’s a resurgence down there and just really cool restaurants and things of that nature. Just to the south of St. Augustine, is the oldest city in the country. There’s a Spanish settlement, from many moons ago, and it’s a wonderful place to visit. In fact, I got married there, so I would recommend that as well.

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You’ve traveled all over the world with the band. Any hidden gems or spots that you would tell people to visit?

I don’t know if it’s a hidden gem, but I absolutely recommend the Christmas markets in Europe. They’re unbelievable. If you want to feel like a kid again and feel true holiday spirit, the Christmas markets in Europe are amazing. Especially Cologne, Germany is amazing because it’s right by the cathedral there, it still has tradition. It’s unbelievable. Switzerland has one of the bigger ones, but the one I’ve always enjoyed the most is Cologne, Germany. I highly recommend it. It’s just amazing.

If you get a chance, go to St. Augustine. That’s another. It’s really cool. There’s also a German town up in northern Georgia, just north of Atlanta called Helen. It’s a fun one to visit. There’s a lot of hiking outside of the more touristy German town, but it’s a cool place and it’s not super crowded. 

Shinedown's Barry Kerch
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

What are your must pack items for the road?

I am an over-packer. I always have a week’s worth of clothes no matter what. Even though I don’t necessarily need to. I’d like to bring a camera with me and a computer to edit with, multiple chargers is the most important thing. I don’t pack too much aside from the essentials. But when you’re touring, you kind of have availability for other things. It’s not like you’re packing for vacation, you’re packing for touring. So, it’s a little different, I would say, because you’re living on the road, you’re living on a bus, you’re going in and out of hotel rooms, and every day it’s work.

Shinedown's Barry Kerch
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

What do you like to photograph?

Mostly nature and/or street scenes. I don’t take very good pictures of people necessarily. One of my favorite things, especially when you get into interesting cities and we haven’t had a day off, is just to go out and feel the vibe of the city and take pictures of that. Maybe some street art and things of that nature. A lot of times there’s a small group of us that like to go on major hikes. If there’s a cool state park nearby or hiking trail, we’ll get on those and go hike and take pictures of that.

I saw in your Instagram that you did some fly fishing. How did you get into that? Do you have any favorite spots?

I’m relatively new to fly fishing because I wanted to challenge it. I’ve been a fisherman my whole life. I grew up on the water in Panama City, Florida, so it was just kind of what it is, you fish. The art of fly fishing, I didn’t realize how difficult it was. I even tie my own flies just because it’s almost a meditative use of time. You’re on flights and It’s kind of fun to do. 

I can’t say that I have any great spots because I haven’t done it long enough. We were starting a tour in South Dakota, Rapid City area, I believe it was. We took a guided fly-fishing trip and it was amazing. I didn’t catch anything, but it was beautiful and I had a great time. The thing with fly fishing is it’s a lot harder than maybe saltwater fishing where you throw on a piece of bait. I like the challenge of it.

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

I saw you also have a coffee company. Tell me about that.

I do, it’s Spartan Brews Coffee Company. I started it with a good friend of mine who’s an Army veteran. He was working with the band Staind many, many years ago. He and I were talking one day. He’s like, ‘What’s going to be your game plan? Do you have future plans?’ I said, ‘I have no idea. Maybe I’ll just go back and work in coffee shops again.’ When I was in college, that’s what I did. And he said, ‘Coffee, huh?’ 

Then he came to me a few years later saying, ‘Let’s start a coffee company.’ I said, ‘Oh, okay.’ We started small with just an online shop. We have a roaster out in Portland, Oregon, family owned roasters. We have our blends that we initially just sold online and coffee confectioneries like chocolate covered espresso beans and things of that nature. 

My partner is up in Boston and since he is retired now, he is able to do a lot of the legwork there. So, we got our warehouse there and our facility where we do all the bagging, tagging, flavoring, and filling the orders. We’ve also been able to expand and get into Big Y, which is a regional grocery store chain up there. It’s really just a passion project because we both love coffee. Initially we worked really slow and now it’s starting to ramp up. All because I worked in the shops in college.

Shinedown's Barry Kerch
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You guys have been touring for almost two decades. I’ve followed the band and photographed the band for 15 years. How has life on the road changed in the last two decades since you guys started?

It’s gotten a lot calmer. You know, back in the early days, it was to go to all the bars, parties, and stay up super late, have a good time. Now it’s get to the hotel room, get a nice shower, maybe read a book and go to a coffee store. You know, we’ve calmed down a lot, but I think it’s healthier that way for sure. But I also appreciate it. I enjoy those days more and I enjoy the shows a lot more because you’re not hungover.

I’m not saying I don’t frequent quite a few bars, because I love bar culture. I love to go have a beer, just sit in a bar. It’s one of my favorite things, especially on the road, because there’s so many cool bars. I think it’s a lot calmer and a lot healthier. It definitely makes the shows that much better.

What are some of your favorite bars that you like on the road?

There was one in Japan. I couldn’t tell you what the name is because I can’t read Japanese and nobody spoke English, but it was a little hole in the wall, a little alleyway kind of bar. A lot of the businessmen were there and just talking. It was loud and it was fun. 

But, your neck of the woods (New Orleans), Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is one of my favorites. And then late at night, if I can, get to The Dungeon. It’s one of my favorite late-night haunts.

There’s another, I’m so bad with the names, but there’s one in the UK that’s very dungeon-esque. It’s bigger, not quite as hidden, but it’s got that vibe with the chains on the wall and they’ve got a skeleton in the corner, that kind of thing. I wish I could remember the name of it. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Drumming is such a physical activity, more so than other jobs. How do you stay in shape as you get older and how do you do that on the road?

Once the trucks are dumped and the shows are being put together during the day, we have a 6×4 foot trunk that opens up, and we have free weights and all sorts of stuff in there. We set up a small gym in the back of the truck. It can be 100 degrees outside, It could be -20. That’s where we work out on every single show day, without fail. 

I’ll get in there, do a 30 minute to an hour workout with some cardio to keep myself ready for that show and to keep my back in place. Having a bad back as a drummer is super common. All of them get it because we balance our tailbone on a stool while we’re using our feet and our hands. Most drummers end up with back issues, and the most important thing for that is keeping your core as tight as possible. So, I do a lot of core work and things like that. 

This tradition started years ago when Brent, our singer, finally got sober and ended up getting pretty overweight because of not taking care of himself. He turned that around, and it was kind of a camaraderie thing where we’d all started working out with him to help him through that transition, and it stuck. 

Now 2:00 is when I usually go in for the hour. It resets the brain for a show day. Say we have a fly date or something and couldn’t get the workout in before the show, you’re not as loose, you’re not as present. It really became necessary for that workout before the show. We do about five shows a week. Most hotels have a decent gym, so we’ll use those too.

Shinedown's Barry Kerch
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

I just discovered Buc-ee’s last year and was obsessed with it. So, I always ask people what their must-have truck stop items are.

For me, two things. Beef jerky, which Buc-ee’s has an amazing selection of and boiled peanuts, which is a southern thing. I love boiled peanuts. There’s another one you gotta check out called the Busy Bee. It’s here in Florida. It’s very similar to Buc-ee’s. Great bathrooms, by the way, for those of you traveling. I think it’s maybe just this area where they started, but it’s been around for about ten years. They’re very nice. They’ve got a little beef jerky area, kind of like Buc-ee’s. It’s not as chaotic as the Buc-ee’s tend to be.

Have you guys been working on new music?

We’re in the beginning process of whatever the next record is going to be. With “Symptom” doing what it’s doing right now, we’re really still focused on that, and it’s still growing and it’s growing internationally. Maybe some TV appearances and things of that nature. But the rest of this year we’re going to do a smattering of shows in the summer, but the rest is riding and seeing what this next thing is going to be. 

Do you guys get together to write or do you do it virtually now?

We get together to write. Typically, it would be around wherever Brent happens to be. He’s doing work out in LA. Then maybe there’s a writing session in LA or more often than not, it’s at Eric’s studio in Charleston. We recorded the last couple of records at Eric’s house. For me, it’s a four-hour drive. It’s an easy flight for Zach. And Brent still lives literally out of a suitcase so Charleston works well.

Latest

The Offspring Takes Over The Punk Rock Museum April 12-14th

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Smash, The Offspring...

Take Look Inside Eric Church’s New Bar Chief’s On Broadway In Nashville

Eric Church's new bar Chief's opened on Broadway in...

Cirque du Soleil and UMG Nashville Present Songblazers

Cirque du Soleil and Universal Music Group Nashville will...

Newsletter

Don't miss

The Offspring Takes Over The Punk Rock Museum April 12-14th

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Smash, The Offspring...

Take Look Inside Eric Church’s New Bar Chief’s On Broadway In Nashville

Eric Church's new bar Chief's opened on Broadway in...

Cirque du Soleil and UMG Nashville Present Songblazers

Cirque du Soleil and Universal Music Group Nashville will...

The Offspring Takes Over The Punk Rock Museum April 12-14th

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Smash, The Offspring will take over The Punk Rock Museum April 12-14th. The weekend will feature a variety...

Take Look Inside Eric Church’s New Bar Chief’s On Broadway In Nashville

Eric Church's new bar Chief's opened on Broadway in Nashville this weekend. After three years of collaborative effort between Eric Church and Ben Weprin,...

Cirque du Soleil and UMG Nashville Present Songblazers

Cirque du Soleil and Universal Music Group Nashville will premiere Songblazers, a country-themed show, in July. The show, written and directed by Amy Tinkham,...