Shinedown’s Brent Smith on Mental Health at Hollywood & Mind Panel: ‘I Want People to Live to Fight Another Day’

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On “A Symptom of Being Human,” Shinedown’s sweeping No. 1 Mainstream Rock Airplay current hit, lead singer Brent Smith sings about the all-too-relatable condition of feeling isolated even when surrounded by others: “Sometimes I’m in a room where I don’t belong/ And the house is on fire and there’s no alarm.”

That vulnerability has been a mainstay of the rock band’s career, which has yielded a record-setting 19 No. 1s on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart spanning more than 18 years. On Tuesday night at Hollywood & Mind’s “Minds Matter: Spotlight on Shaping a Healthier Music Industry” conference at West Hollywood’s London Hotel, Smith talked in depth about musicians and mental health and how communication is the key to sustaining a healthy balance in a creative, often unstable profession.

Smith’s panel was moderated by Ryan Dusick, a founding member of Maroon 5, who is now a therapist. Dusick got the discussion off to a candid start, detailing how in 2006, as Maroon 5’s stardom was rising, he suffered a breakdown that effectively ended his musical career. “I had to walk away from it,” he said. “I grieved that loss for another decade, struggling with alcoholism and other debilitating effects.” Once he was in recovery, Dusick realized he had experienced “a mind, body and spirit breakdown. … I’m one of the fortunate ones who survived.” 

Through songs like “Get Up” and “Sound of Madness,” Shinedown has addressed mental health issues. “I’m in a band that’s been talking about mental health for the better part of two decades,” Smith said. And while taking care of one’s mental health is at the forefront of many conversations these days, it wasn’t always the case. “Before it was in the mainstream and brought to the forefront, it was something that was looked at as a bit of a weakness. Sometimes people would just say that you had a case of the Mondays and things of that nature,” Smith said. “It’s not taboo to talk about your feelings on the road anymore. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you strong.” 

Crucial to maintaining a stable mental condition is communication. “We’re on the road 280 days a year,” Smith said. “You’ve got to talk to each other. In some cases, the bravest thing you can do is get someone off the road. In some cases, it’s potentially going to save their life. I want people to live to fight another day.”

As Smith says in the clip above, the key to success in the music industry is to always have “another mountain” to climb and to understand that life is a series of peaks and valleys. “When it comes to mental health, the most powerful thing is to speak up,” he said.

Speaking up was a theme throughout the day’s five intimate conversations, which also included developing artist Em Beihold, who talked about how to maintain habits that foster strong mental health, especially amid music industry pressures; as well as radio and TV host Matt Pinfield, who suggested an action as simple as promoting artists you like through your social media can help alleviate the pressure those artists feel to always be pushing their own work. Other speakers included Lucas Keller, founder/president of Milk & Honey Music + Sports; Alison Malmon, founder/executive director of Active Minds; Mary Rahmani, founder of Moon Projects, a joint venture label with Republic Records; Jaclyn Ranere, CMO of Sofar Sounds; Kakul Srivastava, CEO of Splice; Yuli, a Grammy-nominated artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer; and Marshai Iverson, managing director of mental health and addiction recovery services at MusiCares. Sponsors included Splice, Active Minds and Sofar Sounds.

Hollywood & Mind was founded in 2023 by veteran journalist (and Billboard contributor) Cathy Applefeld Olson to address the intersection of the entertainment industry and brain health sector, working with executives and talent across multiple sectors, including music and film, to elevate mental health and wellness.

The Jan. 30 event was Hollywood & Mind’s third since launching with the Hollywood & Mind Summit held last May that featured, among others, Demi Lovato discussing mental health. In September, the company hosted an event in partnership with Bumble focused on our crisis of loneliness that featured Tiffany Haddish, singer/songwriter Rachel Platten, and California first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom among speakers. The second annual Hollywood & Minds Summit will take place May 9 at UTA in Los Angeles.

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