Brent Smith says losing 70 pounds has helped his singing for the band Shinedown. (Darren Doane )
The band Shinedown has been around for more than a decade, selling more than 10 million albums worldwide. In 2012 they launched their fourth album, "Amaryllis," which made its debut at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. But the last year has been more than just about launching a new album for Brent Smith, the band's lead singer.
After battling drug and alcohol addiction, becoming obese and being insulted on national television for his weight, a loving woman and the inspiration of his son and fans straightened him out, he said. He traded mind-altering substances for butt-kicking workouts and a clean diet, dropping almost 70 pounds.
Tell me about your issues with weight.
The weight came on about four years ago. I've toured for over 12 years, and for the first two records I was doing tons of shows all the time. And for those two records I was addicted to cocaine, OxyContin and alcohol. The coke and the Oxy kept my weight down, but for the third album I quit the opiates and started to crave sugar. I was still drinking a lot of alcohol and started to pack on the pounds.
In 2009 you were on "Today" and Kathie Lee Gifford said, "At first I thought he was Meat Loaf," which caused her co-host Hoda Kotb to laugh. How did that make you feel?
It really stung. I'm a fan of Meat Loaf, but she wasn't talking about a musical comparison. It was national television, and my heart kind of fell on the ground. I'm not trying to be disrespectful to Meat Loaf at all because I'm a fan. But here I am barely 30 years old and that's the one thing that she says. It was like the performance didn't even matter.
So what was it that motivated you to change?
I'll never forget the day my girlfriend, Teresa, sat me down on the first of November last year and said, "Listen to me, I love you and I'm not going anywhere, but this lifestyle that you're leading is not going to work." She found me a trainer near our house and on Nov. 6 I remember walking into that gym with a bit of a hangover. It was a different feeling, because I was in really bad shape. I'm 5 foot 8 and weighed 222. Teresa had told me it was time to get my life back. I felt like I'd been in a death spiral, and I realized I needed to be healthy and strong for my family. I have a 4-year-old boy, and he was a huge motivation, and so were the fans. I had an epiphany working out with my trainer that day, and I haven't had a drink since.
Tell me about the fitness journey that followed that day.
My trainer asked me what I wanted to accomplish, and I knew I was going to be on camera in two months and I told him I wanted to lose 30 pounds by then. He explained that 80% of my weight loss was going to come from diet, and we really cleaned that up. You can work out three hours a day, but if you live off chili dogs and cheeseburgers, it doesn't work.
My trainer developed a program I could do on the road because right now I'm on the road about 300 days out of the year. I do a lot of core and circuit training. When you're traveling, your backstage and your hotel rooms are where you get your workout in. When I get to a gym it's good, but I do the "Insanity" DVDs on the road too, and the rest of the band does them with me. As a band we have done the entire 60-day "Insanity" program three times now.
You've lost almost 70 pounds and are much fitter. How has it changed your performances?
One thing is I look completely different on stage now. The stamina I have in my lungs is so much better. Now I don't have to wear a big jacket to cover the fat and get overheated. I'm way more conditioned for the stage and I have a lot more power behind my voice. Things that used to be really hard on stage aren't as difficult now because I'm now in the best shape of my life. It's amazing how much clarity I have and how my body feels so much better. Health is such a big part of who I am now.