Thursday, June 5, 2014

SMILE EMPTY SOUL Interview: “We probably won’t make another full length album” Says Vocalist/Guitarist Sean Danielsen

California’s Smile Empty Soul achieved immediate success with their debut, self-titled album in 2003, aided by the support of rock radio for the record’s three singles: “Bottom Of A Bottle”, “Nowhere Kids”, and “Silhouettes”. Their heavy, melodic songs got them lumped in with similar bands such as Chevelle and Breaking Benjamin, and were embraced by both fans and critics. Despite this and a string other successful albums, Smile Empty Soul over the last ten years has had each of their albums released on a different record label. Undoubtedly, the lack of long-term financial backing by a single company has been frustrating. A lesser-committed band would have certainly called it a day by now, but Smile Empty Soul undertook the huge responsibility of taking control of every aspect of the work in forming their own label imprint (Two Disciples Entertainment) in partnership with Pavement. Chemicals, the first result of this arrangement, was released in October 2013 and the band has been on the road nonstop to promote it. Currently on tour with Wayne Static and Twin Cities bands American Head Charge and Thira, Smile Empty Soul has five upcoming shows in Minnesota (details below), including one Saturday, June 7 at the Skyway Theatre in Minneapolis, as well as some headlining dates.

Smile Empty Soul (photo courtesy of the band)

In answering some questions by email, founding vocalist and guitarist Sean Danielsen commented, “Not at all,” on whether the speed at which Chemicals was recorded (two weeks, nearly unheard of in this day and age) had the band feeling rushed. “We made the record fast, but that was by design. Chemicals has so much more of a human feel than some of our other records we spent more time on, and we'll record like that from now on.” Fans shouldn’t expect new music any more frequently, however, as Sean explains that “There's still always gonna be a cycle to things. You release music, and then you go on tour a bunch. Just because we can make a record quicker doesn't mean we'd spend less time promoting it. Even if we only release EPs from now on it would probably be once a year or two years.”


The mention of EPs raises the timely issue of whether releasing new music in the traditional album format makes sense when streaming is the biggest growth area in music consumption. Sean reveals Smile Empty Soul’s intentions by stating, “We've already decided that we probably won't make another full length album. As the times change you need to evolve with them, and it doesn't really make a lot of sense for a band like us to record and release 10 or more songs at one time. Look for us to release EP's from now on, most likely.” He does view releasing new music as essential: “Making new music is what this is all about. That's why we do this. It's true that you don't make any money from album sales, but that would never stop us from making music. Even if we stopped doing Smile Empty Soul, I'm sure we'd all be releasing music on our own.”

Now that the band is in full control of their career with their own label imprint without deep corporate pockets, the success of Chemical’s first single, “False Alarm” is surely welcome. Sean admits that the “costs to run a radio campaign are insane.” Despite this and other potential frustrations, he adds that “We'd like to stick with our own imprint if possible. We like to do our thing, our way.”

Watch the video for "False Alarm", the lead single from Chemicals

After a well-deserved rest at home in July, Smile Empty Soul will return to the road for a headlining run in August and September. Touring is the lifeblood of bands more than ever, and Sean encourages people that view Smile Empty Soul as simply a radio band with its implied negative connotations to come check out the band live. He comments that those that only know their radio songs are “Usually impressed with our live show and want to get deeper into our music. I think they're surprised they haven't heard more of our music based on the quality of our songs and live show.”


Smile Empty Soul plays a remarkable five concerts in Minnesota this week, so there’s no reason to miss this great band. Go to the band’s webpage for all tour dates, and here are the upcoming ones in Minnesota:

June 5 – Moorhead, MN, The Garage Bar, Summer Static Fest, w/Wayne Static, Bobaflex, Shadow Of A Giant, Thira, Angel Roze, Romantic Rebels, Killform, Six Gun Freedom, Star Crown, Sinematic, Anomic, and A Dying Tide
June 6 – Rochester, MN, Wicked Moose, w/Wayne Static, American Head Charge, Thira, and Embrace The Ending
June 7 – Minneapolis, MN, Skyway Theatre & Studio B, Totally F*kn Awesome Fest, w/Wayne Static, American Head Charge, Thira, Blue Felix, Nuisance, Black Flood Diesel, Gabriel And The Apocalypse, I Corvinus, Solution Thirteen, Born In Regression, Rooin, Emergent, Tepetricy, Pinwheel, Ashes From Stone, Spacemaniam, Names To Faces, Karma Sutra, Piranha, Whither The Tide, A Pre-Fabricated Lie, Shadow Of The Giant, Killform
June 8 – Sauk Rapids, MN, Bubba’s (headline show)
June 9 – Duluth, MN, Clyde Iron Works (headline show)

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