A year ago, Smile Empty Soul really were nowhere kids. With no album or single out yet, they were riding around in a dilapidated van that was crowded and playing in dilapidated clubs that weren’t.
Now the bandmembers ride in a comfortable bus, get recognized even before they take the stage, and their single “Nowhere Kids” is blowing up at radio. Not only do Smile Empty Soul now have the luxury to travel in style, they can afford creature comforts and absurd indulgences.
“We have a ridiculous amount of totally illegal fireworks on our bus,” bassist Ryan Martin admitted. “It’s the stuff they light off at fireworks shows. We like to shoot them off backstage and around fans. All the clubs are like, ‘You boys need to chill out.’ ”
Smile Empty Soul may be nowhere kids no more, but they still like to occasionally act like the irresponsible people they chastise in the new single.
“The song’s about us and our friends back home being raised by TV sets,” singer/guitarist Sean Danielsen said. “There’s a total epidemic going on in our town where nobody cares about going to college or getting a career together. All they care about is partying. You could be, like, 25 years old looking for the local high school party to go to.”
The band released the single and its dark video – which depicts a seemingly well-adjusted family plagued by sordid secrets – largely to break the perception the public has of them as being mindless party fiends.
“We have this image from ‘Bottom of a Bottle’ where people think we’re this crazy drug band, and that’s not what we’re about at all,” Danielsen grumbled. ” ‘Nowhere Kids’ is darker and it definitely represents us more. We want this song and this band to be taken seriously.”
Danielsen wrote “Nowhere Kids” in 2002, building the track around a single guitar riff. “That song came out right away, then it was done,” Danielsen said. “I didn’t even really have to go back to it. I usually work on a song to the point where I think it’s good, then I take it to our producer and sometimes he’ll send me back to work on it some more. But with this one, the first draft was the last one.”
Between tours with Trapt, Fuel and Three Days Grace, Smile Empty Soul found time to work on new material and already have 12 songs completed with vocals. About five have already been recorded, and the band may return to the studio following its next tour.
“The songs are a little mellower and a lot darker,” Danielsen said. “They’re more about personal, introspective issues.”
Some of those issues involve things Smile Empty Soul have experienced on the ride from poverty to stardom. Glamorous as it looks, Danielsen said, there have been as many downs as ups along the way.
“It’s really weird when you work your whole life to get to a place, and then you kind of get there,” he explained. “It’s like, where do you go from there? And when you get there you find it’s not quite what you thought it would be, and that can really mess with your mind.”
Though Smile Empty Soul have enough material for a full album, they plan to continue writing on the road and have no immediate plans to hit the studio. They’ll remain on the road with Puddle of Mudd through Tuesday. On March 4 they’ll head out on the SnoCore tour, which also features Trapt, Finger Eleven and Strata.