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— Smile Empty Soul has played countless shows in Little Rock, but they’ve found a new venue for their show this weekend.

“We’ve never played the Rev Room,” says the band’s lead singer and guitarist, Sean Danielsen. “We played the old Juanita’s about 10 times, the new Juanita’s a couple of times, plus the Downtown Music hall and the Clear Channel joint [now The Metroplex], even, a couple of times. So we’re looking forward to a great new room experience.”

Smile Empty Soul takes its name from a song Danielsen wrote way back when the threeman band was trying to decide on a name.

“When we started playing in 1998, we needed a name we could stick with, and it came down to this song, which was about people walking around with big smiles on their face, like everything was fine, when it’s not.”

The band released a selftitled debut CD in 2003, and followed that with Anxiety in 2005, Vultures in 2006, Consciousness in 2009 and their latest, 3’s, on May 22 this year. The band chose 3’s as the name of its latest and fifth album, even though the numbering might seem confusing.

“We had just started making it and a lot of threes just started appearing,” Danielsen says. “It was stuff in our lives as well as with the band. We’re a band of three guys, who have had the same three guys for three albums in a row, and we have three words in our name — lots of stuff like that kept popping up and giving us this eerie feeling.”

The band’s sound has evolved into something more musical and melodic, Danielsen reckons, since the band got started in the “grunge” era when its influences included Alice in Chains, The Deftones, A Perfect Circle, Queens of the Stone Age and Nirvana. The Alice in Chains connection was so pronounced that Smile Empty Soul recently went in a studio with tour mates Hurt and they joined forces to record an Alice in Chains song, “No Excuses.”

“We were in Flint, Mich., and a studio invited us to do something there,” Danielsen says. “So we went in and did that song, very quick, and it was very cool. We haven’t yet gone out on stage together to sing it live, but as we get more comfortable around each other, it could happen.”

Danielsen started the band with his high school pal Ryan Martin and a drummer who didn’t stay long. After another drummer came and went, Jake Kilmer is now the man on the drum set. Formed in Southern California, the band is based in North Hollywood, but Danielsen says the band doesn’t care that much for playing in their home area.

“All the actors and folks who think they can do it better than you stand around and watch with their arms folded and analyze what we are doing,” he says. “So Southern California is a pretty dead zone for rock ’n’ roll right now.”

Hurt/Smile Empty Soul Opener: Black Oxygen

8 p.m. Sunday, Revolution Room, 300 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock

Tickets: $12 advance; $15 day of show

(501) 823-0090

Weekend, Pages 39 on 12/06/2012

Print Headline: Smile Empty Soul primed for a new stage

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