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Smile Empty Soul was a heavy alternative trio formed while its three members were still in Santa Clarita, California high schools. Led by singer/guitarist Sean Danielson, the band also included drummer Derek Gledhill and bassist Ryan Martin. After honing their sound with numerous hometown gigs, Smile Empty Soul began venturing to the Sunset Strip, and eventually passed a demo to Todd Parker of the Los Angeles indie ThroBack. That exposure led to a deal with Jason Flom's Lava imprint, which was expanding in the wake of early signee Kid Rock's white-hot success. The trio hooked up with producer John Lewis Parker, who was at the helm for their self-titled debut, issued by Lava in May 2003. With its screeching guitars and Danielson's rage-filled vocals, the album was indebted to the alternative sounds of the early '90s. Vultures, Smile Empty Soul's third record (the band's sophomore outing, Anxiety, was scheduled for release in 2005, but a split with Lava kept the album from seeing the light of day until the band released it through their own MRAfia Records label in 2009) hit the streets in 2006, and was followed by the aforementioned Anxiety. Their fourth full-length, Consciousness, arrived in 2009, followed by 3's in 2012.