"For Godsmack, it's all about the fans."

By Jason Tanamor

“We’re going to play until they pull the plug,” Shannon Larkin, drummer of the band Godsmack, said, about when the band decides to stop playing. “We want to sell a lot of records. It’s not a vanity thing, I mean, we could stop at this point and be all right, but we want to sell enough records for our label to be happy and for them to make money. If we can’t pay the label back, they’ll drop us and we’ll end it there.”

Of course, Larkin is not referring to the band’s current situation. This is years and years down the road. “As long as we can do this, we will do it. Or unless someone leaves the band,” Larkin said. “There are four reasons why a person leaves a band. Money, ego, drugs or women break up bands.” According to Larkin, they have nothing to worry about. Larkin, conveniently, is the newest addition to Godsmack. The rest of the guys include Sully Erna (vocals), Tony Rombola (guitars), and Robbie Merrill (bass).

Godsmack’s latest album, “IV” debuted at number one and the album’s first single, “Speak,” is the band’s 5th number one rock single. And the word “rock” isn’t an understatement. “I agree, this is more of a rock album than metal one. On the last album, we were meticulous about every note on the record,” said Larkin. “Now, we use different types of equipment. There was a conscious effort to make this record rock and a lot of room left for improvisation. We were able to play our instruments with passion.”

Another reason for the rockier sound, according to Larkin, is the fact Godsmack, when the band first came out, was heavily influenced by metal bands. “It’s also because we’re getting older, we cherish incidents more, and we’ve been playing our respective instruments for a while,” Larkin said.

This playing together helps out in the writing process. “We typically write the music, then Sully writes lyrics and sometimes the music has to change for the lyric,” Larkin said. “If he wants a certain melody, we have to change the music and hash it out to get an arrangement of songs.”

According to Larkin, the first two records dealt with a horrible breakup between Sully and this woman. “When “Faceless” came, Sully found love. “He had a baby with this chick and are still together. Sully is constantly reaching for things to write about in his life,” Larkin said. “The lyrics started turning around, there was no longer pain in his heart. But no matter how famous and rich you get, there is always BS. On the new record, there was a slew of stuff going on in Sully’s life. He gave up all addictions, cigarettes, drinking, cheating and lying on chicks, and he came clean with his woman, so the new album is about trials and tribulations of going through that change and coming out on the other side with faith.”

Currently, the band draws thousands of people every time it hits the stage, something that is attributed to the hard core fans that show up night after night, and also from another famous hard rock band. “The Metallica tour helped a lot, playing in front of twenty thousand people. We saw a lot of the same faces on the road. As a direct result of that tour, pending on city, we see around five to eight thousand a night,” said Larkin. “It’s a chance to rock these people. We know what side of the bed we’re on and how open minded our fans are. They’re the best in the world. We put out an acoustic EP and it went gold in three months.”

Larkin admits that the band didn’t expect the sales the EP brought, especially since there was no advertising and very little money used. “There were two new songs on it, with the rest being reworks of songs in acoustic for release,” Larkin said. “2003 was the worst year in music as far as numbers, ticket sales, albums sold, whatever, and we survived through it with a platinum CD. That’s all due to the fans.”

The music, the fans, the money, they all contribute to making the life of Godsmack worth doing, even if it means spending a ridiculous amount of time on a tour bus away from loved ones. “It’s not hard to be on the road. We’re treated like kings. We have nice tour buses and nice hotels,” Larkin said. “It’s being away from your wife and kids, bed and pillow, that’s what’s tough. But touring, it goes along with the job. We’ll never be whiny rock stars complaining about being on the road. Every thing is served on a silver platter. The mental part is hard, not the physical.”

Even though this life is the only thing Larkin has ever known, playing drums since he was a child and essentially being paid for it since he was 14 years old, he still sees being in a band the same way now as he did when he was younger. “You get what you want out of this. If you don’t want to be the guy who gets all the attention or spotlight, then be a drummer,” Larkin said. “I could watch the band who’s opening from the crowd on the floor, and maybe a couple people would say something to me. But if Sully went onto the floor, he would be mobbed and it would turn into an autograph session. It’s nice to not be in the spotlight.” He added, “I’m a rock star on stage but off, I could wear glasses and a hat, and go straight to the next place.”

For Larkin, he has the best of both worlds. And for Godsmack, the band’s popularity is stronger than ever. That plug won’t be getting pulled anytime soon.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous."

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