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Godsmack Interview

A Conversation With Drummer Shannon Larkin

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Godsmack Interview
Universal Records
Godsmack's latest studio album, Godsmack IV was made a little differently than their previous ones. Frontman Sully Erna let his bandmates write most of the music this time around while he focused on the lyrics. The Boston band has had a lot of success on the metal and hard rock scene with several multi-platinum albums, a bunch of hit singles and four Grammy nominations. I spoke with drummer Shannon Larkin, who joined Godsmack for 2003's Faceless. He's a musical veteran, having been a member of Ugly Kid Joe in the '90s and was a much sought after session drummer who played with many different people including Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest. Larkin also plays with Casey Chaos' band Amen and has another project called Another Animal with Godsmack bandmates Tony Rombola and Robbie Merril. When I spoke to Larkin he was getting ready to play on The Tonight Show.

Chad Bowar: Are you guys excited to be on Jay Leno tonight?
Shannon Larkin: Yeah we are. I'm sitting in the green room right now. We just got done with sound check. It's exciting to play these shows.

We just turn on the TV and there you guys are performing a song. Take us through what actually happens when you perform on a show like that.
We got here at 10am and did the first sound check at 11:30. That's just for the sound, the audio. Then you take a break for an hour while they practice skits and Jay's gags and things like that. Then you go back and do a video soundcheck for the cameras to make sure they are working right for the performance. Then you go back into the dressing room and do phone interviews. About five minutes ago Jay came in and talked to us. It's surreal. This is the third time we've done Leno.

A lot of people are describing your new album Godsmack IV as more mature. Would you agree?
Yeah, I guess. Our band's been around for ten years, so hopefully we've matured. The sound of the band has changed and gotten better. Sully pulled back on the reins and let the three of us write a little more on this record, let us express ourselves a little bit more.

It sounds like the recording process was a little different this time around.
When I first joined the band it was weird, because Sully played the drums on the first two records. I came into a situation where he was used to playing the drums, so he really had his hands in the drum parts on the Faceless record. The acoustic thing let him open up a little bit and be more comfortable with me. And so this last record was even more so, letting me do my thing. It was because we wrote a lot of the songs. Before Sully wrote 90 percent of the music, so he already had a vision of what the drums should be. That didn't allow much freedom. When I'm coming up with the song it's my vision on what I should play. It's been a lot easier for me and a lot more fun for me. I listen back and feel like I'm more of a part of it.

You wrote nearly 40 songs for the album and cut it down to 11. How did that process work?
It's Sully's band and his vision. He sifted through all the music and picked the songs that he wanted on the album. We all said "all right." He's always had the vision of everything Godsmack from the artwork to the production to the engineer to the studio to what TV shows we play. Everything. When it comes time to pick the songs it's all Sully.

With "Speak" being the number one song on the rock charts for several weeks, does that increase your expectations for the success of the album?
Our expecations are that we have to sell platinum or better so we don't get dropped from our record label and have to go and build houses again. It all comes down to that. We would do backflips if it sold two or three million and would be bigger than any record, but in reality we just need to tour our asses of and work hard and make this thing go platinum so that we can make another record and do another tour and continue to live the life we dreamed about when we were kids growing up. We're living it now.

Does you experience in Ugly Kid Joe where you were a platinum band that ended up getting dropped by a record label affect your attitude today?
It certainly makes me nervous when a new record comes out by Godsmack, because I've been in a band that had a multi-platinum record and watched the next one flop and see how quickly the major label that we made millions of dollars for dropped our ass in a heartbeat without a second thought or second chance. I know how ruthless this business is. That's why when a new record comes out I want it to sell so I can continue to do this. I'm not getting any younger and I certainly have no other skills. I've been doing this since I was ten years old and I have never done anything except play drums.

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