Project Description

Interview with

SHANNON LARKIN

from

GODSMACK

Interviewer – Anne-Laure Marie

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Godsmack

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Godsmack stand strong as 21st century hard rock titans. With an unbreakable spirit and die-hard work ethic evocative of their hometown, the Boston quartet have fought hard to secure a place in music history since first smashing their way on to the scene in 1998. To date, they’ve notched a staggering six #1 singles at US mainstream rock radio, including ‘Awake’, ‘Straight Out of Line’, ‘Cryin’ Like A Bitch’ and ‘I Stand Alone’. Moreover, they’ve enjoyed 20 Top 10 hits at the format – the most of any act since February 1999 – as well as four Grammy nominations, and were winners of The Billboard Music Awards Rock Artist of the Year in 2001.  Selling over 20 million records worldwide, the band has also unleashed three consecutive albums at #1 on the US Billboard Top 200 – Faceless [2003], IV [2006] and The Oracle [2010]. This places them in league with Van Halen, U2, Metallica, Dave Matthews Band and Linkin Park, who have also enjoyed the same streak. Moreover, their accomplishments on the road remain staggering, with headlining sets everywhere from Mayhem and UPROAR through to Rock on the Range. Godsmack released the successful and acclaimed 1,000 HP in 2014, and their domination continues with the arrival of When Legends Rise, their seventh full-length album in 2018. They still stand alone.

Anne-Laure Marie chatted with Shannon Larkin this week to find out what the latest buzz is.

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28 years since its debut and four years after ‘1000hp’, Godsmack released their 7thstudio album, ‘When Legends Rise’, on the 27thof April. When asked how the album has been received so far, Shannon expressed that it has been really good and that the band is really excited to play new songs, get a flavour from the crowd, and see how they feel about the new “stuff”.

Anyone who has been following Godsmack over the last decade, if not from the beginning, will notice the less-heavy-more-rock-like-sound of this last release. The band really speaks about a rebirth for them, an evolution in their style and the expression of an inevitable maturity.

“Each record that we do average about four years apart. Sully is our visionary guy, he is the vision of Godsmack and for every record he has a different idea on how he wants us to try and change. So on the Faceless record we wanted a real technical metal record, and then on the fourth record there is a more bluesy vibe, etc. We do different producers per record for these different changes that he wants to make over four years per period and basically every time we would make a new record and we thought we were trying to do something different. No band wants to keep making the same record over and over again. All the critics would say the same thing ‘Oh it’s just another Godsmack record, it just sounds like all the other ones’. So this time, we’re all over 50 years old now and Sully wanted something more melodic, more mature sound, more modern production. We’re not this bunch of older guys trying to act like we’re young and angry, you know what I mean? 15 years ago we were young and angry and so we thought we could make heavy music because it was angst. These lyrics have all been reflected from truths in his life and experiences that he has, like a lot of heartbreaks he wears on his sleeve. Back then our records were heavier, all of our influences are hard rock and heavy metal and even punk rock. And then as you get older you start rediscovering all of those things you grew up with on the radio like songs you got really into.”

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Something that stands this album out as being more innovative is that the band called for outside writers.

“This time”, Shannon says, “Sully used outside writers which means that the guy that produced our record helped co-write some of these more modern sounding drummings. It was a fine line I tell you, you know, the last thing we want to do is to alienate our fan base and make them think that we’re selling out or some stupid thing. We sold a shit load of records and we have no reason to sell out, write music for money, that’s not the intent. We’re not trying to force ourself to be this angry heavy band that we were fifteen years ago”

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It is true that after 20 years in the industry Godsmack has nothing to prove anymore.

Sully has different intents for each record. Tony and I are not really good at writing radio songs, commercial sound… he is the visionary of the band and put the band together, it’s his band! And we follow him, trust him and love him, he’s a brother. We’ve been together 20 years, and so, you know, he wanted to try working with different song writers and producers, and honestly Tony and I were like kicked in the nuts there for a minute but we’re open and like I said we’re trying to be more mature anyway. It’s hard you know, only less than one percent of bands can get a record deal, thousands and thousands of bands put demos and don’t even get signed, we were lucky enough to not only get signed but be successful for 20 years and we’re not going to sit here and say ‘Oh ok the crazy guy wants to write with other people on this record etc.’ We’ve seen all of our idols doing it, like Aerosmith did it. I think that’s where probably he might have been coming from as far as in changing his of genre like now he likes to say he has no genre of music. What he listens in his iPad it goes from Adele to Pantera, from Frank Sinatra to Slayer.”

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Later Shannon goes on:

“He is critical and I like the way he says that “to me it’s either a good song or a bad song”. It’s not about how heavy it is, how angry we are or how happy we are, it’s about if it feels like a good song and won’t alienate our fan base. It’s not like when Celtic Frost put out Cherry Lake or whatever and they were trying to jump on this trend of hair metal which was the thing but they were fucking Celtic Frost and they shouldn’t have done that.”

“If we’re still writing heavy material I think the main thing that changed was the production value. Now you hear like the processed guitars and the synthetiser underneath the bass together that like more modern low end sound. With all of the past records there honestly has been no samples. We’ve always tried to be as natural as possible and so I don’t think it is so much the writing of the songs more than the actual production and sound of the songs. My drums sound completely different, the guitars sound completely different. We went from two amps over to these Kemper amps which are like these digital amps that are supposed to sound exactly like all the best guitars, you can’t even tell the difference between the 6P8 Marshall and this Kemper amp right? Well these old ears can hear the difference and to me the guitars do sound different than previous Godsmack records, as well as the drums and the bass. The bass which less people don’t notice, to me all the bass is there, the actual tonalities, it’s hard for me to hear Robbie’s fingers hit the strings, which we’ve always had, it adds a whole new lever of low end too to our sound which again sounds more compressed, more radio friendly if you will”.

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Naturally I went on to ask him what was then his favourite track on the album…

“I like the very first track ‘When Legends Rise’”, Shannon says. “The cool thing is that it has a tribal beat that starts on the toms. I implemented this big 20 inch gong drum to my drum kit which is always fun. I can never get tired of new records cycles which provide new music because I get to experiment the different drums and different sounds, I am totally into that. And so that song starts out with this big gong drum and the tribal beat is kind of like part of our history, in songs like Voodoo or Serenity where we used these tribal drums beat you know. So that’s my favourite song and I love the middle bit which definitely sounds like the old heavy Godsmack stuff”

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The band is currently already playing some shows in the US to finally hit the road in July to promote ‘When Legends Rise’. They will co-headline with Shinedown.

“The American tour with Shinedown yes! One of the first tours that that band ever did on their very first record we got them out on one of our tours. I think it was for the IV record maybe, like 12 years ago, so Sully immediately loved the singer Brent [Smith]’s voice and we took them up on tour and realized that not only they’re a great band but they’re great people. We’ve watched them rise and it’s like we’re their older brothers or something. We watched them live on their first record, and no-one knew who they were. They were co-headliners and like for us this tour is going to be a big family reunion you know. It will be really fun and I think it’s going to be the best rock tour in America because we’re going to share production. Production you know is all the light and sound and staging and all of this. It’s really, really expensive and that’s why we don’t make money as much as other bands because we blow a lot of dough on our stage show. We put video screens, lasers, and pyro and moving platforms and extra people on the stage, because we like to bring more because ticket prices are so fucking ridiculous nowadays too, you pay $45 to see a concert or more. We always bring out to ‘big out the big bomb’ as well. This time when we co-headline with Shinedown they’ve agreed, which we did before with Rob Zombie and they agreed to co-headline which means both bands get all the lights, sounds, everything is equal and even the time we play is equal. We’re gonna go vast but it will still be a co-headline, they get exactly the same amount of time and all that. Both bands share the production costs so we can have that gnarly show, make this rad stage. Their stage is going to be completely different but it fits in with our stage so that the crowd is going to get two badass shows for the price of one. So here it is, it’s going to be badass, I can’t wait.

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So you may wonder: any badass shows coming all the way to Australia…?

SL: Yes! It’s been 3 years since we’ve been down there. The plan is to come in January when it’s summer and beautiful. The season works well for us to come as it would be winter here and hopefully we can hit the festivals. That’s going to be kickass! I remember when we came down under and played and one of the shows was literally 110 degrees on stage. I forget which city but it was on one of those big festivals and we started to play at 3.30 in the afternoon in the hot sun and we played the whole first song in 110 degrees heat. There was a thousand horse power pumping out and the crowd was really dead and we could tell either they didn’t like us or something was wrong. We had monitors and shit and on stage it turned out that when we started the song everybody was just putting their hands up and were pointing at their ears. The PA was off at the front right and there was technical difficulty. I’ll never forget it  because then we went up on stage we were so embarassed like ‘what are they doing??” Then they were like “yeah the PA is back on!’, we walked down and just started the set all over again, it was so funny!”

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For more information on GODSMACK, visit:
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | YOUTUBE

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AMNPLIFY – DB
Anne-Laure Amayon

My name is Anne-Laure, born in France, I moved to Melbourne early 2017 and am loving it. I never lived in another city with so much going on and it is refreshing. I love music and live shows, which have become one of my main occupations, it is even better when I can shoot them! I am into heavy music (heavy metal, prog rock/metal, etc.) but I remain quite open generally and enjoy discovering new artists, which happens regularly thanks to Amnplify!