Godsmack drummer, Shannon Larkin, recently took a moment out of his insanely busy schedule to speak with me about the band's newest chart-stomping release, 1000HP. With new music, new fans, and massive touring plans, Godsmack is back in a BIG way. Here is how the conversation went.
Now that 1000hp is done and complete how do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome? Larkin: Yeah man, I think we say it every time because every record is our baby, but I certainly think this is our best effort to date. It sounds the best out of all of our records and it just far exceeded what we thought a new Godsmack record would sound like. The writing process near the end was a bit different and there were a couple of songs that just sort of happened and were created up in our headquarters that just gave us a new burst of energy and added a new element to our sound. Sort of a dirty rock, punk rock vibe and the first two singles we release will be more in that sort of vein.
You touched on it a minute ago, so what is your writing process like? I know you guys are all busy with other projects as well, so do you all write in the traditional sense in one room, or are you emailing ideas and riffs back and forth? Larkin: Well we do it both ways. Tony and I live in Florida real close to each other and we have a secondary headquarters down there. Whenever we are off we get together down there and write and play together. We are full time musicians so we usually write 20 songs together and then when we get in a room with the other guys we have some ideas for songs. Ultimately though, once the four of us get in a room, Sully will have his songs too and we will all sit together and arrange them. All of our songs are riff-oriented so we play the riff, get a good groove going, and decide if it is going to be a chorus or a verse and we just proceed from there.
I think it comes across more natural and organic that way, when you are bouncing ideas off each other in the room together rather than just emailing things back and forth. Larkin: Absolutely, yeah. But it depends because a great song is a great song. If Sully is sitting up in Boston and comes up with a vocal or lyric and he shows it to us, it is still going to be organic, I think, because we are all musicians and players so it is always organic in the end.
Check out the song "1000hp"
When you write, are you writing with the live setting in mind or are you writing the song for the song's sake? Larkin: Again, every song is different. Typically once we have a song that is shaping up then we are like "oh my god, what if we did this live?" then we talk about lighting and the stage for that song. We never write a song for the stage, but once we have a skeleton of a song than we start thinking about how it will look on the stage.
With the incredible success of your last record, The Oracle, was there any pressure to follow it up? Larkin: I don't think there was any pressure to follow up The Oracle. The only pressure was making a record that our fans were going to love, our label was going to love, and our management was going to love. All those, in that order, are the most important things. We kind of put ourselves last on that list. A lot of bands don't care about it and write music just for them. We do care though because we wouldn't be able to do this dream for a living, so the pressure comes from writing a record that everyone will love.
You guys have been at this for almost 20 years and have outlived most of your contemporaries. What do you think is the reason for that? Larkin: Well you know we never try to reinvent the wheel as a band. It goes back to the fans; we understand what they want and what they expect and we are not all of a sudden going to try and write a different record or try out a new sound. We pretty much know what our strength is and we stick to it. We keep motoring on man. We are like the Everyready bunny and we keep going. We are not kids and it is in our DNA. I think we can keep going forever until we are too old to be cool. We think about that a lot now because we are in our late 40s, but as long as we can continue to make great records and not look like duoches doing it, then we will keep going.
I think there are plenty of examples of bands that are still going strong well into their 60s and 70s. I mean look at a band like the Rolling Stones. Larkin: Yeah, but the Stones are the Stones right? I can't see a band like Metallica playing that kind of aggressive music into their 70s. That kind of music is much harder to play than say "Under My Thumb."
Did you ever imagine 20 years out you would still be doing this for a living? Larkin: Yeah I always thought I would. I am unique in a sense that I have never worked a real job in my life and I played my first club gig when I was 13 years old. I have played drums ever since for a living. I was a starving artist for 20 years before I got the call for Godsmack. I still would not have quit drumming, I was doing some session work, but at one point I did think I might do something else. My mom is a hairdresser so I thought of doing something like that. Watching her my whole life making people happy and making them look good would have been an option for me. Fortunately I never had to do that. So to answer your question I can see myself doing this to the very end. It might not be in Godsmack, but when I am in my 60s and 70s I will go back to the great American music that started it all, the Blues.
Any closing words at all? Larkin: For all the fans that like our heavy and metal side, we got some shit on this new record that is classic, old school Godsmack. I think we are going to make everyone happy with this record!