March 29, 2019 Interview – Shannon Larkin of Godsmack Talks When Legends Rise, Touring, + More
Built with a blue collar working class attitude, Godsmack has survived over 2 decades in the uneven terrain known as the music business. Not an easy feat, along the way achieving 23 top ten rock radio hits, including 17 songs in the top five, they continue to fire on all cylinders in 2019.
Currently wrapping up their re-scheduled European tour, they are set to return to American soil for a killer run of shows through the summer with Volbeat. Counting their blessings to still be rocking and rolling, longtime Drummer Shannon Larkin sat down to chat about taking nothing for granted, their new direction with When Legends Rise, touring, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – Last we spoke, you were working hard with Apocalypse Blues Revue. Since then, you have kept busy with that and Godsmack. What have the last couple of years been like for you?
Shannon Larkin – It’s certainly been a lot of work, but it’s all good. We ended up finishing the Godsmack record and directly went right into the studio for the Apocalypse Blues Revue record. The Godsmack record came out, we went on tour for a couple of months last year, and the Apocalypse Blues Revue was released.
In between, we went and toured with Apocalypse Blues Revue on the west coast with Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Then tragedy struck with Tony Rombola; he lost a son. Everything kind of came to a grinding halt while Tony dealt with that tragedy. The tour that was supposed to be in December in Europe was postponed until now. We got through Christmas, January, February, taking that time off for Tony and his family; he lost a kid, and that’s no small deal. We re-booked the tour here in Europe, where we have been for 3 1/2 weeks.
In the meantime, Apocalypse Blues Revue parted ways with our singer. The project will go on, we are in the process now of getting a new singer. That is obviously on the back-burner while we support and tour until 2020 for the Godsmack When Legends Rise album. We’re going to be really busy and we have plenty of time to get a new guy for Apocalypse Blues Revue. When we get a break again, Tony and I, said we are going to do Apocalypse Blues Revue until the day we die.
Cryptic Rock – Our condolences to Tony, that is an awful loss. In regards to the music, it’s great that you have both outlets.
Shannon Larkin – The Blues is a genre of music we love so much and you can grow old gracefully and play it, unlike Rock/Metal, which is a taxing style of music, and isn’t good on the old bones. We are looking forward to really enjoying every second we have out here with Godsmack. As you get older, and everybody starts to drop like flies around you, it makes you really appreciate every second; we’ve been blessed to have this.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely, life is quite short, we should appreciate every moment we have. The album, When Legends Rise, came out last April and you guys did some touring for it last summer. What was it like making the album? It’s a very good record, but a bit different than what Godsmack has done in the past.
Shannon Larkin – It’s completely different. We had all turned 50 by that time. By the way, all our records come out 4 years apart. So, by the time 4 years pass, that’s a long time. Typically we will write and record the album in a year, then we will tour for a 1 1/2 to 2 years. Then we will have some time apart, and that time is when Sully will do some solo work, but he’s also starting to decide what direction he wants to move after this.
Each record has varied in direction. When I joined, the Faceless (2003) record was a very Metal sounding record. Then we got a different producer for the IV (2006) record 3 years later, it was a more bluesy record, and on and on.
This time Sully came to us, and for the first time, said he wanted to explore writing with outsiders. He worked with these producers/writers out in LA and they write very melodic songs. We trust and follow Sully, he is the leader of this band and he handpicked us all, it’s his vision, it’s his mind in musical notes.
Cryptic Rock – Interesting. So what was your reaction when Sully came to you with his vision for When Legends Rise?
Shannon Larkin – When he told us about it, we thought, OK, the proof will be in the pudding. When he got back from writing with other folks, the first song he played was “Bulletproof,” and the second was “When Legends Rise.” Both of them were demos of course with drum machines, etc. Sully said, “Listen guys, you are each going to get to play your real instruments and this just demos so you can get a feel for it.”
When we heard those two songs, we totally got it. Sully was there throughout the entire creation with the other writers, so it still sounds like Godsmack to us.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, it does still sound like Godsmack. The production is perhaps the most amplified difference.
Shannon Larkin – I think the main departure, and why we sound different now, is the change in production. There is a lot of layering and vocal harmonies, there are synthesizers on there that layer the low-end – like in “Bulletproof,” you will hear that throbbing sound of a synthesizer in the verse.
We never used any of that before, we’ve always been a 4 piece band that played drums, guitar, bass, and vocal. This record was a big departure for that and we recorded it in a completely different way with how we approached the songs and tracking.
It was a breath of fresh air and we looked at it like a rebirth. That is what we mean by When Legends Rise, we’re not so arrogant to think of calling ourselves legends and we’re rising, it’s metaphorical for a rebirth and the phoenix rising out of the ashes.
Cryptic Rock – The album came out very well and the stint of touring you did in the summer of 2018 was great. How is the European tour wrapping up?
Shannon Larkin – It’s going fantastic. We’re playing smaller venues, were not as big over here, but the shows are sold out. It’s a drab time to be touring around Europe though because it’s cold and grey everywhere. There is not much good weather on days off to go out and do what we normally like to do; see some sights and experience culture.
With that said, we are coming back, we have 2 more tours of Europe just this year alone, and probably another in 2020 in hopes to spread this band and make it grow over here. Onward and upwards, we are seeing growth as we play. It seems to me we will have a lot of time this year to come back and beat up Europe and experience all these beautiful countries and cultures.