January 6, 2017 Interview – Tony Rombola of Godsmack & The Apocalypse Blues Revue
There is an age old saying to never judge a book by its cover, and in the case of Guitarist Tony Rombola, it could never be more true. Famously known as the Lead Guitarist of Multi-Platinum selling Hard Rock band Godsmack, Rombola has built a name as one of the scene’s most respected players. A member of Godsmack for over twenty years now, Rombola has travelled the world to perform front of massive crowds, honed his skills as a guitarist, and broaded his horizons. Highly devoted to music, in recent years Rombola has come full-circle to the early days of his playing to form a new Blues Rock band called The Apocalypse Blues Revue. Teaming up with friend and Godsmack bandmate Shannon Larkin, The Apocalypse Blues Revue is turning heads, and the best part of it all is they are just getting started. Take a closer look into the world of Rombola inside an interview talking his guitar playing, the new project, Godsmack, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been in involved in music since you were a young kid, and since, you have attained a fantastic career in Rock with the major success of Godsmack. First, briefly tell us, what has this incredible ride been like for you?
Tony Rombola – It has been awesome. It has been almost 20 years of unexpected things, great things, and awesome experiences. I have gotten to record all these records, play all these shows, be in a band, and experience all these wonderful things that come with being successful. It has enabled me to go on and do other things as a musician. I couldn’t ask for anything more really and I am very happy.
CrypticRock.com – It has to be a great feeling. As stated, Godsmack really took off in the late ’90s with the major label release of the self-titled album in 1998. From there, the band went on to become one of Hard Rock’s elite. What do you think has been the key to Godsmack’s longevity?
Tony Rombola – You know, I don’t know. We have all stayed strong as a band. Everyone involved are good players and we have been consistent I think. I think we have written consistently strong stuff in what we are doing in the commercial Rock/Metal world. We put on good shows, Sully is a great frontman, and we are all team players on the same page as far as the direction we are going. We have a leader, maybe that is part of it too, a lot of bands have too many leaders. I think we have been pretty defined in what we want to do and we have followed Sully’s vision since the beginning and it has all been great.
CrypticRock.com – It does seem to have worked out very well over the years. Amidst your time in Godsmack, you have partaken in a series of other projects including Another Animal and now The Apocalypse Blues Revue.
Tony Rombola – Yes, Another Animal was fun. That was another great experience we had. We got to play with different musicians, got to do a record on our own, produce it ourselves. It was a lot of firsts for me. Again, more learning and growing as a musician.
CrypticRock.com – Another Animal was wonderful. It is hard to believe it has been a decade since that album was released. What inspired the latest project, The Apocalypse Blue Revue?
Tony Rombola – Shannon and I just really wanting to do another thing. He knew I had this in my bag of tricks, I am pretty versatile. He heard me playing Blues and he said, “You play Blues too?” I said, “Yea I was into Blues Rock,” and primarily that was how I was playing back then. Then, when I joined Godsmack, I heard they were heavier than that, they are a Rock band and Metal, so I adapted. My roots are in Blues Rock; for me, this is coming full circle back to what I was doing 20 years ago.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool. Sometimes people do not realize there are many sides to a musician. Fans sometimes look at the creators as one-dimensional, when in fact there are usually many faces to them. With that said, have you always had an appreciation for the Blues?
Tony Rombola – Totally. Being in Godsmack has enabled me to be a full-time musician so I can work on my playing. Looking back when I was playing Blues in the ’90s before I joined Godsmack, now all the experience I have had and playing guitar all day everyday for a living, has been able to get my technique up to where it is now. I am very satisfied to produce a record like Apocalypse Blues Revue with the sounds we have and the style of songs. It sounds fairly modern, but it also has some classic Blues in there too, that was our plan.
CrypticRock.com – It is certainly quite different than what Godsmack fans may expect. It is absolutely a Blues Rock band, yet with some heavy textures, but it sounds very authentic. What was it like putting the full-length record together?
Tony Rombola – It was a lot of fun. I was pumped, I did a lot of preparation for it for the past four years before the record. We have been doing this band for five years and I had been working toward this project everyday, working on my chops, my tone, and what gear I was going to do. It was four years of preparing, so I was well prepared. I had Eric Gales there right at the beginning of the session to do a track. For me that was really inspiring. That was at the beginning of the session so I was inspired for the whole session. Everything just came together great and I was very inspired to have Eric there for a couple of days. It was magic for me and a great time.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like you had a blast making it. The album is quite enjoyable and should be listened to as a cohesive piece. Was that the objective when crafting the songs?
Tony Rombola – Shannon does that more than I do. He picks the order of the songs and tries to make it a dynamic little journey, Sully does that as well in Godsmack. For me, I am more of a meat and potatoes guy, I am into the songs and getting them done. I think everyone has different roles in the band. That was never for me. I want everyone to dig every song, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think about the order. That is what a band is, four or five people putting their brains into one idea and see what you get.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, that makes sense completely. Everyone should have their role in a band. Can fans expect The Apocalypse Blues Revue to set out to do some more live performances in 2017?
Tony Rombola – We did three weeks in the North East in 2016. We have a new booking agent and he is trying to book us, so we are just waiting for shows to come up and we are going to go do them. We have done some random shows, but we are just waiting for more shows. We are ready to play, Godsmack is off right now, so we are ready to play.
CrypticRock.com – Wonderful, that will exciting to see this year. How are the audiences reacting to the band live? Are there a lot of Godsmack fans coming out, or is it a mixed crowd?
Tony Rombola – You know what, it hasn’t been a lot of Godsmack fans. Early on, when we first started this thing, when we did a few local shows, a lot of Godsmack fans came out then. Locally now, since it has been a few years, that wore off a little bit. Now we are just playing in Blues clubs to Blues fans and winning them over. Every show has been great, we are looking forward to building this band. We already have another record done. We are already into the third one, the second record is completely done. We plan on doing this for a while.
CrypticRock.com – That is great. It is important for people to know that this is not a one and done thing. This is a project you plan on doing well into the future.
Tony Rombola – For sure. This style of music fits me well. I am getting older now, I just turned 52, I feel like I can play this music forever. I will play Godsmack forever, as long as Sully can keep singing the way he does. I always want to play different styles and do different things in music. I am in it to play everyday and be a musician, that is all I do.
CrypticRock.com – Well it seems like there is plenty of great music to come from The Apocalypse Blues Revue. Recently, Sully was on the road in support of his latest solo record. People like to talk, and rumors started to swirl that Godsmack was done, but Sully quickly put that to rest. The band has been through alot together, how would you describe your relationships at this point?
Tony Rombola – It is real strong and we are in a great place. We are looking forward to work together at the end of 2017 when we are supposed to get together and write. We are scheduled to put out a record in 2018. We are all getting along great, happy, and doing our own thing right now. We are enjoying our time and playing other kinds of music while getting all this experience. Then we will get back together and work, tour, put a record out, and do the whole thing again. That is a great life too, I enjoy that too.
CrypticRock.com – Fans will be excited to hear that news about Godsmack. It is fantastic you have another creative outlet like The Apocalypse Blues Revue.
Tony Rombola – That is the key, it keeps everything great. We always do a record every four years, so by the time we get together, everyone is much better musicians by the time we do another record. It is a great thing, that is what you are supposed to do, I think. If you love what you are doing, you work at it, get better at it, and get the job done.
CrypticRock.com – No question. Speaking of improving, Godsmack has progressed from record to record. One thing that has always resonated with Godsmack is the impeccable rhythm section of the band. Tell us about the honing of this style all while writing tracks that have certainly seen the band’s sound progress.
Tony Rombola – I guess repetition, we have played a lot of shows through the years. My timing has always been good, even before I was in Godsmack. We have played with some of the best drummers in the world. Sully is a great drummer, we have Shannon, and Tommy Stewart was good too. Shannon came in on Faceless (2003), him and I have just become great friends. He is so fun to play with because he is so good. It is so easy to play with someone that good.
CrypticRock.com – Right, and Shannon has been an intrciate part of Godsmack for some time. It is great to hear the band still has such a tight relationship.
Tony Rombola – For sure. I moved down to Florida, I lived in New Hampshire my whole life. I moved down here with my wife to live near Shannon so we can do these other projects. We play seven days a week. I am always at jam room, we record demos here, rehearse here, and write music here. It is all we do when we are home from Godsmack.
I gave up golf around six years ago, I was into it, I love golf. I made this conscious decision one day, I am putting all this effort and energy into golf, I am just going to put all this energy into music. Even though I am a musician full-time, I am just going to put all that energy and time into music. I have become a much better player, written all this music, and started this whole other project. I feel like we are all 100% into it. We are all focused to get this thing going.
CrypticRock.com – That is a lot of dedication. You had to give up golf, but that is ok (laugh). My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror/Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of the genres, what are some of your all-time favorites?
Tony Rombola – You know, I do not watch them, but I do not buy Horror movies like Shannon. I like The Evil Dead (1981), that is the connection Shannon and I have. We always used to watch that on the road a lot. Now they have that whole new series on Starz, we watch those.
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For more on The Apocalypse Blues Revue: theapocalypsebluesrevue.com | Facebook | Twitter
For more on Godsmack: godsmack.com | Facebook | Twitter