Every day I am truly thankful that I get to not only interview new up and coming young bands, but also speak with some of the people that helped shape my younger years in the world of rock and metal. One such person is drummer extraordinaire Shannon Larkin, a veteran who has been behind GODSMACK’S kit for nearly two decades. New album When Legends Rise (BMG) was out and I was eager to talk to him about it as well as this summer’s tour with SHINEDOWN. Have a look:
Amps: This new album is without a doubt the best since the debut. Tell me about it.
Shannon: Well, thank you…outstanding! Oh man, I’m real proud of it. it was a real blast making this one. We’re all 20 years or 16 in my case, into this and we’re all just getting along better than we ever have in our whole career. We’re all settling into turning 50 and just appreciate every moment that we’ve had. We’re more proud of that than all the accolades, or gold records, or any of that shit. It’s all about longevity and being able to do what you love. We are blessed.
Amps: You definitely came up with some catchier tunes this time around, but you didn’t cut the balls off any of these songs. The hook on “When Legends Rise” is proof positive of that.
Shannon: That was the trick, you know? We follow Sully (Erna, vocals/guitar) our faithful and trusted leader. He handpicked these songs and it’s his vision. We put out records four years apart and the secret to being together so long is we’ve been blessed with being able to take time away from each other. Because we live together for three of those four years, in a tour bus, in studios, and airplanes all over the world. We are in each others grill (laughs) and I think the key has been to take a year off after tour, then make a record and record it at our own pace. Then we go on the road for a year and a half to two years to support it, then get away fro each other. Then Sully does solo work, Tony (Rombola, guitar) and I do The Apocalypse Blues Review which is the heaviest blues band on the planet. By the way, shameless plug time: Our new record The Shape of Blues to Come is available now!! If you wanna hear Tony Rombola play in a style in which you wouldn’t believe, then check us out. So I attribute that year apart to why we made a record like When Legends Rise. When we get back together it really makes us appreciate what we have as people, and as a band.
Amps: Does that factor into the zeal with which you guys attack your live performances? I’ve seen your sets and they really bring it. There’s a real fire and energy there.
Shannon: Yes, it’s a refreshing rebirth every time. It’s something that translates well live, I think. Because fans aren’t stupid. They can tell when it’s a bunch of automatons up there just going through the motions and just doing it for whatever reason. I think you can tell that the four of us really love what we do and we make no bones about it. We have a great time! I know we’re a heavy, aggressive band, but we really have fun when we play.
I say this a lot, but Sully’s my favorite frontman. He knows how to kick ass yet still be relatable to the crowd and get everybody to party with us. That’s the thing, man. When it’s a concert it’s supposed to be stress relief, right? You worked all day or all week, you spent a shit-ton of dough to go out and see a band, and you should have a good time. So that’s why I think we’re so good live. We really enjoy what we do. We throw a party every time we play.
Amps: I’ve always said that about Sully. The guy is smiling almost all night and the whole band looks like they’re having fun up there.
Shannon: It’s true, though. We are having a blast. Think about it. man. We get to do what we grew up dreaming about. And we appreciate that so much. Again, we’re really blessed.
Amps: What are some of your favorite tracks on this disc? I think “Under Your Scars” is one of the best songs this band has ever done.
Shannon: Thank you very much. The title track is definitely my favorite. And it’s cool that I’m 51 years old and I’m like a kid at Christmas every album cycle. At the end of four years, when we start a new record, I get a new drum set! So that’s Christmas for me. And this time around Sully had this sick tribal beat he wanted me to so I got this big 20 inch gong drum. It’s like a kick drum up on a stand and it was just a cool thing to implement a new sound after all these years into the band. It’s very exciting times, I must say.
Amps: “Let It Out” has a really cool groove as well.
Shannon: Thank you. I love that song also. That’s one of the first songs Sully brought to us, and I also love “Take It to the Edge.” I can’t wait to do that one live!
Amps: You’re here in the Philly area on August 26 with SHINEDOWN. I’m gonna be there without a doubt. Can’t wait for this one.
Shannon: This is a beautiful thing for the fans. We love the guys in SHINEDOWN. They’re not only a great band, but they are the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
When you are co-headlining a tour like this you are sharing production costs. It’s nice because you’re able to bring out all the bells and whistles, which can be expensive. So the fans are gonna get twice the pyro, and twice the show, and it’s two bands for the price of one! We worked together on everything. Both bands will play the same amount of time, both bands will get the same production, and it’s gonna be a great time.
Amps: When you’re not pounding the shit out of a drum set, what do you like to do to relax and unwind?
Shannon: I have a crazy house where I keep a pure rehearsal studio and Tony Rombola lives here, so for fun we do our thing in The Apocalypse Blues Review. I love doing that stuff. We play the local bars. We do small blues bars here in Florida just for the feel of it. I like to ride Harley Davidsons and watch horror movies, too.
Amps: By the way I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I still love that first WRATHCHILD AMERICA record Climbin’ the Walls. I saw you open for TESTAMENT back in November 1989 at Sundance on Long Island and the show was fucking awesome!
Shannon: YESSS!! I love it when people recognize that, man. Talk about young, dumb, and full o’ piss and vinegar, right? I remember that show and tour. Oh man, I still think of those days fondly, because it was just such an explosion of metal back then. The whole time was just so exciting!
Amps: What would you like to say to all the fans of GODSMACK, WRATHCHILD AMERICA, and anything else you’ve done over the years?
Shannon: I just wanna say thanks for sticking with us through 20 years of making heavy music. First and foremost support live music. Come and see the shows, it keeps a band like us alive and we look forward to seeing you on tour.
Man, how cool was that for me, huh? I got to talk to Shannon Larkin aboout all things GODSMACK, but also relive the glory days of WRATHCHILD AMERICA for a few minutes. Some of you youngsters just don’t get how amazing the scene was back in the glory days. Still, in the here and now, GODSMACK is one of the most exciting bands you can see live, so I suggest you do so. Remaining dates are HERE, and if you haven’t already done so, snag a copy of When Legends Rise today!