Interview by Robert Cavuoto
Hard rock titans Godsmack will be out on a headlining tour across North America from April 4th to August 4th with Volbeat supporting them from April 16th to May 11th.
The band is touring in support of their seventh studio album, When Legends Rise, which debuted on the Billboard Top 200 album chart at #8. The album finds Sully Erna [vocals, guitar], Tony Rombola [guitar], Robbie Merrill [bass], and Shannon Larkin [drums] doubling down on their combination of tightly wound riffs, rhythmic fury, naked emotions and pushed-to-the-edge vocals, all fired up with melodic precision and tightly crafted songs.
Tickets for the tour can be purchased here: www.godsmack.com
I had the pleasure of speaking with Shannon Larkin while the band was touring Europe. Shannon provided his perspective on touring, what size audience he loves to perform in front of, and the day he received his first Godsmack gold record award.
Robert Cavuoto: A lot of people associate Godsmack’s music with some of their best memories, and you guys are still rocking on tour. What’s it like being such an integral part of people’s music collection and what inspires you to keep such a heavy tour schedule?
Shannon Larkin: It’s an honor to be a part of anybody’s record collection. We are fans first, dating back to pre-teenagers. To know there is some kid in Warsaw, Poland, like where I am now, listening to us is humbling. The reason we tour is because it’s our reward for all the hard work, blood, and sweat that goes into writing and recording a CD. It’s rewarding to play our songs live. Also with the advent of the internet with its streaming and social media, CDs don’t sell. The only way to pay the bills is to get out and play. Even at 50 years old, I still enjoy touring. I like to tour during the warmer months so on days off I can go see some of the sites the places have to offer.
Robert Cavuoto: You are just finishing up the European leg of your tour before heading to North America, how long does it take for the band to get up to speed for a World Tour?
Shannon Larkin: Typically, we rehearse hard like we did right before we went out on the Legends Tour with Shinedown in America. We also did six or seven festivals in the month prior which helped us get our strength to perform five nights a week. It can be pretty strenuous, so we have to be in good shape. I have been sober for over three years now, and we don’t party on tour. I want to be healthy and on top of my game. We want to keep doing this, and if we feel like a bunch of old farts and can’t compete with the younger bands, then we’ll quit.
Robert Cavuoto: What the largest crowd Godsmack has ever performed at and what was it like to play in front of that many people?
Shannon Larkin: The biggest was Wacken in Germany, and it was over 100,000 people. It’s a good question, when you are looking out at 100,000 people you can’t see the end of the crowd, and it feels like no more than 20,000 people. I personally like playing in the 2,000 to 4,000 seat venues because that is when you can really feel the energy of the crowd. It’s reciprocal, once I’m feeling their energy than I start putting out energy through the music. On a huge stage playing for 100,000 people, it’s more of a collective energy which is subtle compared to when you are right in the people’s faces. On the stage in Waken being the drummer, I’m already 25 feet back from the front of the stage and another 25 feet from the first row. It’s awesome to experience that musical dream of playing in front of that many people, but I’ll tell you it’s not the best. Personally, I like the smaller venues as its way more intimate than the giant fields in Europe.
Robert Cavuoto: Godsmack’s 2003 CD, Faceless went platinum. In this era where rock CDs don’t sell, what’s it’s like to have that level of success; particularly being your first CD with the band?
Shannon Larkin: When I came on during the creation of Faceless, I was thinking anything we do is not going to be as good as Awake which sold almost two million copies. Faceless was the first CD that Godsmack went to #1 on the Billboard charts. It was a monumental moment, and I never had a gold record before. I remember talking with Sully that we sold a quarter of a million copies the first week, so I knew it was going to go gold. I told him I’m so excited to get my first gold record. He told me that these awards cost money to make and since it’s already on its way to platinum we’ll just make platinum record awards. I told him that was unacceptable and I wanted my gold record award. He tried to rationalize that the platinum award was better at one million than the gold at a half a million. I told him I didn’t care, but Sully wasn’t having it. They weren’t making any gold awards. Long story short, we were on tour with Metallica, and it happened to be my birthday April 24th. Sully came backstage and said they had a present for me. They blindfold me and walk me into another room where James, Kurt, Lars, and Robert of Metallica were plus all the guys from my band. They were holding a custom made gold record award just for me. It was the only one made, and I own it. That was a special moment for me, and I wanted to share that story with you.