GODSMACK

Keeping On

Even in a post­ Spo­tify world where phys­i­cal music sales are down across the board, Gods­mack still sell a but­t­load of albums to every­one from hard­core Gods­mack fans to casual metal fans. Their lis­ten­er­ship is spread through all sorts of demo­graph­ics, but the one thing they have in com­mon is they respond to the crunchy gui­tars, aggres­sive vocals and an unde­ni­able rhyth­mic groove. This groove is dri­ven by Shan­non Larkin, a pow­er­house drum­mer who started his career with Ugly Kid Joe, a band unfairly lumped in with the last days of hair metal. Ugly Kid Joe is back, but Gods­mack has never gone away. Their lat­est album, 1000hp, was released in August to crit­i­cal acclaim. We caught up with Larkin in the lead­up to Soundwave.

So. Sound­wave, huh?

It’s a hell of a line­up! We’re blown away by all the other bands play­ing. We know a lot of them per­son­ally. Some of them for 15 years now. It’s going to be like a big fam­ily reunion back­stage. Judas Priest is a band I’ve always looked up to. Get­ting to see these bands play every night, we’re going to really enjoy our­selves on this fes­ti­val. It’s an amaz­ing line-up.

I’ve gone back to the album after a few months to see if it still kicks ass after the ‘new album’ excite­ment, and it really holds up. How do you feel about it? 

Well if you look at our his­tory, we usu­ally take three to four years between records. Peo­ple always ask ‘why so long?’ Really, we’ll tour for up to two years all around the world, and then take six to eight months off just to get out of each oth­ers’ faces for a while so that when we get back together we’re still hun­gry and excited. That’s why it takes so long between records for us. We’re lucky to be able to afford that lux­ury, but this time it’s a dif­fer­ent vibe alto­gether, because for the last twelve years I’ve been in the band we’d go to dif­fer­ent cities to do the records. This time we found a big ware­house build­ing and we con­verted it into a record­ing studio/storage room and rehearsal space. We took all our old stag­ing and back­drops and really Gods­macked the place out and made it really com­fort­able. So we wrote the record in this place and we also had Dave Fort­man, the pro­ducer, come in and set up the record­ing stu­dio part. So for the first time in our lives we were able to write and record in the same spot, which was ours too.

Did you ever find it got to a point where it was like ‘Guys, we’ve got it, we should stop now,’ or did you take the time because you had it?

Usu­ally it’s the man­agers and labels telling us to stop, beg­ging us to stop! Once we began this writ­ing mode it was like the flood­gates got opened. Usu­ally when we first get together it’s impos­si­ble, frus­trat­ing, and hard to get to the point where the cre­ative juices start flow­ing, but the songs started com­ing out so fast that before we knew it we had 16 songs on the board and we weren’t done. Man­age­ment said you have to start record­ing and turn some­thing in.’ We’d say ‘but wait, there’s this new song we’re writ­ing…’ In fact, the song ‘1000hp’ was one of the last songs writ­ten. The best two songs on the record are the last two writ­ten, and we wanted to keep writing.

Some­thing I’ve always wanted to ask you about is the show you played with Black Sabbath.

That was the high­light of my life. One of the first albums I ever heard was a Black Sab­bath album, and like 30 years later I got to play a show with them. Robert Tru­jillo, who’s Metallica’s bass player, at the time he was with Ozzy and I’d met him when he played with Sui­ci­dal Ten­den­cies. I was in Ugly Kid Joe and he was really impressed with our singer Whit­field. Next thing you know, he’s play­ing with Ozzy and they had to do a make­up show. I was in the right place at the right time. Sharon Osbourne called and I was like “yes, yes is the answer!” Sharon’s plan was to come out on the Ozzfest tour and sit behind Mike Bor­din and just watch him play the Ozzy and Sab­bath sets for a week before the Sab­bath show. He had to fly out to join Faith No More on tour and couldn’t play that show.
So I go out and Tony Iommi saw me and he said ‘that kid isn’t play­ing with us,’ and he went on the tour bus. They came to me and said ‘you can still play in the Ozzy thing, but you’re not play­ing with Sab­bath. They’ll prob­a­bly get Bobby Rondinelli.’ I told Robert and he was like ‘what?’ he grabbed me by the back of my neck, took me over to Tony Iommi and he said ‘you tell him now you can do this!’ I was trip­ping! So he dragged me over to Tony and I said ‘Hi, I’m Shan­non and I can do this. I’ve been play­ing these songs since I was 12 years old. Just give me a shot.’ Tony looked me in the eye and said ‘wait here, mate.’ So I had to audi­tion at sound check that day. So I’m in a hotel in LA. I had to be at the lobby at noon and there would be a car to take me to the air­port to fly into Colum­bus, Ohio to take me to the show. I come down and there’s a lim­ou­sine. Tony Iommi is in the limo and I’m such a fan, I’m trip­ping about it. I’m going to a pri­vate air­port to a pri­vate jet. I’d never rid­den on a pri­vate jet. So I get on and it’s Tony Iommi, Geezer But­ler, Ozzy, Joe Holmes and Robert Tru­jillo. I’m sit­ting there with my head­phones on, we take off and start fly­ing towards Colum­bus, and all of a sud­den it gets really hot. I take my head­phones off and Ozzy gets up and goes ‘It’s fuck­ing hot here, man,’ and smoke starts pour­ing out of the air con­di­tion­ing. Then the plane starts to tilt and teeter. It’s turn­ing around and the cap­tain comes on and says ‘we have an elec­tri­cal prob­lem. We’re turn­ing this plane around.’ Everybody’s look­ing out the win­dow going ‘Holy fuck,’ and I’m look­ing out the win­dow going ‘fuck it. If this plane is going down, I’m a leg­end. I’m the drum­mer for Black Sabbath.’

 

Gods­mack play Sound­wave Fes­ti­val 2015. For more infor­ma­tion visit www.soundwavefestival.com.

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