During a recent appearance on the "Crash Bang Boom Drumming Podcast!", GODSMACK drummer Shannon Larkin spoke about the more commercial direction of the band's latest album, 2018's "When Legends Rise", compared to the group's previous efforts.
"Our last record certainly was a departure from what we've sounded like for 20 years," Shannon said (hear audio below). "For the first time, Sully [Erna, GODSMACK frontman] used outside writers to come in and kind of put us in the modern music world. And it really worked. And this is probably our most successful record. We just had our third No. 1 single in a row, which we've never even had two in a row. And two of these, for the first two No. 1s were at Mainstream Rock, which we've never, ever had a No. 1 at Mainstream Rock.
"For what it's worth, the producers that are songwriter-producer guys out in L.A. and in New York, these guys are super-smart, great musicians, great players, great songwriters," Larkin continued. "And they have a formula in which they can, by research and all these weird business things, they look it up and kind of see what the trends are and what America's loving, and then they help stars like Sully write songs that still retain the core vibe of the band, but they co-write songs, so that the songs still sound like the band, but they kind of put you into the box that everyone else on the radio lives in.
"Our biggest fight on this new record was to try and ensure that it still sounds like us at least, but can be accepted by the masses so that we can continue to live this dream that we're in. It was a tough thing for us to do, and the only reason that we really felt that it was the time to move into the modern world and be successful at radio was simply because we're all getting older and we can't stop it.
"When Sully turned 50, it really did change the band," Shannon added. "We were, like, 'Okay, we're all in our 50s now.' And then bands like NEW YEARS DAY — they're our opening band — they're in their 20s, man. And we don't wanna feel ridiculous standing on stage, trying to act like we're 25 and thrash and bang our heads. It's not because we don't have the energy anymore or something; it's because we feel foolish and like we're almost posers acting like we're something we're not. And so if people wanna say, 'Yeah, their sound's getting more commercial. They've changed. They suck now,' or whatever, let 'em think that all they want, because all we're trying to do is be real.
"But in our defense, on this new record, we're real proud of it. Is it not as hard as our last shit? Well, of course it's not. But it's been four years in between each record, and we're a 20-year-career band, which less than one percent of bands can say. So if you don't roll with the punches and move with the times, then you're gonna end up looking like a fool up there trying to act like a young guy and say, 'I'm all pissed off,' when, really, you've got a wife and kids, and you're loving life. Everything is good. You're not rich, but you've got some dough in the bank to get that 2013 Camaro that sits in my driveway. You know what I mean?"
Shannon admitted that he used to criticize bands that had a more commercial sound, especially during the "glam metal" era of the late 1980s and very early 1990s.
"Back in the day, and I was the biggest culprit of this horrible thing, but we would diss bands bad — like all me and my punk rock friends would… Like BON JOVI, WINGER, SLAUGHTER, POISON, WARRANT — every single one of 'em," he said. "And I would never even give them the light of day as far as even having an inkling of talent. And then now, all these years later, of course, I realize BON JOVI were great. So they were commercial, but that was them. People go, 'Oh, they're posers.' Well, they were posers, I guess, physically — their hair looked great and their spandex and all this stuff — but they weren't posers musically. So I don't give a shit about what you look like — I never have. And that's why I liked punk rock in the beginning anyway. It was the initial bands' pictures that drew me to punk rock — not their music. I'm, like, 'Wow!', especially with the RAMONES and the SEX PISTOLS. It was about the way they looked that drew me to them. And then, of course, I was hooked on the music. Nowadays, I don't call anybody posers. If you're being real, that's all I ask. And you can tell the bands that aren't. And the fans can tell the bands that aren't.
"Hard rock and heavy metal fans have this bad name, almost, for being closed-minded or whatever," he went on to say. "But it's opened up a lot since when I was growing up, man. I have to believe, though, that youth is youth, and there's always gonna be kids saying, 'Fuck them! They're commercial. Fuck them!' And I know they do it to us, because there's a little site called Blabbermouth that if you wanna see some GODSMACK haters, just go on there. You'll see hundreds of thousands of 'em saying what douches we are, because my hair was perfect or whatever."
GODSMACK has spent more than a year on the road, both in North America and throughout Europe, in support of "When Legends Rise". They just wrapped the European dates on their in-progress world tour and are currently making a number of festival appearances leading straight into the recently added fall shows, with HALESTORM supporting. The new dates kick off September 20 in Green Bay, Wisconsin and wrap October 18 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.