It takes a strong man to hammer with the Gods, and former Amen drummer Shannon Larkin is just that man.
Last June, Godsmack parted ways with drummer Tommy Stewart and started playing with Larkin, and frontman Sully Erna is proud to say that Larkin is smacking full-time.
"He was my first choice," said Erna, who befriended Larkin when both artists were struggling in the club scene in their late teens. "I'm a drummer also, and I was really influenced by his playing style. He's also influenced everyone from the guys in Slipknot to the drummer in Sevendust, and they'll all tell you so."
While Erna compliments Larkin's playing ability in the practice room, he said the former Ugly Kid Joe drummer is even more of a monster onstage.
"From the day I met Shannon, I've always said that God created him to play the drums," Erna boasted. "We just did a show with him at the Rolling Rock festival, and Tommy Lee was sitting there at the side of the stage going, 'Holy f---, look at ths f---ing kid!' To me, that's an incredible compliment."
The Godsmack vocalist was driven to call in Larkin after it became clear that Stewart was no longer on the same musical wavelength as the rest of the band (see "Godsmack Split With Drummer Tommy Stewart). Because of this impasse, Godsmack's growth was becoming stifled and their spirits were getting dampened.
"We've all been together so long and have grown up together, and when that happens, people eventually start thinking a little differently," Erna explained. "Tommy wanted to pursue some other stuff, and we came to an agreement that it was time to separate. It has bled a lot of new life into the band because there's a new guy and he's really energetic and always in good spirits. So it's like joining a new band. It's like the four of us have been reborn."
The revamped Godsmack are currently in a Miami practice studio working on material for their next album, which may be called Releasing the Demons. The band moved from Boston to Florida to escape the distractions of being at home and plan to stay in there through the end of November.
"We needed to be able to focus, which meant we had to be away from family, friends, girlfriends and wives," Erna said. "It's really important for us that this record kicks ass, and now I think we have peace of mind down here."
So far, Godsmack have written 14 new songs including "Releasing the Demons," "Straight out of Line" and "Serenity," and Erna plans to have at least 10 more by the time the band starts recording. Godsmack hope to work on the new record with David Bottrill, who produced the Godsmack song "I Stand Alone," which Erna wrote last year for the soundtrack of "The Scorpion King" (see "Godsmack Deliver First Sting From 'Scorpion King'; Creed, System To Follow").
That track will also be included on Releasing the Demons, and anyone looking for a hint of what Godsmack will sound like on the record should pop the soundtrack back into their CD player, Erna said.
" 'I Stand Alone' is kind of like a little prelude to what's gonna be on there. It's really powerful. There's a lot of good melodies, a lot of good grooves. We're trying to expand musically and vocally, and I think that's the kind of stuff that's coming out of us right now."
Godsmack hope to have Releasing the Demons finished in time for a March 2003 release.