Return to Godsmack


AVA-bound Godsmack savoring variety
By Sarah Mauet

For Godsmack's fourth studio effort, frontman Sully Erna was more open to his bandmates writing material — and write they did.

While the singer suffered from lack of inspiration, the rest of the band churned out dozens of songs, bassist Robbie Merrill said in a phone interview from a tour stop in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"He had writer's block," the bassist explained, but luckily that changed. "One raining day, 'Livin in Sin' was the first song he wrote, and once he got that on paper, the rest of it just flowed."

After combining everyone's efforts, the band whittled the collection down to 11 songs. The resulting album, "IV," is the band's most interesting to date.

Not only is "IV" the first album Erna produced alone, it also shows more musical variety than the band's previous efforts. The album has plenty of the heavy hard-rock/alt-metal riffs with an edge of blues that have made the band a multiplatinum success, but it also has songs like "Shine Down," which includes a bluesy harmonica, and "Hollow," which seems to take a little inspiration from the band's acoustic 2004 album, "The Other Side."
"We try to throw a little in every record to let them know we can do other stuff," Merrill said.
The fans seem to love it. "IV" debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 and sold 211,000 copies in its first week.

Because the band ended up writing more than it could use on the album, Merrill, guitarist Tony Rombola and drummer Shannon Larkin decided to launch a side project.

"For Godsmack's 'IV,' we wrote 20 to 30 songs — maybe even more than that — so there was a lot of material left over," Merrill said.

They took the songs to Dropbox's Lee Richards (the original Godsmack guitarist) and Ugly Kid Joe singer Whitfield Crane and recorded songs under the band name Another Animal. They hope to release the debut album in 2007. While the music was originally written for Godsmack, without Erna's influences and signature throaty voice it sounds very different, the bassist said.

"There's a lot more harmony, three-part harmonies," Merrill said. "It's different. I just hope that our true fans take a couple listens to it before they give any judgment. There's some heavier stuff, there's some lighter stuff, there's a punk song Shannon wrote, there's a hard-rock blues song, there's a couple acoustics. There's a little bit of everything."

The side project doesn't mean Godsmack is disbanding. The band stops in Tucson Tuesday, and Merrill promises dueling drums with Erna and Larkin, pyrotechnics and "bombs." ("I call them 'bombs' because they make loud noises," Merrill said.) There will also be a lot of video to go with the hard-rocking music.

"There's lots and lots of video," Merrill said. "Really cool video on living in sin. It's real graphic — don't bring any kids."