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Article published Nov 9, 2006
TALKING SMACK: A chat with Godsmack bassist Robbie Merrill

Godsmack fans can expect an aural and visual assault at Saturday night’s show in Loveland.

Lights, video, pyrotechnics, all that good stuff that really makes a rock show, said Robbie Merrill, Godsmack bass player.

“Of course, I have to be careful not to get a fire up my a**,” joked Merrill, in a phone interview while the band was warming up for a concert in Lincoln, Neb. “But that’s what makes a good rock show.”

But don’t expect it to be all sparks and no heat.

Godsmack, which got its name from the Alice in Chains song of the same name, has been a musical chameleon over the years. Going from rock to metal and then, with its latest album “IV,” throwing in a blues monkey wrench with a strings chaser — taking a cue from tour mates Metallica on the reinvention wheel.

The band is also preparing to release a side project, Another Animal, with Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe, whose former members include Godsmack’s drummer Shannon Larkin (who can be seen in this week’s Coloradoan Star Sightings). If you didn’t know who was playing, you wouldn’t guess it was them, Merrill said. It gives them an opportunity to stretch out without affecting Godsmack, which — even while it was lumped into the lame nu-metal category a few years ago with bands like, ick, Creed — has shown it has staying power.

“We always want to take it to the next level,” Merrill said.

So after two years of touring with Ozzfest and Metallica the band took a short break before going back to the studio. Although the full album took a year to write and record, the bulk of the new sound evolved when the band locked itself in a recording studio for five days laying down tracks with legendary sound engineer Andy Johns, who was also responsible for putting together Led Zeppelin’s “IV.”

Now back out on tour to promote the album, the band is touring five days a week for the next few months, including Saturday’s show at the Budweiser Events Center. Fans should be looking out for the band Friday around town. It’s an off-day for them and Merrill said he’s excited to check out the nearby motorcross track. The hockey fan (he is from Boston after all) might also be found taking in Friday's Eagle’s game against the New Mexico Scorpions.

The band will take a break in January when Merrill’s wife is due to give birth to the couple’s first child.

“We’re very excited,” said the proud papa-to-be.

But before he’s pacing the maternity ward, Merrill said he will continue to pace backstage before shows.

“There’s still a lot of anxiety — about a half-hour before a show I start pacing,” Merrill said. “Everyone (in the band) handles it differently. Sully (Erna — lead singer) likes to be alone (Possibly conducting spells to achieve spiritual rock god status? Erna is a devout Wiccan). Tony (Rombola — guitarist) plays video games. I pace.”

But don’t worry that Merrill will walk out on stage and forget the songs. It’s more about excitement than stage fright, he said.

“When I put my bass on, that’s my security blanket,” Merrill said. “That’s when I become one cocky (fella).”

Five Questions with Godsmack bass player Robbie Merrill
1. One CD in your music collection that fans would be surprised to learn you own?

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. I’m a bass player and Victor Wooten is my hero.

2. What was the last regular job you had before going full time as a musician?

I owned my own siding and roofing company.

3. What’s your favorite music cover to do?

We’ve been doing a lot of Led Zeppelin, Rush and Black Sabbath. The stuff we grew up on.

4. What was your most cringe worthy moment on stage?

We’ve been stopping songs so that I can tell a joke because I can’t do both (at the same time) and every time I do that I cringe.

5. Merrill’s question for the Magic 8-Ball:

Will it be a boy or a girl?

No, it needs to be a yes or no question, Robbie.

OK, will it be a boy or a girl? (smart aleck)

Magic 8-Ball answer:

“It is certain.”
Great! It will be a boy or a girl. (Actually Merrill already knows the answer to this one. It’s a girl.)