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Godsmack bassist happy with life on road
Band brings lively show to Concrete Street

By Cassandra Hinojosa Caller-Times
November 17, 2006

Thanks to the band, Godsmack bassist Robbie Merrill has learned to live.

"Before we were signed, I was a roofer and I worked 40 to 60 hours a week," said Merrill, while in Cleveland on Oct. 26. "I was in construction, so I wouldn't think of driving two hours to go somewhere, and now I've been on the road for 10 years and traveled all over the world."

When the Merrill needs to escape, his retreat is extreme sports.

"I play hockey and I'll play even when I'm on the road," said Merrill, 43. "I try to skate as much as I can and I also motocross. I have a big motocross track in my backyard. I drive the neighbors crazy."

The Boston rock quartet, on tour with Breaking Benjamin and Hourcast, performs Sunday at Concrete Street Amphitheater.

Godsmack's concert will combine visual and aural components such as video and a 10-minute dueling drum solo.

"We have a top-of-the-line lighting system, so we have the big light show," he said. "We have (pyrotechnics). We have fire. It's been working very well for us."

The band's album "Godsmack IV" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Album charts. Forty songs were written, but after lead singer Sully Erna reviewed the tracks, only 11 made the final cut.

"Sully basically runs the whole show, so if he can't feel the song, it doesn't matter who writes it, he'll scrap it," Merrill said. "That's the first step, and the second step is if it does well on tape. If we can get by those two things, it's probably going to make it on the record."

"Speak," the first single off the album, is one of Merrill's favorites.

"I just like the aggressiveness of the music and I really thought Sully did really good work on it when it comes to vocals. And the same thing with 'Living in Sin.'"

During the 90-minute show, Merrill says Godsmack will play most of its 13 Top 10 Active Rock hits.

"We really like our new record, so we're playing four to five songs on (it)," he said.

Members of Godsmack, minus Erna, have collaborated for Another Animal, a side project recycling songs that weren't used on "Godsmack IV."

Merrill, Tony Rombola and Shannon Larkin rounded up former Godsmack guitarist Lee Richards of Dropbox and Ugly Kid Joe vocalist Whitfield Crane. A single is due out in January.

"We just had these songs left over and we just thought it would be a cool thing to do," Merrill said. "We'll see what happens. We'll feel it out on the radio and if people like it, we'll go on tour."

The album was mixed by Dave Fortman, who produced Evanescence's Grammy Award-winning album, "Fallen."

Erna also has been working on his autobiography of life before Godsmack.

"We've learned to live with each other and let us be who we are," Merrill said.

"It's like being married to four guys. So we really work hard to just live with each other."