||EL PASO TIMES|
rock band explores a new sound
By Humberto J. Vergara / El Paso Times
El Paso Times
For the first time in his life, Shannon Larkin is not only proud to be in a rock band but also proud of leaving a mark on the rock music scene.
Though he's not from the city, Larkin is celebrating a recent 2006 Boston Music Award for Outstanding Hard Rock Band.
The drummer, a West Virginia native, joined the high-impact rock band Godsmack in 2002, replacing Tommy Stewart.
This year, Godsmack was nominated for four awards from the band's hometown, including the coveted Album and Song of The Year and Outstanding Male Vocalist.
"I feel great. I'm having a great time. I'm the only member of the band that is not from Boston, and I love being recognized by the band's hometown," Larkin said. "I was in a band called Wrathchild America, but I've been a friend of Sully's (Godsmack lead singer Sully Erna) for 15 years."
Larkin promises to bring the band's aggressive sound to El Paso when Godsmack performs at 7 p.m. Thursday at the El Paso County Coliseum.
Godsmack -- vocalist Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Larkin -- will play about five songs from their new album, "Godsmack IV," at the concert.
The band started their 2006 North American tour a couple of months after the album was released because they wanted fans to have time to listen to the album.
"We decided we could play more new material without the fans getting mad," Larkin said in a telephone interview from Madison, Wis. "But we're going to play 'Voodoo' and a good mix of the fan favorites and top radio hits."
Truly a touring band, Godsmack has been a regular at Ozzfest and has performed on some pretty big stages, including Woodstock 1999 and with Metallica.
But one of the most memorable appearances -- for Larkin at least -- was an Oct. 14 performance at Bocktoberfest 2006 in Shiner, Texas.
"What was cool about it is that it was in a small town with three or four thousand people, and they had many different genres of music so they had like country band, a metal band, a rock band ... it was very intimate and varied at the same time," he said.
From the breakout hit "Whatever" to the more well-known "Voodoo," Central El Pasoan Hilary Huerta is a big fan of Godsmack's earlier songs.
It's no big surprise that her favorite album, the band's 1998 self-titled debut, is at the top of her list of greatest records.
"I love their music, and I only own their first and third CDs ('Godsmack' and 'Faceless'), but I'm planning on getting their new CD ('Godsmack IV')," she said. " 'Voodoo' is my all-time favorite song of theirs, and I'm really starting to dig 'Shine Down' from their new CD."
Huerta is calling "Godsmack IV" a modern hard rock record with a blues and jazz twist.
"Their latest album is different from all the rest," she said.
"The rhythms are more varied," she said. "I'm glad that they have found a new sound while still remaining faithful to the tune that made them big in the first place."
With "Godsmack IV" quickly approaching platinum status, the band has delivered their second No. 1 album debut of their career on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. The record's soaring first single, "Speak," has been getting radio play on El Paso's KLAQ-FM (95.5)
"We've definitely gone more bluesy with 'Godsmack IV,' and that was Sully's intention from the very beginning," Larkin said. "It's less metal and more hard rock. Our fans should expect the biggest Godsmack spectacle yet. That's what Sully's vision was all about."
Godsmack's second album, "Awake," found the band playing sold-out shows across the country, walking down the red carpet at the Grammys and in the front seat for the U.S. Navy.
The band spent nearly four years on the road before taking a significant break. This break yielded their third album, "Faceless."
The band relocated to Miami to write and record "Faceless," which introduced the world to drummer Larkin.
Central El Pasoan Simon Zimmerle -- a regular concertgoer -- has been a Godsmack fan since the band's 1998 debut.
He's already seen the band twice in El Paso, at the Coliseum and the Don Haskins Center.
"I have a couple of their records, and I really like that song 'Voodoo,' " said Zimmerle, who describes their music as modern grunge rock.
"I got like three picks from the guitarist at the shows. I was right in front of the stage for them. That was cool."