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Godsmack brings rock show back to Syracuse
Thursday, October 19, 2006
By Mark Bialczak
Staff writer


When Godsmack filled the Landmark Theatre with energy during its acoustic tour in December 2004, lead singer Sully Erna made sure to tell the fans of the hard rock band just how much he loves it around here.

"Of all the places we play, this here is the best. Syracuse, New York. We'll always come back here," Erna declared.

Godsmack fulfills Erna's promise on Monday night at the Onondaga County War Memorial. This time, the band from Boston's electric show will charge up the arena instead of the subtler (well, as subtle as the powerful Godsmack can be, anyway) acoustic show in the theater.

Erna doesn't say that to all the

crowds, according to drummer Shannon Larkin.

"There are a few towns he says it," Larkin says during a phone interview last week. "And every one is really heartfelt. There are a few cities that are like that, and Syracuse is one of them. Cities like Detroit, Syracuse, maybe one more."

That year, Erna put the band where his heart is. Godsmack played an electric show in the sold-out Landmark in April 2004 and came back just eight months later for the acoustic tour.

What's up with the love?

"I think these are the cities that have stood since Day One and always have been good (to Godsmack) from Day One," Larkin says.

That means Central New Yorkers have been plugged into the power of Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and Larkin pretty much since the days they came out with the self-titled disc in 1998.

Hordes of fans dug the band as part of Woodstock III the summer of 1999 at the big former Air Force base 30 miles up the road in Rome.

Larkin joined the band in 2002, replacing Tommy Stewart.

He'd been in consideration for the original lineup and was an early call when Erna - whose main instrument is the drums, too - decided to make the change.

"That call obviously changed my life," Larkin says on his cell phone from a moving car in Cape Coral, Fla., on the way to Harley-Davidson/Buell in Fort Myers. "It gave me my dream, basically. I'm very, very, very grateful. I have a modest home, a wife and a kid. I'm looking for a Harley-Davidson now, but I don't even have a car. I haven't stopped to have time to get myself anything or whatever.

"I'm told that after this next six-week tour, we'll break for a couple of months, to February or March, so I'll have a couple of months to get to know my family again," Larkin says.

First, he'll have a blast on show nights with the powerful list of Godsmack hits. The band has placed 14 Top 10 hits in the active rock radio charts, including two that already come from this year's CD, "IV," "Speak and Shine Down."

Yes, bandleader Erna had the confidence to call the album "IV," a nod to the classic album from Led Zeppelin - and more.

"Not just Zeppelin. Twenty bands have a 'IV," Larkin says. "Foreigner had a 'IV,' I know that. Coheed & Cambria, their new record was a 'IV.' "

Erna produced the disc, which was mixed by engineer Andy Johns, who worked with the Rolling Stones and, yes, Led Zeppelin.

"Obviously, the song 'Hollow' is tipping our hat to 'The Battle of Evermore' (from "IV" of course) even down to the mandolin," Larkin says. "We've never hidden the fact that Led Zeppelin is probably all four (Godsmack members') favorite band. It's a pleasure to write music like Zeppelin. We're much rather be compared to Zeppelin than, say, Alice in Chains. The only thing we got from Alice in Chains is our (band) name from one of their songs."

Much of the latest disc deserves a comparison to the music of Metallica, the legends of heavy metal that invited Godsmack to join its tour last year.

"That is the big boys right there," Larkin says. "That's obvious, the Metallica influence. They're godlike to us."