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Last modified: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 11:43 AM EST

Godsmack back with a bang on second leg of IV tour

By Angelique Moon, Special to Soundings

“We’re definitely still around,” Godsmack’s Shannon Larkin said. “We’re not really the cover magazine type. We don’t try to keep under the radar. We just don’t want to be overexposed, so we keep a low profile.”

Currently on tour, Godsmack is making noise so fans know they are here to stay and still going strong. After the release of their 2003 album, Faceless, the Boston-based hard rock band took a break from their heavy-hitting sounds to let the world see their softer side with The Other Side. The acoustic album broadened Godsmack’s musical ground. By the time these hard rockers release their newest album, IV, in April, they were No. 1 on the Billboard charts, but barely seen in the media.

Chalk it up to their ferocious touring schedule. Working hard to bring the best music possible to fans, Godsmack finished up what drummer Larkin called the best tour ever with Rob Zombie and Shinedown before embarking on the second leg of their American tour.

Before they’ll play the Constant Convocation Center Nov. 28 with Breaking Benjamin, Soundings caught up with Larkin while the band prepared for a show in Arizona. Besides discovering he’s a horror movie fan, loves performing outdoors and is a Virginia native, he also revealed his thoughts on the new album, the band and what’s up next for Godsmack.

The last time you were in Norfolk was for the acoustic tour two years ago. What’s happened with you guys since?

After we came through your town at the end of the whole Other Side/Faceless tour, it was the tail end of the tour. Then we made the new record.

With Faceless, we recorded in Miami, and for The Other Side, we were in Hawaii. But for IV, we got back to our roots and were in the Boston area. I came in for Faceless when they started writing. I knew Sully 15 or 16 years in passing, and I had never even met Robbie and Tony. We were getting to know each other, but by IV, we knew each other for four years.

How was recording IV different than Faceless for you as a band?

Robbie, Tony and myself had a bigger role to play in the writing of the record. It was nice to spread our wings and contribute four to five songs on the record. It broadened the sound. It’s a more organic sound. We weren’t half as anal in production. There was a bit of free form and improv in the studio. It wasn’t like that in Faceless.

We were very happy with the way it turned out. It’s more rock than metal.

Since you took a more active role in the writing process this time around, what does it usually look like for Godsmack when it comes down to writing songs?

What happens is after tour, we take a few months off and all write on our own. They aren’t always complete songs. We have digital tape recorders to immediately record. You know, we’ve had a million songs written and forgotten at 3 a.m.

We write on our own and then get into a room. We have a bunch of riffs everyone knows are good, and we start there and bang out the skeleton until it becomes a song. The formula for a good rock song is the intro, verse, bridge, chorus, second verse, chorus … (laughs). The Beatles did it. It’s been tried, tested and proven the last 50 years. It’s no secret.

What did you consciously try to do different on this album?

With musicians, you get bored, and that translates to the tape and stage. We want a way to stifle that and make each record different in the music, the way we record … get our creative juices flowing.

With IV, we were trying to get different textures, but still make it a continuous body of work. That’s slowly receding today because of online sales instead of buying the record. It’s saddening for us who are old school.

For instance, Rob Zombie in 1976, if you downloaded a song like “Thunder Kiss” … it fits perfectly on the album, but by itself it’s taken out of context.

What are you most proud of on IV?

I’m most proud the band was more involved in the writing. Before, Sully would write 90 percent. This time, it was more like 60 percent. There’s more freshness in the sound, so we don’t bore ourselves or our fan base. Sully took a step back and let the band do the work.

There are songs like “Hollow” that let you chill before we hit your a**es with one. People can tell we’re not trying to rip them off.

You guys engineered IV with Andy Johns, who engineered Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, so did you get to use John Bonham’s drum kit in the studio?

Absolutely! Oh, yeah! It wasn’t by accident. Sully knows exactly what he wants for Godsmack and envisions where Godsmack is going. He said, ‘think bluesy rock like the first Led Zeppelin record.’ That was our outline. He’s our fearless leader. We need some kind of leadership or else it’d be chaos.

What’s up next for you guys?

We’ll finish this tour out, which ends Dec. 8, then take the rest of December, January and February off. Everything dies in the first quarter in the music business. Christmas happens, in January it’s cold and people spent all their money on Christmas. In March — definitely April — we’ll go back out. We’re trying to put together a tour. The Rob Zombie/Shinedown gig, people got their money’s worth. There’s not much need for us to tour in the rest of the world. They don’t really know who we are. We play blue-collar rock music for American radio.

I also wanted to mention that Tony, Robbie and myself have a side project called Another Animal with singer Whitfield Crane from Ugly Kid Joe. He’s got a hell of a voice, and we made a hell of a record. The first single will be out in January, and the self-titled album will be out in late February/early March. Storm Thorgerson, who did the album cover for Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, is doing the album cover. We have a Myspace page, and you can download a song for free.