SUN GAZETTE

Return to Godsmack

 

Being onstage that hour and a half — that’s the best — because pretty much the rest of the day is monotonous. You just basically hang out and wait. But then when you go on-stage, there’s nothing like it.” ~Godsmack bass player Robbie Merrill

By R.D. BEARDSLEY

Many grunge-rock bands in today’s music industry fall into the stereotype of a “studio band” in the aspect that they may be acknowledged for their work in the studio and have the capability of creating strong studio albums, but their live show receives much criticism from fans and music critics alike.

Godsmack is certainly not one of those bands. Since forming in 1996, the band has become well-known for not only their constant touring and live performances, but also for their work in the studio.

The story of Godsmack and their success is truly a tale of grassroots performing, gaining a fan base from the ground up and continuing to provide their fans and audiences with good music and raw energy.

Godsmack, with special guest Shinedown, will return to the Bryce Jordan Center at 8 p.m. Friday to play for the State College crowd.

Godsmack, a post-grunge band out of Massachusetts, began to form in 1995 after lead singer, Sully Erna, decided that he needed to step out from behind his drum set and take charge to form a new band.

One year later and after going through a few band member changes, Godsmack was born. Erna, backed by members Robbie Merrill on bass guitar and Tony Rombola hit the studio to record their first album, titled “All Wound Up.”

After playing the Boston area over the following two years with drummer Joe Darco, the band began to establish themselves a strong reputation of being a good live band. As Godsmack began drawing in bigger audiences into their live shows, their album began to circulate through the streets of Boston and eventually ended up in the hands of a DJ for a radio station in Boston.

The radio station began playing the single “Keep Away,” and its success quickly soared the single to the No. 1 spot on the station. After the success of Keep Away, the band went back into the studio and recorded the song “Whatever,” which became the new favorite on the radio station and helped the band to sell hundreds and even thousands of copies of their album per week.

Finally, after the demand for their album became too high, Republic-Universal Records stepped in and signed the band to their label in 1998. The band replaced Darco with drummer Tommy Stewart and “All Wound Up” was remastered and released six weeks later as their self-titled debut album “Godsmack.”

“The first album we had a lifetime to write,” bassist Robbie Merrill said in an interview with the Sun-Gazette. “Then we toured for two years with the first record, so we basically had to write on the road for the second album. And at the same time we were dealing with becoming rock stars and all that.”

Godsmack’s second album, “Awake,” was released in 2000 and its title track instantly began to dominate radio stations and broke several chart records throughout 2000 and 2001. The album’s track, “Vampires,” earned the band their first grammy nomination.

The band received even more recognition after Godsmack released the song “I Stand Alone” off the soundtrack for “The Scorpion King;” the third installment in the “The Mummy” series. The single quickly hit No. 1 at Rock Radio and became the most-played song Active Rock song in 2002 for 14-weeks straight, according to the band’s Web site.

After spending four years on the road, the band decided to take a break before entering the studio again. It was at this time Shannon Larkin was asked to replace Stewart on drums. After finalizing the band to what it remains today, Godsmack then headed down to Miami to write and record their third album, “Faceless,” which received a couple more Grammy nominations for “I Stand Alone.”

With each album, Merrill said the band tries to expand musically and explore new avenues in their music. Staying in only one basic genre of music becomes boring to Godsmack.

“I think we try to grow — we don’t want to be stuck in the same rut,” Merrill said. “We always try and throw a curve ball, and I think we’ve thrown a couple of curve balls with the new album. We just try to grow musically.”

Godsmack is now touring touring to promote their new album, “Godsmack IV,” which was released April 25 of this year.

According to Merrill, recording the band’s fourth album was a bit of a different process.

“Every album is different,” Merrill said. “Godsmack IV we wrote at home, five days a week and eight hours a day. Then Sully picked the songs he wanted and went out to California. Then we basically recorded it in about three months.”

Since its birth, Godsmack has lived on the road and become well-known for its powerful performances and in-your-face style of energy. They even wowed critics and showed their softer side when they held a side tour and gave audiences intimate story-telling acoustic shows inspired by their acoustic EP, “The Other Side.”

Merrill lives for being onstage and taking the raw energy directly from the crowd. The rest of the day he could live without, but the time that he spends performing is what fuels his love for music.

“Being onstage that hour and a half — that’s the best — because pretty much the rest of the day is monotonous,” Merrill said. “You just basically hang out and wait. But then when you go on-stage, there’s nothing like it.”

According to Merrill, Godsmack has been making regular appearances at the Bryce Jordan Center since the beginning. Not only do they enjoy the area and seeing friends, but Merrill also likes to catch a game with his favorite college football team.

“It’s an awesome place, we’ve been going there since like ’98,” he said. “I like the campus and all the (expletive) going on there. And we’ve got a lot of friends that hang out there. When I can I like to catch a game with my favorite football team, too.”