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Five minutes with ... Robbie Merrill of Godsmack


Godsmack bassist Robbie Merrill is getting ready for the media blitz that comes with putting out a new album. He and his band release "Godsmack IV" Tuesday and it'll be Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly, CD USA.

They'll play their No. 1 song "Speak," they'll read reviews, they'll chat it up and they'll travel all over.

With all the rock-star madness, Merrill will still have one eye on the National Hockey League playoffs.

Born and raised in the Boston area, Merrill couldn't escape sports fanaticism as a child. He learned to love the Bruins, hate the Yankees and buy into the concept of being a team player.

Merrill and the rest of Godsmack left Boston last Thursday for Los Angeles, where they are rehearsing for their April 26 appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Merrill talked with us right before he departed.

Q: You have a blog on and we understand you're a big hockey fan. How'd that passion come about?

Merrill: Growing up in Boston, hockey is pretty big. When I was a kid, we'd be playing out on the ponds. Bobby Orr was almost at the end of his career so I got to see him play for a little bit. The thing was I always watched the game - I didn't really play it much. But I was a fan. About 10 years ago, I started back up. I played street hockey for a bit and then got on the ice. It's been so fun.

Q: Have you gotten hurt?

Merrill: Oh yeah, I've been banged up. Right before we got signed (in 1997), I got hit in the lip. We had a gig and I was up there and had 15 stitches in my face. Nice, huh? I've taken pucks in the ankles, but if you've read my blog you'll know - I get out of the way now. I'm skating and see that puck coming I just get the hell out of the way!

Q: Boston is an awesome sports town. Tell us about growing up there and the sports influence.

Merrill: Boston sports fans they're fanatics. They're almost overboard. It gets to a point where I'm just like, 'Let the guys play.' It's really fanatic, and they're real passionate. But I've paid attention to it for so many years and think I've actually taken something from it all. I love the teams and like it when you're a team player. That's how I carry on.

Q: Sully Erna (Godsmack lead singer) sang the national anthem at the Patriots-Dolphins game last year. Are you a Pats fan, too?

Merrill: I was a huge fan back in the '80s. I was a big fan when Bill Parcells came along, but after a bit, I didn't like what ownership was doing at that time. Once Bill Belichick came in, you don't hear much anymore. I think with Parcells, he and (owner Bob) Kraft didn't get along. They were always bickering and fighting and I'm not big into that part of it. I think Kraft realized he made some mistakes.

Q: Is Tom Brady as good as he's hyped to be?

Merrill: Three Super Bowl rings? Yeah, he's unbelievable. He's the ultimate team player. You're not going to see him with the great stats, or being selfish, but he's got three rings on his fingers.

Q: Do you loathe Yankees like most of us out here in Seattle do?

Merrill: Seattle doesn't have a clue about hating the Yankees. We are the ones who hate the Yankees. You guys are just in the puppy stages of Yankee-hating. You have no idea. I hate the Yankees.

Q: What'd you think of Johnny Damon leaving town for the Bronx?

Merrill: Who? (laughs)

Q: Rock stars want to be jocks, jocks want to be rock stars. What athlete would you like to be?

Merrill: I would be Ray Bourque. I also ride dirt bikes and wouldn't mind being John Dowd for a day. Dirt bikes are another thing I always watched on TV. I was always attracted to it. That's like the hockey - going out and doing it, it feels like being a kid again. I just rode (Tuesday) and you think you're 12 years old again. It's one of things I like to do and it relieves a lot of stress.

Q: The other side of that last question, which athlete would want to be you?

Merrill: I bet a bunch of hockey guys would. A bunch of them come to our shows. Boyd Devereaux -- he used to play for Detroit, but I'm not sure where he is now. (Phoenix Coyotes, actually.) But he's been and came into our dressing room and was totally playing Tony's guitar. Another one might be (Calgary Flames right winger) Darren McCarty. He actually plays in a band.

Q: Thanks, Robbie. That's it. Enjoy L.A.

Merrill: That's it?! I could talk sports all day. It's been nice talking to you.