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In The Bay
Godsmack arrives with IV
Kathryn Lyzun
Web Posted: 6/16/2006 10:05:01 AM

Godsmack, the metal rock deities who emerged from quiet New England, have almost hit that rock-icon watermark: the 10-year anniversary.

Many bands make it past the mark, but few can hold stamina with the 30-second attention span of the MTV generation, and even fewer can successfully branch out and experiment without alienating fans.

But Godsmack has done it, from heavy metal beginnings to a surprise acoustic album, and finally the genre-bending IV, their latest release from Republic/Universal.

The band has been quoted as saying this album is the best yet, and drummer Shannon Larkin said that’s no cliché in their case.

“Every band says it, that (their latest album) is the best yet,” he said. “But we had 40 songs to pull 11 from and we really believe this is the best; this is it.”

Larkin called from Quebec City, the first city on their first big tour since their 11-month tour with Metallica in 2004. The sound check was starting and Larkin lamented about being held up at the border for old rap sheets, but he said the band was geared up for some big shows.

“We’re looking very forward to coming to Thunder Bay, I love that name,” he laughed.

After a stint in Canada, Godsmack heads to Alaska, jumps the ocean to Japan for the massive Mt. Fuji Festival, and then kicks off an intense U.S. tour with the unholy one himself, Rob Zombie.

“The most exciting thing about it all is that this is our new record and we’re getting to play new songs,” Larkin said, adding that he, bassist Robbie Merrill and guitarist Tony Rombola did a lot of the writing for IV. “Sully (Erna, vocalist) stepped back a little bit and let us help out more than we had ever done. It’s the best damn album yet!”

Erna also produced the album, a risky undertaking after his year-long retreat from the band.

“We’ve taken a lot of chances and so far we’ve been lucky,” Larkin said. “We’re blessed and lucky to have the fanbase that lets us play things like Voodoo and Serenity.”

With a dominant heavy-metal personality, the band took a big chance releasing The Otherside, an acoustic CD, following their 2003 monster Faceless which shattered charts upon release. But fans accepted their creative detour, and a few more joined the legions. This gave them the guts to experiment on IV, on which you’ll hear a lot of aggressive metal, like the first single, Speak, but also a lot of blues mixed in with Shine Down and One Rainy Day.

Larkin was frank about the decision to experiment with sound.

“We’re not really trying to expand our fanbase; although that would be great, it wasn’t our intent (with IV),” he said. “The intent was more to keep us interested. We could quit tomorrow, we’ve all made money and whatever. But we just want to keep the passion around.”

And passions differ. Larkin said while Erna’s interest was wavering from metal for this latest album, the other three wanted to do something with the 30-odd tracks that weren’t used.

So they’ve hooked up with vocalist Whit Crane from Ugly Kid Joe and Lee Richards, the original guitarist for Godsmack in forming side project Another Animal, and they’re releasing their debut in September. Larkin said it won’t interfere with their main band, though, and touring would only happen once the Godsmack tour was finished.

Godsmack will be at the Community Auditorium on June 16 with Hinder.