Shannon Larkin loves Arizona and that says a lot for a drummer who tours the world with Godsmack.
One thing sticks out: the motorcycle scene.
“All my friends are bikers in Arizona,” Larkin says. “I have had a Harley for a long time. I love to ride my motorcycle, so yes, you could say I’m a biker.”
Godsmack has played Sturgis and Laconia (New Hampshire), and now the band will headline Arizona Bike Week at WestWorld the beginning of April.
“We’ve always had that kind of culture in our fanbase,” Larkin explains. “Sully (Erna, singer) and all four of us have bikes and ride them. We have for a while.
“A couple times, we pulled our bikes on a trailer on tour. I’ve probably ridden my bike in 47 states because of the band. It has to be a good tour, and we have to be able to afford to pull the bikes. The bus drivers get paid extra to pull a trailer. If we could, we’d take them every tour.”
Godsmack is touring behind its seventh studio album, “When Legends Rise,” which was released in April 2018. It was fueled by the Top 5 rock song, “Bulletproof,” and the title track. “Under Your Scars” was a stretch for Godsmack, as it’s the first ballad the band has recorded.
“‘Under Your Scars’ was different for us,” he says. “We didn’t want it to be cheesy and turn out like some soft rock ballad. Th ere’s a fine line between a great ballad and a cheese rock ballad. That’s why we never had ballads before on the record.
“We went through 20 different arrangements until everybody looked at each other and said, ‘We’re proud of this. This can represent the band.’ Every note, every cymbal placement was very important. The whole build at the end was something we spent a lot of time on to get it to elevate emotionally and to climax.”
Larkin says the response to “When Legends Rise” has been remarkable
“We love the new record and the fans are appreciating it,” he says. “We might dig deep in Scottsdale and play a couple songs that aren’t the radio songs.
“We always go through our whole catalog and pull out one old song people wouldn’t expect. For us, there are eight songs that we have to play that our fanbase expects. If we don’t play ‘Voodoo’ or ‘I Stand Alone,’ for example, they’re (mad) at us. It’s all about them.”
The “required” setlist isn’t something that Larkin necessarily minds. “We’re entertainers,” he says. “We love to play—always have. We’ve spent 20 years as a band. We’re very proud of that. No matter what our record sales show,
our live shows are consistent.”
Godsmack will determine the third single by fan reaction at concerts.
“We hope it’s the ballad,” Larkin admits. “We’re really trying to be different on this record because we’re more mature and older. We’re not angry young men full of piss and vinegar.
“We’re settled into life and the universe. We tried to change the sound up a bit, and play stuff we feel comfortable with. We’re not trying to act like youngsters. It’s not like we’re old farts. We’re not trying to be something we’re not and be fake. We don’t hate the world. We’re in love with it right now. It’s about rebirth like the Phoenix rising.”
Singer Erna was the last Godsmack musician to turn 50, so the band flew to Cabo to celebrate at Sammy Hagar’s club, Cabo Wabo Cantina.
“He was cool enough to let us play during a birthday party for Sully,” Larkin says. “We just jammed, man, all night. Nuno Bettencourt—who’s a shredder guitar player—they played ‘Hot for Teacher’ and they killed it.”
Arizona Bike Week
Arizona Bike Week runs Wednesday, April 3, to Sunday, April 7, at WestWorld, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale. Times vary.
• Tickets are $68 for a four-day pass, including all attractions, vendors, entertainment and concerts.
• Daily passes are available as
well. Tickets for Wednesday, Apri 3 (with a performance by
Buckcherry), and Thursday, April 4 (George Thorogood and the
Destroyers) are $31 each. Friday, April 5, sees 3 Doors Down and tickets for that day are $36; same with Saturday, April 6, and the Godsmack show. All concerts start at 9 p.m.
For more information, visit azbikeweek.com.