GODSMACK drummer Shannon Larkin spoke to The Morning Call about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band's follow-up to 2014's "1000hp" album. The group's seventh studio disc will arrive in 2018 to coincide with the group's twentieth anniversary.
Larkin said: "We have a strong seven [songs completed] right now, but we also have another ten that are works in progress. But we do have the majority of the new record, and I'm really happy with it. It's great songs, man, and that's why it takes us usually four years in between albums, 'cause we really care about our songs [laughs], obviously, but this time it's the twenty-year anniversary — 2018 — of the band, so we felt a little extra pressure to make this a great record after two decades."
Regarding the musical direction of the new GODSMACK material, Larkin said: "It is a new sound for us in that we're working with different producers and so we're trying to implement some kind of new sound without losing our heritage. But, you know, we tried it before in different ways. On the 'IV' record, for instance… Well, we'll go back to 'Faceless'. On the 'Faceless' record, we wanted to make a real metal record that was very precise and tight, so we got [producer] David Bottrill, who was famous for working with TOOL and et cetera. And then the next record, 'IV', we wanted to take a much more bluesy, classic-rock stand with our sound, and so we got Andy Johns to produce — who had worked with [LED] ZEPPELIN and THE WHO, and he's a legend, rest in peace. Then with [the 2010 album] 'The Oracle', we got Dave Fortman in, who was famous for SLIPKNOT and EVANESCENCE, and kind of went back to a heavier sound. And then the last one — you know, each one's thematic, you can tell what we're doing. Each one also was separated by four years, so we had lots of time to kind of think about 'Okay, we want to change the sound.' We understand what we are — we know we can't completely change our sound, but with the said, when you're together this long, we don't want to keep making the same record over and over again, either. So the last record, '1000hp', we kind of wanted to make that a more raw — using a little more punk rock influence on our tempos and stuff. And so this one, again, we're not trying to reveal too much here in the press, 'cause we do want some kind of, 'Wow! That's new GODSMACK!' you know? But we are working with different producers now who are helping with songwriting, even, and arrangement to try and get some kind of relevant new sound for our twenty-year band."
According to Larkin, no one has heard the new GODSMACK music "except the four of us and several producers that we're working with in L.A., who I'm not even gonna mention because we haven't picked the actual guy who we're gonna hire to guide us through this. So it's all hush-hush right now, unfortunately," he said. "But I can tell you this, man — it's still going to be GODSMACK, and the songs I'm really happy with."
Shannon said that the plan is still for GODSMACK to release a new single in January, with the full-length album to follow around April. "We'd like to go to other counties first while the single goes so that people can kind of get familiar with it by the time we go out and tour America," he said. "So we might go to — February, March through Europe or maybe Australia, we'll figure it out. But we'd like to leave the country for a while our new single comes out to radio, and then by the time next April we'll start the American tour, and hopefully people will be at least familiar with one of the tracks."
Larkin added that GODSMACK has yet to make a decision as to which of the new songs will be released as the first single. "There's lots of different elements that are important in picking a new single," he explained. "It's not just — especially if you're lucky enough to have three or four options, then we gotta look at, like, for instance, a movie soundtrack is like a great way to get your new single heard, and so, obviously, if it's an action movie we wouldn't want to use some kind of slow-tempo ballad-type song or something. It'll be a more up-tempo action song… But, basically three of the songs out of seven we feel would have single capability commercially. And so we have to wait to see what opportunities arise for the launch of the actual song before we can pick which song it'll be."
GODSMACK frontman Sully Erna said in a recent interview that the band will "open a new chapter" in its career by adopting "a new sound, a new stage and a new look" in time for the release its next studio album. He said: "We have made a conscious decision to kind of change the game a bit… We're gonna change things up enough, maintain the integrity of what we are and what we do. But it feels so far that the writing is going a little bit more down into a commercial, mainstream kind of feel. But, again, without losing the power and the stuff that we built our heritage on."
Erna's latest comments echoed those he made last month in an interview with "Whiplash", the KLOS radio show hosted by Full Metal Jackie. Speaking about how his songwriting is evolving, Erna remarked: "I'm not that young, angry kid that I used to be once. I'm a lot older now, I have a daughter of my own, I'm in a good place in my life. I don't have a whole lot to really be stressed out about or mad. And so the music has to evolve with that."
He continued: "So now where things are a little bit brighter and a little bit better, we're not gonna write about flowers and ice cream, but I certainly think that it's gonna have a little bit more positive of a message and I definitely think it's even gonna have a little bit more of a commercial edge to it. Because we're older now, and we wanna kind of continue to write and play music that we also enjoy and not always have to be in 'screamo' mode and chugging away."
Erna said that he wants to focus on composing "really well-written songs," adding, "I listen to a lot of great songwriters — Elton John, Michael Jackson, whoever it is that has been legendary and iconic. And I try once again to absorb and learn from them so we can put out the best record we can due to the year and the day and age that we're in."
GODSMACK's last release was a song called "Inside Yourself", which was made available in October 2015 as a free download at the band's official web site.
The new GODSMACK CD will be its first effort for BMG, following a split with the band's label home since 1998, Republic/Universal.