GODSMACK are currently in Miami, Florida completing work on the material for their as-yet-untitled third album, which they hope to begin recording by October 1st for a February/March 2003 release through Republic/Universal Records."We took a lot of time to ourselves before we even started writing again because we were sooo burnt out from touring right through 9/11 and all that crap that it would have been dangerous for us to keep working," frontman Sully Erna wrote in a recent online posting. "If we did that, there probably wouldn't have been a GODSMACK anymore. But the good news is that once we head out, we don't plan on stopping for a longtime again. We may even do two CDs back to back. Not at the same time, but as one cycle ends we are going to try to release a second CD right away. So that may keep us around for the next few years on tour steadily." Erna also confirmed that former AMEN/UGLY KID JOE drummer Shannon Larkin has been enlisted as a permanent replacement for Tommy Stewart, who was dismissed from the group earlier in the year. "If any of you think for a second that we do not love Tommy or have decided not to work together because we are trying to sabotage his career or whatever other crazy thoughts you have voiced, YOU ARE DEAD WRONG!" Sully wrote in response to persistent rumors that Stewart was fired under acrimonious circumstances. "We love Tommy as much as [the fans] do, if not more. But we have decided to move on and try something new. This wasn't all me. This was a band decision. "All four of us sat at a table in a small Italian restaurant and did our best to discuss these matters and move on as painlessly as possible," the singer continued. "And I will promise you that this was not a decision that was made overnight or even in a week. This took months and months of thinking every little nook and cranny through in order to come to an agreement. Don't you know that we are just as aware of the tragedy and betrayal that could occur when you replace an original member?! We know that, and we have done our best to be as gentle as possible about it, but the fact of it is, is that things change and life goes on. Without change we all sure would be some uncreative people and this world would be pretty damn boring."
In the same posting, Erna made it clear that the addition of Larkin has given the band a much-needed boost, not only in terms of his playing ability, but also by way of raising the group's overall morale, which was said to be at an all-time low following Stewart's departure. "Someone said that I have always wanted Shannon to be my drummer because I idolized him, and as soon as he was available, I would kick Tommy out and snatch him up," Erna said. "NOT TRUE! But what is true is that I have known Shannon since 1988, and we have always been great friends, and I have idolized him in the past and still do in many ways, and I'll tell you why. Not only is he an amazing drummer and an amazing showman on the stage, but he is just as great of a person as anyone one of [the fans]. He is one of the nicest, friendliest, good-hearted persons that I have ever met. "[The decision to part ways with Tommy was made] way before the thought of Shannon was ever mentioned. I had no idea he was even available. As far as I knew he was with AMEN, and knowing Shannon, he wasn't going anywhere while he was with them. He is unbelievably dedicated. He's even passed on taking NIN offers and countless national band offers while he has played with AMEN. Once he dedicates himself to an act, he will go to the wall with you until it dies. Trust me. This guy will never let you down, and [the fans] are going to love him, I am confident about that."