Shannon Larkin has admitted that GODSMACK started playing to a click track during its concerts last year, only to abandon the idea after two shows.
According to the drummer, he and his bandmates have "always resisted" the prospect of relying on pre-recorded tracks, especially after years of touring with acts who built their performances on various technological enhancements.
"Let's be honest — there are second guitar tracks playing, and there's all kinds of shit going on; backing vocals, and the guy's up there looking like he's singing the backups, and he's not even singing," Shannon told "Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon" in a new interview (hear audio below). "And that always pissed us off, quite frankly, as a band."
However, GODMSMACK's decision to work with outside writers and producers on its latest album, 2018's "When Legends Rise", meant that there were certain elements that were incorporated into the material on the record that he and the rest of the band simply couldn't reproduce live without outside help.
"We realized at rehearsals [for the 'When Legends Rise' tour] that now we're gonna have to invest in a system that all the bands are using, where it runs tracks, and then me, as the drummer, I have to play to a click track," Shannon said. "Because that's how the tracks all can land — it has to be in time, so the drummer has to play to a click. These machines are wicked expensive too, so we invest all this money and get into the modern-day world, after having these producers put all these layers of synths or an orchestra, or whatever, that we can't perform live. So next thing you know, [GODSMACK frontman] Sully's [Erna], like, 'You know what? Let's just try and do it like all the bands we tour with do it. We'll run the click the whole set.' And so [I was, like], 'Okay.' I never really wanted to do that, but okay. 'Cause we follow our fearless leader, Sully. Next thing you know, we're rehearsing, doing the whole set — all the old songs too. We charted it and put them on the grid, it's called — you put 'em on a click, man. One cool thing about technology is the light show also runs on this grid, so every stab and punch or accent, it's all there perfect, perfect timing. So when you see these bands, they look perfect and sound perfect."
Larkin continued: "Well, here's the best part of the story and why you'll like me. We played two shows like that, and Sully said… I won't even say it on the radio or whatever, but he was, like, 'Eff this.' We felt like a bunch of robots, man. We knocked out every single track and basically ate the investment, and now we have this big, expensive system which we use for two songs. And those songs — I'll even tell you right now — it's 'Bulletproof', and the only tracks that are running are some spikes on the backup vocal, because it's a gang vocal, and the synthesizer part I keep telling you about, because we've never used them before. And all that is like a bass throbbing sound that's in the verses that's underneath the actual bass guitar. And it does make a difference — it sounds really cool, and it sounds great on the radio too. And the other song is… we do 'Unforgettable' now, and that song, we brought in a choir from a middle school in New Hampshire — these 15-year-old kids, and they do this big gang chorus. And we obviously can't bring 15-year-old kids up on stage every show to sing this, so we also run the track on that song, when the kids are singing. So we're not even trying to hide it and lip sync and pretend — it's there, and it's a bunch of kids singing, so people know that that's a tape running. But that's it, man — two songs in a whole set. And there's no second guitars or harmony vocals or lead vocals — that's all live."
He added: "I'm so proud of the fact that Sully and Tony [Rombola, guitar] and Robbie [Merrill, bass] are with me on that one. I like to be old school."
Larkin went on to say that he has no interest in attending concerts by artists who rely heavily on pre-recorded tracks during live shows. "If I'm gonna go and see a band that sounds exactly like the record, down to the horns that are on tape, or whatever it is, I might as well sit home and get high and listen to it, right?" he explained.
"When Legends Rise" was recorded at GODSMACK's headquarters (GSHQ) in Derry, New Hampshire and produced by Erik Ron and Erna.
GODSMACK will embark on a North American headlining tour with VOLBEAT in April.
Photo credit: Troy Smith