The heart of Boston beats within its streets. Those roads set the scene for timeless Academy Award-winning stories including The Departed, The Town and The Fighter as well as for triumphant, tear-filled championship victories by The Red Sox, The Bruins, and The Celtics. Grammy Award-nominated multi-platinum hard rock titans Godsmack preserve their connection to the streets of Boston on their sixth full-length album for Republic Records,1000hp.
Outlasting tides, trends, and a torrential industry climate since forming in 1995, the quartet—Sully Erna [vocals, guitar], Tony Rombola [guitar], Robbie Merrill [bass], and Shannon Larkin [drums]—paved the way for a generation of rock bands. Their last album, 2010’s The Oracle, rounded out a streak of three consecutive #1 debuts on the Billboard Top 200, an accomplishment only shared by Van Halen, U2, Metallica, Dave Matthews Band, and Linkin Park. Now, these four musicians leap forward without forgetting where they came from.
“On this record, we wanted to return to the roots of Boston and the streets of our hometown,” affirms Sully. “It was about going back to basics. You get a certain feeling seeing the city’s skyline or walking through Southie. I thought it was time to take it back to where we began. That’s the theme of this album.”
Robbie exclaims, “It reminded me of our first two records because we wrote, rehearsed, and recorded at home. It was like going back to those days. It was so cold last winter that we had nothing else to do but stay in and write music. It felt great.”
“People in Boston have thick skin,” Shannon grins. “It’s not just the weather. They’re tough motherfuckers up there!”
In order to conjure that East Coast vibe, the boys built a new Godsmack Headquarters just thirty minutes north of town. They converted an old warehouse into a fully loaded recording studio complete with a control room and live stage room to record. Commencing the writing process individually, Tony, Shannon and Robbie composed demos down in Florida, while Sully wrote in Southern New Hampshire throughout 2013. Everybody regrouped at the new HQ in January 2014 though. With a wealth of ideas, the musicians found a fresh and fiery spark of inspiration.
“The first half of this record is a new sound,” the singer elaborates. “It’s still Godsmack. It’s tough. It’s powerful, but it’s a little different than what we’ve done in the past because there’s a punk-y influence. It’s very current and vibrant. The second half is more traditional, and it’s meant for our hardcore fans. It’s a hybrid. We wanted to broaden our horizons and open up what this band can be.”
Given the success of 2010’s gold-selling and chart-topping The Oracle, Sully once again teamed up with Dave Fortman [Slipknot, Evanescence] to co-produce. Together, they capture a booming intensity and raw energy that’s equally anthemic and arena-ready.
“Dave gets truly great sounds,” Tony goes on. “We all trust him. He’s just an awesome guy to work with. He’s like having a fifth member because he can play guitar and drums too.”
“To work with him as a producer is always a pleasure”,says Shannon. He’s an amazing person. If he wasn’t a famous producer, he could be a comedian. He’s the guy that keeps us all laughing and comfortable in the studio.”
The first single and title track charges through the gates at full speed. Derived from a thrash-y riff and a walloping chorus, “1000hp” announces Godsmack’s return with a bang.
“I literally wrote that in one hour,” smiles Sully. “All of a sudden, it just came together. The lyrical content covers the history of Godsmack. It goes back to 1995 when we were nothing. We were playing in the empty clubs, and no one gave a shit. Once we took the stage, our whole life changed. It’s our history. It’s very alive.”
Shannon continues, “It’s a fresh new sound. The energy is almost punk rock, and I love that.”
At the same time, the aptly titled “Something Different” veers down a new path for Godsmack. It boasts another monstrous hook, but musically surprises at each turn. Sully admits, “We’ve never done anything like this before. It’s a real powerhouse, but it’s not metal or punk. It’s driving rock. It’s going to hit hard.”
Robbie explains, “It’s simple, strong, and impactful. It reminds me of classic rock, but Sully’s vocals and our styles make it Godsmack. I love playing that one for people. They smile out loud!”
Still, the band also seamlessly venture into psychedelic territory in the tradition of early epics such as “Voodoo” and “Spiral”. This time around, “Turning To Stone” freezes attention with its expansive melodies, lush instrumentation, and hauntingly hypnotic words. “It’s seductive and tribal,” the frontman adds. “That’s a big element of this band. It has been since day one.”
Tony agrees, “Shannon and I had put it together, and Sully dug it. It’s a new avenue for us. It’s heavy and tribal, but there’s some melody. It’s all about creating something that’s different but still sounds like Godsmack.”
An unbreakable spirit and diehard work ethic evocative of their hometown has also remained fuel for Godsmack. They fought hard to secure a place in music history since first smashing their way on to the scene in 1995. To date, they’ve notched a staggering six number one singles at mainstream rock radio, including “I Awake”, “Straight Out of Line”, “Cryin’ Like A Bitch”, and “I Stand Alone”. Moreover, they’ve enjoyed 20 Top 10 hits at the format—the most of any act since February 1999. Selling over 20 million records worldwide, Billboard named them “Rock Band of the Year” in 2001.In addition to selling out arenas around the globe, they’ve headlined all of rock’s premier festivals from Mayhem and UPROAR to Rock on the Range and more.
However, 1000hp sees Godsmack set to cruise even further. “I hope people think this album fucking rocks,” proclaims Shannon. “We wanted to make a high energy record. The coolest feeling I’ve had in this band is making 1000hp.”
Tony says, “We’re growing as a band, and we’re still getting better beyond holding our own. We’ve been doing this a long time, but every day we still work at improving and writing songs. We want to keep it going.”
“It’s solid,” adds Robbie. “It’s got integrity. In some places, we took a left turn, but this is who we are.”
“I want fans to enjoy it like they enjoyed the first couple of records,” concludes Sully. “I think this album will make them feel more at home like the first album did. It has that vibe. There are some new sounds and interesting things for sure to show our creative side. It’s old school Godsmack with a new kind of twist to it. Hopefully, they’ll feel like this band has never let them down and we’re here to stay.” — Rick Florino, May 2014