Blood Feast, LSD & Turning 50: An Interview With Shannon from Godsmack

Shannon:  Hey Robin, how’s it going?  I’m here in sunny south west Florida right now, on a little break in between festival shows.

DIAG:  OH hey Shannon, I’m doing well!  So let’s get this thing started then, okay, so tell me who you are and what you do?

Shannon:  I’m Shannon, I play for the band Godsmack and I am a drummer.

DIAG:  It’s been four years since 1000HP dropped, what’s changed?

Shannon:  Well, a lot has changed, we put out records every four years ever since the Faceless records which was 16 years ago and when I joined.  The most thing we are very proud of in amongst all of the things, our gold records and all of the hoopla is the fact that we have last 20 years in this business.  It’s hard enough to get signed in this business, let alone have a career for four dudes for 20 years, and I attribute that to the time that we take in between records.  We could pump out records, one a year if we wanted to, it’s not about not being able to write songs.  It’s simply this – we make a record, and we support it, we go out and tour our asses off and pretty much for a year and a half to two years, and then we take a year apart, and that i think is the key to our longevity, we live in a bus together and studios together for three out of those four years and I understand we’re blessed.  We are very lucky to be able to take that time off.  It has been our saviour because it has allowed us to be creative in other outlets – Sully does solo records, Tony and I do the Apocalypse Blues Revue which is a blues project we have and have had for six years now.  So that gets us away from each other as humans and lets us experiment and do our own thing, and lets us get back together after that year off and record the new record for Godsmack and we have this renewed appreciation for the band and the success we have had.  I think that’s what helps our longevity.  But, what changed this time?  Well, we all turned 50, you know, Sully, make no bones about it – he’s the visionary of this band, and he’s the guy and he always comes to us on these years off and he will have a basic vision of what he wants Godsmack to sound like on this record, and with the one record, we got Andy Johnston to produce it was a little bluesier, and the previous one David Baschell who co-produced it and we wanted a very precise metal record.  And this one, he comes to us, and we are all 50 and we wanted a modern sounding record that is more mature, more melodic, you know and he brought in some outside writers for the first time in our 20 year career and we all had these songs – Bulletproof being one of them.  This was a huge change in the sound of the band, right off the bat.

DIAG:  Well it sounds great though and I was going to mention, you were talking about having a career for 20 years, well I first heard Godsmack when I was 14, and I’m 32 now.  With that in mind, knowing, that people who have listened to you for a long time have gotten older, do you think that they’re going to be maturing along with you, along with your sound?

Shannon:  Well we hope so.  That’s what we all do in life, right?  The one thing..  Well, I look at it like this..  it’s either a good song or a bad song and the struggle of oh you know..  we have our fans who love our heavier albums, like Awake and Facless, or the Oracle even..  and then we have fans that are into more modern music like Three Days Grace or Shinedown who have a more slick and polished sound and production.  I admit that we, being our age, we resisted for the longest time using any processed guitars or heavy sample or synthesizer basslines, simply because we are from the old school.  We grew up on Rush, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, you know?  Those kinda bands..  you know..  like Rush went through their phase when they moved into a more modern mainstream sound, and ironically it was when they all turned 50.  One of our favourite American bands, Aerosmith did the same thing, and we look at it as a natural progression because we do not want to be, the old farts up on the stage acting like we are still young, and angry, and full of angst, because we feel that the fans can tell if you’re faking shit.  We want to, if nothing else, keep it genuine.  We don’t want to sit there and be trying to act like we are 25/30 kids, up on the stage banging our heads.  We are looking at it as long term.  How are we gonna look in five years when we turn 55?

DIAG:  Do you think there is still a place for metal in 2018?

Shannon:  Oh hell yes, there will always be a place for metal.  Metal is something that’s great because it started as underground music, and in the mid 80s it popped up and then went back under ground.  It’s like a rollercoaster, it’s never going to go away, but it might go up and then down.  There’s always going to be angst in our youth as there should be.

DIAG:  Totally!  Well, I really liked the track “Bulletproof” and I’m curious what does “Bulletproof” mean to you?

Shannon:  To me it’s another Sully song and if you’ve known this band for years, then you will understand that what he sings about is his actual life stories and experiences.  He falls in love, he gets his heart broken, it’s sad to see as his friend, but we all high five because we know he’s going to make some great music out of it, because when he gets his soul crushed and that’s when he gets into the writing room.  That’s been a big key to our success also is that fans aren’t stupid.. people who listen to music aren’t dumb.  They can tell when something is fake.  When Sully sings a song like “Every Part Of Me”, on the new record..  my mother even called me after she heard it and she said, “wow, it sounds like he is in pain”, and it’s like yeah, he is.  He is great at emoting his own lyrics.  He’s great at writing.  Bulletproof is pretty black and white that way, and it’s basically that he has been crushed, and now he’s coming back even stronger in his heart, and now he is Bulletproof.

DIAG:  Thank you for that explanation.  So like I said, I’m all the way up in Canada and I know you’ve got an upcoming show in Canada at Rock Fest in Quebec, what can fans expect to see in a Godsmack show? 

Shannon:  You can expect to see a bunch of great songs, we hope, and a big ass double drum solo, which we feel is the highlight of the set, because not a lot of bands do it the way we do it after these 16 years.  And you can expect to see a little bit of the old, little bit of the new, we are trying to work in as much new music as possible during the set, but for this festival set we only have on hour so we would like to get three or four new songs, and still satisfy our core audience who have loved us for a long time.  We don’t wanna bum anyone out by playing only new material.  It’s funny, it’s like a catch-22, the band, we have been together for so long.  We love songs like “Voodoo” or “I stand alone” and we have played those a zillion times, so we of course get excited to play new material, but I know from being a fan of music – I will give you an example.  When AC/DC came out with Black Ice, they hadn’t had a record out in a long time.  I was at the show, I was so excited and I was drinking one of those concert beers that’s like 22 ounces so of course, I had to pee, really bad..  anytime I’d start getting ready to go to the bathroom, they’d start “Highway to Hell” and I’d be like “shit I can’t go now, I gotta see this”.  Unfortunately when they started playing the new stuff I went to the bathroom and of course there’s a line and every single person in the place who had to take a leak was waiting until they played a new song.  They didn’t wanna miss the old hits.  We don’t wanna make people bummed out when we play too much new material.  We are gonna play some new stuff and try to hit the old hits that the fans love.

DIAG:  Awesome, sounds like a good plan – do you have any other shows coming up in Canada?

Shannon:  Not yet, but you can quote me on this, we will tour Canada on this album.  Right now we are doing a big American tour with Shinedown, our brothers.  We have known them since their very first record, we took them on tour and we have watched their meteoric rise over the last decade or so.  Now they have co-headlining status with us, and they’re such a great band, such great humans too, and we are gonna do that probably up until October, and then we go to Europe in October.  We take the Christmas season off and then in 2019 we go to Australia and Japan, the other side of the world and after that then we go back to Canada.  We hope it will be spring of 2019 we do a proper Canadian tour.

DIAG:  What are some artists you’re currently listening to, (you had just mentioned Shinedown)?

Shannon:  Oh yeah, they’re a great band.  Oh man, I like blues, rock, classic rock, 60s and 70s rock.  There’s such a plethora of music that came out back then and truthfully I’m still discovering.  Like Cream, I missed the Cream boat when I was young and I’ve rediscovered them and I’ve just been loving their early records.  Modern stuff – Greta Van Fleet, and everyone is like “they’re a Led Zeppelin rip off” and I’m like, “hey they are in their early 20s if that..” and it’s like, I like it when bands look up to the same people I looked up to and make music like I make music and emulate their idols.  I believe that in hard rock, heavy metal, pretty much everything has kinda been done..  how can you top Sabbath?  Greta Van Fleet, those guys are gonna develop into their own sound.  I can’t say enough about those kids.  They’re the future of heavy music in America.  Doesn’t get more blue collar than that and big respect, props to them.  Off the top of my head that’s what I got.

DIAG:  Okay thank you for that, and I will wrap this thing up with one last question – since our website is called Drunk in a Graveyard, we focus our site around horror movies, drinking beers, and listening to heavy metal, so with that in mind what would be a horror movie you would recommend and the intoxicant of choice to go with it?

Shannon:  Okay.  Well.  For horror, I just saw the remake of Herschel Gordon Lewis’s “Blood Feast”, and I thought that that was very disturbing, and if you take acid and watch that movie, I think your bedroom will turn into a graveyard late at night.  I don’t drink alcohol anymore by the way.  I used to get really drunk a lot and I really enjoyed watching horror movies when I was drunk.  That’s so funny, about your website, I didn’t know the name, but it’s great.  I collect horror movies though, my living room has over 2000 DVDs, all horror.

DIAG:  Same here!

Shannon:  It’s been one of my things, you know.  I watched so many of those movies drunk.  I went sober 3 1/2 years ago almost, and I started rewatching all the horror flicks I loved, that I watched when I was drunk, but can’t remember so well due to being wasted.  Drunk in a Graveyard, such a good name.  But now I like to smoke weed or take LSD and watch horror movies and trip out, freak out.  I love Ash vs. The Evil Dead, I was such an Evil Dead fan as a kid.  Seeing Bruce Campbell come back in the role of Ash.  Seeing that character develop.  I like Stranger Things, but I thought season 1 was better than season 2.  That was a special thing.  Fear The Walking Dead, I like that.  I’ve gotten into that recently, and I’ve been binge watching the first couple seasons.  I’ve been into that, because obviously I’m a huge Walking Dead fan, I think we all are in the horror community, right?

DIAG:  Totally, than first season of Fear The Walking Dead was so good.  

Shannon:  Yes, yes it was.

DIAG:  Interesting little take to wake up in the end of the world, zombie apocalypse and be DTing off heroin.

Shannon:  The Belko Experiment was another cool one, lots of creative kills.  I love the horror genre period.  It’s just like metal.  You meet people who are into it and it’s like they’re so so into it and it’s exciting.

DIAG:  Well thank you so much Shannon, your answer was so thoughtful and awesome.  It’s nice to meet someone who is super psyched and into horror movies.

Shannon:  It’s something like..  as a kid, I remember when HBO came out..  I’m 51 years old and I didn’t grow up with cable..  well my family, we didn’t grow up with a lot of money, we didn’t have cable, but my friend did and he had cable and HBO, and one night we had a sleep over and of course we were sneaking alochol and my friend Kevin he passes out and this movie Friday the 13th came on.  I was what..  12/13 years old and oh my god that changed my life.  Next thing you know I’m collecting horror everything.  Man when he came out of the water at the end, 12 years old in my friends creepy house, man it scared the life out of me.  Changed me forever.

DIAG:  Oh it’s funny how we see things when we are younger, these horror films and they stick with us forever.  Well again Shannon thank you so much for talking to us.  We look forward to seeing you next spring in Canada.

Shannon:  Well good luck with your drinking in a graveyard..  what is it?

DIAG:  Drunk in a graveyard..

Shannon:  That’s fuckin’ awesome.  See ya Robin, thanks for taking the time!


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