GODSMACK drummer Shannon Larkin spoke to Cryptic Rock about how he joined the Sully Erna-fronted outfit in 2002 after cutting his teeth with WRATHCHILD (later WRATCHILD AMERICA and SOULS AT ZERO) before getting picked up by UGLY KID JOE in time for a taste of their zenith.
“I’ve been in bands: I was very successful personally but I’d never broken through the barrier of commercial success in which I was blessed with gold and platinum records, Grammy nominations and all the stuff that comes with being in a band like GODSMACK that’s successful commercially,” he said.
“When that happened to me… I’ll tell you a story. I was in AMEN for, I think it was almost five years, and we signed with Roadrunner at first. We put out a record, toured the world, did whatever. We were punk rock. We got dropped from Roadrunner after the first record and then turned around and signed a deal with Virgin Records, which is a major label. They then did the same thing: world tour, all that stuff. At the end of that, I had gotten married and my wife was pregnant.
“AMEN was a very violent band,” he continued. “Casey Chaos, the singer, more often than not ended up destroying my drums and half the stage every night, at every show, and it’d be a bloody mess. With my daughter on her way… she actually came into this world and I was still in AMEN. It was at the end of our second record cycle. I made a conscious decision that I’ve been doing this already for over twenty years, and I didn’t feel that it was in my cards to ever achieve the dream of having the success and being a rockstar, per se.
“So I quit the band AMEN and resolved myself to enter normalcy, and be a good husband and a good father. I was living in Santa Barbara, California, and I enrolled into a community college there. I figured, you know what, I’ve had a good run but it’s just… success, commercial success and money and fame isn’t in my cards. So I quit AMEN. Two weeks after that, after I quit the band [laughs] and enrolled in this community college in Santa Barbara, then I got the call from Sully Erna and my life changed. So that was something that was given to me that I’d already written off.
“When things like that happen in life, it’s a moment that’s hard to eclipse in any way. I’d say besides Sully‘s phone call that day, the biggest moment in my life was watching my daughter come out of my wife, you know? [Laughs] That’s how important it was when I got that call; it was life-changing and an affirmation.
“I’ve never done anything else in my life, by the way. I started playing clubs when I was twelve, and so throughout my whole life I’ve never worked a job. So GODSMACK was the ultimate reward for my work and dedication over the years.”
Larkin also talked about his personal friendship with Erna, whom he originally crossed paths with nearly two decades before he joined GODDMACK.
“I knew [Sully] twenty years, I met him in 1985. My band WRATHCHILD was doing the club circuit on the East Coast. Sully was a drummer and he was playing in a band… He had moved from Boston down to North Carolina to join this band — LEXX LUTHOR they were called. [Laughs] They ended up opening for WRATHCHILD one night in Carolina, and I met him for the first time. He ended up coming back to my hotel room and partying all night, [with] chicks and all that. We realized, wow, a couple of our tattoos were the same, we were both drummers; we clicked immediately. Through almost twenty years before GODSMACK, we remained friends; buddies that’d call each other up, ‘Hey, I’m comin’ to Boston,’ or, ‘I’m comin’ to Carolina,’ whatever. Over the years, it turned out that when he was still living in Carolina, this band on Epic Records called me — they were called MELIAH RAGE, they were from Boston. They called me looking for a drummer and I said, ‘Hey, man, I know this guy Sully that’s playing in a cover band. He’s from Boston and he’s a fucking badass drummer.’ Turns out he gets the gig, moves back to Boston to join this band on a major label. So I kind of hooked him up way back in the day in his career. Of course, the band didn’t make it or whatever, and he went on to play for several other bands before he dropped the drumsticks.
“My point is that we correlated on so many things on personal levels too: we’re like brothers from another mother,” he continued. “People say that, but for Sully and I it’s something that’s real. We’ve always noticed that in small things. Like he’d get a certain drum or whatever and call me and be like, ‘Man, I just got this new snare drum.’ I’m, like, ‘Oh my god, I just got that last week,’ or whatever. Tattoos or whatever. ‘Yeah, I got this tattoo,’ and I’d be like, ‘Oh my god, I just got that,’ you know? It’s just crazy circumstances that… I believe in magic, dude. I believe in karma and I believe in destiny. I think Sully and I were meant to be in a band together; from the first day I met him, I believed that. All these years later, he gave me my dream, man. I’m forever grateful and I love him to this day.”
GODSMACK is currently writing and recording material for the 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.