Godsmack and Shinedown are bringing their pyrotechnic filled, rock ’n’ roll thrill ride of a co-headlining tour to the Spokane Arena this weekend.
The bands have been working together for years. About 15 years ago, when Shinedown was just putting out their first record, Godsmack picked them out of a lineup of potential openers and immediately knew they had found a group to watch out for.
“Now here, 15 years later to watch their meteoric rise to headlining status, (for them) to be able to go out and co-headline with us makes us very proud,” said Shannon Larkin, the drummer for Godsmack.
The two bands have remained friendly over the years, often meeting at music festivals and getting together for other co-headlining tours. So, when the bands realized their records were scheduled to drop at the same time this year, they immediately set to work on getting the latest co-headlining tour in motion.
Godsmack’s new record, “When Legends Rise,” is all about different forms of rebirth.
“We’ve always been really old school,” Larkin said. “And … musically the new record is not a drastic change at all. It is a bit more melodic … but the main difference I feel on the new record is the production.”
Larkin said most of the new tracks could just as easily have been included on even their first records “except for the production’s so different that it sounds modern and reborn.”
The metaphor of legends rising seems to refer more to the kind of repackaging that the band’s music has gone through in the “new school” production process. It was important to them that the new record should reflect the band’s maturity while also respecting the work they had done before.
“We wanted to have this catharsis, this caterpillar to butterfly rebirth of the band,” Larkin said. “But, that said, we know we can’t alienate our fan base and turn into Burt Bacharach or something.”
They always keep their fans at the forefront while they’re building any setlist. Working in the right ratio of hits to new works requires a lot of thought, but fans can expect to hear some of Godsmack’s biggest hits like “Voodoo,” “I Stand Alone” and “Keep Away” along with a few songs from “When Legends Rise.”
“We have a lot of hits that we have to play or else our fans will come and slash our bus tires or something,“ Larkin said, joking. “It’s a really hard setlist to make (but) we try and balance it as much as possible.”
The band also likes to throw in a cover or two, often bringing Shinedown’s Zach Myers on stage with them to improvise and show off his prodigious guitar skill.
The rest of Shinedown tends to take advantage of their minimal rest time as soon as their set ends and Godsmack takes the stage.
“After I get off stage, I’m just done,” said Eric Bass, Shinedown’s bassist and backup vocalist. He and Brent Smith (lead vocalist) both sing for almost the entire show.
Vocal rest is important when you’re playing a big show every other night of the week. “But Zach loves to get back on stage with them and the camaraderie of that is just awesome,” he added.
Bass said that sort of camaraderie is more common than you might expect in the rock ’n’ roll community.
“We really care about each other,” Bass said.
That sentiment rings true when you get into the lyrics of Shinedown’s latest album “Attention, Attention.” The album is what Bass and the band refer to as a story record; the tracks each tell stories that come together to form one cohesive narrative.
“It’s autobiographical,” Bass said.
“Attention, Attention” is an account of a series of personal difficulties that the band’s members have gone through over the years and how they’ve managed to come to terms with each in their own time.
“We had gotten to a really good place coming off of the ‘Amaryllis’ record but then going into ‘Threat to Survival’ and the making of that record we all just fell apart again,” Bass said. “I wasn’t leaving the house. Brent was in a stupor most of the time, and I decided one day that I needed to go out and help him so I flew to Los Angeles, basically to try and save my friend.”
Smith was able to pull himself up again.
“Helping him helped me deal with my depression,” Bass said. “It gave me more of a sense of purpose, something larger than myself and the band that I was helping with. I was really trying to see him through this difficult time as best as I could. And we all were, Barry (Kerch) and Zach (Myers) included.”
The new record initially grew out of a track called “Get Up,” the melody of which Bass had in his back pocket for a couple years. It turned into something bigger when Smith gave it the right words.
“My headspace and my situation was not something I had talked much about outside of my wife, close friends and and family,” Bass said. “So all of the sudden we’re going to let the world know that this is something I’m dealing with? But, that made it OK for us to talk about our demons.”
Shinedown had already started working on several standard rock songs for the album but finishing “Get Up” set the tone for the rest of the album.
“Attention, Attention” begins with a knock on a door. The protagonist walks into a room, sits down and sighs. He’s going to sit there until he’s worked through some some things. The first musical track follows.
“It starts with ‘Devil’ which is bottom of the barrel, goes through all the other emotions and ends on a track like ‘Brilliant’ where, yes, you’re saying it’s my day to be brilliant and you’ve overcome your struggles but (you also know) you’ll never beat it. You always have to be mindful that it’s always there.”
Bass said he found strength in acknowledging his own obstacles, and he and the band drew meaning from the recording process as a whole.
“Just to get these things out in the public and out in the open to talk about it has been extremely helpful,” Bass said. “Probably some of the best therapy I’ve had.”
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