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Godsmack

Godsmack is an American Hard Rock/Alternative Metal band from Lawrence, Massachusetts, formed in 1996. The band comprises founder, frontman and songwriter Sully Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Shannon Larkin. Since its formation, Godsmack has released four studio albums, one EP, four DVDs, and one greatest hits collection. Godsmack have played afront millions of live fans, and conducted worldwide headlining arena tours, including a world tour in support of Metallica in 2004, and are seen to be one of the best live performers of the current generation.

Godsmack has sold over 10 million albums in the United States and nearly three million record sales worldwide, as of late 2008. Including over 2 million singles sales worldwide, having three gold singles in The United States. The band has had two consecutive number one albums (Faceless and IV) on the Billboard 200. They have had a record-breaking fifteen top ten mainstream rock singles, a debut album selling over five million copies in just two years and have also been nominated for three Grammy Awards. The band has sold over 18 million albums, singles, DVD's and compilation CD's, making them one of the most successful modern rock bands.

History

Formation (1995)

In February 1995, Sully Erna decided to start a new band as the lead singer after playing the drums for more than 23 years, including over two years in the now-defunct band Strip Mind. His new band The Scam formed with Erna on vocals, Robbie Merrill on bass, local guitarist and friend Lee Richards on guitar, and Tommy Stewart on drums. The Scam quickly changed its name to Godsmack, after recording one demo. The newly formed band started playing small bars in their hometowns of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Salem, New Hampshire. Godsmack started out doing covers of bands like Alice In Chains to build their fan-base, but they quickly moved on to write their own music. Locally popular songs such as "Keep Away" and "Whatever" soon brought them to the top of the hit charts in the Boston/New England area.

The band's name, according to Merrill in the Smack This! DVD, was taken from the Alice in Chains' song "God Smack". However, Erna stated in a 1999 interview that "I was making fun of somebody who had a cold sore on his lip and the next day I had one myself and somebody said, 'It's a godsmack.' The name stuck. We were aware of the Alice in Chains song but didn't really think much about it. It's a cool song and the name had meaning for us".

Early works (1996–1997)

In 1996, Tony Rombola and Joe D'arco joined Godsmack as the guitarist and drummer, after Richards left after finding out he had a six-year-old child and Stewart left due to personal differences. In the same year the band entered the studio for the first time, recording its first CD titled All Wound Up. The CD was recorded in just three days for $2,600.

For the next two years, the band played throughout the Boston area. Eventually Godsmack's CD landed in the hands of "Rocko", a DJ for Boston radio station WAAF (FM). The radio station put "Keep Away" into heavy rotation and the song rose to the number one spot at the station very quickly. Newbury Comics, a New England record store chain, agreed to sell the CD on consignment. Shortly after the success of "Keep Away", Godsmack went back into the studio and recorded a single titled "Whatever", which became the new local favorite on WAAF (FM).

In an interview Erna stated, "we had been selling maybe 50 copies a month at the time WAAF picked up the album. All of a sudden we started moving over a thousand records a week. It was insane. Even crazier, I was doing all this from my bedroom. After years of grinding away, things finally started taking off".

Godsmack (1998–1999)

In the summer of 1998, Universal/Republic Records signed the band onto their label. D'arco left the band for unknown reasons and was replaced by once former drummer Tommy Stewart, who came back after longing to be in the band again. The band's first studio recording All Wound Up was re-mastered. The finished self-titled debut CD Godsmack was released to the public six weeks later, leading to the band's first headlining tour, "The Voodoo Tour". After the CD's release the band hit the road playing club shows as well as playing the Ozzfest and Woodstock '99". Roxanne Blanford from Allmusic gave the album three out of five stars, stating, "Godsmack confidently brought metal into the technological age". The album was the band's first to enter the Billboard 200 at number 22, and was certified 4x platinum by the RIAA in 2001 after being initially certified gold in 1999.

The album caused controversy due to its profane lyrics, containing a substantial amount of swearing. After listening to his son's copy of the album, a father in the U.S. complained to Wal-Mart, who sold him the album, that the lyrics were offensive. Wal-Mart and Kmart took the album off the shelves. The band and its record label later added a Parental Advisory sticker to the album, and some stores ordered amended copies of the album. Erna commented on the situation to Rolling Stone magazine, stating, "Our record has been in the marketplace for more than a year now without a parental advisory sticker and this is the one and only complaint…. Stickers and lyrics are by nature subjective…. We have decided to put a sticker on the record". This controversy did not hurt album sales, but according to Erna helped, stating, "It's almost taunting kids to go out and get the record to see what we're saying on it".

Awake (2000–2002)

In 2000, Godsmack returned to the studio after the multi-platinum success of Godsmack to start recording Awake. The album was released on October 31, 2000. The album debuted at number five on the Billboard 200, and has been certified 2x platinum by the RIAA. "Vampires", a song on the album, also earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 2002. With the release of Awake, Godsmack toured Europe supporting Limp Bizkit. Erna said at the time, "we've been touring nonstop since August 1998, So most of Awake was written on tour while we were ping-ponging between America and Europe, building up the band. "Ozzfest" was actually the only big tour where we rode under someone else's wings; we did a lot of work on our own". The band played Ozzfest in 2000 again as they had in 1999.

Two of the songs on the album were used in U.S. military commercials ("Sick of Life" and "Awake") as background music. Erna stated, "Someone in the military is a fan, and they asked if they could use the music, and we accepted".

Faceless (2002-2003)

In 2002, Erna was asked to write and perform a song for the soundtrack to The Scorpion King. The motion picture was the third in the Mummy saga, and was a spin-off prequel of the Mummy series. The song Godsmack wrote and performed was titled "I Stand Alone" and became the number 1 single at Rock Radio and the most played Active Rock song in 2002 for 14 weeks straight. It was also used in the game Prince of Persia: Warrior Within.

With Shannon Larkin (ex Ugly Kid Joe, Souls at Zero) replacing Tommy Stewart, who left due to personal differences for the second time, Godsmack went back into the studio to record a new album that was released in 2003. Faceless debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 selling 211,000 copies its first week, and the CD would go on to sell over one million copies in the United States. The lead single "Straight Out of Line" received a Grammy Award nomination for "Best Hard Rock Performance", but the award went to Evanescence's single "Bring Me to Life".

The album got its name after a pool incident, retold by Larkin; "Sully and I were standing up for one more jump, we're both there buck-naked, and I look over to the left and there's some woman who had just opened the blinds standing there with her mouth wide open". Erna added, "She was just waking up, we go, 'Sorry', and then boom, right into the pool. The next thing we know the cops are banging on the door, and that's sort of the point of calling the record Faceless". However in a later interview Merrill stated otherwise, making it unclear of how the album's title came to be, "It came from the band's feeling that, despite our radio and sales success, we still flew a bit under the radar".

The Other Side (2004–2005)

On March 16, 2004 The Other Side, an acoustic EP was released from Godsmack. The album debuted at number five on the U.S. Billboard 200; this is a relatively high position for an acoustic EP. It included several previously released songs re-recorded as acoustic versions, as well as three new acoustic tracks. One new song, "Touché", featured Godsmack's first guitar player, Lee Richards, as well as John Kosco, who were at that time in the now defunct band Dropbox, The other two new acoustic tracks were "Running Blind" and "Voices". The song "Asleep" is actually an acoustic version of "Awake" from the band's second album Awake. Godsmack shifted from its "heavy" sound to a more mellow acoustic sound on this EP in the same manner Alice in Chains did in the Sap and Jar of Flies EPs, one of many similarities to Alice in Chains for which the band has been criticized.

In 2004, Godsmack opened for Metallica's "Madly in Anger with the World tour", and headlined the tour along with Dropbox. Afterwards, in Autumn 2004, the band played several acoustic shows to promote The Other Side, while at the same time continuing to open for Metallica.

IV (2006)

On April 25, 2006 Godsmack released its fourth studio album simply titled IV, followed by a tour that would continue until August 2007, titled "The IV tour". The album was produced by Erna and engineered by the well known producer and engineer Andy Johns, known for engineering Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin IV. The first single from the album, "Speak" was released on February 14, 2006. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 211,000 copies in its first week. IV has since been certified platinum. The band had written over forty songs for the album, but the final track listing had eleven tracks, Larkin commented, "it's Sully's band and his vision. He sifted through all the music and picked the songs that he wanted on the album. We all said 'all right'. He's always had the vision of everything Godsmack from the artwork to the production to the engineer to the studio to what TV shows we play. Everything. When it comes time to pick the songs it's all Sully".

The album's minimalist name "IV" derives not only from its being the band's fourth studio album, but also from a running piece of backstage humor, as related by Larkin and Erna:

Greatest hits and break (2007–present)

To celebrate ten years as a band, Godsmack released a greatest hits album entitled Good Times, Bad Times... Ten Years of Godsmack on December 4, 2007. The album debuted at number 35 on the Billboard 200, selling 40,000 copies in the first week of release. It includes a cover of the Led Zeppelin song "Good Times Bad Times", as well as a DVD of Godsmack's acoustic performance in Las Vegas at House of Blues. The album was originally intended to be a boxed set, but the band scrapped the plans so they could release a best of album. Godsmack will be following the release of the album with an acoustic tour.

In an interview regarding rumors of an "indefinite hiatus," Erna is quoted as saying, "we're not going away, we are just gonna take a break and enjoy our 10th year anniversary and kind of recharge our batteries. And then Godsmack will be back, and we will come back bigger and badder than ever." Godsmack played at Darien New York for local radio (103.3 the Edge) EDGEFEST on July 26, along with Sevendust, Alter Bridge, Silvertide, Evans Blue, and Tantric. They also played at Saratoga Springs New York for radio station Channel 103.1's Big Day Out 2008 with Alter Bridge, Nonpoint, Sevendust and 12 Stones on July 27.

Influences and style

The band's primary influences include Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Judas Priest, Rush, and Alice in Chains according to Erna, Larkin, and Rombola. Erna's style of singing mirrors that of Layne Staley's the singer of the '90s grunge band Alice in Chains, and Erna has cited Staley as his primary influence. The overall sound of the band's first two albums sound similar to the sound of the Alice in Chains album, Dirt, according to Subvulture.com. More recently, Godsmack has attempted to distance themselves from the Alice in Chains comparison with Erna stating in an interview with Matt Ashare, "I've just never really heard that in our music".

The band's music is often compared to Alice in Chains, which the band cites as an influence. Adrien Begrand of Popmatters states, "Erna perfectly mimics the late Layne Staley's low, guttural, sinister singing and snarly, metal-inspired growls"-Erna's vocals also seem to be reminiscent of Metallica's James Hetfield-and, "The band's music is a faithful retread of Jerry Cantrell's churning, tuned-down hard rock". Katherine Turman of Amazon.com states the band has, "dark, swirling, commanding music". She also commented on the band's third album Faceless, "mixes arena rock in the vein of an Alice in Chains" and, "riff-heavy, layered tunes and sharp, confident bridge-burning lyrics".

Erna's singing style has been stated as "the snarl of James Hetfield", and, "is composed of dark harmony that sounds a lot like Alice in Chains". Merrill's bass style has been described as "bulldozer bottom with occasional slap-bass reverb". Larkin's drumming is thought to "worship at the twin altars of Neil Peart and John Bonham". And Rombola's guitar playing style has been praised as, "guitars that sound like percussion instruments". Godsmack have also influenced many other modern rock and metal bands such as, Breaking Benjamin, HURT and Drowning Pool. This can be seen by C.J. Pierce of Drowning Pool's guitar similarities to Tony Rombola.

Band members

Current members

Former members

  • Lee Richards: guitars (1996–1997)
  • Joe D'arco: drums (1996–1997)
  • Tommy Stewart: drums (1996, 1997–2002)

Discography

Award nominations

Year Award Category
2002 Grammy Awards Best Rock Instrumental Performance - "Vampires"
2003 Best Rock Song - "I Stand Alone"
Best Hard Rock Performance - "I Stand Alone"

References

External links

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