Four years after the release of 2010's The Oracle, GRAMMY-nominated hard rock quartet Godsmack have returned in full roar with 1000hp. Ahead of the album's release on Aug. 5, and its iTunes pre-order on July 22, GRAMMY.com has your exclusive first listen of the epic "Generation Day."
1000hp spans heavy stompers to contemplative tunes, and finds Godsmack — frontman Sully Erna, drummer Shannon Larkin, bassist Robbie Merrill, and guitarist Tony Rombola — bridging their past with the present. The quartet will kick off a U.S. tour to promote the album Aug. 15.
In an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview, Erna spoke about creating the new album, the seemingly inevitable death of analog and why "Generation Day" is a concert opener candidate, among other topics.
This new Godsmack album harkens back to your classic sound while it's imbued with the melodic aspect first heard prominently on 2006's IV.
It's one of those things where every time we get together, somehow it draws in some of our influences and that becomes prominent in some of the writing. We don't go in there with a plan. It's just where people are at the present. On this album there is a song called "Something Different" — I'm putting all my eggs in that basket. The song has that unique thing where you think, "That's Godsmack?" It just doesn't sound quite like us, but it sounds like us. It's one of those songs I can't put my finger on, and that's the one I'm betting on to be the biggest single on the record.
Even though it's not pop, it's the closest to a pop song as Godsmack are going to get.
That's what I say too. It's our way of translating to a little more mainstream while still somehow able to hold onto the power and integrity of the band.
You have cathartic songs such as "FML." There's always at least one or two big Sully Erna rants on each album.
"1000hp" and "FML" are the two punkish songs on the record. They are somewhat drawn from a punk influence because they're a little more aggressive and faster. And towards the end, "FML" almost has a Nirvana feel to it at times. I write about what goes on in my life. I write about the emotions that I go through. I try not to target a specific individual, although sometimes I do. Or it's definitely drawn from that specific person or what the story or the background is, but I try to write generalized enough so people can translate these lyrics into their own life situations and apply them as they need to for healing or venting or whatever it is. "FML" is exactly that. It's just about [being] fed up with not being heard in the relationship, realizing that the other person is so miserable that they're going to torture you. That's usually the way it goes — when they're miserable, you end up being the punching bag for it.
That's the joy of being in love.
What inspired "Generation Day"?
That's really one of my favorite tracks on the record. This record has a bunch of different styles on it. "1000hp" and "FML" are lumped together because they feel like the more punky versions on the record. Songs like "What's Next?" and "Locked & Loaded" are more of the quintessential Godsmack style music to service the core audience. Then there are songs like "Generation Day" and "Nothing Comes Easy" that are more of the epic, artsy songs on the album. "Generation Day" is really unique for me because not only is it this 6 1/2 minute epic, but it has these really cool textures and colors in it. The middle section has this cool, Zeppelin-y kind of breakdown, drifty and trippy. The song has this really fat, cool opening riff, and it's something I almost think we want to open the live show with. It's one of my favorites because I love what it targets. I feel like we're the last generation of the analog world. I think from this point on, all of our kids will have grown up with MP3s and digital downloads. I'm a huge fan of the analog world. I'm not a big fan of the digital world, but I know it can be very important and I know it can be very powerful, so you have to embrace it and utilize it. But I just miss the days of putting a needle on the album. I still do it. I still listen to music on vinyl and I love the warmth.
"Generation Day" is a song about the new digital world taking over the music industry. And as a fan of the analog world, I really miss the days of putting the needle down on vinyl records and the entire experience of putting on an album and listening to it from front to back. Looking at all the pictures and lyrics and enjoying the whole journey the music would take you on. It was such an experience back then. Music is still such a gift, but back then it was more of a whole [ritual] that you did. You would sit on the couch, put on a new album, lay there and listen to it. ... Now it's so quick, just hit the app on your iPhone and suck in the new 3-minute, preprocessed s*** song. I feel like the integrity sometimes gets lost.
Everything is processed and digitized. And it hit me one day: My generation is going to be the last generation to truly experience music in that way. While vinyl has made a slight comeback, most kids today will never know that feeling — the experience of sitting and enjoying music from that perspective. I wrote this song about us being one of the last generations of that era, and one day soon experiencing music the way I remember may become obsolete.
My favorite part of the track is the intro. I simulated Matrix-style audio samples of computers making their way through the system. Then you begin to hear an old analog tape reel trying to start itself up, as if it's fighting to come back over this technology. Finally it ramps up and begins the track.
But by the end, as the song's last chord hits, it becomes overpowered by the computers and dies out. A metaphor for saying, this massive machine we call the Internet and the new ways of the world are inevitable. It can't be stopped. All we can do is preserve our memories and embrace the future. Long live the king, long live rock.
(Bryan Reesman is a New York-based freelance writer.)