Godsmack Bassist Robbie Merrill Dishes on Uproar Festival, Upcoming Album + More
Godsmack continue their whirlwind of year with a co-headlining spot on the third annual Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival. Also featuring bands like Shinedown, Staind and Papa Roach, the 30 show jaunt will make it’s way across the U.S. in August in September.
Recently wrapping up the Mass Chaos tour with Staind and Halestorm, and dropping their new live disc ‘Live & Inspired’ in May, it’s hard to keep up with the Massachusetts based rockers.
As if that wasn’t enough, they’ll be closing out the year as part of ShipRocked, a cruise ship doubling as a rock concert on the high seas boasting a line up of rock bands spanning from Five Finger Death Punch to Sevendust.
We recently caught up with bassist and founding member Robbie Merrill, who talked about everything the band has in store for the coming months, when fans can expect a new Godsmack studio album, his online bass lessons and his backyard motocross park, among other topics.
Godsmack has been on a roll being part of great tour packages this year. You just finished up Mass Chaos with Staind and now you’re gearing up to spend the summer on Uproar; what can you tell fans to expect from the Uproar experience?
When I heard who else was on the bill with us – Staind and Shinedown – we’re all friends with them so to me it was going to be fun and it was going to be a nice easy summer. Uproar is pure rock ‘n’ roll, so fun and rock and roll – hey, I don’t think you can beat that. [Each show] should be a good day.
When you approach a festival tour like this, do you have to alter your show?
You only have so much time to play. We always get into arguments because there’s so many Top 10 hits and you can play them all. We want to do the drum solo and we want to play a couple of B-songs, so at the end of the day, we try to give a killer set that everyone knows what it is and also keep us happy.
I know you had a chance to play with Halestorm on Mass Chaos and there will be a lot of up and coming rockers starring on the second stage of Uproar; it’s a good sign for the state of rock, right?
I definitely think that. I know last year there were a lot of bands that I had never heard of on the Mayhem tour and there were young rockers and they were heavy – there’s a scene there and we know there’s a scene because people come up to the show and it’s one of those things where there’s so many types of music out touring in the summer time and for us to fill the building is pretty happening.
I recently saw you on the Mass Chaos tour and it seems like you’re still having the time of your life up there onstage, throwing devil horns and smiling ear to ear – is the stage your favorite place to be?
For me it took me a long time come out of my shell. You wait 23 hours a day to get onstage so when you’re onstage you might want to relish it. I’ve learned to do that. It’s mostly about staying healthy and not partying too much and drinking too much and being hung over. I think for us, touring for so long, we learned that it’s a job but it’s also fun and we’re all realizing that now. We do our thing during the day so we can give the best show that we possibly can each night.
Godsmack released a disc titled ‘Live and Inspired’ about a month ago and, in addition to the live material, you included some cover tunes. Which cover tune did you enjoy recording the most as a bassist and a music fan?
I like them all. When Sully picked ‘Time’ by Pink Floyd I thought ‘Ooh, this could be fun.’ I’m a big fan of Pink Floyd and Roger Waters so I was happy for that one. The Beatles’ ‘Come Together,’ how can you go wrong with that. ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ — I wasn’t sure about but we went in there, did a little push to it and snarked it up and it’s doing well on the radio. We were excited about the songs in the studio and they came out well so they made the cut.
‘Rocky Mountain Way’ sounds great live too — it translates really well.
We just started playing, I think that Manchester, N.H., show [that Loudwire reviewed] was maybe only the third time we had included it in the set, so I think it’s going to get better and better as we go, but that was a good night, I remember that one.
Godsmack’s last release of original material was 2010’s ‘The Oracle’ — is there a timetable yet for a new disc?
We’re going to Europe next week, we’re there for a month, and then we’re home for a month before Uproar. We’ve actually been writing on tour, or trying to anyway. So after that, what I hear is that at the beginning of next year we’re going to go in, start writing, and hopefully we’ll have a new disc out in 2014.
Talk to me about your online bass lessons you offer through Rock Dawg University. What inspired you to do that and how has the experience been for you?
I’ve always wanted to give lessons and I have in the past, but it was more about keeping my fingers going during a lot of time off in between tours. Me being a family man now, I have three daughters and they run me ragged, but I end up not playing my bass for two to three weeks and that can’t happen. This gives me a tool to get down and play and study and relearn some stuff I forgot about and also help other bassists out. It’s pretty cool because I have everyone from beginners to intermediate to pros.
I started doing 10 lessons for I don’t know, I think 15 bucks a lesson, and it’s basically live online. I show them the lesson and they can talk back and interact. It’s just fun to do and it keeps me busy and continuing to learn things and studying.
As a founding member of the band, you’ve experienced a lot throughout your career. Is there one thing you point to as the most rewarding moment for you as a member of Godsmack?
That’s hard. I think the experiences from 1996-1997, right before we got signed, we just had this driven goal to succeed and at the end of the day we put it down people’s throats. It was more about us being driven at the beginning and working our asses off. And then after that then you have to learn to be a rock star and hop on tour and be on a bus with 12 guys and that kind of thing. Mostly our perseverance I would say, that’s what really rings a bell for me.
I heard that you own and live on a farm in New Hampshire. Is that true and if so, what kind of farm is it?
It’s true; in 2002 I bought a 60 acre farm. I’ve got some horses and there’s a big pasture but my claim to fame is that I’ve got 60 acres, I live on close to 20 and on the other 40 I call the ‘Back-40’ and that’s my motocross track. That’s what keeps me in shape so when you see me running around and jumping onstage, that’s the reason why.
We know Sully took some time out of Godsmack to release his solo CD, just wondering, do you think we’ll ever get new music from Another Animal, or any other side projects from you?
Right this second, it’s all Godsmack for me. Another Animal is still around but at the end of the day we’re doing a lot of touring with Godsmack this year and with us all being family guys we didn’t want to go back out for five months. At the end of the day, Another Animal is a side project; we get together when we can. Last year we did ShipRocked, so you’ll probably see some stuff like that from us, someone one-offs, but other than that we’re just hanging low right now.
You mentioned ShipRocked. Godsmack is scheduled to set sail on that venture this year; that has to be fun?
Yeah, it’s exciting; we actually talked Sully into it. He doesn’t like boats. I told him there was a casino on the boat though, so he perked up a little bit.
Watch Godsmack’s Video for ‘Rocky Mountain Way’