Godsmack Bassist Talks Touring Life, 20 Years as a Band, and Being Honored by Boston

Chapman Baehler

If ever a song were to frame the longevity, trajectory and torque behind the Boston based heavy metal act, Godsmack, it would have to be the first single, "1000hp", from their sixth studio album of the same name.

While the track sounds like a piece of hype music, the autobiographical lyrical content sums up the history of Godsmack quite well. Taking listeners through a form of warp-speed storytelling, the band revisits the days of playing empty bars in Boston, circa 1995, before taking over America, state by state, and spreading to foreign countries where all the band hears now is "turn that shit up louder," as the track states, and "take it to a thousand horsepower."

"At the end of the day, we write the best songs that we can for what we are," Godsmack bassist Robbie Merrill says with a New England accent, and in a surprisingly soft-spoken tone for being part of such a loud band. "We believe in them, and we give them to you, and whatever happens, happens."

More »

Unwritten Law's Scott Russo Takes Us on His Mushroom-and-Tequila Disneyland Adventure

Categories: Q&A, Viva PHX

Unwritten Law Promo Picture
Unwritten Law will be performing this Saturday, March 14 at Viva PHX.

"Hold on, I'm buying tequila."

These are the first words that Unwritten Law singer Scott Russo says after answering his phone for a New Times interview. In the background he asks a liquor store clerk for advice on the bottle that offers the best bang for his buck and ultimately deciding to go with the recommendation: Camarena.

"We have chocolate mushrooms and we're going to Disneyland -- it's going to be awesome," Russo tells me -- plus, tequila now too, apparently. "Oh, Hollywood," he adds, wryly.

Russo wastes no time in revealing the other member of "we" in his planned psilocybin-and-blue agave Disneyland caper: "I'm with my ex-girlfriend, Tara Holt, right now; do you ever watch that show Californication? She's Melanie in Californication," he says before putting Holt on the phone.

"Nobody knows," Holt says when I ask her what in the world she's doing with Russo, "but it's provocative!"

Later in our conversation Russo elaborates further on his evening by saying that mushrooms are a heavy commitment and that "I have to be in a secure place to even do mushrooms as a whole, but these little chocolate joeys are amazing." It is, however, with that perfect rock 'n' roll-esque salutation that I am first introduced to Russo. It served as a great prologue for the ensuing conversation, during which we examined the more than two-decade history of his pop-punk/rock quartet, Unwritten Law -- featuring Russo, founding member and recently returned drummer Wade Youman, guitarist Chris Lewis, and bassist Jonny Grill -- born and bred in San Diego, California.

More »

Cursive's Tim Kasher on What 'The Ugly Organ' Means to Him Now

Categories: Q&A

Daniel Muller
Cursive is playing in Phoenix tonight.

By Andy Thomas

Cursive's 2003 Album, The Ugly Organ, has been described as a masterpiece, a benchmark and a career jumping off point for an already highly touted band. The album contains elements of song-writing and musical mastery and sold more than 170,000 copies. But it can also be viewed as merely one of many amazing accomplishments in the long and fruitful career of the Nebraska-based band.

We caught up with Cursive front man Tim Kasher and asked him about the recent reissue of the album, what it was like when it was first released and if he even likes it.

Cursive is playing tonight at Crescent Ballroom.

More »

Dada Life Claims Dadaists Copied Them, Not Other Way Around

Categories: Q&A

Dada Life

If dance music were high school, Dada Life would be the two popular, trouble-making best friends, the cool partiers who orchestrate pranks, throw parties when your parents are away, and keep everyone laughing in class.

Their not-so-serious approach to dance music was a breath of fresh air, standing out from the "cool guy" image that so many DJs try too hard to portray.

Since their champagne and banana eruption into mainstream dance music, Swedes Olle Corneer and Stefan Engblom have managed to cause multiple massive riots, have their passports revoked after trying to declare Dada Land its own country (missing Miami Music Week), host their own music festival, and break the Guinness World Record for largest pillow fight.

More »

Lotus' Wavering Relationship with the Term "Jam Band"

Categories: Q&A


Something about a jam band's free-form nature lures its members into the world of electronica. Maybe it's the improvisational aspect and turns the music makes as DJs adapt to the audience at hand? Maybe it is simply the like-mindedness that a solid dance groove trumps all others?

Whatever the reasons, the connection between the two genres is strong, quite notably in Lotus. Lotus entered the musical landscape strictly as a jam band back in 1999, riding heavy prog riffs and sharp tempo changes among noodle-y guitar lines and funky bottom end grooves. This was way before EDM, but concurred with the techno movement's crossover-to-accessibility period, elements of which seeped in the band's collective consciousness. In time, those driving beats and purposeful grooves began to overshadow the jammy aspects of the core sound. Wisely, however, Lotus put the brakes on before succumbing to EDM's hallucinogenic temptations and alienating their loyal audience.

Yet, Lotus hasn't quit cold turkey either, merging the two styles into one progressive sound. Gilded Age, the band's latest, is a 50-50 split, touching on the band's jam roots, as well as their electronic future, with plenty of overlap. The constant: It's all about getting a groove on.

More »

Marky Ramone Talks Punk History, Phil Spector, and Italian Food

Categories: Q&A


As one of the most influential punk rock bands of all time, the Ramones completely redefined American music, creating a blueprint for the future of hardcore and punk. In the early 2000s, Spin Magazine rated the band the second greatest band of all time, just behind the Beatles. In 2002 the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in, and in 2011, honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

It took awhile for the band to be recognized for its influence, but there's no denying that each of the members were ahead of their time. And many of the stories behind the writing, touring and collaborations have never really seen the light of day -- until now.

Released on January 13, Marky Ramone's autobiography Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone, is a raw and fascinating, brutally honest look at the cultural history of punk from the front lines of one of the genre's defining bands.

More »

Q&A: Jeff Bridges Talks Tom Waits, the Dude, and His Band, The Abiders

Categories: Q&A

Danny Clinch
The Dude will abide at Livewire this Friday.

The personas are unforgettable -- Duane Jackson, Lightfoot, Scott Hayden, Jack Kelson, Jack Lucas, Jeff Lebowski, Jackson Evans, Otis "Bad" Blake, Rooster Cogburn. Jeff Bridges has never wanted to be typecast for a specific acting role over the past half-century, and consequently, he brought these diverse characters and more than six dozen others to life the way only an Academy Award-winning actor could: He doesn't portray them; he becomes them.

One of the constant threads weaving its way through Bridges' acting tapestry has been music.

For the past 15 years, Bridges has added "country-rock musician" to his growing list of personalities. And unlike the at-times embarrassing attempts of William Shatner, Bruce Willis, or Billy Bob Thornton, Bridges' music holds up very well.

More »

How Mighty Mighty Bosstones Created Ska-Core

Categories: Q&A

Drea Catalano
Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Determining which came first -- ska or punk -- is irrelevant. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones offer up a duel personality that's simultaneously abrasive and chill. First (or maybe second), the driving energy and angst of punk rock pushes the pace, while the cool riddims, staccato guitar and punctuating horn blasts of ska strive for equal rights. Put it together and you have the Boston band's contribution to musical history: Ska-core.

"The same person who played the punk rock records for me, played some English ska records. I fell in love with the punk and the ska," says MMB founder Dickey Barrett.

Barrett deftly merged the two styles together, creating a sound ideal for pulling on a blunt, then working it off in the mosh pit. The band's latest album, Magic of Youth, features a decidedly harder edge, though Barrett insists the ska influence remains.

More »

Francisco the Man Is A Real Band and Does Exist

Categories: Q&A

Jessica Isaac
Francisco the Man

Whether it's apathy or simply ignorance, some bands tend to remain mostly hidden from the world. This can add an air of mystery, or perhaps lead to an underground cult following that will ultimately lead to a burgeoning career. For Los Angeles' Francisco the Man, there's no real answer for the band's inaccessibility.

"We're a real band, we do exist," guitarist and vocalist Scotty Cantino confirms during a recent phone interview. "I don't really think too much about online prescience, maybe to a fault. ... We just focus on writing songs, recording and playing shows."

The band just released it's debut album, Loose Ends, a dreamy atmospheric pop extravagance that deftly melds '90s shoegazer with '80s new wave and '00s floaty electronics. It's an interesting stylistic mix -- urgent, buoyant and pulsating.

More »

Step Inside the Dark World of Primus & the Chocolate Factory

Categories: Q&A

Rick Levinson
Les Claypool's love of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has led him to this.

Everyone loves chocolate--some more than others.

Les Claypool, the mad genius behind Primus has taken his love of chocolate and churned it into a new album, Primus and the Chocolate Factory. Inspired as a child by the Gene Wilder cinematic portrayal of Roald Dahl's book, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Claypool saved box tops for a chocolate bar-making kit, and then sold his own chocolate Wonka bars to his grammar school classmates. Years later, the dark concept of the film still lingered in Claypool's brain, luring the bassist ever closer to becoming the master of his own chocolate factory. Following his vision of the past, Claypool has recreated the movie soundtrack in that timeless, dark and wacky Primus manner.

"I'm sure there's folks out there that didn't appreciate it. That is the risk of taking on a sacred cow," he says. "The thing is it's not so much about telling the story of Wonka and Charlie and the chocolate factory as much as it is the perspective of a young kid, which was me, back in the early '70s, experiencing the world of Wonka."

A twisted experience, clearly.

More »