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story.lead_photo.caption Godsmack is Robbie Merrill (from left), Shannon Larkin, Tony Rombola and Sully Erna. Shinedown is Zach Myers (from left), Eric Bass, Brent Smith and Barry Kerch. The band’s latest album (pictured) is Attention Attention. - Photo by Kirk Montgomery

Arena rock heavyweights Godsmack and Shinedown share headliner duties tonight in North Little Rock in what looks to be an evening of fist-pumping singalongs and high-energy headbanging.

Both bands are on the road supporting well-received new albums -- Godsmack's When Legends Rise and Shinedown's Attention Attention. Ohio rockers Red Sun Rising will open.

Godsmack, Shinedown

Special guests: Red Sun Rising

7 p.m. today, Verizon Arena, 1 Verizon Arena Way, North Little Rock

Admission: $39.50, $49.50, $59.50, $69.50, $99.50

(501) 975-9000

verizonarena.com

"It's been the best tour ever," says Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin, 51, last week during a day off in Oklahoma City. "We've known Shinedown since the inception of their band. It's been like a big family reunion out here. There's no ego, no drama. It's been awesome."

About the only problem, Larkin figures, is cramming the long-running band's hits -- post-grunge, tribal ink, rock radio staples like "I Stand Alone," "Voodoo" and "Awake" -- into a 75-minute set.

"When you've had seven records out, and I don't know how many hits, it's hard to come up with a set that includes everything," says Larkin, who joined the band in 2003 at the urging of singer-guitarist and longtime pal Sully Erna. "In the end, we have a revolving set list, so some nights we might play 'Say My Name' or 'Take It to the Edge' and other nights we'll play 'Unforgettable' and 'Someday' off the new record."

For Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers, 34, the North Little Rock stop will be almost like a hometown show.

"I live in Memphis, and this will be the closest that we will be playing to there, so I have a bunch of [friends and family] coming to the show," he says from a tour stop in Chicago.

Attention Attention, a thunderous, pounding collection of intense yet uplifting rock, is Shinedown's sixth LP.

The album was recorded at Ocean Industries, a North Carolina studio owned by Shinedown bassist Eric Bass, who also produced the record.

It's perhaps the most personal work in the band's canon, with frontman Brent Smith writing about watching Bass' struggle with depression. The result was "Get Up," the inspiring, piano-driven anthem that lies at the heart of the record.

"I'd rather twist myself in knots/than watch you give up on your dreams," Smith sings.

Myers says, "We've always been a band that has tried to do amazing things with our words. For this record, there was no such thing as too honest. A song like 'Get Up,' we were like, wow, we don't have to keep anything back. We can be brutally honest on this."

Massachusetts-based Godsmack also dabbles in balladry on When Legends Rise with the powerful "Under Your Scars."

"Sully puts his heart on his sleeve," Larkin says of primary lyricist Erna. "Fans aren't dumb. They can tell if something is real. The emotion in a song like 'Under Your Scars,' if you really go deep into that, it'll bring tears to your eyes. It's real."

Godsmack took off in 1998 with its self-titled debut, which sported a suitably grunge-laden vibe that, along with Erna's vocals, drew more than a few comparisons to Alice in Chains, the Seattle band that also happened to have a song called "God Smack" (Erna has said that Godsmack's name came from a joke with a friend about a cold sore).

Godsmack contained hits like "Keep Away" and the hauntingly creepy "Voodoo" and sold more than 4 million copies.

Awake followed in 2000, and in 2002 "I Stand Alone," the band's contribution to the Scorpion King soundtrack, became one of its biggest hits. Larkin joined the band in 2003 for Faceless, replacing drummer Tommy Stewart. It was a reunion for Larkin and his buddy, Erna, who he'd met 15 years years earlier.

"His band was opening up for my band Wrathchild. He had moved from Boston to North Carolina to play with this cover band, Lexx Luthor . He was playing drums then," says Larkin, who was born in Chicago and grew up in West Virginia. Erna moved back to Boston and the two kept in touch.

Larkin, who had played in Ugly Kid Joe, was in California punk band Amen when Godsmack started up.

"They sold, like 5 billion copies of their first record and Amen sold, like 500 copies," Larkin says, laughing.

After Stewart left the group, Erna reached out to Larkin with an offer to join. The only stipulation was that he get along with guitarist Tony Rombola and bassist Robbie Merrill.

"From the minute I met them, we've gotten along like the brothers that we are," he says. "It was meant to be."

Larkin and Rombola even have a side project, The Apocalypse Blues Revue, whose second album, The Shape of Blues to Come, was released this year.

"It's really cool for Tony and I to have two records come out within two completely different genres," Larkin says. "I mention this not as just a shameless plug, but it's also growth for Godsmack. It takes a year to write and record a Godsmack record, then we tour for two years, then there's a year apart from each other. That lets us explore musically."

Taking time away from the Godsmack machine, he says, lets them be fresh when they reconvene: "When we get back together, we're hungry to make this music and it also makes us appreciate our success and the work we've put into Godsmack."

Smith started Shinedown in Jacksonville, Fla. Leave a Whisper, the band's debut, was released in 2003 on Atlantic and eventually sold more than 1 million copies. Us and Them was the follow-up in 2006 and the band really broke big with The Sound of Madness in 2008.

In total, Shinedown has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide.

Myers had played bass with Memphis outfit Saliva and met Smith when Shinedown opened for Saliva.

Smith recruited Myers to fill in on bass on tour.

"They were still touring the first record, but they had just done the second album and we were doing some songs from that," Myers says. "I'd never played with these guys before and it went well, I guess, because 13 years later I'm still here, though now I'm playing guitar."

And he's got some new sneakers.

Nike has released the Shinedown Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG shoe, which incorporates Attention Attention's yellow and black color scheme and exclamation mark symbol.

The shoe came about after the Air Jordan-loving sneakerhead Myers persistently pestered a Nike representative: "I would tag him on Instagram in every photo of me wearing Jordans onstage with 10,000-15,000 people in front of me and he ended up messaging me."

There aren't many Jordan-endorsed rock musicians, says Myers, who also has a signature model guitar called the SE Zach Myers made by Paul Reed Smith.

"I think they saw that these kids were coming to our shows and were buying Jordans and were getting me to sign their shoes."

A limited run of only 23 pairs of the shoes was made, and they aren't for sale to the public.

Still, it was a unique opportunity for Myers and the band.

"For me, having my own signature guitar and having the shoe, that's the biggest thing," he says. "I told my wife, I never have to ask for anything else. I'm all set."

Photo by Special to the Democrat-Gazette/PARIS VISONE
Godsmack, along with Shinedown and opening act Red Run Rising, will rock Verizon Arena tonight.

Style on 08/14/2018

Print Headline: Attention Attention: Two rock Legends, 1 big concert

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