GODSMACK's Shannon Larkin was a guest on a recent episode of his bandmate Sully Erna's Internet show, called "Hometown Sessions". During the chat, the 52-year-old drummer, who has been sober for about four years now, was asked how he has dealt with what can be near-crippling anxiety in early recovery. He told Sully (see video below): "We both have walked that line of danger, and danger is an adrenaline rush in itself. So a lot of times, I would know that I was coming up on that one drink that was gonna put me over the edge, but I welcomed it. So my biggest fear of quitting the alcohol was thinking that I wouldn't have fun anymore — I wouldn't know how to have fun. So that's where my anxiety stems from. What am I gonna do? I'm supposed to be this rock and roller, man. I'm the one throwing the party, and now I'm gonna be this sober guy. They're gonna think I'm a weirdo. So I've got lots of anxiety.
"What I really did was I found meditation," he explained. "And the thing is it doesn't matter if your higher power is this lampshade — it's whatever you feel is greater than you that you can look to and know that you can go on and have fun and have a good time in life without any kind of alcohol or drugs, as long as you can get your inner self happy. And to me, it was all about meditation and finding my higher power that I can believe in — something to give me faith to realize that… It's all within — happiness and anxiety, sadness, fear, love — everything's inside us. If you think of it, we are our own universe. There's the macrocosm, the big universe out there, and then the microcosm, our universe within us. But it's all one. So to kill anxiety, I found that the main thing that I start with is pranayama, which is breathing exercises. And then you just focus on that and you'll find that all your problems start to fade away as you focus and focus within on your breath — just your breath. It sounds simple — it is simple. Just focus on your breathing and count four in, eight out. It's a yoga technique. And when I say yoga, I don't mean all these crazy pretzel asanas, new ways of sitting down. They're uncomfortable, man. I'm talking yoga of the mind. And that's what I think people really need to go within…
"Therapy works," Shannon added. "I cannot say a bad thing about therapy. I went to rehab to try and get over the hump of when I hit my bottom and I was thinking, 'I'm gonna die, and I'm gonna lose everything I love,' including you, the band, let along the family and friends — everything. I knew, and so I made that decision. And that's a hard thing to do — look in the mirror and admit to yourself you have a problem: 'I'm an alcoholic.' Once you get over that, though, the anxiety will not go away unless you can figure out how to calm yourself from within. And the answer I have for that is meditation. Give it a shot."
Erna spoke about Larkin's sobriety in a recent interview with Detroit's WRIF radio station. Calling Shannon "an inspiration," Sully said that the drummer has "come a long way since the days where he just had this kind of 'F.U.' punk rock attitude and didn't care about what he looked like, what he sounded like, who he insulted when he was drinking. 'Cause he was a bad drunk. He was a blackout drunk, and that's where it's dangerous. Everybody would laugh with him and just think it's funny that he's smashing bottles and breaking lamps in hotel rooms and all that, but at the same time, he doesn't remember anything, and he's calling people horrible names. When you're that kind of an alcoholic, it's not good, 'cause you're either gonna hurt somebody or hurt yourself and not even know you did it the next morning. So I'm glad he got help, because he needed to."
Erna continued: "He dedicated enough of his life to partying, as did we all, and it was just a point where you've gotta just kind of grow up and you have to be more responsible. And if you're the kind of person that can have a few drinks once in a while and enjoy dinner and some wine and things like that and not be an idiot, then all the power to you. Drinking responsibly isn't such a bad thing — alcohol can actually be really fun. But when you're a dangerous alcoholic that's blacked out and you don't know what you're doing or what you did the next morning, you have to understand you have a disease and a bigger problem and do something about it. And he took it [upon] himself to deal with it. We never told him what to do, but he knew that it was getting close to, like — we can't do this much longer, because it was getting to the point where it was interfering with business."
Asked if Larkin's drinking ever came close to fracturing the band, Erna said: "He was calling out the wrong people, not knowing who was who… He would call some female promoter a 'c**t' and that kind of thing. And then he'd come into the dressing room the next day all puffy-eyed and tired-looking and just try to play it off like he has a bunch of energy and he's good, and we're just staring at him. And then he'd go, 'Okay, what did I do?' And I'd go, 'Well, the first thing you probably should do is go and apologize to that lady in the hallway for calling her a c**t last night.' And then he goes, 'Oh, no!' And then he'd go out there groveling. I think that was the breaking point. He came back and he just checked himself in and felt like he had to do something about it."
GODSMACK recently scrapped all plans to tour in 2020 in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The band will spend the rest of the year working on a new album while mapping out a return to the road in 2021.
GODSMACK's latest album, "When Legends Rise", was released in April 2018. The disc followed up 2014's "1000hp" and was GODSMACK's first release through BMG after splitting with its longtime home, Republic/Universal.