SHANNON LARKIN Says GODSMACK Threatened To Fire Him Three Times At The Height Of His Alcohol Addiction

December 7, 2023

GODSMACK's Shannon Larkin, who has been sober for about seven and a half years now, spoke to SPIN about how going to rehab changed his life entirely. He said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I wasn't a person that even really believed in head shrinks. I was kind of against it even, but after feeling like I was gonna die if I didn't quit, I went for it. And then I learned in rehab — it was Recovery Unplugged, and there's a few of those now; at the time, there was just the one in Fort Lauderdale. And for what it's worth, it worked, and these people got in me and found all these hidden dark things that I wouldn't have really even remembered if it weren't for therapy and embracing it and going with it, saying, 'Look, I'm not the big therapy guy. I don't believe in it, really, but I'm gonna go with this, and I'm gonna do everything that they ask me and jump through all the hoops.' And it turned out that it changed my life."

He added: "So, I guess the moral of the story is rehab works if you embrace it and go with it and believe in it. And it all comes from inside us; our happiness is in there. We don't need drugs and alcohol."

According to Larkin, the first year of his recovery was the toughest "with all these internal struggles and finding the happiness. Spirituality is a big part of it also," he explained. "And one interesting thing they taught me at Recovery Unplugged was… There was this one guy who was atheist in there, and he really had no spirituality. And we would do these things once a week. They would take us to the ocean, and we could do yoga on the beach and stuff like that. It was just, like, get away from the rehab center. And this one dude that was atheist realized when [one of the therapists there], she said, 'Look, it doesn't have to be God or Buddha or Jesus, whatever it is. It can be anything that you feel is a greater power than you.' And that's what you have to realize. And so this dude was on the beach and saw the ocean and he ran out in the beach. And every time he tried and get farther out, these big waves would crash him back. And so the ocean became his spiritual thing. This thing that's greater than him that could basically dictate that you're not the end all, be all. You're just a fingernail of this giant organism that's God. It could be the ocean, it could be that lamp, but make your own God if you don't believe in a God. But you have to have some kind of higher power that's greater than yourself to be able to beat yourself, if that makes sense."

Asked if there were times before he went to rehab that he knew there was something wrong and that he had to make a change but didn't, Shannon said: "Yeah, there was many of those things. In fact, I was fired — well, not fired, but threatened to be fired from this band over the last 20 years, three times. And one of my issues, one of many alcoholics' issues with when you get too drunk, you black out. And then when I blacked out, I would do these crazy things and pick fights with way bigger people and all kinds of crazy things. And it was funny because I always attacked the people that were closest to me, the people I loved the most. And that was one of the parts in rehab where, why do I attack the people I love the most? And so it was an inner thing. And they helped me find out why. I'm not gonna tell the world that, but everybody has their issues. And so I think alcoholism, drug addiction, it's all about locating the issue, finding it, destroying it, and then finding your higher power, becoming better, finding happiness within. Pretty simple sounding. Not so simple."

Back in April 2020, Larkin was a guest on a recent episode of his bandmate Sully Erna's Internet show, called "Hometown Sessions". During the chat, the now- 56-year-old drummer was asked how he has dealt with what can be near-crippling anxiety in early recovery. He told Sully: "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 an 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 will embark on the "Vibez Tour" in February 2024. The band is set to deliver a series of intimate evenings featuring acoustic/electric performances and untold stories in theatres across North America. The first leg is scheduled to begin on February 15 in Catoosa, Oklahoma, while the second leg will kick off April 9 in Valley Center, California.

GODSMACK's eighth studio album, "Lighting Up The Sky" was released in February via BMG. The LP was co-produced by Erna and Andrew "Mudrock" Murdock (AVENGED SEVENFOLD, ALICE COOPER).

Photo credit: Chris Bradshaw

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