I had the absolute honor of chatting with Shannon Larkin and Brian Carpenter of The Apocalypse Blues Revue. Their excitement about this new band is so infectious, you can’t help but be excited with them.
Shockwave Magazine: So how did you guys get together, how long have you been doing this, and what’s the whole background behind The Apocalypse Blues Revue?
Shannon Larkin: Well, I play with Tony in another band, Godsmack, and we got done writing the Oracle record and Tony and I live in Florida, and Sully and Robby live up north in Boston. We write separately, and so Tony and I had gotten done all of our rock/metal stuff, and we have a whole bunch of songs to present for the next record. We just started jamming one day and I had never heard Tony play blues like that, and Godsmack’s a whole different animal. I was blown away by my own guitar player that I’ve played with for 10 years, so I was like, I’m starting a blues band. So I had met Ray, our singer, in a biker bar and we grew friendly from riding Harleys around, ya know what I mean? And as our friendship grew, he invited me over to his house one night and he said he had wrote this song and when he started playing it and I heard his voice, I was like “Uh oh” so I went to Tony and said, “Hey man, this dude,” who had never been in a band, our singer, and he was 63 at the time. He’s a white haired Adonis. When I heard his voice it reminded me of Morrison from The Doors and I was like “Oh my God.” That’s what I wanted for this. So I went to Tony and we had demo’d three songs at the time, so I said to him, “Hey man, we gotta call this dude, he’s never been in a band.” Tony said, “\Yeah, call him up.” So I called Ray and I said “Hey man, so you know, we’re looking for a singer for Tony and I for this blues project we wanna start.” Then Ray goes “Yeah, I know a couple dudes.” And I go, “No! I want you Man!” So he was like, “What? I’ve never been in a band!” I told him don’t worry about it, and he came over and I said, “I got the lyrics and melodies, just sing. I like your voice.” So he came over, sang one song, and we’re like, “You want in the band?” There were no other auditions.
I was doing a local club thing called ‘Shannon Larkin Presents: The Building of the Band.’ We were trying to build this band, so we had a competition basically bass players one night, then drummers, singers, guitarists and we were gonna put this band together locally and ya know, get em’ on the radio. And he (Brian) won the bass player night. Brian came and there was not even a question. Everybody looked at each other and were like, “Yup, Brian wins.” So then that thing didn’t really happen, and Brian got in Blackfoot — Ricky Medlocke’s Blackfoot. So fast forward a year and a half or so, and I was like “Dude, ya know I’m in Godsmack and you’re in Blackfoot. There’s no reason you can’t come and play in Blue Cross,” –what we were called at the time. And so Brian came over and the first jam we did, we were like, “You wanna be in our band?” And it was, again, no auditions for anybody else, so it kind of happened really organically.
From there, we just started playing locally, some local blues bars in Florida, and things got serious with the same radio station. A DJ called and said there was a festival called Fort Rock, and I think Disturbed was headlining. It was a metal show, but he was like, “We need a first band on the stage. To do it though, you have to go and give me a song to play on the radio.” And so we went in and recorded one song and they played that before we did the show. Then we did the show, and then I sent this on to my manager, Godsmack’s manager, and the day he got the song, he called me and said, “Hey man, tomorrow I have a meeting with Provogue Records,” which is a blues label that has Walter Trout, Robben Ford, Gov’t Mule, all these killer blues bands. He was going in for a different project, but was like “Do you want me to play the one song for them and see what they think?” I was like, “Sure, go ahead.” He called me three days later and said we’ve got a deal on the table. And we thought, wow, now it’s real.
And then it turned out that there was a Blue Cross in Texas that was a Christian rock band and a Blue Cross in Canada that was a goth band, so we had to change the name. I was in rehab at the time and my guitar player called and said — cause my nickname is Apocalypse. Joey Jordison from Slipknot gave me that name when I was on tour with them years ago. He’d be like, oh no here comes the apocalypse at the party, I’m all wasted — “Hey man, what about The Apolcalypse Blues Band? I was like, “That’s cool.” But I didn’t like ‘band’ because so many bands are called The Allman Brothers Band, and that. So we thought of Revue from the Blues Brothers, like Blues Brothers Revue, Revival, whatever. So that’s how that all happened and before we knew it we were in the studio and we took nine days to record the whole record, and it was a short budget, a small blues label. Now, it came out two weeks ago or something and here we are, in a band. One van, two crew, four band members, and infinite possibilities,
So you guys just did the first show of a small Northeast tour, is that correct? Last night was the first show. How’d that go?
Shannon: Last night was the first show. It was great! It was in Tony’s old stomping grounds so a lot of familiar faces and a lot of Godsmack fans. We did good in a club, and it was a smoke filled bar just like we like it. It wasn’t sold out or anything like that, but it was a good energy. It was a great way to dip our feet in the shallow end.
Are you guys looking forward to seeing anyone else today?
Shannon: Fuckin’ Chevy Metal man! I know Tay man, I can’t wait to see Taylor. And I love Skindred. They’re playing right before us on this stage. Benji is a hell of a singer. Those are the two that stick out.
Brian Carpenter: I’m an Alice in Chains guy so, yeah, I love those guys.
Shannon: You gotta understand, we drove from New Hampshire last night and we left around 1:30am after the gig and drove here and got here at 9am, and got in the room and wanted to shower and there was not a shower. Wanted to sleep, no sleep except for van sleep, but we’re so high on the energy, and we love this fucking band. So, it’s gonna be a great day.
What does the future hold for you guys since you are both in other bands?
Shannon: Well Brian is no longer in Blackfoot.
Brian: Yeah I had to read the schedule and this is just a way better situation.
Shannon: That was it, scheduling. It’s as simple as that. We are going to tour. Godsmack doesn’t fire back up until next summer, and that’s to write, so while Godsmack’s writing, we usually write like Tony and I write, Sully and Robby write then we all get together. So even then, we can continue to play. So until next summer, The Apocalypse Blues Revue will be on the road. In Europe hopefully in November. Blues rock does really well in Europe, by the way. Our label is bigger over there. And so we’re hoping to get on some better tours. We’d like to go out and open for people because we’re trying to get in front of a totally different fan base than the Godsmack die-hards. And this is not a side project, this is a second band that Tony and I are in. Our singer Sully has his second solo album come out September 30th and he’s gonna tour on that in Europe extensively. And Godsmack is really healthy, by the way. We’re all bros and we’ve been together for 20 years almost now, so everything is good in the ‘Smack camp in case anybody cares.
I’m sure there are a lot of people who care!
Shannon: But we can do both and everybody is ok with everything. We have a good six to seven months to really tour this. We understand, like were not fucking jaded rockstars or anything who think that the world is going to be given to us. We’re gonna have to re-pay our dues and we’re prepared. Started last night with that hell ride in the van.
Brian: Yeah it did (laughing).
Shannon: So we’re gonna pays these dues, baby, and it’s on!
This has been so cool. If you guys have anything else you’d like to share, feel free.
Shannon: Yeah, check out the record! You know, its blues rock, so it still rocks. We do still have some traditional blues in our music but for the most part it’s just pretty original and our singer is fantastic. And to hear Tony Rombola play, oh my god. If you’re a Godsmack fan, you’ve never heard our boy play like this. In blues rock, the most important thing is the lead guitar. That’s what drives the whole genre. Tony is exceptionally great, I can’t say enough.
Thanks for taking the time to hang with us! I’m looking forward to seeing you in a bit.
Shannon: Thank YOU so much for talking to us.
It was truly so cool to sit and chat with these guys. This is only the beginning for them. Keep an eye out for more info on upcoming tours and all other things Apocalypse Blues.