PUBLISHED IN THE KW RECORD Thursday, June 17
By Nick Krewen
For The Record
TONY ROMBOLO can't believe his luck.
Rombolo used to hold down a day job in his native Boston, until the day he got a call asking him to become the full-time guitarist in GODSMACK, the hard-hitting hybrid of BLACK SABBATH grit and METALLICA attitude.
" I used to be a carpenter, and my days consisted of sweating my balls off and smashing my finger with a hammer," Rombolo recalls. "Now I get to play guitar, smoke pot, travel around and have a ball. My life has changed from A to Z."
As it has for the rest of Godsmack, which consists of singer and songwriter SULLY ERNA, bassist ROBBIE MERRILL and drummer TOMMY STEWART. Three years ago, Godsmack was a pipe dream, a local band hoping to draw some major label attention with a demo recorded on the cheap.
"Recording it was $2600. We had to press up 1000 copies and spend a little money on artwork, so it probably cost $5000 all told," says Rombolo.
It turned out to be a glorious investment. Godsmack's rapidly rising star has transformed the self-titled album into a gold mine, as the band has already hit the half-million sales mark south of the border thanks to two solid tunes, the seemingly nonchalant "Whatever" and the current radio hit "Keep Away."
Godsmack, who play The Lyric Tuesday with female rockers DRAIN STH and APARTMENT 26, is currently on the Ozzfest tour, will perform at Woodstock at the end of July, and then will join their heroes Black Sabbath for three weeks in Europe.
Rombolo admits there's no shortage of astonishment at how far Godsmack: The Album has taken them.
"It's certainly surprised us," says Rombolo. "We basically recorded it as a demo to get record company interest. That was the initial idea behind the CD. But I guess it came out so good that they didn't bother changing it."
When you think of the money Godsmack is pulling down at probably $2 - $3 per CD x 500,000 copies, you might think that band members wouldn't have to work again. However, Rombolo says they aren't on easy street yet.
"I wouldn't say we're wealthy," says Rombolo. "But I'm doing all right. I'm all set to tour for awhile and take care of my girlfriend at home. And I just bought a new Harley."
In fact, he and Erna are taking their Harleys on the road with them.
"That's so we have something to do," says Rombolo. "We found that during gigging there's a lot of downtime. So it'll be perfect. We'll go riding around in the towns that we'll play."
While they're revving up their bikes, people are also crediting Godsmack with revving up interest in hard rock, especially since its death knell was pronounced, yet again, with the recent passing of the grunge movement.
"I think it'll never go away," says Rombolo. "People will always want the heavy guitars, the big drums, the big rock thing, you know? There might be a little variation to it, but I think people are always going to dig that raw power."
You can certainly feel that raw power in "Whatever". But it seems that "Witchcraft" might be a theme more in line with Sully Erna's thinking. He practices wicca, although Rombolo assures us that he doesn't invoke any spells or hexes during his performances.
"I knew he was a witch when we joined the band, but we never talked about it," Rombolo admits. "I learn about it only through interviews, moreso than just me and him hanging out doing our thing. It isn't something he chooses to talk about, just through people interviewing him who are curious about it."
Maybe Erna could use a little magic to ensure their next recording studio deal could be as sweet as their last one. Tony Rombolo says it costs them $24 an hour studio time to record Godsmack.
"It was our first time in the studio, so the guy gave us a good deal," he laughs. "I'm sure we couldn't do that now. I'm sure he'd ask for a little more dough."
1998 -- Godsmack
2000 -- Various Artists, Any Given Sunday
WHO: GODSMACK with Drain STH and Apartment 26
WHERE: The Lyric
WHEN: Tuesday, June 22, 8:00 p.m.
©1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink
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