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Backstage With Disturbed and Godsmack at Rockstar Mayhem Festival

Charles Epting

The Rockstar Mayhem Festival is currently carving its path across North America, raising some musical hell wherever the tents get pitched and the stages get built.

Leading the furious assault in this summer’s edition are Disturbed and Godsmack. Along with Megadeth, Machine Head and a couple of others, they’re headlining the main stage – and with good reason.

Since forming in 1996, Disturbed has sold 13 million albums worldwide, making them one of the biggest metal bands on earth. Beyond the numbers though, Disturbed’s ferocious wall of metal sound and pyrotechnic stage show are what brought thousands of fans out to the opening show in San Bernardino, California.

But it wasn’t always this way for the current superstars of metal. As Disturbed drummer Mike Wengren told Noisecreep not long before taking the stage, he fondly remembers the early days.

Watch ‘Down With the Sickness’ from Disturbed live at Mayhem Festival

“First of all, the first day of a tour is exciting. The anticipation building up to the tour, that’s what it’s all about. This is it. We like to hit the crowd running. No half assed show – no half assed anything. But it’s really awesome to meet younger bands. Summer festivals are what we grew up on and developed as a band. To be the big dogs and to close the show out is great. The vibe of all the bands is great. Lots of camaraderie. We’ve been around for so long when the new bands come up, we like to meet them, hang out, and bring them back to the bus. Our very first Ozzfest, I remember like it was yesterday, in 2000, we were the first band to go on that day in West Palm Beach, Florida. 10 in the morning, doors open that same time so when we hot the first note, all we see are security guys with their backs to us. By the end of the first song three thousands kids had come in.

“We rotated that year on a small stage. It’s how you pay your dues. Pantera was one of the headliners that year. We were huge fans of theirs and if they didn’t want to pay attention to us that would have been cool, they were like Gods to us. But they had barbecues in the parking lots. They had us back to their dressing room on the bus. It was all about beings bros and having a good time. And we’ve always tried to carry that same tradition on the road.

“We’ve seen some guys do it the wrong way and some guys do it right. But we learned from Anthrax. This is music, it’s supposed to be fun. So we make it fun, especially for the new guys.”

Charles Epting

Godsmack is also no stranger to big time touring. On the strength of three consecutive number one albums, 19 top ten radio hits and sales of over 17 million, Godsmack, like Disturbed, has earned their spot in the limelight. But like their co-headliners, they also never forgot where they came from.

Drummer Shannon Larkin (who shared that he’s just finishing a new Ugly Kid Joe album) mingled backstage with whomever felt like talking to him, from fans to other bands.

As he told Noisecreep, being on the road is, above all, a chance to have some fun. “I’m calling this our ‘Drummerfest’” he laughed. “Look at all the amazing drummers on this tour. I’m so looking forward to seeing Dave McClain from Machine Head, Mike from Disturbed, Nick from Trivium – I’ll be doing lots of wandering and watching. Also, I don’t get a chance to hear as much hardcore and metal as I used to, I’m listening a lot to John Bonham and Neil Peart thee days. But on the road on a tour like this is my chance to get back into it.”

Charles Epting

Larkin said that no matter how big Godsmack ever got, camaraderie on the road, especially with a tour this large, is key. “We’ve all got to get along out here,” he said. “We’re all together in this, you know? And part of our job as a veteran band is to pass along what we know to the younger guys. Then they’ll take it from there.”

Interrupted by a loud Dethklok soundcheck next door, Larkin laughed. “Listen that. Man, you’ve just gotta love this.”

Mayhem tour dates:
7/19 — Verizon Wireless Amphitheater — Maryland Heights, MO
7/20 — Riverbend Music Center — Cincinnati, OH
7/22 — Comcast Center — Mansfield, MA
7/23 — Parc Jean-Drapeau — (Heavy MTL) — Montreal, QC /www.heavymtl.com
7/24 — Comcast Theater — Hartford, CT
7/27 — PNC Bank Arts Center — Holmdel, NJ
7/29 — First Niagara Pavilion — Burgettstown, PA
7/30 — Jiffy Lube Live — Bristow, VA
7/31 — Susquehanna Bank Center — Camden, NJ
8/2 — Virginia Beach Amphitheater — Virginia Beach, VA
8/3 — Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek — Raleigh, NC
8/5 — First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre — Tinley Park, IL
8/6 — DTE Energy Music Theatre — Clarkston, MI
8/7 — Verizon Wireless Music Center — Noblesville, IN
8/9 — Zoo Amphitheatre — Oklahoma City, OK
8/10 – Gexa Energy Pavilion — Dallas, TX
8/12 — Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood — Atlanta, GA
8/13 — 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre — Tampa, FL
8/14 — Cruzan Amphitheatre — West Palm Beach, FL

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