Godsmack: Music and Words

Godsmack (Republic/Universal)
Sully Erna
Front Man and Author, 'The Paths We Choose'
Friday, May 25, 2007; 12:00 PM

Godsmack has been one of the most popular hard rock bands of the past decade. Each of its four albums, including its smash self-titled 1998 debut and 2006's "IV," achieved platinum status.

Frontman Sully Erna recently wrote "The Paths We Choose," a memoir recounting his life up until Godsmack signed its first record deal. Erna was online Friday, May 25, at Noon ET to take questions on his book, the band's music and the group's performance on Saturday, May 26 at Constitution Hall.

A transcript follows.


Sully Erna: Sully's running a little late. He'll be here in a minute or so...


Sully Erna: Sully will be here in five more minutes, I swear. There's a lot of great questions out here for both the band and the book. He'll get right to them ...


Mt. P, D.C.: How much of your success do you attribute to luck, how much to talent, and how much to hard work?

Sully Erna: Sully here. Most of it is hard work. determination and willpower a lot of it. but there's a bit of luck involved, being in the right place at the right time. but being in the wrong place at the wrong time is more important to acknowledge when it's happening because disappointment is what you'll face over and over again. only the strong survive.


Fairfax, Va.: Hey Sully, I saw Godsmack in Chicago two years ago and you guys killed it. Awesome show.

I was wondering, I saw a video recently of Godsmack playing a gig for the troops at Camp Pendleton recently. What was that experience like? It had to be cool playing for all the troops like that, especially the Marines. That had to be a hell of an experience to play that show for that crowd.

P.S. Godsmack is huge where I went to college, up at Holy Cross in good ol Worcester. Stop by Irish Times sometime, and I'll buy you a beer!


Sully Erna: it was an awesome experience playing for our troops. anytime we have experience to play for armed forces is a way to give back to what they give to us for fighting to our country, and it didn't hurt to get on stage with Ted nugget either!


Stafford, Va.: Sully

Want to compliment you on your talent as a musician. Is there an instrument you don't play well? Saw you last summer in Virginia at the Nissan Pavilion. What amazed the crowd and me the most was your drum off (most motivating part of the show)with your regular drummer. Who came up with the idea, and is that a difficult performance to put together and maintain?

Thanks and keep cranking out the albums and hits!

Sully Erna: Thanks for the compliment and the only thing I haven't tried yet is the hand flute. the drum off is something we've always done, but started with me just using a few percussion instruments and when Shannon joined, brining out two full blown drum sets and expanding it to what it is today. it's gotten tweaked over time. we always try to reinvent ourselves and change it up a little.


Washington, D.C.: Were you always thinking about writing a book about your early years? What made you want to do it?

Sully Erna: No, writing a book not on my agenda. I stumbled on to it. I would be lonely sometimes on the road, touring so much. Some of the stories became unbelievable to relive through our conversations and I wanted to jot them down as journal entries, but the more I collected stories, the more I organized in order of dates and realized I was creating a book. Then, it became more of what is this book to be about. It's about all these different paths I chose that brought me to where I am today. good or bad, it's what I had to do. hopefully some people can apply them in their own life and when things aren't going well they can pick up the pieces and move on.


Washington, D.C.: What are you guys listening to in the tour bus these days?

Sully Erna: Nothing at all. I watch movies I don't listen to music when I'm offstage. Just saw Smokin' Aces. It was awesome.


Bronx, N.Y.: Big City Markets like New York have abandoned METAL on the radio, College radio stations like WSOU -- Seton Hall need more support to get the music out there ... do you make time for college radio stations like WSOU??

Sully Erna: We make time for any station that wants to interview us. radio has always been part of our success story so we've been loyal to radio more than any other format of music.


Glenarden, Md.: I've loved (and I mean that in a huge, obsessed sort of way; just ask anyone I know) your band since the beginning yet I haven't had an opportunity to go to at least one of your shows! I can't even come this Saturday because I have to work and I didn't know about the concert until three days ago. But, when's the next time you'll be in the D.C. metro area and when are you starting on your next album?

Sully Erna: Sorry you can't make it. Eventually we'll be back. Coming up on 10th anniversary so wer'e going to take some time off to enjoy our lives a little. No schedule right now to work on new record, but will release something really special for our 10 year anniversary.


Falls Church, Va. : C. Maloof claims she was never a nun and ends her Amazon review of your book this way: "So, alas, Sully, we knew you when, and we aren't buying the 9-year-old bad guy thing."


Sully Erna: Obviously, she doesn't remember me oh that well. And if she wasn't a nun, she certainly held the wooden ruler like a samurai sword... seems she's already forgotten the day I sprained that young boy's neck in the schoolyard.


Fairfax, Va.: Do you think "American Idol" and other similar shows cheapen music, since people don't have to work as hard to earn their success?

Sully Erna: I feel that getting the record deal is only the beginning of the battle, and if shows like that are created to find the diamonds in the sand, then I think it's a great thing for these people to have the opportunity to be noticed and judged by America. But getting the record deal is just the beginning of the work process, there's more work to do than before you're signed. All in all, it's just great entertainment -- especially the auditions, it's my favorite part.


20415: What is the show length looking like for the current tour? About the same as the arena tour last fall, or will there be some changes? I'm guessing the pyro is staying in storage on this trip.

Sully Erna: Yep, pyro staying in storage. Show length varies because we never know what we're going to do. Sometimes it's the same, sometimes it's different.


Bethesda, Md.: Sully --

Is your book about battling your own demons?


Sully Erna: It's more about releasing my demons. I've already battled them enough. This was about getting rid of stuff I've felt guilty about for years and wanted to heal myself. Sometimes you can't change the past, this was a form of therapy for me. It enabled me to move on, and close that chapter in my life.


Arizona Bay, Ariz.: Who'd win in a fight your band or the rock gods from Tool?

Sully Erna: Musically, maybe Tool, but physically we'd whip their asses.


Harrisburg, Pa.: I received the advice that if one really wants to be in a band, it is good to learn how become a skillful drummer. Supposedly that is the hardest instrument for bands to find, especially since fewer parents allow their children to get drums. Based on what you have seen, is it easy for drummers to find work?

Sully Erna: It's not too hard because everybody is looking for great drummer. But it's hard for drummers to figure out what band they want to play in. It's important to keep playing so if it means in the meantime you have to join something not your cup of tea, roll with it to stay in practice and in shape until you find a band that is right for you or start a band that is right with the style of music you want to play.


Midland, Mich.: Just want to say as an older listener to rock and metal heavy rock(52), yours is one of the few bands I consistently enjoy. Keep up the good work.

Sully Erna: Thank you.


Silver Spring, Md.: Is the military still using your music in its recruiting materials? Have you noticed any continuing effects on your album and concert ticket sales as a result of your partnership?

Sully Erna: Yes, the U.S. Navy still uses our music in its recruit materials, and I'm not sure if that results in higher attendance in live shows as a result. But we always see soldiers at our shows and we always take time to hang with them and take pictures. Whatever we can do to show our gratitude.


Rockville, Md.: Are you playing in the WSOP Main Event this year? I can't remember if it was last year or the year before when you went really far. Was that a whole lot of luck? Or do you play regularly?

Sully Erna: I've taken the time off to be available to play this year. I'm not 100 percent sure yet, but so far it looks good. As far as luck, 80 percent of poker is luck. But I practice poker more than I play music.


20008: Have you battled addictions to alcohol/drugs? I'm asking because I'm wondering if this is part of the subject matter of your book. I just bought your book.

Sully Erna: I haven't done drugs since I was in my early 20s...I occasionally drink, but I've put a lid on the wild party days. I have a five-year-old daughter now. Difficult to have the energy for her with a hangover.


Washington, D.C.: Are you in D.C. right now? Going to do any touristy stuff? It's a pretty busy weekend around here.

Sully Erna: I'm not in DC right now. I'm on my way to Connecticut. Will be in DC tomorrow, but I've been in DC a thousand times so I don't think I'll be doing the touristy thing.


Washington, D.C.: Sully,

Your band is still talked about on the Opie and Anthony show to this day. Ten or so years ago one of their interns came in with your CD and said "these guys are the next big thing in metal" and Opie smashed your CD to pieces right in front of him. Are you familiar with that story and have you guys been back on O and A since?

Sully Erna: We haven't done the show in a long time, but they were definitely the first people to play the record. We remain good friends with them. Thanks for taking the time out to chat with me for a little while, keep an eye on to find out future tour dates and keep your eyes open for something special at the end of this year for our 10 year anniversary. Thanks for being a part of the Godsmack family. Everyone else in the band says hi. See ya on the road.




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