Godsmack’s Sully Erna Talks ’1000hp’ Album, Reconnecting With the Band + More
The fans have waited while Godsmack took some well-deserved time off, but the time has finally come for a new album. Frontman Sully Erna took some time to speak with ‘Loudwire Nights’ host Full Metal Jackie about the ’1000hp’ album, and he also got into reconnecting with his bandmates, finding that musical spark again and the powerful nature of music. Check out Full Metal Jackie’s chat with Sully Erna below.
Loudwire Nights, Full Metal Jackie. We have Sully from Godsmack with us, how you doing?
I’m doing well. Thank you.
Long time coming, we’ve been following you on Facebook, oh so excited about this new record, and we finally have a song to hear. ’1000hp’ is the name of the record that’s coming out Aug. 5. We’re all very excited about it. You had stated that Godsmack had considered disbanding after touring ‘The Oracle.’ What did you and the other guys come to realize about this band that made it worth saving?
Well, just looking back, every band hits their troubled spots. Some bands survive them and some bands don’t. For us it was just exhaustion. We had been touring for 10 years plus and it was tour after tour after album after album. I think we just got to the point where we needed a break. But at that moment, some time apart I went and did a solo project. The other guys were doing their own side projects. After so many years you just start, questioning, do you want to do it again? Do you want to wrap up yourself in that whole mayhem of the work, living with four guys on the road. The exhaustion of the touring and all that stuff. Being a dad, they have kids. I have a kid. I think it was just more of an illusion of us needing a break more than wanting to split up. But the thoughts definitely crossed our minds because you just wonder if this is what you want to do.
I heard an interview with Tom Hamilton not too long ago from Aerosmith. I remember him saying I realize that music was one of the things I always wanted to do but it’s not everything I’ve wanted to do. I was like, “Ah, there it is.” There are so many other things that I love engaging in, whether it’s acting or I have a tequila company on the side. I’m just doing different projects and they’re all fun in their own way. But after being apart for so long, you start to miss the guys, miss the music. Then when we all got together, we started talking in general before we started working and the general conversation was, I think we realized how special of a project we have here — how grateful we are to have a career to last this long and to be that fortunate to be together. We really do have something special. It was just obvious once we started working together that this is something that we just can’t discontinue and walk away from.
Sully, initially you weren’t too excited to write songs for ’1000hp’ but that changed. What finally got you fired up to make this album?
It’s one of those things. I walked in. They had a handful of songs. We started to get to work. But I wasn’t head over heels blown away with the material that I had written, or they had written. But we knew we had some really strong stuff but it wasn’t until towards the end of the writing cycle that just goofing around.
One of the crew guys went to get us dinner one night, and jokingly I said to Tony, “I’m going to write a song real quick.” We had been working on stuff that we had on our own and brought in. I go, “You know what? We haven’t wrote anything yet, I’m just going to write a song real quick before TC gets back from dinner.” Tony, kidding around, said, “You should make it a real fast riff because he’ll be right back.” So I started playing really fast and then all of a sudden, I was like, “Hold on. I have something going here.” I started hearing the different movements in the chords and it just started to feel like it was coming together. Then all of a sudden, within 90 minutes the whole song kind of wrote itself. That was ’1000hp.’
From that point on, I was like, “Alright, now we’re getting somewhere.” So we kept writing and some really magical songs came about as well that people will hear on the record. But it was that song that turned it all around for me. That’s when I started to get excited. Because it was a little bit fresh, it still had the power of Godsmack but it had a little bit of punk influence to it. It was a little bit faster, louder. And what really became special for me was that the song really became about the history of the band. That was, a pretty proud moment for us. We hadn’t had that song yet and that when we started to reflect on the history. Next year is our 20th anniversary as a band and 16 years on a major label. We were like, “You know what? It’s time to write that kind of song.”
Individually, you and other members of the band used the last several years to expand musically outside of the Godsmack camp. Why is it important for an artist to do that?
For me I feel, especially after having that experience, it’s crucial for an artist to be able to grow. They have to be able to step outside their comfort zone. I think sometimes when you’re uncomfortable, it really does create magical moments. It creates things you normally wouldn’t look for or identify when they happen.
For me, doing the whole ‘Avalon’ project was a blessing. Not only did it open me up creatively and vulnerably, but working with musicians at that level, classically trained musicians who are just tremendous musicians. But their whole thinking process is different. So, to work with cellos and live strings and flutes and keyboards, pianos, hand drumming or whatever. I think people know that I’ve always had that side of me in me since ‘Voodoo.’ It always had that tribal, earthly thing with that — ‘Serenity,’ songs like that. So, for me it was just taking that sound and taking it further down the rabbit hole.
For sure, when I came back to Godsmack, those influences and that experience definitely reflected on some of the new writing. But at the same time we know we need maintain the integrity of Godsmack, the raw toughness of the band and the power. That’s what I think this record really reflects. It’s still a very powerful record. There are definitely some quintessential Godsmack tracks on here. But there are some other songs, textures and colors that I think people will hear that we dove into for the first time since we’ve been a band.
It’s been four years since the last album and 16 years since the first. What makes ’1000hp’ the purest representation of this band?
For one, we found some real magic when we started working with Dave Fortman, our producer. He came on board during ‘The Oracle,’ and that is the first we heard ourselves on a recording as close to how we sound live as possible. I love our other records for different reasons but I think there was a lot of experimenting and searching, fishing for our sound and we did a lot of different kinds of sounds in the past. But the whole mix in general, the production of the album, just never quite represented us like we are live. We used to hear it all the time, that people say man we really love your record, but we love you even more live.
We wanted to capture that energy on a recording, and when we worked with Dave he really brought that out on ‘The Oracle.’ We felt like that was our best sounding record to date, then on this record, now we knew we had bringing Dave back. We knew we were going to get that same quality production and it was just a matter of delivering the material.
Writing and recording music is like oxygen to a musician, more than likely you can’t just shut it off no matter how much you might try. How are the needs that you’ve fulfilled by making music different now compared to past times in your life?
Over the years I’ve just found that I have a responsibility to the fans, my listening audience and myself to be able to get the art out of my body and into the world. Because I really believe, especially again, reflecting back on the ‘Avalon’ project, is really when it made me think, it actually came out before that. It was during the first record.
I received a letter from a fan once just to give you a snapshot of what I mean, where she had went through this awful divorce and the husband got the kids and the house and everything and he really kinda beat her up over this thing, she lost it all. She said she got in his car and she went to go kill herself that day, drive herself off the cliff. I love how she took his car by the way, but I guess he was a Godsmack fan and had the CD in the deck and on her way there she was hysterical. She was tuning into the song ‘Moon Baby’ and for some reason it connected with her lyrically and she pulled the car over to the side of the road, broke down crying, stayed there for four hours or whatever. Then I guess she got in the car and went back home and she went and fought it, hired a lawyer and six months later she won custody of her kids back, the house and the whole thing. It was at that moment when I started realizing that this was more than just me wanting to be a rocker and writing this cool powerful song.
I really opened myself up at that point and poured it into a song and it translated with somebody else far away. I think that’s when I started thinking, not only should I start paying attention and being careful what I say, but just being sensitive to know that this affects people on an emotional level. That’s when I started realizing, that’s my purpose of this. My purpose is to get my message out, because even if that makes someone happy or helps them vent, or it’s therapeutic in some way, then music is such a gift, such a healing therapeutic source of energy that I really think it’s crucial that we embrace music and feed the world with more and more because it really does help people in so many different ways. I think that’s the need for me to continue to do what I do.
Again, the new Godsmack record ’1000hp’ is out Aug. 5. Looking forward to seeing you guys play live, good luck with the release of the this record. Thanks for being on the show.
Thank you, appreciate it.
Our thanks to Godsmack’s Sully Erna for the interview. The band’s title track from the ’1000hp’ album is currently available via iTunes. You can listen to ‘Loudwire Nights’ with host Full Metal Jackie Monday through Friday at 7PM through Midnight on more than 20 stations across America. To find out where you can hear ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.
Listen to Godsmack’s New Single ’1000hp’ Here: