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I'm doing the best I ever did. Whatever.
Just over a year ago, Godsmack was still New England's best kept,
a local band with a raw, surging sound and a rabid hometown
following. That was then. Over the course of the past fourteen
months, they've toured the world, set the record for most weeks
on Billboard's active rock chart, sold over a million copies of
their self-titled debut, garnered four Boston Music Award
nomination, and appeared on Late Night With Conan O'Brien.
Rolling Stone described GODSMACK as hard as nails and cranked
to eleven while Alternative Press praised the band for its
churning, riff-driven hybrid of all that is heavy, past and
present. Of the album, Guitar World wrote, Godsmack's debut
is a no-thrills, no-nonsense dose of hard, brooding rock which,
despite its low budget, sounds totally awesome and champions
substance over flesh. In other words, the secret's out.Says vocalist
Sully Erna, Sometimes the four of us look at each other in
disbelief...all this stuff is almost too good to be true. When we
heard the album had gone platinum, we were in shock. Up until that
point, we were still trying to comprehend the fact that it has
gone gold. With the self-titled debut, GODSMACK
(Erna, guitarist
Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Tommy Stewart)
emerged fully formed and burning rubber, their success fueled by
the adrenaline-charged blast of lead single Whatever. Last
September, the quartet cemented their place in the record books
after Whatever spend more than a year on the Billboard Active
Rock Chart. The song also holds the record on the same chart for
most weeks spent in the Top 10
(32 weeks). At one point, the band
achieved another milestone by having two songs in the Top 10 of
Billboard Monitor's Active Rock Chart - simultaneously - as
Whatever was joined by the album's blistering second single
Keep Away. No wonder they won the Boston Music Award for
Debut Album of the Year. GODSMACK toured relentlessly in support
of the record, playing to bigger crowds with each passing gig.
In addition to a plethora of club shows, the band gave electrifying
performances at both Ozzfest and Woodstock '99 followed by a tour
opening for the legendary Black Sabbath. The guys in Black Sabbath
have been really good to us says Sully. One day during the Ozzfest
tour, I was kidding around with
(Sabbath guitarist) Tony Iommi and
said My favorite song is Heaven and Hell .... you have to play it.
He said that Ozzy wasn't into it, so I jokingly answered 'Well,
I'll sing it.' Two days later he called my bluff, asking me to sing
the song with them during their soundcheck. Although I was really
nervous, I got up there and fronted Sabbath. That was huge - talk
about the dream of a lifetime. We did Woodstock right after and that
was just as amazing. To see 100,000 people going nuts like that blew
us away. We were totally overwhelmed. That was probably the most fun
we've ever had onstage. GODSMACK's rapid rise through the rock ranks
can be traced back to Boston's New Alliance Studios in 1996. With money
borrowed from a friend, the band recorded their debut album in just
three days for a bargain basement price of $2,500. Hoping to break even,
they peddled the disc to local retail chain, Newbury Comics, the only
outlet that agreed to carry the album. Shortly thereafter, Rocko, a disc
jockey at local radio station WAAF embraced the song Keep Away and
began spinning the track on his weekly evening program. Meanwhile, the
band was performing regularly on the Boston club scene and soon drew
the attention of Paul Geary, a long-time friend of Sully's and former
drummer and manager of the group Extreme, who signed the band to his
management company, PGM. Before long, airplay increased dramatically
with several other New England stations on board spinning Whatever,
and sales grew at a staggering rate.Says Sully, We had been selling
maybe 50 copies a month at the time WAAF picked up the album. All of
a sudden we started moving over a thousand records a week. It was
insane. Even crazier, I was doing all this from my bedroom. After years
of grinding away, things finally started taking off. Accordingly to
Sully, when the blistering disc became the #2 hottest selling album at
Newbury Comics, the industry sat up and took notice asking Who is this
unsigned band that's outselling our artists? After meeting with several
interested labels, GODSMACK chose to sign with Republic Records in July
1998.Sully, who played drums for the now defunct STRIP MIND, formed
GODSMACK in 1995, with friend/bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Tommy
Stewart, solidifying the lineup shortly thereafter with the addition of
guitarist Tony Rombola. Throughout the album, Sully sings about the
emotional extremes that often shadow people with intense lifestyles.
Timebomb addresses the day-to-day pressures and frustrations that
life often dished out, Immune is about urban vampires who suck the
identities from their victims by emulating their fashion sense and
behavior patterns and Voodoo is based on the bizarre film epic The
Serpent and the Rainbow. There are a lot of emotional highs and lows
in my songs, but they're genuine emotions says Sully, I seem to do
my best writing when I'm down. For me, writing is a release of energy.
In addition to channeling his energies through GODSMACK's aggressive
music, he channels that energy via more spiritual paths as well. He is
a practicing Witch of the Celtic Religion
(WICCA) under Salem Witch
Laurie Cabot, and he continues to weave the Wiccan arts and rituals into
the fabric of his daily life. It's been my salvation, he says candidly.
A lot of people are confused about witchcraft, it's simply about
worshipping the power of the earth, and that's it! It's a positive
religion that has helped me through a lot of bad times. As for the
future, Sully says the band plans to head into the studio early next
year, hoping to have a finished record out by the middle of 2000. In
the meantime, they'll continue to spread the GODSMACK gospel, including
an end of year European tour with Black Sabbath. This has been an
unbelievable year for us says the vocalist. We've been working so hard
that we almost didn't notice what was happening. It' sonly when we look
back that we realize what we've accomplished. To be honest, we couldn't
have written this story any better.

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