Talking to GODSMACK about what they use they use their music for [Arthur, 2006]

Godsmack are a millionaire hard rock band who have sold millions of records in the last eight years. Their fourth album, “IV,” was released on April 25, 2006. It sold 211,000 copies in its first week in the USA to debut at Number One on the Billboard chart.

Several weeks previous, I had been solicited by Godsmack’s record label and publicist for press coverage. Ken Phillips, the band’s publicist told me on May 3, after the interview had been conducted, that he had “assumed that it would be a feature about the new cd, tour and what the band has been doing since the last release.” The latter is all that I was able to discuss with Godsmack frontman/lyricist/producer Sully Erna on Monday, May 1 by telephone before he hung up on me mid-sentence, and refused to answer any further questions over the following days.

Here is the full transcript of our conversation. — Jay Babcock (Editor, ARTHUR Magazine)

Feature article published in Arthur No. 23 (July 2006)

(Initial audio digitizing courtesy Bobby Tamkin!)

JAY BABCOCK of Arthur Magazine: Alright let me get the tape rolling here. How you doing?

SULLY ERNA of Godsmack: I’m good!

JAY: How was the Jimmy Kimmel show on Friday? You were outside playing, right?

SULLY: Yeah it’s always cool to do that because it’s so set up for musicians, you know. Big stage, live crowd. It’s not so like indoors with a camera rehearsals. It’s a lot easier.

JAY: Yeah. So you got to be back out in front of your fans.

SULLY: Yeah. It was good. It was fun.

JAY: What kind of people listen to your music, do you think?

SULLY: Ummm, I’ve seen ’em range as young as 8 and as old as 68. [chuckles]

JAY: Yup.

SULLY: So it’s…

JAY: Well, you’ve seen a lot more of ’em than I have, and I’m trying to get an idea of what it feels like when you’re out there–to you, on the stage. Do you think there’s a lot of teenagers in the audience? A lot of guys in their 20s? Chicks?

SULLY: Ah you know…

JAY: Is it a dude audience?

SULLY: I would say, if I had to guess what our age group is, it’s probably between 18 and 40.

JAY: Oh yeah?

SULLY: I would have to say that’s kind of where we’re at, maybe more, majority would be 18-30? But I, we definitely, we recruited a lot of new fans off of that acoustic record…

JAY: That did it, huh?

SULLY: …an older audience. And this record seems to be drawing in a different kind of audience as well, so. You know we’re just trying to continue to expand and not have a ceiling over our heads.

JAY: Right. You guys are still having a good time making music after all these years?

SULLY: Of course. We’re musicians, that’s what we do. It may not always be great music, but we love making it! [laughs]

JAY: Cuz music has a power…?

SULLY: Mmm hmm. It’s a universal language.

JAY: So what you say with it, and what you do with it, has an effect…?

SULLY: Of course.

JAY: Right?

SULLY: [emphatically] Of course.

JAY: So I notice you guys have been really involved with promoting the military. [1]

SULLY: Well, they actually came to us, believe it or not. Somebody in the Navy loves this band, because they used “Awake” for three years and then they came to us and re-upped the contract for another three years for “Sick of Life.” So, I don’t know. They just feel like that music, [laughs] someone in that place thinks that the music is very motivating for recruit commercials I guess. And hey, I’m an American boy so it’s not… I’m proud of it.

JAY: You’re proud of recruiting your fans into the military?

SULLY: Well, no. [laughs, then playfully] Don’t be turning my fucking words around, you!

JAY: Well, tell me what you mean. You said your music is powerful, it’s got an effect, like you said, and you’re letting the military use it. The military, who are they recruiting? 18-to-30-year-olds, right?

SULLY: I guess. I don’t know what their recruit age is. I know it’s at least 18.

JAY: Yeah, they do down in the high schools now.

SULLY: My thing is… Listen, here’s my thing with the military. I’m not saying our government is perfect. Because I know that we make some mistakes and we do shitty things BUT, BUT. You wouldn’t have your job, and we wouldn’t have our lives, if we weren’t out there protecting this country so we could lead a free life. So there’s kind of a ying and a yang to that. Sometimes it’s not always the best choices that we make, or we stick our noses in other people’s shit, but at the same time, we protect this place enough that we’re able to like pursue careers and do what a lot of people in other countries aren’t able to do. They’re kind of picked and they’re chosen to be whatever they become. I’m proud to be an American, I’ll tell you that.

JAY: So your country, right or wrong?

SULLY: Uh, no. Not right or wrong. But I’m proud to be an American. I love my country. I’ve seen the depressions and how people live in other countries and how they’re told what to be, and they don’t have the choices that we have. I do love that about our country. So, you know… And I actually sympathize with a lot of the soliders, and the military in general, that are trained to go out and protect FOR us, and what they have to go through, it’s really kind of shitty in a sense that these young kids have to go over there and die, sometimes, for something that isn’t our fucking problem. And that kind of sucks. So what I have to do is at least support them, because they don’t have the choice that we do.

JAY: They don’t have the choice because…?

SULLY: Because they’ve decided to fight for our country.

JAY: And they decided to do that because…?

SULLY: [laughs]…

JAY: Of your song…?

SULLY: Aw, come on. It’s not like that.

JAY: Well I have a quote from you here: “We’ve always been supportive of our country and our president, whereas a lot of people I thought” — and you said this in 2003, to MTV News, you said — “a lot of people I thought lashed out pretty quickly at what we did and I thought the government did everything pretty cleanly and publicly as possible.” [2]

SULLY: Yeah?

JAY: Well, what are you talking about?

SULLY: That was my opinion at the time. The whole war thing, and trying to keep us up to date like… If you remember, back in other wars, we didn’t have the opportunity to follow it through the media, and CNN, and the news, live updates and that kind of thing. And I thought that for the most part you know we were allowed to follow it as best we could through the media sources that were feeding us information.

JAY: [incredulous] You didn’t think the media was being controlled by the military?

SULLY: Well, it could be. I don’t know.

JAY: You didn’t look into it?

SULLY: Listen. Are you a fucking government expert?

JAY: I’m not telling people to go join the military and then not knowing what the military is doing.

SULLY: I don’t tell people to go join the military!!

JAY: You don’t think using your songs—the POWER of your music, which you were talking about—has an effect on the people that hear it when it goes with the visuals that the best P.R. people in the world use?

SULLY: Oh man, are you like one of those guys that agrees with some kid that fuckin’ tied a noose around his neck because Judas Priest lyrics told him to?

JAY: You were telling me how powerful your music was, and what age the people are that listen to it, and you must have thought, ‘Well the Navy sure thought it was useful,’ so you tell me.

SULLY: Hey, listen. The Navy thought… It’s the same reason why wrestlers work out to the music, and extreme motorcross riders listen to the music and do what they do. It’s ENERGETIC music. It’s very ATHLETIC. People feel that they get an adrenaline rush out of it or whatever, so, it goes with whatever’s an extreme situation. But I doubt very seriously that a kid is going to join the Marines or the US Navy because he heard Godsmack as the underlying bed music in the commercial. They’re gonna go and join the Navy because they want to jump out of helicopters and fuckin’ shoot people! Or protect the country or whatever it is, and look at the cool infra-red goggles.

JAY: You said to MTV, “We’re not a very political band but we’re supportive of the U.S. military and how they approach things.” [2]

SULLY: Listen. Someone turned that around. I never said “and how they approach things.”

JAY: Okay. So that’s a misquote. Or something–

SULLY [interrupting]: Wow, what?

JAY: What about this? In 2003 you did a show that started with video footage of Apache helicopters”honing in on a desert target interspersed with the words ‘We will prevail…Stronger than them all.”

SULLY: Say that again?

JAY: I’m reading from a Boston Globe review of a show you did at the Tweeter Center.

SULLY: Yeah.

JAY: In front of 13,000 people on May 22, 2003.

SULLY: Yeah, but tell me what it said again.

JAY: Yes sir. It said “Godsmack’s ferociously high energy 90-minute set started with video footage of Apache helicopters honing in on a desert target, interspersed with the words ‘We will prevail…Stronger than them all.” [3]

SULLY: Yeah…?

JAY: So you’re using military imagery with your music at your concerts?

SULLY: First of all, it was a COMPUTER image, a computer-animated helicopter that didn’t… There was no scene of a desert in there. It was a helicopter that rose up from the screen and scanned the audience. It was an EFFECT. And then it shot out missiles that hit the stage.

JAY: Uh huh…

SULLY: Because the intro to “Straight Out of Line” has the sounds of like, a war thing going on.

JAY [trying to decide if Sully is dissembling or just obtuse]: Oh I see. So it’s just sort of a concept thing. [pause] Well, you’ve done a lot to help out the guys who are in the military, who are stuck there now, whether they chose to be there or they got hoodwinked into being there. For whatever reason, they’re in the military. And they’re doing their job. You guys did a show for them at Camp Pendleton–


JAY: –called “Rockin’ the Corps.” And so you’ve been doing a lot of benefit shows…

SULLY: [interrupting] Well, like I said, Listen you know, there’s a lot of young kids that die for our country, man, and they don’t have the choice once they’re in there.

JAY: That’s right.

SULLY: So I just feel well you know whatever we can do to say “thank you for protecting our country” is what we try to do. I’m not trying to make this a big political issue.

JAY: Okay. Have you done anything to prevent people from joining the military?


JAY: To maybe educate them as to what’s in store for them?

SULLY: I don’t have enough education in the military to educate them in anything.

JAY: Would you let your music be used for anti-military recruiting advertisements?

SULLY: I don’t know, I’d have to see what that was about.

JAY: But you’d be open to it?

SULLY: We’re open to whatever, as long as it’s not a Maybelline commercial.

JAY: [laughs] Maybelline’s more offensive than the military…?

SULLY: No. That doesn’t quite go with what we do.

JAY: But the military does?

SULLY: Listen. Where are we going with this thing? Is this interview about the government–

JAY: Well, I’ve never seen such a pro-military–

SULLY: Sounds like this is a personal attack or whatever.

JAY: Well I’ve never seen such a pro-military band as you guys. [4]

SULLY: But we’re not! I think [chuckling] you’re making us out to be a little bit more. When we’re asked about something, we just answer the question. We don’t go spend 23 hours out of our day supporting the military and what they do.

JAY: Um hmm.

SULLY: We just simply, an opportunity came up, they wanted to use some music for a recruit commercial. What are we gonna say, no?

JAY: Yeah. How hard is it to say ‘no’?

SULLY: Why would we, though?!?

JAY: Because…

SULLY [interrupting]: Is it because you don’t feel the same way about the government that we do, makes you right and us wrong?

JAY: Yeah. What do you feel about the government? Tell me what–

SULLY: Aw, that’s crazy, man! That’s just an OPINION.

JAY: I can back my opinion up from here to tomorrow if you would like to talk to me all day long.

SULLY: Well obviously you’ve done a lot of research and you’ve–

JAY [interrupting]: That’s right, because–

SULLY: –got a different opinion. We don’t know that stuff that you know, so–

JAY [impatient]: Why don’t you do some research before you get involved with these sorts of things? You’re talking about young kids’ lives. You’re talking about kids–

SULLY: [yelling] Would you rather not have us be protected so they can come and overrun our country?!?

JAY: Do you know what a “fool’s errand” is?

SULLY: I’m asking you a question!

JAY: No one is threatening–

SULLY [interrupting]: Would you rather us not be protected?!?

JAY: You know what I’d like, Sully? A Department of Defense, not a Department of Offense that attacks other countries — sovereign nations — who do things in a different way than us, who we have no right to go over and invade and change their governments. Would we want someone else to do that to us?

SULLY: I’m not saying —

JAY [interrupting]: How hard is that to think about?

SULLY: I’m not saying that we were right on every war that we’ve created. I know that we’ve been damn wrong at times about stuff–

JAY [interrupting]: When have we been wrong?

SULLY: [yelling] but they have also been wrong too!

JAY: When have —

SULLY [interrupting]: I don’t trust someone like fuckin’ Sadaam and Osama to come in here and try to control–

JAY: [interrupting, incredulous] When did Sadaam try to come in here and control our country?


JAY: Why am I here?!? This is the top country in the world, my friend!

SULLY: Well, why do you think so? Because it’s PROTECTED.

JAY: No, it’s not because it’s–

SULLY [interrupting]: –ruled our country.

JAY: No one is attacking us, my friend. Certainly not Iraq. Every first world nation suffers terrorist attacks. Get used to it.

SULLY: I am used to it. I don’t have a problem–

JAY: Get used to it.

SULLY: [laughs] Sounds like you do.

JAY: You’re the one that’s saying it’s alright to not know about stuff and then to send other people to die in our name.

SULLY: I never said that! Don’t put fuckin’ words in my mouth.

JAY: I’ve got it on tape, bro.

SULLY: You’ve “got it on tape, bro”?!?

JAY: Yeah.

SULLY: You got me saying it’s okay for us to attack other countries?

JAY: I got you on tape saying they’re protecting us by attacking, by going over there and taking out people.

SULLY: Listen, don’t fuckin’ turn my words around to make it to what you want it to be! That’s not what I meant and you know that.

JAY: Okay I’m sorry. Then tell me what you meant.

SULLY: Listen, I’m not gonna get into a political fuckin’ conversation with you. This was supposed to be an interview about the band. Where is this going?

JAY: We’re talking about the power of your music and what you’re using it for.

SULLY: What is this for anyway? Who are you working with?

JAY: I’m working for my own magazine, my friend.

SULLY: What’s it called?

JAY: [laughing in disbelief] What do you mean, what’s it called? Are you serious?

SULLY: Yeah, what’s the magazine called?

JAY: It’s called Arthur Magazine. You guys are the ones that set this up.

SULLY: Hey I was just told to do press today, man.

JAY: Hey man, you guys–

SULLY: I got a checklist in front of me, and I don’t have time for a lot of this bullshit.

JAY: Oh yeah?

SULLY: So write whatever the fuck you wanna write, because your magazine obviously is that popular.

JAY: It’s doing pretty good…

SULLY [interrupting]: Yeah I’m sure it is. All three thousand copies of it… [5]

JAY: On our own, without any corporate support.

SULLY: I wish you the best of– Why would you waste your time calling a band like us when you don’t even give a fuck?!?

JAY: I certainly do “give a fuck.” Cuz you know what?

SULLY: What is this about?!?

JAY: Because listen man! You know there’s 2,800 people, my brothers and sisters, have died over in Iraq?

SULLY: Yeah?

JAY: You know 30,000 Iraqi humans WHO NEVER DID SHIT TO US have died because of the attacks we’ve made over there? [6]

SULLY: [in disbelief] And that’s Godsmack’s fault?

JAY: Did you know that 78% of women in the military report cases of sexual harassment? [7]

SULLY: [sarcastic] And that’s Godsmack’s fault.

JAY: No, man–

SULLY [interrupting, sarcastic]: That has to do with our new record.

JAY: Okay, let’s talk about your new record.

SULLY: I can’t believe this. This is [inaud]

JAY: Let’s talk about that new record, my friend.

SULLY: Get a life. [hangs up]

JAY: Let’s talk about the new album…


Regarding the nature of the questions that were put to Sully: it was determined by what’s unique about this band, which is their public pro-military, pro-war stance and the extent of their involvement with US military recruiting campaigns. They’ve spoken about this stuff in public before, so there was no reason for me to think that they wouldn’t be willing to speak about it again. Thus, the interview.

After Sully hung up on me, I called back. The band’s publicist, Ken Phillips, told me that Sully had emerged from the room shouting at the top of his lungs, and he wasn’t sure if he could get him back on the phone with me so that we could talk about the album, Wicca, karma — all interests of Sully’s — that I had hoped to explore. Two days later I was told by Phillips that there would be no further interviewing and the band would rather the feature not run.


Who knows? Perhaps it’s the way Sully characterizes people who join the military as guys who want to jump out of helicopters and shoot people and use infrared goggles. That doesn’t really jibe well with them being “brave souls” or honorable freedom-protecting people, does it?

Perhaps it has to do with Sully’s attitude towards the Navy’s recruiting efforts. Essentially he is saying that the Navy wasted their money by licensing Godsmack music for their advertisements, since the music has no influence/impact — none, zero — on the viewers.

And so on.

I suppose to a degree it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, but… lives are on the line. People need to be held accountable. I’ve been trying to interview this band since 2003. I finally got my chance. It’s stimulated a ton of discussion — check out’s various threads, or the number of blogs and rock news sites that are now picking this up, or the comments below, or the endless barrage of juvenile hatemail we’ve been receiving — and it’s embarrassed the band into silence on the issue, which is better than the jingoism they’d been spouting previously.

Finally: Please keep in mind that Sully is a MILLIONAIRE living in a comfortable life. His band is using their music to help recruit poor, under-educated, foolish, impressionable kids into the military at a time of worthless, pointless war, the consequences of which we — all of us — will be feeling for the rest of our lives. If he doesn’t care to discuss this — all of this — he shouldn’t do interviews… especially with anti-war publications.


1. from MARCH 7 – 13, 2003 LA WEEKLY:

“Selling War: How the military’s ad campaign gets inside the heads of recruits” by Greg Goldin
The Navy’s tweaking of this theme is “Accelerate Your Life,” which promises
“adventure, travel, career, patriotism, technology, education, honor.” Set to
music from the band Godsmack, a voice-over intones, “If someone wrote a book
about your life, would anyone want to read it?”

2. from06.19.2003 – MTV.COM–<
While Metallica, Ozzy, Audioslave and others travel America, the Boston band will head oversees where the touring circuit isn’t quite as crowded. “We zig when they zag,” frontman Sully Erna said at Saturday’s KROQ Weenie Roast.
…They’ll return to the States for a headlining tour in the fall, which like the current outing will offer $10 tickets to U.S. soldiers.
…”We’ve always been supportive of our country and our president and stuff like
that, whereas a lot of people, I thought, lashed out pretty quickly at what we
did, and I thought the government did everything pretty cleanly and publicly as
possible,” Erna explained. “We have a lot of respect for the military and stuff
like that, and we just wanted to give them something back for what they did for
us, letting us live in a free country and that kind of thing. We’re not a very
political band, but we are supportive of the U.S. military and how they approach

3. from,2003,05,0000018118 – May 26, 2003
Steve Morse of the Boston Globe reviewed Godsmack’s homecoming concert at theTweeter Center on Thursday (May 22) before a crowd of 13,000. A large part of that crowd – 2,000 to be exact – were members of the military who had bought $10 tickets in the reserved section on the lawn. Godsmack have taken a pro-military stance this spring, and they loaned their song “Awake” for use in a Navy recruitment ad. Godsmack’s ferociously high-energy, 90-minute show started with video footage of Apache helicopters honing in on a desert target, interspersed with the words, ”We will prevail … stronger than them all.

From Godsmack fan:
“The show was May 23, 2003. I know, I was there. The video did have a military theme. Besides the helicopter there was images of fighter jets, stealths, and troops. Also not only did the words ‘WE WILL PREVAIL./STRONGER THAN THEM ALL.’ appear on the screen so did ‘UNITED WE STAND.’ “

From another Godsmack fan:
“Here is the EXACT way I saw the show start in 2003:
[digital video text starts]
[something about being in this time]
We, as Americans citizens, need to unite
Supporting our troops, our country, our freedom.
And, in the end, we will prevail and remain….
Stronger than all!!!!
[end digital text]
[pictures of a tank, jet fighters, troops jumping out of transports & out of helicopters fully armed, another fighter dropping bombs, bomb exploding on the ground, more bombs exploding, helicopters taking off]
[Shannon starts drum intro to Straight Out of Line]
[Helicopter in video shoots missles and pyro explodes on stage like the missles hit there]
[song starts]”

4. MTV News – Fat Joe, 3 Doors Down, Godsmack Speak Out About War In Iraq – JANUARY 22, 2003

“Unfortunately, there were some really bad things that happened [involving the Middle East], and I think if we don’t cut out the cancer while it’s still young, then it’s gonna grow to be this entity that we may not be able to defend ourselves against,” Godsmack frontman Sully Erna said. “I applaud the government and President Bush for doing what they’re doing, and I think our military are some of the bravest souls, much braver than I could ever be.”

5. Actually, it’s 50,000.

6. Although they have been criticized for grossly under-reporting civilian deaths caused by the initial U.S. bombing campaigns, is probably the best current source on how many Iraqis have been killed during the invasion and US occupation.

7. Source: Department of Defense 1995 Sexual Harassment Survey (Arlington, VA: Defense Manpower Data Center, December 1996) Available online in PDF.





Categories: Arthur No. 23 (July 2006), Jay Babcock | Tags: , , , , | 302 Comments

About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

302 thoughts on “Talking to GODSMACK about what they use they use their music for [Arthur, 2006]

  1. Jay Babcock

    Thank you. I just wonder if they are the first band, other than country-pop bands from the mid-west, to do such a thing. To me, Sully sounds like a bunch of the air heads I went to high school with in Virginia, hiding behind sloagans (Gawd made Adam and Eve Nawt Adam and Steve.) I admire your tenacity in holding people accountable for promoting the ultimate decay of our country through wars without conceivable end. The whole Apache helicopter thing was an interesting, albeit disturbing, detail…It’s what my parents like to call the “fetishization” of violence and death imagery. Good job.


  2. Well done Jay…

    You’ve brought to front a prime example of how many “rockers” have lost their way, and have sold themselves to the media and it’s respective puppeteers. This Sully guy is full-force behind this war, yet he has NO CLUE WHY. He epitomizes the America that votes on objective criteria, but by being lured in by clever, sound bite rhetoric and the sale of fear to the uninformed.

    Anyway, I thought Rock and Roll was SUPPOSED to be anti-establishment? These fuckers seem to be willing to mow the Great Lawn…

    Keep it up! We need a free press wherever we can get it these days!

  3. Wow. “Boys will be boys” enlightenment from Skoobs. Why make the point about their music in the ads so extreme, Skoobs? No, it doesn’t “make” anyone join. But, the music is selected because a target demographic finds it appealing. Thus, by including the music in the ad for the Navy, it makes the Navy product more appealing for the demographic. That’s not rocket science. Now, considering how our military has been and is being used, why take money from such an entity if you don’t really like how they are being used? Why be part of the equation? Sully had every opportunity to explain why he and his band were willing to take the money. But, he just skated around the question quite poorly. I’ve got no probs with the Navy. A significant number of my family are that “upper middle class” in the Navy. But, I’m also a musician with some music to purchase and, at the moment, there’s not a chance in hell I’d license it to the Navy, just as I wouldn’t license it to a tobacco company. And, if I did, my
    answer would be simple: “I needed the money. I don’t care what other companies or entities do in that sense since it’s not my business. I’m just a musician trying to make the most of it. If you’d like to license my music for an ad for your magazine, call me.” But, this fool Sully couldn’t even do that. It’s tabboo to be in a hard music band and admit to being a whore. But, it’s also bad to adopt a position since fanbases of corporate pollished formula music are fickle at best. Sully looked like a fool because he refused to admit he was a musician trying to earn a living and willing to take any money that comes his way and, at the same time, refused to really take a position on politics or war even though he’s using war and dumb pro-war slogans in his own stage show. To hell with him. Only the most loyal fans will continue to see these guys as anything more than flavor of the month hacks until the new cute whore comes along.

  4. You know what I hear from 18 yr olds all the time is “I‚Äôm 18 I’m an adult now I want to make my own decisions.” And they are right 18 is the age of majority. We have an all volunteer Armed Services and all who join make that decision as an adult. Your bullshit about people having no choice is patently absurd. I on the other hand was drafted in 1970…..I had no choice.

    You should try that crap on me sometime…I’d hand you your ass punk.

  5. Why are the people against this interview obsessed with homosexuals? If I am against the war why must I suck cock? Hmmm. Seems these are the same people who watch big, sweaty men wrestle on t.v. and don’t realize who is really gay.

  6. Too bad there’s already a band named “Tool,” eh?

    Never trust a band that derived their name and sound from a single Alice in Chains song.

  7. Having been the singer for many bands and having known many front-men in my time I can make one statement with certainty… “The majority of lead singers are not brain surgeons”! Does this give them a free pass on a social and political awareness… No. On the other hand when the load of your waking hours are spent trying to make it to your next gig, playing that gig or bullshitting through phone interviews and the bulk of your down time is spent either sleeping, getting fucked up and fucking groupies, I can understand that their isn’t a lot of time for awareness on a wide variety of subjects. I would cut them some slack (albeit very little) on the lending of their music to military recruitment ads… It was most likely pitched to the band as “Supporting the troops is a fucking great idea guys” by their money grubbing record label.

  8. The recruiting thing was a contract for which they recieved payment. Sully was proud that they’d decided to renew the contract. Fair enough.

    But artists are responsible for their own actions. Neil Young took responsibility for his decision to release “Impeach the President”, the Dixie Chicks didn’t back down over the heat generated by Natalie Main’s comments regarding Emporer Bush.

    Sully and Godsmack should suck it up and do the same.

    If they have the stones for it, that is.

  9. My band is anti-military recruiting, not rich at all, and we’d really dig doing an interview (we won’
    t hang up on you, and we can all converse at an above-kindergarden level!) –

    And who are these clucks that don’t understand marketing? Look at your big, gas-guzzling silly truck sitting in your driveway. Do you need it? No. Did you buy it because the commercials made it look and sound cool? Yes, yes you did (and maybe because you have a small penis, but that’s a topic for another day). And the background music, whether you know it or not, contributed to your buying that truck. This is called MARKETING, you simpletons. We do it to you all the time (in fact, the reason your truck was so expensive is that the cost of buying that song to put in the commerical gets passed on to you, the consumer), and you’re too dumb to avoid it. It’s why you drink Coors. It’s why the Navy wanted this horrible band’s music to help justify it’s horrible little war. If you can’t understand that, enjoy your job at 7-11. It’s the way this country you claim to love works.

  10. It’s really interesting to me to see that, as far as these comments go, those who support this journalist and this interview mostly write intelligent, thoughful answers.

    And the others write “Go live in Iraq, fag.”

    I guess they are the bottom 31% who still support Bush. The dumb ones.

  11. Godsmack have always sucked ass. Now they’re sucking ass from Bush’s puckering ring. Ask those rich boys if any of their family members are in Iraq. My cousin came back disallusioned and frightened. Any of my friends with family members over there are scared shitless for them. I would NEVER promote sending young American’s over there to die for CORPORATE OIL!!!!!!!!!! Get real.

  12. the Dixie Chicks didn’t back down over the heat generated by Natalie Main’s comments regarding Emporer Bush.

    Well, except for her official apology and then going on Dianne Sawyer and crying like a pre-teen girl or going on Bill Maher and begging people to attend a free anti-Bush concert the weekend before the election because they couldn’t sell out a 3,000 seat arena, I guess you’re right.

  13. Awesome interview! Any capitalist asshole who is willing to sell out to the military damn well better be able to back that shit up – and this spoiled, chickenhawk little crybaby failed miserably. Wah wah wah, Sully. Godsmack sucks anyway, it’s so obvious they’re only in it for the money.

    Jay, I wish you were writing for a major media outlet (not that I don’t love Arthur) – but I’m imagining what your interview with Cheney or Bush would be like, and salivating. 🙂

  14. JB, you are one sorry bag of shit. I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire. If one of your democratic assbag family or friends were killed by some communist, third world fucking scab, you’re cum guzzlin’ ass would be ready to lace up the boots of war. As a veteran, an American and a fan of rock and roll I say fuck you, get on a boat bitch. EVERY MAN OR WOMEN WHO JOINS THE MILITARY KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT IS IN STORE. They are patriots, heroes and so above your sorry fucking lame ass.

  15. Brilliant and ballsy as all hell. It was a little painful to see such unpreparedness for such an intelligent assault but damn did he need it. It’s not trite in the least to address the music involved for recruitment – in fact it’s downright odd that such a big name band with a fully formed fan base would allow their music to be used for government propaganda. I have my own favorite bands, and I could imagine how impactful it might be to hear one’s favorite song put to such “heroic” visuals. I always cringe at those ads on TV, at the movies, everywhere you go – sugar coating the idea of war into some sort of necessary stage in life for maturity and self worth. The implications are on the verge of being a sneer, an insult to those not enlisted, that they are somehow not living up to their potential, and are lazy, selfish cowards for not joining up and subsequently getting shipped off to war. It’s crap. And to be a musician promoting these things without even having a developed, educated opinion on the situation as a whole is downright repugnant. Bravo and thank you.

  16. it’s not like i had to read this to know godsmack were idiots. but it’s nice to have my suspicions confirmed.

    to those who want to attack the interviewer:
    band promotion 101 – know what to expect before the interview. know who you’re talking to and anticipate what they might ask. if the interview veers off in a direction you didn’t expect, don’t answer, and reschedule the rest of the interview for another time – or don’t reschedule at all. arthur mag isn’t fluff. merely a 10-second flip through the pages could tell you that.

    funny that a ‘pro-military’ band couldn’t anticipate an ambush. as is the case with most of these angry white boy bands, it’s all chest-puffing until they get their feelings hurt. then they want to cry on someone’s shoulder.

    for those out there that want to say ‘the band is just trying to make money’:
    yes, but most people you will ask agree that “profit at any cost” (or “profit at we haven’t even thought about the cost”) is a bad policy. clearly in his answers sully wasn’t able to defend or justify what they were doing. because he didn’t have a direct response like, ‘godsmack fully support the u.s. military and the mission in iraq, and you will kindly move on to the next topic of discussion,’ he came off like a totally unprepared idiot who hadn’t considered anything but ‘where’s our paycheck’. you’ll find a lot of people don’t like that attitude. generally when you’re in a position of celebrity, people like to know not only WHAT you stand for, but WHY you stand for it. sully couldn’t satisfy either one with his mangled responses.

  17. >> “JB, you are one sorry bag of shit. I wouldn‚Äôt piss on you if you were on fire.”

    Wow, this argument is rumbling on and the Godsmack contingent are still at a loss for insults. Poor.

    >> “If one of your democratic assbag family or friends”

    Democratic is an insult as well now? I thought the fight for democracy was what Iraq was all about? “Freenum-an-Mockrasee” as the Great White Ape usually has it. Anyway, that’s confused me; pass.

    >> “were killed by some communist”

    Ah yes, the old Commie slur. A bit last century don’t you think? Would these putative Commies really come gunning for all us ass-wipe pencil-neck lefties first? Aren’t we secretly on their side or something? Confusion again.

    >> “third world fucking scab”

    A third world “fucking” scab… Fucking as verb or adjective here? Maybe you meant “fucking third world scab”? And which ones are the scabs, by the way, it’s hard to tell? Those loser countries are all the same, aren’t they?

    >> “you‚Äôre”

    Er, it’s “your”. Bad grammar and spelling is really letting the Godsmack side down here.

    >> “cum guzzlin‚Äô ass”

    The gay thing again. Godsmack fans are really worried about the gays, aren’t they? Frightened, even. Why is that, I wonder?

    >> “would be ready to lace up the boots of war.”

    You mean like the 9/11 Families at who campaign against the war? “Democratics” and Commies, obviously… How about Iraq Veterans Against the War then?

    >> “As a veteran, an American and a fan of rock and roll I say fuck you, get on a boat bitch.”

    Spoken like a true pimp.


    Just like that autistic kid they were happy to sign up, right?

    >> “They are patriots, heroes and so above your sorry fucking lame ass.”

    “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Samuel Johnson, 1775.

    Over and out.

  18. Barry Smolin pointed me to this page. Loved the interview transcript, and THANK YOU for getting in this guy’s face. I wonder if he learned anything from the encounter.

  19. Natalie’s apology: “As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect,” Maines said in her latest statement.”

    Wow, really groveling there, RW, you’re righter than a right-hand turn. Mind the callus building up on that hand.

    Now, I’d refer you to the Chicks latest release.

    Not backing down.

    And John C, let’s not diss pimps. They’re poets compared to the Godsmack apologists. And it is Hard out there for a pimp…

  20. I’m glad Godsmack’s doing their part to rid the United States of Godsmack fans by recruiting them into the military. I hope they all step on landmines that blow off their testicles so they won’t impregnate some obese military housewife who’ll just end up giving birth to a deformed baby that they’ll blame on Saddam’s chemical weapons (when we all know it was from depleted uranium courtesy of the United States).

    ps FUCK THE TROOPS, you’re not even protecting yourselves very well, let alone the United States! You’re raping Iraqis in Abu Ghraib and you want us to SUPPORT YOU for it? Don’t ask me for any spare change when you’re homeless because we know what’s really going on over there and we have the pictures to prove it!

  21. Great interview.
    I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a clear statement of intent from a band who feeds off military imagery and even returns the favor.

    However, their pro-war decision comes off to me as more of a capitalistic choice than anything. The kids love war movies so it sells well, and Godsmack just saw a lot of money coming their way for using their music in pro-war ads.

    I doubt they ever really thought through what they were doing and the consequences of it. It’s not a matter of “kids are going to enlist and die anyway, it’s not our fault”, it’s about making a statement that you’re supporting that kind of thing.
    Everyone supports the troops, but there’s a fine line between appreciating that someone fights for your country, and helping the military create domestic propaganda.

    That being said, the balance of power was clearly unfairly tipped in Jay’s favor because Sully had no idea what he was talking about or what the military actually does, outside of what he’s seen in Saving Private Ryan.

    Despite the pro-war public image of the band, Sully had no military training, didn’t know anything about it, and was clearly a member of the apathetic majority who do not have a concept of the Iraq war more refined than “Saddam was bad”.

    Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

  22. Ok Jay. You want to play hardball with Godsmack? You keep printing shit like this and you are going to get thosands of letters and hatemail saying worse than what I’m about to. Just because the marines choose to use a Godsmack song in their ads, doesn’t mean that anyone who hears it is going to want to jump off their asses and join the army. I am only 16. but I have heard that commercial hundreds of times. I think you need to stop trying to make them look bad and listen to the lyrics of ‘Awake’. It doesn’t have anything to do with the marines or army. So to leave you with a small thought, stop making snap decisions about people you don’t even know because you want to make yourself look good. In the end, you will only end up looking like a dumbass.

  23. I don’t think anyone is arguing, as some people have supposed, that hearing a Godsmack song “makes” people enlist for the Armed Forces, but corporations (and armies) certainly pay money for advertising material which they think will grant their product the strongest image. Judging by the fact that the Navy renewed their license after three years, Godsmack’s music must be doing its job and helping to create positive associations with enlistment.

    Artists who contract with government organizations, and socially active organizations at large, should be responsible for investigating the politics of those groups. I think that insofar as Godsmack have shirked that responsibility, this does make them war profiteers.

    I don’t believe that Sully is being misrepresented as badly as some would make out. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, he clearly is continuing to turn a profit from a military engaged in a war which no longer satisfies his conscience.

    Where I think this interview goes wrong is when (a couple of lines after footnote #4) Babcock introduces the distinction of right and wrong, and the advantage of being able to “back up” one’s opinions amounts to being absolutely right. After that, the interview descends into bickering and obviously becomes an opportunity for Babcock to satisfy a vendetta (especially conspicuous since he’s been trying to interview Godsmack for three years). His goal of holding Godsmack accountable for their business decisions is accomplished, and then quickly eclipsed by a senseless shouting match.

    As a few people have already noted in their comments, much of this interview operates on the same principles employed by conservative pundits. Anti-war journalism/activism should strive to convince and implore its audience through their understanding, not villainize and degrade people who support the war. This piece aims at the right target but it isn’t the kind of writing that’s going to inspire real change. The fact that it comes from an independent/underground publication makes it doubly disappointing.

  24. this is fucking rediculous. ive been a godsmack fan since the first album. one of my 2 favorite songs are ‘awake’ and ‘sick of life’ and ive seen those commercials. am i in the navy…no, and if u did join the military because of a fucking song you are a fucking moron, just like this fuckin guy Jay. i was at the show in Mansfield not Boston, at the Tweeter Center. i didnt see anything sayin hey join the army and die for your country. all it was trying to say is, support the guys over in Iraq. and another thing, the whole thing wrong with this is the fucking people that join the military for free college. then when they get there they find out you really do have to put your life on the line. so to end this, its not Godsmacks fault people go over to the military, its the people that really do want to put there life on the line for there country, OR its those who are just looking for free college, and those who are that dumb to look at the navy commercials and say ‘OH MY GOD GODSMACK IN A NAVY COMMERCIAL, MUST OBEY MUST JOIN NAVY’ give me a fucking break.

  25. if i saw jay babcock in person i would hit his ass in the face. arthur magizine is a sad excuse for a perodical. And for anyone to talk to sully like that is just fucked up. Jay BABcock is a sorry excuse for a journalist, failing to produce an adequate interview.And for patronising a public figure like sully. i myself am aganst the war in iraq! BUT SULLY

  26. good piece. it’s not without its problems, but jay managed to make me laugh and make a few good points here and there, so overall it’s a thumbs up.

    one thing i felt he didn’t address enough was the fact that the song in question is called “sick of life”, which is pretty troubling (no matter what the lyrical content was, probably bitching about how adults just don’t understand) from a purely PR-minded standpoint. if the navy must use popular music in their commercials they should at least pick something with a less “interesting” title.

    some handy tips for war/godsmack fans who didn’t like the interview (everyone else seems to have a handle on things, and more importantly, valid criticisms):

    don’t actually read Arthur. that way you’ll be completely ignorant of the context.

    point out that jay and sully simply have differing opinions. because most people think opinions can have no truth value, it’s a good way of avoiding an actual debate.

    suggest that the Arthur staff leave the country–because in times like these, there isn’t anything America needs more than yes-men; all others need not apply! besides, Ezra Pound did it, and he was pretty cool.

    when in doubt, your opponent is always gay.

    finally, and most usefully, the guy has COCK in his name! think of the hilarious possibilities…

  27. Nice to see all the morons who don’t understand what a strawman fallacy is…try again suckheads.

    BTW, nice interview.

  28. This was the dumbest fucking interview I have ever seenin my god damn life. Why don’t you put on a uniform head to Iraq and have a bullet placed through your fucking head? Dumb fuckers. There was nothing to proove through this interview aside from the fact that this magazine is disrespectful. Piss on it. Get the fuck out of my country you coward heap of shit.

  29. although jay’s sneaky, agenda ridden, tactics are quite questionable you have to give him credit for being one of the few people to stand up and actually try to make some noise during this time of one of the worst administrations in US history. how many times do we have to read about George Bush’s failures then find that nothing is being done about it? nobody is held accountable. there are plenty of powerful people in this country that are maddened by george bush but do nothing about it. at least jay is stirring the pot and bringing some attention to the fact that our country’s biggest exports and most popular people are in fact the most clueless, uninformed and money hungry without any notion of the amount of people they are influencing. this whole thing really has nothing to do with godsmack.

  30. Maybe it’s unfair for Jay Babcock to ambush an unsuspecting musician in an interview. On the other hand, maybe a band that sells its songs to military should brush up on its facts. But for me, it’s just nice to see the nerds get over on the jocks, old-school John Hughs stylee. I personally don’t believe that Godsmack makes kids join the military. But I do think Sully’s unwillingness to actually defend himself – to want to be sensitive and hawkish at the same time – is super lame, and it’s funny to see him exposed as a moron and a hypocrite. Jay clearly has no problem being characterized as a liberal and even as an opportunist in this instance – Any Means Necessary, my friend – whereas Sully clearly doesn’t know what he believes or where he stands. And he’s not some confused kid. He’s clearly a big, fat, rich dummy. Jay isn’t playing fair, I agree. But it’s funny to read.

  31. jay that was a really ass hole thing to do to sully, he talked on a phone interview with u to talk about how the bands albumn has been doing and what new wth concerts and their lives not the battles in iraq, i really dont care if you get this message or not but honestly i think u need to get your head out of your ass and realize that music is somthing people listen to and enjoy and sing to, it dosent matter if it has curse words or is used in a military commercial that doesnt mean people are going to go to war that way their not going to kill themselves for that their going to listen to music because it sounds good to them and makes them want to listen to it again. people dont sigh up for the military thinking that its going to be easy.people sign up for the military looking to make a difference, better themselves, and work hard. thats just common sense, you dont need research to know that. people learn in schools about wars and such, this battle in iraq and those countries compares nothing to WW1 or WW@ or even veitnam for that matter but you know what we never started any of those wars, we may have finished them but never started the mand when we finished those wars we help millions of people and many countries, millions of people die, yes i wont forget that, but they died in somthing we tried to stop that some other country started. i dont support our government but when uyou learn things like this and sypathize with the people who died you get a feeling of what it means to go into war, war sucks but people go into it because they want to, not because of music or commercials, they do it because they care. so heres this message if u ever get it…

  32. excellent – what a great way to start a saturday morning. godsmack are a bunch of talentless, fascist jackasses and deserved this beating.

    keep up the good work.

  33. HEy godsmack music didn’t promote me to join the navy, my family and the rtaining i am going to get got me to join. this news media guy is a fucking prick who needs to interview some small town people who live with what they got and don’t make 6-7 digit figures by athe end of the year. i love my country and that 1 reason why i am joining sowm damn godsmack song. i love godsmack music, it’s not poltical so why make a politcak issue about a damn song.

  34. Hey Babcock, you IDIOT!!! I enlisted in the US Navy 20 years ago before Godsmack was around!!!! Hell for all I know you were probably still in diapers!!! Let me tell you and all your little bullshit liberal friends something…YOU ARE WELCOME!!! I put my life on the line for the last 20 years and fought in TWO WARS so you can sit there and pontificate like the little liberal coward you are!!! You make me sick you worthless waste of space. You know what? I am inviting you and all your little wimp-ass liberal friends to come down here to Virginia Beach and talk your smack. You can come right to my house in Virginia Beach. I will take GREAT PLEASURE in adjusting your fucking wimp attitude. HOW DARE YOU CALL ME “poor, under-educated, foolish, impressionable kids”. Screw you and your goddamned magazine yyou little pussy wimp.

  35. if i saw jay babcock in person i would hit his ass in the face.

    if i saw jay babcock in person i would hit his ass in the face.

    if i saw jay babcock in person i would hit his ass in the face.

  36. Bravo Jay! Completely brilliant. Thank you for your courage. We’re behind you 100%. This is just great.

    I love reading the numerous responses calling you names, telling you to leave the country, and threatening to beat you up. When all else fails and their ignorance is exposed, what else can they do but turn to violence? ‘You just come down here and I’ll beat your ass!’ Yeah, that’s the solution. Beat him up! That’ll teach him to mess with Sully!

    It is startling how many people in this country just stop evolving after a certain point. It is disturbing and distressing, and I wonder sometimes if there is any hope at all to reach them. How does anyone actually get through to someone who is completely unaware and just doesn’t have the capacity to understand some of these basic concepts? I don’t quite know, but I guess we need to keep trying.

    I also find it amazing that so many people have such a hard time connecting the dots in regards to media manipulation, advertising campaigns and the general power of music. How can somebody not see that using a Godsmack song in a commercial for military recruiting does, in fact, profoundly influence the situation? I mean, is it actually possible that some people are just that incapable of putting it together? It is hard to believe, but apparently it is true. There is an overwhelming amount of ignorance that prevails in this country today.

    Jay, hopefully your efforts will expose some of this ignorance. You’ve clearly begun a nationwide discussion on the issue, and maybe, just maybe, some people will actually wake up and start thinking. We can only hope.

    Thank you,
    Steve Nalepa

  37. wow. what waste of space. you are obviously one ignorant moron uncapable of conducting a decent interview. i’m glad sully handed you your ass. now maybe you can take that ass and take it from behind like the real fag you are.

  38. handed him his ass? did you even read the article? whether you agree with him or not, there’s absolutely no way you can say mr. erna did a good job of defending himself.

  39. Jon, I think you have the most accurate interpretation of this little interview. Maybe Babcock is part badger…..

  40. The critics here are really obsessed with asses, aren’t they? Asses and “fags”. Curious. Easier to yell abuse than have a debate, isn’t it?

    “No ad ever made someone join the military”. That’ll be true for the most part (unless you do a survey, you don’t know) but that’s not what Jay was saying so criticising him on the point is redundant. The argument here is whether Godsmack’s music makes joining the military seem more attractive to kids; none of the “Ass! Fag! Kill!” crowd seem to have adequately addressed this. An easy way to resolve the matter would be to run exactly the same ad that used Godsmack’s music next a similar one with John Lennon singing “Give peace a chance” and another with The Muppets singing “Mana mana”. Which ad would be most likely to make a bored teen most interested in a military career do you think?

  41. Listen Sully Erna didn’t do anything wrong when he sold his song to the Military. Lots of people have done the same thing in the past! And this idiot is going to attack him for playing “Stand Alone” at Camp Pendelton. I suppose if Bob Hope were alive you would ambush him on the golf course and call him a “commie”! What kind of crap was that? My husband was in the military, my father was in the military and my nephew was in the military! They all knew what they were signing up for… a shitty life! Well guess what lots of Americans have shitty lives or people like you wouldn’t have something to bitch about! Why don’t you go bitch at president Bush who had the worst presidency ever recorded in the first “80 days” rather than attack Wiccan Rock Musicians who are just trying to earn a fucking living! Why attack the military who would try to save your ass if someone came here fucking dropping planes out of the sky again. I was against the war in Iraq, my husband lost his job thanks to our piss poor relations with Germany and other European countries and guess what it has absolutely fucking zilch to do with Godsmack! You are a little prick with an unsatisfying life that obviously has to attack people like Sully Erna out of envy so that you feel better. Do you know shit about the military? Have you ever served? You think because you read a bunch of statistics you know something? Pick up any statistics book and they all tell you the same thing… statisticians lie! Listen to something he said rather than twisting it… Get a life!

    Angel (not!)

  42. greetings.

    whoa. this sure is a tangled knot. i think most of you are missing the point; the interview was to find out the impactinfluence of music on recruiting. the interviewee was not saying that the song makes people join solely because of the song, but it obviously does something. would an Ad be as successful with no music, simply silent? I think not. instead of tossing pejoratives and empty swear words, simply look at the issue at hand. the way in which music an advertisement fuels something in the listener is the real topic of discussion. the same thing happens in movies, music is brought in at a certain time to evoke a specific response…if you take this music out, the response would most likely be completely different. just think about the next time you see a commercialadvertisement what exactly is luring you in. just as brightcolorful images pull the viewer in, so too does song. a plain piece of paper for enrollment into the armynavy is not going to receive as many recruits as one with flashing lights and raucous songs. if there were no recruiters, would there be as many recruits?

  43. I am in the military right now and currantly deployed. I think that interview was complete bullshit and totally personal. Godsmack is not a pro-military band and they are not an anti-military band. They just keep pumping out #1 records and living it up. Whats wrong with that? There is absolutly nothing wrong with selling your music. Godsmack doesn’t have to be in 100% agreement with who they’re selling it to. Its called “rights”, and they have the right to do whatever they want with they’re music. You had no right to attack him just because they are trying to let people like me know that we’re not alone over here and that we are over here for a reason. Those are the things that keep me “us” going over here. Godsmack is a talanted solid band whom which i’ve been listening to since I heard there first album “All Wound Up” before they were even signed. They’re music did not influence me to join the military. I joined to get a free education. I think it was totally unproffessional for you to ambush Sully like that. He has been going through enough shit lately with his personal. The last thing he need was to be blind-sided deliberatly. Now I know the kind a people Sully was talking about when he wrote “I Fucking Hate You”. You could definatly expect to find a song about you on the next one.


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