Night of the black attack 4.0

Interview med Sully og Tony fra Godsmack

Godsmack by Claus Ljørring

Der skulle gå 20 år, før Godsmack endelig gæstede landet. Vi fik os en snak med forsangeren Sully Erna og guitarist Tony Rombola, inden bandet gik på scenen. (English below)

I har netop udgivet albummet The Legend Rise. Kan I prøve at forklare titlen?

Sully: Ja altså, gennem årene har vi gennemgået nogle forandringer både individuelt og samlet som band. Og jeg synes, at Legend i virkeligheden handler om at overkomme forhindringer og lægge dem bag sig og rejse sig over dem. Modsat de ting som nogle bands går igennem og bryder med hinanden over og den slags. Så kollektivt som band og endda individuelt i vores liv har vi gennemgået nogle store forandringer på det seneste. Og det er fedt at komme over på den anden side af det. Så det bliver mere en metafor for at genstarte alting, genføde det og komme over der, hvor vi var og komme til et bedre sted igen. Så det er ikke fordi, vi siger, at vi er legender, men mere en metafor for at række ind i sig selv og finde den styrke til at rejse sig over det og forbi det – og det, føler jeg, er hele temaet for albummet. Det er at komme til et nyt sted og genføde bandet og forhåbentligt komme til et nyt niveau.

Er det så derfor, at det er mindre tungt. At lyden er mindre heavy på albummet?

Sully: Er det mindre heavy?

Det synes jeg, at det er! Det er mere som hård rock og…

Sully: Men vi har altid været et hard rockband! Vi har aldrig set os selv som et metalband. Folk har givet os den titel. Vi har altid set os selv som et hard rockband. Og selv hvis du går tilbage til det første album, der havde sange som ”Keep Away”, ”Voodoo” og ”Bad Religion”, så er det ikke rigtigt metal-numre, forstår du? Der har været tidspunkter, hvor vi gik på den line, hvor man er metal. Men jeg synes altid, at vi har været mere til den side med hard rock – ikke klassisk rock men heller ikke rigtigt metal. Vi er lidt i midten, du ved? Så jeg tror, at dette album er en bedre repræsentation af, hvor vi er i vores liv lige nu. For der er nogle stærke sange på albummet, såsom ”Eye Of The Storm” og ”When Legends Rise” – de er store og magtfulde. Og så er der andre ting som ”Bulletproof” og ”Scars”, hvor vi følte, at det var på tide at udvikle vores fanbase lidt mere. Du ved, vi har været i gang i mere end 20 år nu, og nogle af vores fans fra dengang har nu børn, der er 15-16-17 år gamle, og nu opdager de så Godsmack gennem deres forældre. Så... det er hårdt at blive ved med at lave den samme plade igen og igen, og for at overleve og for at være tro mod sig selv – så bliver du nødt til at udvikle dig, mens du gror. Og vi er ikke 25-30 år gamle gutter længere? Det er helt sikkert.

Tony: Jeg kan godt genkende den forskel, du nævner. Noget af det ældre materiale var ”riffier”. Hvor det nye er sange med store omkvæd og melodier. Det er den store forskel, som jeg hører det.

Ja, jeg bruger gerne min kæreste derhjemme til at sammenligne albums, for hun er slet ikke til hard rock eller metal. Men hun kan faktisk godt lide jeres nye album.

Sully: Hvor godt! Det er en bonus!

Så hvad med fremtiden for Godsmack? Nu har I jo et nyt album ude, kan vi forvente flere albums i fremtiden, eller hvor ser I jer selv?

Tony: You know… han har lavet en del country-ting ved siden af.

Sully: Jeg laver ikke noget som helst country! Det er Aaron Lewis (fra Staind red) – det forkerte band! Haha!

Jeg tror, at vi lige nu er fokuserede på at understøtte dette album. Vi skriver altid individuelt og leger med tingene. Tony spiller nærmest på sin guitar 23 timer hver dag. Så vi finder et fedt riff, vi indspiller det, lægger det til side, og når vi så er klar til at starte sammen igen og skrive, så hiver vi alle de her små guldkorn frem og finder ud af, hvad der skal ske. Det tog os lidt tid at finde ud af det her album, hvor vi skulle hen med det. Og når vi er færdige med at skrive og indspille det og turnere med det, så tror jeg sommetider, at man bare har brug for en lille pause fra skriveriet til at nyde det arbejde, som du har lavet på albummet. Og det er lidt der, vi er lige nu, hvor vi er virkelig fokuserede på at blive internationale i så lang tid, som vi kan og vokse i nogle af de lande, hvor vi bliver nødt til at være hyppigere for at få et større publikum. For vi er bagefter i nogle af de her internationale markeder, men det er en helt anden historie. I sidste ende så nyder vi at spille de her sange for vores fans og at arbejde med vores show og scenedesign og sådan noget. Sangskrivningen kommer tilbage, når den er klar, men lige nu er det nok stadig lidt for tidligt til det.

Og det fører os faktisk til det næste spørgsmål. For det er 20 år siden, Godsmack sidst var i Danmark.

Sully: Hva’? 20 år?

Tony: Ja, det første år hvor vi..

Sully: I 1999 på Christiania!

Ja, I varmede op for Corrosion Of Conformity.

Sully: Gjorde vi?

Ja, I spillede på et lille sted kaldet Loppen på Christiania.

Sully: Lignede det en lade? En lade i træ? Og du hejste alt udstyret op gennem gulvet med en *fløjtelyd*. For det er sådan, jeg husker det. Jeg kan ikke huske, at vi varmede op for nogen. Så nogen spillede efter us? Corrosion? Wow.. det vidste jeg slet ikke. Jeg troede, at det var vores show! Hah! Jeg ved, at jeg var high as fuck den aften.

Så nu hvor I er tilbage på Christiania, er der så en grund til, at I valgte det her sted? Har I noget at skulle have sagt på det område, eller er det bare…

Tony: Jeg tror bare, at det dukkede op. Eller i hvert fald at nogen valgte det for os.

Sully: Yeah, vi har ikke rigtigt kontrol over den del. Vi har en agent, der prøver strategisk at placere os der, hvor han mener, at vi skal være for at gøre vores arbejde.

Er der en grund til, at I ikke har turneret så meget i Danmark eller Europa?

Sully: Det er der mange grunde til, men nogle af dem er lange og indviklede at besvare. Men i sidste ende, så har vi har haft en stribe af uheld fra vores første album kom ud og helt op til IV (2006 red.), eller hvornår det nu var, og vi kom her og gjorde vores arbejde. Vi var her med Sabbath, Limp Bizkit og vi var her med Metallica. Vi knoklede og forsøgte at udvide vores fanbase, og reaktionerne var fantastiske, men vi fik ingen støtte fra pladeselskabet. Der var ingen albums i butikkerne, der var ingen presse eller fotografer til koncerterne. Så vi var der og arbejdede, publikum nød det, men der var ikke nogen måde at dokumentere det på og få dem til at huske det på. Og vi kom bare til et punkt, hvor det blev for dyrt for os at blive ved med at betale for det uden nogen støtte, og så blev vi nødt til at stoppe det. Blev nødt til at finde ud af, hvordan vi kunne komme tilbage hertil, og et par år senere skiftede vi management og så var det at… Vi kom tilbage og spillede på nogle festivaler, og vi forsøgte at sætte tingene i gang igen, men så fungerede management-firmaet ikke, så vi blev nødt til at fyre dem. Så nu er vi tilbage hos det originale team, og der er bare så mange ting at tale om og forklare, hvorfor vi ikke har været her så meget, som vi gerne ville. Men jeg kan love jer det her: bandet har ikke ønsket sig noget mere end at være lige så succesfulde her og i Australien, Japan og alle andre steder, som vi er det i USA.

Så nu har vi endelig genopbygget teamet, vi har en ny plade på pladeselskabet nu, og det var den første ting på agendaen. Lad os komme tilbage til Europa og bryde igennem på de internationale markeder og blive der. Gøre det, de har behov for så længe vi har støtten, så skal vi nok gøre arbejdet. En god booker, et godt pladeselskab og et godt management team – vi vil gøre alt i vores magt for at gøre det endnu større og nå til næste niveau. For vi føler, at fansene vil elske det, og hvis de kunne se, hvad vi reelt set laver i USA i produktion osv., så tror jeg virkelig, at det kunne være fantastisk. Så du ved, vi skal nok gøre arbejdet, men resten er op til vores fans – om det spreder sig eller ej.

Og hvad så med festivaler? Vi har jo en festival her i København, der hedder Copenhell.

Tony: Copenhell? Hvornår er det?

Det er i juni, og vi vil meget gerne se jer der.

Tony: Vi spiller på festivaler i tre uger.

Sully: Jeg ved, at vi kommer tilbage i juni og spiller på festivaler, men jeg ved ikke hvilke. Jeg kender standard-festivalerne som Rock im Park, Rock am Ring, Donington, men jeg har ikke set det fulde skema endnu. Men forhåbentligt… Det kunne være fedt!

Så hvis I skulle vælge jeres yndlingsfestival som band, hvilken ville det så være?

Tony: Åhr der er så mange at vælge imellem… Woodstock.

Sully: Ooooh det var en god en.

Tony: Det er en fed festival.

Sully: ’Stock i ’99, det er længe siden nu – 20 år siden.

Tony: Det var nyt for os som band at se sådan et publikum – det var bare wow!

Sully: Ja, sådan har jeg det også. Det havde en stor indflydelse på os, det er helt sikkert. Og vi kom rødøjede direkte fra flyet fra Californien til New York, og vi var trætte og troede, at det her bare var endnu et spillejob. Vi gik på scenen, og der var omkring 250.000 mennesker, og vi tænkte bare ”Holy shit! Vi må hellere spille godt!”

Er jeres skema meget presset, eller har I tid til at tage på sightseeing, når I besøger København eller andre byer?

Tony: Vi har jo altid pligter her, lydprøver og interviews og vi møder fans. Så der er ting, vi skal være her for at klare, så det holder på os, men jeg ved at folk også går ud – dog mest på vores fridage.

Sully: Yeah, eller vi sover! Det kommer an på, hvor trætte vi er.

I har nu udgivet 7 studiealbums. Hvilken er jeres favorit?

Tony: Det her er mit yndlings indtil videre. Det klarer sig godt og er vores seneste, og det er altid spændende, for vi spiller alle de nye sange, og du ved ikke helt, hvad de kan. Det er som at ride på en bølge, forstår du, hvad jeg mener?

Så til vores sidste spørgsmål… Hvad er jeres all-time bedste Godsmack-sang?

Sully: Indtil nu, så er den, der klarer sig bedst over tid ”I Stand Alone”, tror jeg. Den begynder at blive lidt ældre nu, den udkom i 2003, men det er den ene sang, hvor, når han starter med at spille åbningsriffet på guitaren, folk bare udbryder ”Endelig!”. Og det er den, der gjorde det bedst for os selv i USA. Jeg tror, at meget af det skyldes, at den var tilknyttet filmen The Scorpion King med Dwayne Johnson. Og jeg tror endda, at sangen klarede sig bedre end filmen dengang, for han var først ved at skabe sig et navn. Han var endnu ikke en stor filmstjerne. Men sangen var nummer 1 i 17 uger i træk, og det var en rigtigt stærk single for os.

Men vi har også store forhåbninger for dette album, som Tony siger, så tror jeg virkelig, at der sker noget særligt med det her, for jeg ved, at alle bands bliver nødt til at sige, at deres nyeste album er deres bedste album. Det er let at sige det, når det er nyt materiale – det er spændende. Men noget særligt skete på albummet, og jeg ved ikke rigtigt, hvordan jeg skal forklare det, men jeg tror, det er en kombination af, at vi var åbne overfor at skulle ændre tingene, og vi var ikke bange for nye lyde og teksturer og sådan noget. Selv balladen på albummet, ”Scars”, er første gang, vi har forsøgt at putte sådan en sang på et album. Men du ved, vi kunne rigtigt godt lide sangen, og den bevægede folk følelsesmæssigt, og så tænkte vi bare ”Hvorfor ikke? Hvorfor kan vi ikke gøre det?”. Metallica lavede ”Nothing Else Matters”, og Aerosmith lavede ”Dream On”, da de var et hard rockband. Og der var bare for mange grunde til at putte den på albummet og ikke nok til at lade være. Og med sange som den, der kan vi bare fornemme, at selv internationalt så rykker den og folk taler om den i Europa, og de kan rigtigt godt lide den.

Hvem ved, hvilken sang der kommer til at lave den forandring, der kommer til at betyde noget nogle af de nye steder, vi gerne vil nå. Så vi håber bare på det bedste, og vi gør alt, hvad vi kan for at være her og være til stede. Spille fede koncerter og bringe det ud til publikum. Vi har en plan, en tre-delt plan: vi kommer herover og spiller på de her små steder, prøver at få udsolgt, lave noget larm og så komme tilbage i juni og spille på festivalerne, og så komme tilbage igen enten til vinter eller tidligt i 2020 og begynde at få større spillesteder. Og vi håber bare, at så længe vi er opmærksomme på det, så vil det vokse. Det er håbet.

Vi krydser vores fingre!

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ENGLISH

You guys have a new album out called The Legend Rise, can you try to explain the title of the album?

Sully: Uhm yeah you know over the years we’ve gone through some changes individually and collectively as a band. And I think Legend is really about kind of overcoming obstacles and getting past them and rising above them. Rather than the things bands go through and break up over things and like that. So between us collectively as a band or even individually in our lives we’ve gone through some real changes lately. And it’s kind of nice to get to the other side of so it’s more of a metaphor for resetting everything, rebirthing it and getting above where we were and getting to a better place again. So it’s not more really like saying we’re legends but more like a metaphor for reaching down inside yourself and finding that strength to rise above it and beyond it and I think that’s the whole theme of this record. It’s just getting to a new place and rebirthing the band and hopefully going to another level.

So, is that also why it’s less heavy, that the sound is less heavy on this album?

Sully: Is it less heavy?

I think it is! I think it’s more like hard rock and..

Sully: But we’ve always been a hard rock band! We never really considered ourselves as a metal band. People put that title on us. We’ve always considered ourselves as a hard rock band. And if you go back to even the first record with songs like “Keep Away” and “Voodoo” and “Bad Religion”, they’re not really metal songs, you know? There are times where we rode that line of being metal but I think we’ve always been a little more on the side of being a hard rock not classic rock but not really metal either. We’re right in between there you know? So I think this record for us is a better representation of where we are right now in our lives. Because there are some strong songs on the record like “Eye Of The Storm” and “When Legends Rise” – they’re big and powerful. And then there’s other stuff like “Bulletproof” and “Scars” and stuff like that, where we felt like it was time to evolve a little bit more what our fans are like. You know, we’ve been around for more than 20 years now, and some of our fans from back then now have children that are 15-16-17 years old and they’re discovering Godsmack through their parents. So.. It’s hard keeping making the same record over and over again and I think in order to survive and also to stay true to yourself – you have to evolve as you grow, and we’re not 25-30 year old guys anymore, you know? That’s for sure!

Tony: I recognize a difference of what you’re saying. Some of the older stuff was riffier. Where these are about songs, great big choruses and melodies. That’s the biggest difference I hear, you know?

Yeah, I try to use my girlfriend back home to compare the albums because she is not into hard rock or metal, but she actually likes your new album.

Sully: Oh good! That’s a bonus!

So, what about the future and Godsmack? Now you have a new album out, should we expect more albums in the future or where do you see yourself?

Tony: You know… He’s been doing a lot of country stuff on the side.

Sully: I don’t do any country stuff! That’s Aaron Lewis – wrong band! Haha!

I think right now we’re focused on supporting this record. You know we’re always individually writing and messing around. Tony’s playing his guitar pretty much 23 hours a day. And so we find and grab a cool riff, we record it, put it to the side, and when we’re ready to start getting together and writing we pull all of these little nuggets out and start figuring it out. Right now, it took us a while to figure out this record, where we wanted to go with it and then we finish writing it and recording it, putting it out and touring with it, and I think that sometimes you just need a little bit of a break from writing to enjoy the work that you did on the record. And we’re kind of at that point right now where we’re really focused on staying international for as long as we can and growing in some of these countries, that we need to be in more frequent to expand the audience. Cause we’re behind in some of these international markets and that’s a whole nother story. The bottom line is that we are just enjoying playing these songs for the fans and working on our show and stage design and things like that. The writing will come when it’s ready, but right now I think it’s still a little bit early for that.

And that leads me to the next question, because it’s been 20 years since Godsmack was in Denmark the last time.

Sully: What 20 years?

Tony: Yeah.. The first year we must have

Sully: In 1999 in Christiania!

Yeah you played as a support band for Corrosion Of Conformity.

Sully: We did?

Yeah you did on a small venue called Loppen in Christiania.

Sully: Did it look like a barn? Like a wooden barn? And you load up the equipment through the floor with the *whistling sound*. Cause that’s what I remember. I don’t remember us opening for anybody. So someone played after us? Corrosion did? Wow.. I didn’t know that. I thought that was our show! Hah! I know I was high as fuck on that show.

So now that you’re back in Christiania, is there a reason why you picked that place? Did you have any saying in this place or is it just..

Tony: I think it just appeared. Or at least someone picked it for us.

Sully: Yeah we don’t control that part. We have an agent that tries to strategically put us where he thinks we need to, you know, do the work.

Is there a reason why you haven’t been touring in Denmark or Europe that much?

Sully: There’s lots of reasons but some of them are long and complicated to answer, but the bottom line is we’ve had a really bad run of bad luck from when our first record came out up and through IV record (ed. 2006) or whatever it was, and we were coming here and doing the work. We were here with Sabbath, Limp Bizkit and we were here with Metallica. We were grinding it out and trying to expand the fanbase and the reactions were great, but we didn’t have any support from the label. There was no records in the store, there was no press and photographers at the show. It was like, we were there and doing the work, the audience was enjoying it but there was no way to document it and have them remember it. And we just got to a point where it was becoming expensive for us to keep funding it without any support and then we had to stop it at one point.

Try to figure it out how to get back here and then a couple of years ago we switched management and then that was... We came here again, and we did some of the festivals and we tried to wake it up again, and then the management company wasn’t working out, so we had to let them go. So now we’re back with our original team, and it’s just like, it’s been a ton of things to talk about to explain why we haven’t been here as much as we would have wanted to, but I can promise you this. The band has wanted nothing more than to be just as successful here or in Australia or Japan or anywhere as we are in America.

So finally, when we rebuilt the team, we have a new record at the label now you know, and that was the first thing on our agenda. Let’s start getting back to Europe and breaking these international markets and just stay there. Do what they need us to do as long as we have support, we’re gonna do the work. A great booking agent, a great label and a great management team – we’re gonna do everything we can do to expand that thing and go to that level. Because we feel that the fans are going to love it, and if they could see what we really do in America in production and everything, I really think it could be amazing here. So, you know we’re going to do the work, but the rest is up to the fans – whether or not it spreads.

And what about festivals? We have a festival here in Copenhagen called Copenhell

Tony: Copenhell?! When is that?

It’s in June, and we would love to see you there.

Tony: We are doing festivals for three weeks.

Sully: I know we’re coming back in June and do the festivals, but I just don’t know exactly all of them. I know the standard ones like Rock am Park, Rock am Ring, Donington, but I haven’t seen the whole schedule yet. But hopefully... It would be great!

So, if you should choose your favorite festivals as a band, which would it be?

Tony: Oh, there’s just so many to pick from... Woodstock.

Sully: Oooh that was a good one.

Tony: Kind of a cool thing.

Sully: ‘Stock in ’99 that was a long time ago too – 20 years ago.

Tony: We were a new band seeing that audience – it was like “woah”.

Sully: Yeah me too. That had an impact on us for sure. And we came off like a red eyed flight from California to New York, and we were tired and thought it was another gig and went on stage and there was like 250,000 people and we were like “Holy shit, we better play good!”.

Is your schedule very tight or do you have time to go sightseeing when you visit Copenhagen and any other cities?

Tony: I mean we always have obligations here, sound checks and interviews, and we meet the fans at some point, so there are things that we need to be here for. So, that whole thing keeps us here, but I know that people do wander out – more on days off though.

Sully: Yeah or we sleep! Depends on how tired we are.

You now have 7 studio albums out. Which one is your favorite?

Tony: This one’s my favorite so far. It’s doing great, and it’s our latest and its exciting, cause we’re playing all of these new songs, and you don’t know what it can do. It’s like riding a wave, you know?

So, for the last question... what is your all-time best Godsmack song?

Sully: SO far, the one that stands the test of time is “I Stand Alone”, I think. It’s getting a little bit older now since it came out in 2003, but it’s that one song that seems like whenever he starts playing that opening guitar riff then people just “Finally!”. And it’s the one that did the best for us even in America. I think a lot of it has to do as well with that it was attached to the movie The Scorpion King with Dwayne Johnson. And I think the song even did better than the movie maybe back then, because he was just starting to make a name for himself. He wasn’t as big a movie star back then. But the song was at number 1 for 17 weeks in a row, and it was a strong single for us.

But we also have some high hopes for this record, like Tony was saying, I really think something special is happening on this record, because I know that every band must say that their new album is the best album and their favorite album. It’s easy to say that when it’s new material – it excites you. But something special happened on this album, and I really don’t know how to explain it, but I think it was just a combination of us being open to just changing it up a little and not being afraid of new sounds and new textures and things like that. Even the ballad that’s on the record “Scars” is the first time we ever attempted to put a song like that on a record. But you know, we really felt strongly about the song, and it was moving people emotionally, and we were just like “Why not? Why can’t we do that?”. Metallica did “Nothing Else Matters” and Aerosmith did “Dream On” when they were a hard rock band. And there’s just too many reasons for us to put it on the record and not enough to not put it on the record. And with songs like that we really feel we’re going to release that soon, and it is just reacting – even internationally people are talking about it a lot in Europe, and they really like it.

Who knows what song is going to make that change that’s going to matter in some of these new places that we need to get. So, we’re just hoping for the best, and we’re doing everything we can to be here and be present. Play great shows and bring this to the people. We have a plan you know, we have this three part plan: we’re going to come here, and do these smaller venues, try to sell them out, make some noise and then come back in June and do the festivals and then come back again either in the winter or early 2020 and start expanding the venues and make them a little bigger. And we’re just hoping that as long as we stay on top of it, it will grow. That’s the hope.

We’re crossing our fingers!

 

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