Godsmack’s Sully Erna Opens Up on How Success Affected Him: ’You Just Become a Robot’

Godsmack frontman Sully Erna recently sat down for an interview with 98KUPD, discussing his band and his work. During the chat, he touched upon some of the unexpected downsides of success and how these can affect artists. Going back to the band’s early days and their initial commercial success, he offered (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“I think one of the first growths in this whole venture of making this a professional career rather than just being a musician and jamming with bands in garages… Once you step into the ladder of climbing to the top and the big leagues, I remember the first thing that I kind of learned was that it distorts your reality.

“And what I mean by that is when you’re a young band and you’re doing the grind and playing the circuit and trying to get a deal, and you have this group of friends and you all hang out and they support you on the weekends with your gig and you go home and have beers with them and shoot pool at the bar, all those things are normal.

“And then you go to your job and you go to rehearsal at night, and that’s your reality. And then the dream of being in the big time and on a stage and doing this for a living is really the fantasy.

One of the things that seem to have made a huge impact on Erna and his bandmates was the touring aspect. As he explained, they’ve been doing so much that, at some point, you start feeling like a robot. He continued:

“But as you become successful, that turns around and reverses itself where you’re touring so heavily… I mean, there was times we were doing tours where it was seven shows in a row with one day off, nine shows in a row with one day off, eleven shows in a row with one day off.

Godsmack / Awake / Live @ Ozzfest 2000 / High Quality

“You do that for two or three years in a row, you just become a robot. And then, all of a sudden, your realities get twisted, and now *that* becomes your normal daily thing.

Another downside that Erna also pointed out is more personal. As he adds, people back home tend to look at you differently after you’re back from a big tour. He added:

“And when you go home, all the things that used to seem normal to you are foreign. And you go to a bar, and you see the same group of guys and friends that you would hang with, and all of a sudden they kind of act and treat you a little different.

Godsmack - MTV Hard Rock Live 2003

“It’s a little bit of a standoff — you’re staring at them, they’re looking at you, and they expect you to be this thing now ’cause they’ve now seen you for the last so many years on MTV or in articles and on videos. The behavior changes.”

“Even though I think we’ve done a great job over the years of keeping ourselves humble and grounded and never forgetting our roots, that was one of the first things I really noticed that changed — was the realities getting kind of turned upside down.”

“And then, over the years, you get a grip on everything. And the real people stayed by you, and the people that are there for the wrong reasons stayed away. And then everything normalizes again.”

Godsmack Changes (Full Concert HD)

“And you eventually learn who your circle is and your family and your friends. And we’ve been in that place for a while now, where we just have a great support team around us and good family and kids and friends and all that stuff.”

“And we do our job; we go out there and we enjoy what we do. We’ve been blessed to be able to have a career that we love and we can actually make some money at. So all things are good now, and have been for a long time.”

Discussing it further, Sully once again reflected on how people tend to look at you differently once you’ve achieved some success, explaining:

“You know these guys, all these people for so long, and then, all of a sudden, they claim that you’ve changed: ‘Oh, he’s changed now.’ And in reality, they are the ones who changed, ’cause they treat you a little different when you walk in the door, which makes you respond differently and feel uncomfortable. So, it’s that thing.”

Godsmack - Cryin' Like a Bitch ( LIVE )

On February 24, Godsmack will be releasing what they announced as their final studio album. However, this record titled “Lighting Up the Sky,” doesn’t mark the end of the band’s career. They’ll still be active as a band.

During an interview last fall, Sully Erna explained why they plan on making it the last studio album:

“We felt that, as we started to work on this record, trying to figure out what this record was gonna be, what I was gonna write about lyrically, what the music was gonna sound like, as you go through that beginning process, we always have our — at least I have my freakout moment that I’m, like, ‘I don’t know what I’m gonna write about. I don’t have any musical ideas.’

Godsmack live @ Rock am Ring 2019 Full Concert [HD]

“And so the journey begins there. But as we started to develop it, we started to realize that a couple of things happened, which was the record really felt like it had closure by the time we finished it.”

“And, really, this record became about one man’s journey through life — the ups and downs, finding love, losing love, getting love back, realizing the things that are important in his life — which is the career, the band, things like that — all the way to the end, which is about if I could talk to myself as a younger version of me, what would I give myself as advice and would I have done it differently, or would I have needed to go that fast and that recklessly in order to get where we got.

“So that person’s journey, really, was me and the guys, and the whole story of this record is about that journey. So by the time we got to the end of it and we realized that this chapter’s kind of closed, along with having 27 Top 10 singles and 11 No. 1 songs, and we’re gonna have, obviously, a few more singles on this record, we’re gonna be at 30 Top 10 singles.

Godsmack – Surrender (Official Music Video)

“We’re there; we’ve arrived. And we had to recognize that because it’s time for us now to do what’s right for the fans and deliver the music that they have claimed to be our best songs over the years. They are the ones that chose the singles, really.

“We could suggest that we feel like this is the song, but they are the ones that made it successful. So, therefore, they wanna hear those songs every night. But there’s not enough hours in the night to be able to play 30 songs.

“So when you go see your favorite band these days that have that kind of history, what do you wanna see? Do you wanna see a bunch of new stuff that you don’t know yet or do you wanna hear the hits that you’ve learned and loved and became the soundtrack to your lives.

Godsmack - Unforgettable

“And so for those reasons, we felt like maybe this chapter is about to close on writing new music and the next chapter is gonna begin where we’re gonna start touring on the greatest hits show and delivering that kind of entertainment night after night.”

He also added:

“Everyone feels complete. I don’t think anyone is going into this concept of ending that part and beginning a new chapter and feels that it’s wrong, that we’re missing something. I think everybody feels pretty complete.”

Godsmack - You And I (Official Audio)

Sully concluded by offering:

“It’s not the end; it’s a new beginning. So for the people out there that are starting to think that this is a negative thing, I promise you the one thing that I can guarantee you, and I have never said this in my life, this is the best work we’ve ever done on an album.

“And there’s a lot — a lot — of really big songs on this record. So I think it’s gonna keep people satisfied for a very long time. And I don’t think they’re gonna miss the part of whether or not we do new music. I think it’s just gonna be a matter of how much they enjoy the new music.”

Photo: Stefan Brending (2019 RiP Godsmack – by 2eight – 8SC8741)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.