A disagreement over the launch of the "Something Different" single from GODSMACK's "1000hp" album may have fractured the band's relationship with its record label beyond repair, GODSMACK frontman Sully Erna has revealed in a new interview.
GODSMACK originally wanted "Something Different" to be the lead single from "1000hp" but was talked out of it by Universal Republic, which convinced the band to go with the title track first, a move that Erna says was a "mistake."
"The label made some big promises to us, that ['Something Different'] was gonna be the big push, so we went with ['1000hp'] first, to just kind of crack it open, and then they just kind of bailed on us on [the 'Something Different'] single," he explained during an appearance on the latest installment of HATEBREED frontman Jamey Jasta's official podcast, "The Jasta Show". "And because of that, we don't think we're gonna be working with the label anymore. I mean, it was a big mistake on their behalf, we believe, and it's a song that I still believe in and it reacts live, and you'll see it every night."
He continued: "It was a big learning lesson for us, because from now on… You know, 'once, shame on you, twice, shame on me' kind of thing. So never again will I allow that to happen. From now on, we're gonna launch [each album] with whatever we feel is the biggest song on the record."
Erna added: "We knew that song should have been the biggest hit on the record. There was something about it; it just felt right. But our mentality at the time was, 'Let's drop ['1000hp']. It kind of tells the story of the history. It's just kind of a straight-up, standard GODSMACK song that at least will kick the door open again. We haven't had a song out in four years. And then, once it settles in a little bit, boom, drop the bomb and hopefully it will explode, right? But I'll never do that again. From now on, they're just gonna get whatever we feel is the best one and we'll work our way through it from there. Because if that song would have hit like we hoped for it to, I really, really think it could have maybe put the band onto another level. It felt like that kind of crossover song. But whatever… Lesson learned."
Erna also once again reiterated that the plan for the group's next album to take its music even further away from the signature sound of older hits like "Whatever", "I Stand Alone" and "Straight Out Of Line". He said: "I think the older we get, the more we're regressing back to our childhood and the things that we also love besides metal. I mean, we all grew up on rock music — we grew up on RUSH and AEROSMITH and [LED] ZEPPELIN and [BLACK] SABBATH and those kind of bands we love as well. And I'm not saying we wanna write a record like that, but there's certain bands that have done it and I think did a really great job at it. FOO FIGHTERS is a great example; they're just kind of a neutral rock. They're heavy. When they come out there, they're great, they're powerful, but there's kind of like a more positive vibe to it and energy to it. And for me, my biggest complaint right now, or my biggest concern, I think, is that I'm not the same young, angry kid I was when I first started writing GODSMACK records, and I can't continue to just pretend that I am. I'm in a better place in my life now. I'm not where I would love to be, but I have a good band, I have a pretty good career, I have a beautiful daughter, I do okay for myself. I have my health, I have my family. I have a lot of things to be grateful for and feel good about, and that's really a reflection of what the music is like for us now. So even if it's songs like 'Something Different', it's got a spin of commercial hook to it in the chorus and stuff, but it's still got the power and edge to it."
He continued: "For me, it's really been about evolving, and that's what it is. I don't wanna continue to just pigeonhole myself into the same record eveyr time. And I feel like GODSMACK has wrote some different records, but the theme has always been kind of the same, and they know what the sound is and they know when you hear a GODSMACK song, that's what it sounds like. But it seems like every time we end an album cycle, there's always one song — like on this one, it happens to be 'Something Different' — that kind of starts to open a door for us and branches us into a direction, and I think that's the direction that we're probably gonna be leaning in — more rock, but still powerful, but just not metal."
Erna went on to say: "I really, really love and appreciate great songwriting now, and I study it a lot — everybody from the best. I don't care if it's Michael Jackson, Elton John or Taylor Swift or Kelly Clarkson… It doesn't matter who it is, to me… Eminem, [Dr.] Dre… They're all great songwriters, and when it's a great song, it's a great song. I don't categorize, I don't place it in a genre. I just really try to sponge as much as I can about writing great melodies, really great chord arrangements, things like that. And that, for me, is what excites me now — not just sitting there and chugging away on the 'E' string. I can't keep doing it, man."
Although there are no plans for GODSMACK to hang it up anytime soon, Erna admitted that he can definitely see the band ending and him focusing on his own projects. He said: "I'll tell you right now. No way do I even want to [keep doing this in thirty years]. I'm not interested in doing this when I'm 70 years old; I'm just not. I'm not saying I won't be playing music in some capacity, but I think I'm kind of grooming myself to go more into the solo career thing eventually. I'll run GODSMACK for as long as I can, and I'm not saying we're anywhere near close to giving up. We could have another five, seven, ten years in us. But I just never wanted to be that guy that's old and still playing the clubs and, you know, wearing his leather pants, and whatever it is. I can't do it, man. But if it was more like a Billy Joel-ish thing, it's a piano, it's singing, it's fun, it's acoustic, it's like that vibey theater thing. I could see me doing that for as long as I could."
He continued: "My [retirement] plan, I think… I'm not sure. I've got a few different projects going on, not even musically. I have a few different things that we're developing that, if one of these things happens to break, it could really put me in a much better position than even music did over the years, so I could just have some kind of mailbox money. And if that happens, I'm gonna be really psyched because then I can play music 'cause I wanna play music, not because I'm feeling like I'm forced, that I have to, 'cause if you don't and you quit not, or you retire too early or whatever, two or three years from now, you're looking for a job in the newspaper again, you know? But my ultimate goal is to be able to take my laptop and my phone and smash it and move to Sicily and step on grapes and raise my grandkids."
Erna added: "As we get older, it takes a lot out of you to be out here this long, but everyone's motivated to work, everyone's in a good place, everyone has that kind of freedom, emotionally and physically right now, to be able to say, 'Why wouldn't we work? What else are we gonna do?' But you can only play so much, especially in the States, before you have to kind of give it a break. So we figured, you know, let's just do one lasty good run and then we'll take some time off. And next year we'll probably touch international again, just 'cause we need to continue to build momentum there. But I don't think we're gonna touch the States until at least 2017, maybe midway through the year or whatever. And hopefully we're gonna come out with a brand new sound, a brand new kind of thing, because we really wanna change it up."
GODSMACK last month released a new song called "Inside Yourself" as a free download at the band's official web site. Erna said about the track: "This is a song about equality for all! Understanding that no one is worthless or any lesser than the next person. We are all equally important as human beings and should be treated that way. And for those of you who feel the need to cut others down to make yourself look superior, you seriously need to take a good look 'inside yourself.'"