CNN ‘Showbiz Tonight’ host A.J. Hammer conducted an interview with Godsmack frontman Sully Erna on Thursday (May 11), discussing the singer’s much talked about interview with Arthur magazine. Read on for the transcript.
Hammer: Well, here we go again. Another rock group embroiled in controversy over their music and the war in Iraq. But this time, it’s not exactly what you’d expect. The band Godsmack is actually catching flak over the use of their music in the U.S. Navy’s recruitment ads. The group’s songs “Awake” and “Sick of Life” have been running in television commercials for the Navy, which has some critics saying that the band’s young audience will now be influenced to join the military because of the popular tunes. Joining me from Boston, Sully Erna, who’s the lead singer of Godsmack. I appreciate you taking some time with us, Sully.
Sully: Thanks for having me.
Hammer: You’re welcome. Well, you and the band are catching this heat, as I said, because your music is being used by the Navy in the recruitment ad, so it’s been suggested by some that the use of that music is going to make young men and women just run off and join the military and go off to war. And it’s been suggested that the band supports the war because you lent your music. And I know you’re here on “Showbiz Tonight” to set the record straight on this.
Sully: Well, yes, what I can say is that, you know, by no means has this band ever supported any war for any country or that we support government decisions or why we’re sticking our nose in other people’s business at times. What we support is our troops. And the women and men that go over there — or anywhere — to fight for our country and our lives and protect our freedom and I feel that, you know, we should support those causes. Whether it’s them just aiding with food and medical supplies and water for the tsunamis or Katrina or, you know, anything that we do. And I can’t imagine any American citizen that wouldn’t want to support that.
Hammer: Yes, for a long time people have been confusing the idea that you can support our troops without necessarily supporting the war. I want to take a moment now to play a bit of the ad in question here. Let’s take a look at this.
Unidentified Male: If someone wrote a book about your life, would anyone want to read it? The stories of tomorrow are being written today in the U.S. Navy. If you’re ready. Check out the life accelerator at Navy.com. Navy, accelerate your life. Now, get up to a $20,000 enlistment bonus…
Hammer: I don’t know, I’ve got to tell you, Sully, I’m hearing that music in the ad. I want to get up out of my chair and join up and join the military. Seriously, no doubt ads have influence over people, but do you think it’s ridiculous that, you know, people are actually suggesting somebody’s going to go off and join the military because of that music? Not even the vocals. Just the music is in that commercial.
Sully: Well, I’ll tell you this. For one, I challenge anybody in this country, or any country, to pick up any of our records that we’ve ever recorded and find one political or government lyrical content in anything. I mean, our music has always been written about me and my life situations that I’ve went through, whether it was past relationships or just a boy growing into a man and overcoming life’s obstacles and the emotions that I processed going through that time in my life. So, I challenge anybody to try to find anything that has to do with supporting war or political issues in general. We’re not that kind of band. We’re just a good old rock ‘n’ roll band, I guess. And how insulting is that to the men and women that join the armed forces that they’re that shallow and naive to just join the military because they heard a rock ‘n’ roll song? I think they should be apologizing to them because that makes them look pretty shallow. I don’t believe that’s the reason why they joined at all.
Hammer: Well, I would like to get your take on the idea that, you know, you’ve said that you and your band do support our troops. Would you be willing to say whether or not you do support our president with this war in Iraq?
Sully: I can’t say that I support that because I, personally, am not a big fan about Bush. I’ll tell you that right out in the open. I don’t — but again, I’m not that educated enough to talk about the politics of the government, and obviously the people who write — or the person, I should say, that wrote about this specific article [referring to the May 1, 2006 interview conducted by Arthur magazine in which Erna was grilled about the use of his band's music in the U.S. Navy's recruitment ads — Ed.], obviously is, well, a lot more educated than we are in government issues or politics or the military, whatever it is. And if he knows something that we don’t know, then maybe you should talk to us about it so we can be a little bit more educated.
Hammer: Well, thank you for clearing it all up tonight, Sully, and really setting the record straight and making that clear divide between what you guys are standing for and not. And I appreciate you coming on “Showbiz Tonight”.
Sully: Yes, we’re just musicians.