Godsmack and the rest of the Rockstar Energy Drink UpRoar Festival 2014 lineup pulled into Tucson’s Kino Memorial Veterans Stadium on Sept. 21 to play rock-radio station KFMA’s annual Fall Ball event. I was there to cover the second half of the all-day music fest; no offense, early opening acts, I’m sure you were great. (I did see Buckcherry and Seether, at least, and they both put on a good set.)
My main focus was interviewing Godsmack’s lead vocalist (and guitarist and sometimes drummer), Sully Erna, getting some all-access shots of the band backstage as well as during their set (a photo pass for the media pit at any big show is a vertically-challenged music journalist’s best friend), and talking about something that fits very well with rock-and-roll: tequila.
Not long before Godsmack took the stage to perform as the headlining act, I sat down with Sully to talk a little bit about the band’s new album and their connection to Pura Vida tequila, which has become the band’s official tequila for their traditional 8:15 shot.
Click: More Behind Godsmack’s ‘8:15 Shot’ Here!
Jenn Waite, yeahstub.com: “Thank you for taking the time to chat with me before the show. I’ve been listening to you guys since I was in high school, so this is kind of awesome.”
Sully Erna, Godsmack: [laughs] “Thanks.”
JW: “So, you guys just put out your sixth studio album. After all these years, were there any surprises this time around with the recording process or fan response?”
SE: “As far as the recording process, this one was really painless because we had taken a substantial amount of time off first. During that time, even though we were doing some side projects, the guys would continue to write music, I was writing music; so when we got together we had probably 20 songs to go through and start carving up and seeing which ones were strong and which were weak.
We started sorting through them or whatever, but it wasn’t until we started just jamming in a room off -the-cuff that it was very obvious that the chemistry was still there. And that’s where songs like “1000hp” and “Something Different” came out.
So, the process of writing and recording was really simple. We had built our own warehouse studio compound at the time and everyone was really comfortable. We didn’t have to worry about being in a public place, so the whole process was pretty simple.
And the response of the fans so far has been pretty great. People are addressing this thing as if it’s back to the first album, back to the roots of the band, which is cool because even though we weren’t really shooting for that, we had talked about making a conscious effort to bring it back a little bit to the original sound.”
FULL REVIEW/PHOTOS: Rockstar UpRoar Fest Hits Tucson w/Godsmack, Buckcherry, Seether and More (Link)
JW: “It sounds great. I was listening to it on the way down here in the car and I’m excited to watch you guys play in a little bit. Before I let you go, tell me a little bit about your connection to Pura Vida tequila. It’s been a big part of this tour for you, with the Pura Vida party bus and everything. How did you discover this brand, and why did you guys decide to dub it the band’s official tequila?”
SE: “For one, a few years back when we were running on [the Mayhem tour], the band was onstage about 8:30 every night. So every night at 8:15, the guys would come in the room and take a shot of tequila to get into party mode and get ready for the show.
And then as word got out throughout the tour that we were doing shots at 8:15, every 8:15 there would be a line out my door, opening bands and the crew guys and stuff. And then it just became kind of this viral thing where people were toasting, a cheers to life and friendship and all that stuff. It became like a new 420.”
JW: “420, but for drinking.”
SE: “And I had this idea about having a tequila called “8:15.” As I was telling my manager the concept, he was speaking with [Stewart Skloss, the Founder of Pura Vida Tequila Company], who already had a really good tequila in place, and introduced us. Although we weren’t going to rebrand his tequila and rename it, we started using 8:15 as a marketing concept and that’s kind of how we got involved with each other.
But it really is the best tequila I’ve ever had. It’s 100% organic and 100% blue agave. It’s all manufactured in Guadalajara, Mexico, and it’s just a really great tequila.
There’s a lot of love in it. It’s already won a bunch of awards and beat out so many great brands, so it’s on the rise and people are learning more about it. We count on social media to help us tweet and Facebook about Pura Vida and the 8:15 shot.”
JW: “Now I’m even more bummed the Pura Vida bus couldn’t make it here, and the 8:15 shot actually happened a few hours too early [due to scheduling issues at the venue] for me to make it here in time! I was really looking forward to trying your signature drink…”
(Over 21? Get the recipe for the Sully Smash cocktail on the Pura Vida website here.)
SE: “Why don’t you swing by the tour bus after we play and I’ll see what we can do about that!”
JW: “I may just take you up on that. Thanks for your time!”
Of course I took him up on that.
After watching their set, I tracked the tour bus down and got to hang out with Sully, Shannon Larkin and Robbie Merrill for a bit. Robbie was battling a sinus infection, and they all talked about looking forward to a day of rest in Las Vegas before heading to their next show in Idaho. They all seemed pretty wiped out from the show, but they were still willing to hang out with a few fans (and this Examiner) and make small talk at their “road-home.”
When I was leaving, Sully made good on his word; but he didn’t pour me some little shot. He broke out a brand new bottle of Pura Vida tequila for me to take home – sometimes I really, really like my job.
What I love, though, is having a valid excuse to hug a hot, multi-talented musician, still slightly sweaty from playing for thousands of people, without appearing too inappropriate; for example, as a way of saying “thanks for the fancy bottle of artisan tequila, man”…yes. Perfectly professional, but I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy every second of it.
So, thank you, Pura Vida. Thank you for Sully hugs. Thank you for making smooth-ass tequila in small batches, yes; but really, thank you for Sully hugs. (Hashtagsullyhugs? I think yes.)
Fans can sample and download Godsmack’s latest album, “1000hp,” on iTunes and watch the official music video for the first single (by the same name) here on YouTube.
If you’re 21 or over, learn more about Pura Vida tequila here.