GODSMACK LEADER SULLY ERNA
PENS MEMOIR – TURBULENT STORY OF HIS LIFE BEFORE SIGNING HIS FIRST RECORD DEAL
“THE PATHS WE CHOOSE” SET FOR NATIONAL RELEASE FEBRUARY 7, 2007
January 9, 2007 – Los Angeles, CA - With over ten million albums sold and multiple Grammy nominations, the hard rock band Godsmack has become one of the most successful groups of the last decade. The band’s driving beats and searing lyrics have garnered widespread acclaim, while their well-known work ethic has earned the industry’s respect. Fans who attend Godsmack concerts are sure to be rewarded with a fiercely energetic show.
The force behind the band comes largely from founder and
front man Sully Erna. Onstage, growling into the microphone
with characteristic intensity, he appears perfectly at home, and it’s
no wonder. Erna has been immersed in the world of rock ever since he
got his first drum set at the age of five. Given his achievements, that
early start might suggest that his career was a straight shot to the
“The Lawrence I remember was full of murderers, thieves, and rapists—and half the time those people were your next-door neighbors,” Erna writes of his childhood hometown in the gritty Boston suburbs. Honest and cheerfully thick-skinned, he tells tales of flying bullets, fifth-grade pot smoking, and one outrageous seven-hour police chase.
Although the danger of the streets was a constant reality, young Sully’s
world really revolved around music. From the day he convinced his mom
to pay for drum lessons, “beating the skins” was all he
ever wanted to do. Despite his father’s insistence that music
should be nothing but a hobby, Sully persevered.
Beautiful blondes attracted Erna like a moth to an open flame, and his affairs with them were intense and often unstable. Outwardly hardened, yet privately vulnerable, he couldn’t open up. This, combined with his high-adrenaline lifestyle, seemed bound to catch up with him—and did. Here, Sully delves with surprising sensitivity into the emotional struggles that almost forced him to abandon his ambitions.
Musical fame was never a given for Sully Erna. He could easily have
continued to be “just another punk on the streets.” The
extraordinary success he now enjoys with Godsmack only came by an unlikely
combination of talent, sweat, lucky breaks, and hard falls. Any one
of the decisions he made along the way could have brought him to a dead
But for Sully, career success is not an ultimate destination. Every day brings a new fork in the road—another path to choose.
The Paths We Choose:
by Sully Erna. Bartleby Press.
PATHS WE CHOOSE
An inspirational tale of a young man coming of age and finding himself, THE PATHS WE CHOOSE is a memoir by Godsmack singer Sully Erna spanning the first thirty years of his life.
With over <TK> million albums sold worldwide, Boston’s Godsmack was catapulted to the top of the charts in 1998 when Universal/Republic Records released the band’s self-titled debut Godsmack. Singer Sully Erna had just turned thirty; and what followed was a successs-story of a Cinderella band that blossomed into an arena-rock juggernaut, breaking concert-attendance figures and racking up platinum sales with each subsequent record release. Godsmack’s most recent effort, “IV,” released in 2006, debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, spawning the hits “Speak” and “Shine Down” with a new single due to be released in 2007. Godsmack is at the top of its game.
But while it seems that there is no looking back for the stalwart rockers, singer Sully Erna suddenly found himself taking stock of his life. Where did he come from – and how did he get here? Sully had a story to tell – not of the rockstar hijinks and endless stops on worldwide tours – but a tale of a man who followed a dream to play music. The story of Sully Erna is an everyman story of breaking out of conventional ideas of what a person must do to fulfill his destiny. A feeling best described by Nietzsche as “become who you are” Sully recognized that it is a long, hard road to self-discovery and with THE PATHS WE CHOOSE Erna illustrates his own choices with passion and wit.
Told in a first-person narrative so convivial and direct the reader is made to feel as if Sully Erna is speaking directly to him (or her). With this laid-back delivery Erna conjures the working-class Boston suburb of Lawrence, Massachusetts where he was born and raised and renders a triptych of his life recalling early childhood memories and spanning his formative teenage years to his entry into adulthood; with the formidable obstacles, both physical and psychological, which he managed to overcome. Atypical of the “rock-star autobiography,” THE PATHS WE CHOOSE is a candid recollection of the good times and bad times of one man’s personal evolution from self-described “street punk” to a responsible adult, leading right up to the formation of Godsmack.
THE PATHS WE CHOOSE is an inspirational tale, not just for fans of Godsmack, but for a far wider audience. Mothers and fathers, kids of all ages will find the story of a troubled young man a familiar and cautionary tale and recognize that finding one’s way and the road to success takes many forms; and that, like love, can come from many places. THE PATHS WE CHOOSE chronicles Sully’s humble beginnings: from his parents’ divorce and growing up with his beleaguered mother to his wayward juvenile delinquency… ditching school, experimenting with drugs, discovering girls and beating the hell out of his drums. Readers are invited to spend some time with Sully and ride along with him as he travels up and down the East coast, alone, with his family and with a series of errant young girlfriends as he tries to find himself through his music. The voice of the author is as warm and engaging as an older brother who might punch you in the arm or give you a bear-hug.
As William Shakespeare once
wrote, “Some are born to greatness, others achieve greatness and
still others have greatness thrust upon them.” As described in
THE PATHS WE CHOOSE, for Sully Erna, achieving greatness is a state
of mind, and through hard work, dedication and the support of friends
and family, anyone can achieve their dreams and shape their destiny.
Sully’s memoir doesn’t preach, however, because Sully doesn’t
preach. Though he believes the maxim, Do what thou wilt and harm
no one, with THE PATHS WE CHOOSE Sully Erna serves to bring enlightenment
in his own unique way… by telling his story and letting the chips
fall where they may. Frank, humble, honest and funny, THE PATHS WE CHOOSE
brooks the divide between rockstar and spectator, effortlessly demonstrating
that everyone is human and that the paths we choose can lead us to some
THE PATHS WE CHOOSE
A FEW MINUTES WITH SULLY ERNA
1. What motivated you to write this book?
At first, when I started out I was just trying to capture some memories and some of the wild stories I had from growing up in Lawrence. I just wanted to put it down so when I got older I’d have something to share with my grandchildren… that kind of thing, just so I wouldn’t forget as I grow older. After a while it kept evolving into this memoir.
2. What was the writing process like for you?
Once I decided to really, you know, make a go of it and flesh it out, the words just started pouring out of me. It was easy in a lot of ways because I wrote a lot of it on the road and when you’re not performing there’s just tons of down time… you know, if I was with the band and we were flying to Japan, I had, like 12 hours to just knock out a bunch of stories. And I would start typing, beating the keyboard and I just kept going. But I knew when I was writing this that I had to write it my way. With my own voice, like I’m talking to you about it, telling my kids or whatever. I knew I wasn’t going to be worried about sentence structure as much as capturing the events of my life- I figured I could worry about that later. But it worked out pretty much as I wrote it. It’s just me telling my story.
3. Were you able to maintain a fair perspective on the events of your life as you chronicled them?
I think so. Of course, everyone sees things a bit differently from how they happened; but, you know, this is my version of things and I think it’s pretty accurate. I had to be honest about it, especially talking about things that involved other people – because they’re gonna read it. A lot of times I talked with a friend about this or that – “Hey, do you remember..?” – so I got some perspective in sharing some ideas along the way. But I think it’s honest and faithful to my life and everything that happened.
4. What was the most difficult for you to write about?
That I had to be honest about having done drugs and getting fucked up, especially starting so young; that I had to come clean. Talking about some friends that I’d lost along the way- that was hard to look back on. And knowing the mistakes I made; knowing that I had to make them to get to where I am, but knowing that I could have ended up far worse. Remembering the plane crash in the park… that was an awful thing for a kid to experience, and a lot of kids saw that happen that day. Stuff like that.
5. Is it easier to be in a band than it is to be in a relationship?
That’s a good question. You know something- a band is a relationship, though. You spend more time with your band on the road than you do with your girlfriend or wife… there’s a lot of ups and downs and you have to compromise because it’s not just about you, and there’s not just one other person involved… there’s three! But being in a relationship is difficult for anyone, as I’ve certainly learned.
6. Many of the stories in the book involve people who moved in and out of your life as you grew up: have you gotten a chance to speak with them about this, or will THE PATHS WE CHOOSE come as a surprise to them?
Yeah, a lot of them are gonna be surprised! I’ve only shown it to a couple of people, my drummer, he’s a bookworm and he read it in maybe a day, and he said he loved it… and I don’t think he was just being nice about it. So, I think a lot of my friends will be surprised, but hopefully they’ll be into it.
7. In your opinion, what separates this book from books by other rockstars?
Well, it’s not an autobiography, really. Not like the Motley Crue book (“The Dirt”), and there’s not page after page about strippers and porn stars or anything like that, really. It’s a memoir and it only goes up to the beginning of when I started Godsmack, the first thrity years of my life. So it’s really not a rock-star tell-all. This is about me and my mom and my sister and growing up on the streets as I did… and how I got here. The stories of being in Godsmack… that would be the retirement project… when and if the time comes when the band is all done, then maybe I’ll get around to that.
8. Is there anything you would change about your life as you look back on it?
It’s hard to say. I think everyone thinks they would change this or that, but, now, after having written it, I know I needed to do those things. Hopefully we grow wiser as we grow older, so you live and learn- that’s the important thing, to learn.
9. What wisdom have you gained through this self-examination of your life?
That, no matter what, you have to follow your heart. You know, there’s a part in the book where I talk about how I’d been kicked out of this band and I was feeling sorry for myself. I had no job, no money, and my girlfriend had kicked me out. I didn’t know what I was gonna do and I ended up taking a job with a collection agency. I started making good money and got some of my friends in at that place, and they ended up making good money too- one of my friends still works there and he’s doing great. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and was able to, you know, pick myself up and go forward so that I could focus on making music again, which was my first love. So I think that, you have to work hard and do whatever it takes no matter what.
10. Is it important for a reader to be a Godsmack fan, or do you feel this book will appeal to everyone?
I think this is something that anyone can get into. You don’t have to like Godsmack or even rock music really, because it’s just my story. You know, though, if I can reach just one kid, or maybe there’s a single-mom out there who’s raising her kid and he’s a pain-in-the-ass and driving her nuts… there’s things in this book I think that anyone would recognize as something familiar and hopefully warm up to. I really hope that I can inspire people, especially young people, to understand that you don’t have to be a punk to be a man, you might be from the streets and have a tough life, but there’s ways out. Hence the title, because it’s all about the paths we choose.