Salvatore Paul "Sully" Erna
Salvatore Paul "Sully" Erna (born February 7, 1968 in Lawrence, Massachusetts), is an American vocalist and primary songwriter for the metal band, Godsmack. Erna is also a rhythm guitar and drum player, performing these both on albums and during live shows. He is a devout Wiccan. He has a daughter named Skylar Brooke Erna and an older sister named Maria. He was voted as #47 in the top 100 best heavy metal vocalists in the Hit Parader magazine 2006 poll.
Sully began playing drums at the age of 3. His father, Salvatore Erna, was a trumpet player and would rehearse in the basement where Sully would watch and fall a sleep in an empty guitar case. His great grandfather was a famous composer in Sicily, where every year they honor his birthday and his pictures are hung in a museum. At the age of 11 he discovered that it was easier for him to listen to something and play it than read sheet music. He stopped taking lessons and practiced at home rehearsing to records by Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Motörhead.
At 14, Dave Vose became his new instructor. He signed his first record deal in 1993 with a band called Strip Mind. Their debut album "What's in Your Mouth" sold less than 50,000 units. The band self-destructed shortly after. In Godsmack concerts he plays the bongos and a large drum set, staging a drumming duel known as Batalla de los Tambores with drummer Shannon Larkin. This battle has become a staple of the band's live show. He is also a harmonica player as present on the Godsmack song "Shine Down". It was recently announced that Sully will work on a solo record due out sometime in 2008, it will stray away from the hard rock of Godsmack. Sully wrapped up his acoustic tour with one final show at The House of Blues in Chicago, Illinois on June 28.
Erna has also worked with his local music scene. In April 2005, Sully participated in New Hampshire's Battle of the Bands Competition. The winner (a band called Zion who hails from Salem) had the opportunity to record a demo at Sully's California studio.
Erna released a memoir entitled The Paths We Choose on his birthday, February 7, 2007. The book details his struggles during the first 30 years of his life, up until the time Godsmack landed a record deal.
"The book is basically just my life from the time I was born until Godsmack started," Erna said. "I wanted to write about the whole experience of trying to get there, and hopefully that will inspire some people that maybe are still in the ghettos or trying to dig their way out of a hole. I mean, we're all human and we weren't born rock stars. So I think there's an interesting story to tell of the pain and struggling. You know, being poor and being raised in crazy neighborhoods. If kids can see that they’ll be able to relate to anything they have a dream for."
The book sold 100,000 copies in its first month of release, and to date has shifted 300,000 copies worldwide.
Erna recently told Glam-Metal.com that doing his first solo shows were "extremely nerve-wracking," adding, "My first show, I was really, really nervous. Honestly, I haven't been that nervous since I was, I don't know, maybe 10 years old at a talent show or something." Erna kicked off his first solo acoustic trek on May 1 in Niagara Falls, New York and closed it out on May 31 in Las Vegas. The shows have combined Godsmack songs with a few new originals and covers ranging from The Beatles to Alice In Chains to the theme from "Love Story".
Regarding how he went about selecting the material used for his solo show, Erna said, "I wanted to stick a couple of originals in and try them out because there was a couple of songs that were done on the piano or the guitar that I wrote that I don't think I would use on a GODSMACK record," he said. "For example, 'Eyes of a Child' and 'Until Then'. It was a great opportunity to showcase that and see if I can hit home with the people on those two pieces. Those songs are the most emotional pieces of the evening. One song is about children born with or dying from AIDS and the other is about a tribute to the troops of the United States Armed Forces."
Erna told The Pulse of Radio that playing some new material live is a good way for him to test out songs that might not work for Godsmack. "We're all musicians and we like to write music and not necessarily rock all the time," he said. "So, you know, if I sit home and I'm writing on the piano and sometimes just cool songs are written that don't necessarily fit maybe what you do with Godsmack, but you don't wanna not record them."
Erna stated at the time that he planned to work on his first solo album, Which has recently been completed, but has no title or release date.
On March 4, 2009, Blabbermouth.net reported that Erna had "completed work on his first solo album, although he has yet to reveal a title or release date for the disc." Erna described the album as being "a very different kind of sounding record," and "a huge departure from anything I've ever done."
Three days later, Rockerrazzi.com posted an interview with Erna in which he said that the record "should be out in the next two months." In further describing the album's sound, Erna said that "it's very eclectic," and "tribal" with "a lot of hand drumming" and "beautiful piano compositions." He also stated that he "worked with a percussion session for Dead Can Dance" and that the album will feature Lisa Guyer, who had performed backing vocals for the song "Hollow" on Godsmack's previous album.