The Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival main stage will feature Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind, Papa Roach, and Adelitas Way. As a treat for fans, we brought together three of the singers for one epic interview.
Brent Smith of Shinedown, Sully Erna of Godsmack, and Rick DeJesus of Adelitas Way tell us all about how they would suggest fans spend their day at UPROAR, what they’re looking forward to most, why you’ve got to play your hits, and so much more. They also open up about the state of rock ‘n’ roll hint at a possible collaboration between the main stage bands.
EXCLUSIVE: Brent Smith of Shinedown, Sully Erna of Godsmack, and Rick DeJesus of Adelitas Way Get Together and Talk UPROAR
By Rick Florino
Question: If you were a fan attending the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival, how would you spend your day?
Brent Smith: Sully, how would you spend your day on the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival?
Sully Erna: It’s funny you asked me that. If you want me to go first, you guys might not love this answer, but I’ll be honest with you. I wear my heart on my sleeve. For me, things have changed drastically on the road. Over the years, I’ve gotten to experience some really great highs and some really great lows. Mixing all of those together has left me really fulfilled at times and really dark at other times. The good part about being dark is, in a really weird way, beautiful art comes from it sometimes. So, I think all of us have gotten amazing songs from being in dark places. There have been times where I’ve given up wanting to even be on the road anymore. That’s the sad truth for me. I get to a place where I’m just tired. My body is exhausted. My mind is tired. My voice is tired. You want to be home. You pull out your strength from these other bands and the inspiration of the songs and music. That’s what we’re all there for. The fans play a big role in that. They’re there to feed us energy. We need every ounce of that. It’s really important people continue to support live shows and rock music because it is tolling on us. I don’t think anyone would tell you any differently. I’d love to say it’s this glamorous life bouncing on trampolines and getting drunk with our friends, but after a certain amount of time being in this game, things change. I’m going to do things differently on this tour. On days off, I’m not going to be sitting in a hotel room near a mall. I might go to a lake and get some jet skis. Maybe I’ll go golfing one day. I’m training for a marathon right now, and I’ll continue to train. I’m going to mix it up. I’m going to do everything I can but sit at that venue all day long because it’s exhausting for me. That’s my point of view on it. Through the inspiration of the music, the bands we’re touring with, and having so much respect for everyone on the bill, it’s going to be a really great tour. I’m excited about it. I came to the other side, and I’m looking forward to. It’s not going to be the standard way I’ve toured in the past.
Brent Smith: I’m pretty much going to wait around all day to watch Godsmack get up there and kick total ass [Laughs]. I totally understand where Sully’s coming from. I’ve never been on a tour like this before. Rick, Sully, and I have done a lot of festival tours throughout the years. To be a part of a package that’s got 15 bands together and is a traveling festival is great. I haven’t gotten a chance to get out and see some of these newer bands. I’m going to do my best to get out and watch those bands. I’m a big fan of Redlight King. We were just out with In This Moment. It’s going to be awesome to see Maria get out and do her thing, especially early in the day. It’s such an interesting show when you see it in a venue with the lights out. That’s one thing for me. Honestly, if I were a fan out in the audience at a show like this, I’d try to soak up as much as I possibly could of the bands I didn’t know anything about. There are a lot of bands on the bill who bring a lot to the table. When you look at the amount of bands on the festival and what styles they bring, it’s actually a really eclectic tour. There are a lot of peaks and valleys. It’s a good roller coaster ride. Between everybody on the main stage…Adelitas Way, Papa Roach, Staind, Godsmack, and ourselves, the press day is pretty heavy for all of us. Our days start at 1 or 2 in the afternoon and go until almost 7 o’clock for some of us. The show times are staggered out throughout the day. Like Sully said, it’s not what you think it is as far as getting wasted back stage, partying, and doing that hoopla, so to speak. We all take it very seriously. We have one boss. That’s everybody in the audience. The audience is what matters. For us on a personal level, we have to go out there and really give past 110 percent. The audience is the reason why we do it. There’s a lot involved in it. You have to focus on not getting desensitized to anything and understanding we’re all in it together to bring it to the public.
Rick DeJesus: For me, the only thing that’s a little different is our band has so much to come out and prove. We really want to be a part of something great. There are legendary bands on this tour that have put the work and the time in. It’s hard. We have something to prove because this is our first time tasting these crowds. UPROAR is something that’s going to help us take back what’s ours. It’s slowly shifting again. Every band on this bill is going to put on such a performance that people in America are going to understand why rock ‘n’ roll has run the show for so long. We fell into this weird situation where people are trying say we’re not running shit, but we’re going to. UPROAR is part of reclaiming that. We’re going to go out there and do our best. I’m going to put myself on the line. It takes a toll on us, but we do it because we love it. I’m excited to be a part of this great thing.
Question: For your average Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival-goer, what would you suggest doing?
Rick DeJesus: You’ve got to watch every band. This is a big tour. If you’re on this thing, you’re making some noise. There are so many great bands. Brent touched on this a little bit. We were just on tour with In This Moment and Shinedown. It’s an honor to watch them play. Redlight King is making a lot of noise. You never know who’s going to come up and be the next thing. People have to come out and try to find music early. You can’t just jump on the bandwagon late. This show is for the fans from top-to-bottom. Your day is going to be full of music, fun, and a good time. The energy is going to be phenomenal. I’m going to be there as an artist and as a fan. I get to watch all of these great bands go out and bleed every night on stage. I love it.
Brent Smith: I remember going to these festivals as a kid, and I think I’m no different than Sully or Rick on this, but I’d be trying to figure out a way to get backstage [Laughs]. I’d be trying to meet the bands I was there to see. By no means would I be trying to break the law or anything. When I would go to the festivals, I was always trying to get into a meet-n-greet to say hello to the artists who inspired me. I’d be trying to get across the fence, so to speak, and get to where the action was.
Sully Erna: If you can’t do that, when we’re on, just come to the front of the stage. I’ll hand you guys passes and take you right to Brent’s dressing room. If you guys can’t get there, just let us take care of that. We’ll bring you right to his hotel room or wherever he is. We’ll make sure you find him [Laughs].
Brent Smith: Sully knows exactly where my heart lies. He knows how to make me happy. We’ve known each other for so long.
Sully Erna: I know where he is so if you want to meet him, come see me, and I’ll make sure you find him. I’ll show you how to get past the security and all of that crap.
Question: What are you looking forward to most on the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival?
Brent Smith: I’m actually looking forward to the jet skis Sully’s talking about on off-days. He just threw that out, and I didn’t even know he was thinking like that, but I like the way the man thinks. That’s what I’m looking forward to.
Sully Erna: There are going to be a lot of good things happening and plenty of great times on this tour, for sure. We’re all friends. We have great times as much as we have weird times because it’s a job like anything else. You have your great days and your bad days. You take the good with the bad and just roll with it. In the end, it’s always a good time. Everyone is usually sad when the tour ends because we had such a great time and played an awesome show. Over the years, for me, you can only go to the mall or fucking CVS so many times [Laughs]. I have to do things differently. I have to mix it up or 6 weeks feels like 3 months to me there. That’s why I bring things like that up. I’ll try to go anywhere on a day off but a hotel room and a mall.
Rick DeJesus: I agree with you! I feel the same way and my band thinks I’m nuts. You’re talking about going golfing, and that’s living man. I’m in for the jet skis [Laughs].
Brent Smith: Sully and I saw each other for a minute in Philadelphia. We were talking about UPROAR before it was really in motion. One thing we talked about was sitting down and figuring out a way for all of the main stage bands to get together and do a song at the end of the night. It’s really great when you can show the audience the camaraderie between the bands on the main stage. It’s not like it’s the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. You can’t bring all 15 bands up there, but you want to put something together for the audience so they walk away from the experience of the tour seeing what they absolutely weren’t expecting. We’re going to try to figure out how to make it really special for the crowd so they’re like, “I can’t believe they did that. I wasn’t expecting it.” They’ll remember it for the rest of their lives.
Sully Erna: I agree with Brent! We tried this on the Staind tour I just did. Mike Mushok and I talked about it every day, and we never got it together. It bummed me out. I really want to get it together this year. It’s a nice treat at the end. It gives the festival that atmosphere of a good time. We go through that trying to figure out our own set and what the audience will react to and how. We’ve got to let the ego and figure out what the big hit is out there that the crowd is going to get on their feet for and clap. I’m sure we’ll get it together. The big struggle is going to be figuring out what the piece to do is.
Brent Smith: We’ve all known each other for quite a while. We’ll just sit down and talk it out. We’re all pros and we know how to do that. I’ve been on stage with Sully before. I’ve been on stage with Aaron before and done songs. It’s the same thing with Jacoby. Rick and I haven’t gotten a chance to do that. Aaron has also come up and sang with me on some of the Shinedown songs. It’s about us sitting down and going, “What can we do that will make the whole crowd go, ‘This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen’?” Being the guys on the main stage, it’s our responsibility to put that in motion.
Rick DeJesus: You guys name the time and place. I’ll sing anything with you!
Sully Erna: I have to say one thing as far as what I’m looking forward to. This is behind-the-stage stuff people don’t get to know about it. The people who run this festival—John Reese and these guys—are the best at this. John also does the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, and he is the best at this. I always have the best time doing this guy’s festivals. The atmosphere back stage is always great. He treats the bands with respect. The whole thing goes flawlessly. There’s a great vibe there. I became really close to the people who work in the office on the last Mayhem run. It’s really a family vibe. There’s never any drama or ego crap. It’s a great down-to-earth feeling. That helps us stay relaxed on the road and do our jobs. I want to give a shout out to Reese and those guys.
Brent Smith: I couldn’t agree more about Reese. For Shinedown, this is the first time we’ve worked with him. I had a call with Reese and John Oakes who’s part of UPROAR. Sully brings up a very good point. We’ve all worked with a lot of promoters over the years, and Reese is in the elite when it comes to that. I’m especially looking forward to working with him on this tour. Major props need to go to him and his entire crew. In the industry, they are known for doing it the right way.
Question: It does get hot out there, how do you train your voices to beat the summer heat?
Brent Smith: Rick actually does a proper warm-up.
Rick DeJesus: I started early and went to a coach. I do a warm-up, and it hasn’t failed me. I get into these weird habits, and I do them all. I have to take like two hours before each show to do all of these strange, superstitious things. A lot of them pertain to vocal stuff. It’s still going strong. Maybe it’s the baseball player in me. I have these habits.
Brent Smith: For me, it’s just…
Sully Erna: [Laughs] I hear Brent warming up all the time when we do shows together. I’ve got to just tell you that. He could be right next door to me in the dressing room or he could be around the corner down the hall a football field away, and I can hear him when he’s ready to go on stage.
Brent Smith: It’s funny, man. I don’t actually have this great preparation or anything. When it comes to the warm ups, I’m probably the worst. I’ve been to instructors, and it’s never worked for me. If I’m going to go onstage for an hour and a half, I can’t warm up for thirty minutes or an hour. I’ve already blown it out. I’ll do five or ten minutes with a couple of scales, and I’ll yell at the top of my lungs a few times. Adrenaline takes over at that point, and I just go out there and do it and pray to God I’ve got it.
Sully Erna: I’m a hack. I don’t do shit [Laughs]. I don’t even know how to sing still. I’m trying to figure that whole fucking thing out. Listen, you’ve got to remember something. I’ve been a drummer my whole life. I’ve been playing drums since I was three-and-a-half-years-old. That was my first instrument. Singing is something I stumbled on by default because I couldn’t find a singer to be in this band when I started writing this music. It was back in the early ’90s, and everyone was still singing kind of high. I didn’t want those kinds of vocals. I wanted it to be more like Metallica. It was just me going, “Let me try this”. I thought I could make it sound like it did in my head. I was horrible! I was so fucking bad. I kept going and going. Eventually, my voice developed, but I never had lessons. I wasn’t taught how to sing. Although, I’ve been told over the years that I sing correctly because I don’t sing from my throat, I sing from my stomach. That’s usually why my voice is loud. Then again, everything in my life is loud. My daughter’s loud. My truck’s loud. My fucking band is loud. I’m cursed with everything in my life being loud. As far as warm up goes, I don’t do that, but I will say I notice that when I get off stage, I’m singing way better than when I get on stage. It’s the opposite of what Brent said. I think it’s because everything has opened up. If I feel like I’m tight or tired, I’ll have Throat Coat or spray that helps the vocal cords say lubricated. I’ll loosen up and yell a few times, like Brent said. I’ll sing along to a couple of songs I really enjoy. It may not be the proper way of warming up a vocal coach will show you, but I think it works the same way. If I put on an Alice In Chains song for instance, he has a low, deep voice, but he gets up there in register and hits some good notes at times. For me, it’s about loosening up the cords and making sure they’re not stiff and tight when I get on. There are times when I do that more now than in the past. It’s however you can make yourself feel good and loose before you go on stage.
Brent Smith: I have one thing to touch on with Sully. He was taking about his voice there because he was a drummer. He had this sound in his head for the vocal style of the songs he was writing so that’s why he gave it a shot. Case in point, you’re talking about one of the most recognizable voices in rock ‘n’ roll if not music as a whole with Sully. So, you must be doing something right, my friend. I’m in awe of Rick every night as well. I had the pleasure of working with him quite a bit this year. We did Avalanche together. We just got done doing a run in the latter part of June and July. He’s an amazing showman and a powerful voice. There are a lot of reasons to come and watch this amazing tour we’ve put together. From the main stage side of things, when you talk about Rick, Aaron, Jacoby, and Sully…
Sully Erna: And Brent Smith…everybody should know by now that Brent has one of the strongest voices out there if they’ve listened to rock ‘n’ roll. I didn’t mean to cut you off, man, but I have to say a few things about Brent. You’ve got to give props to yourself. You’ve done your work over the years. There’s no doubt. Everyone’s eyes opened real fucking quick when he did a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” I didn’t even know who they were, and I was like, “Holy shit!” I know he’s going to hate me for saying this, but that is the only time in the history I’ve been a musician that I heard a fucking band do a song better than the original people. I have to tell you, Brent. That’s better than Lynyrd Skynyrd’s version.
Brent Smith: I’m honored you would say that my friend. I have a quick story. Sully brings up a point here. We were doing a show in Boston at the House of Blues on our last record, and Sully was working on an album at that time. It was like two years ago. Sully came out to the show and brought some friends. He was like, “Wait until he sings this cover of ‘Simple Man’.” We didn’t play it that night though. I saw him up in the VIP area, and he was like, “Dude, I’m going to tell you this right now. I was so looking forward to that song, and you didn’t play it.” I told Sully, “There are some personal issues going on with that song right now. That’s why we’re not playing it.” Sully said something that changed my life actually on a professional level. He put his arm around me and said, “Dude, it’s not about you. It’s about the audience. All of those people came here tonight. They wanted to hear your songs, but they wanted to hear that song and you didn’t play it for them. You’ve got to remember something. It’s an honor to do what you do for living, and need to give the people what they want.” From that night on, we put the song back in the set. He was right about that. It was something I had to open my eyes to. I never got a chance to thank him for that, but I want to thank him now.
Sully Erna: I was trying to get the point across that it’s about the hits. I came there as a fan. I didn’t come there as a friend of Brent’s. I wasn’t coming there because we’d worked together for ten years. I came there because I was a fan of hearing some of the stuff they’ve written, along with that song. To me, that’s one of their hits. Yeah, Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote it, but so what? The Beatles wrote “Come Together,” and Aerosmith did an amazing version of that. It’s part of their thing. “Train Kept A-Rollin'” isn’t even an Aerosmith song. I didn’t find that out until years later. It’s part of your thing now. People want to hear the hits. They want to hear the songs they love you singing. There’s a reason why that song was huge on the radio. I try to tell young bands that all the time, “Do not neglect the hits.” Do you think Steven Tyler wants to sing “Dream On” every night thirty years later? Fuck no! He has no desire to sing that song, but he gets up there and does it. When he sees thirty-thousand people singing along with him, his whole train of thought changes at that point. It’s about delivering to the audience and playing the songs. A lot of bands will go, “We want to play the ‘b’ cuts because they’re cooler. These are the ones that didn’t make the radio.” They try to go for this underground vibe, and that’s cool if you want to be in the clubs for the rest of your life. If you’re going to play to 20,000 people and entertain at a level like we do, you’ve got to play the hits or you’re going to be in trouble.
Question: What’s the art of constructing a set list for a tour like this?
Brent Smith: In all honesty, this was very hard for us. I want Rick to go into how they’re two records in and they start the show on the main stage. For Sully and Godsmack, you’re talking about a lot of singles and fantastic songs. For us, we put it together by the way they transition with each other, but we look at the hit values. We actually did a little bit of research and looked at the radio stations presenting—whether it was one radio station or a neutral show between the two of them. We looked at it market by market what songs got played the most. That’s how we designed the set list we’re playing.
Rick DeJesus: We’re surrounded by legendary bands who have so many hits. We’re at the beginning of getting things rolling. The only thing we can do is bring the hits—whatever we got. We try to put the set list together by what gets them going the most. We obviously play our most known stuff. We want to come out there, sweat a lot, and get them going.
Sully Erna: Yeah, it doesn’t matter if you have one hit or 20 hits, as long as you play the song they want to hear that drew them into the band in the first place. There are a lot of great songs on our records and not all of them make the radio. That’s one of the things that’s been a bummer for me over the years. I grew up with vinyl. Then, it went to cassettes and blah, blah, blah. Now, we’re back to how it was in the ’40s where there’s a single and a B-side because we’re doing singles on iTunes again. Because of that, people can suck out that one song they heard on the radio. Then, they hear the second single and that grows on them so they suck out that one. If we’re lucky, we get three or four singles on an album, but there’s still another 8 songs on there. There’s a lot of passion, blood, sweat, tears, and work that goes into those songs. I believe some of them are even better than the commercial hits. People draw themselves into what we feed them on the radio, but it’s important we also give them what we’re energized about. To me, building a set list is about putting together pure, raw energy. If the band is honest about their performance, the people will appreciate it whether they know the songs or not. You have to be honest and passionate about your playing. Otherwise, it’s too mechanical up there. When you build a set list, any band needs to focus on building energy and putting on the best show they possibly can because that’s our job. Our job is to deliver a big fat ass rock show. The people will come to you. For us, it’s getting harder. We have a lot of songs we want to play, and we don’t have time in an hour to play everything we want to play. As Adelitas Way grows older and Brent and I have more catalog and everyone builds a collection, it gets tougher and tougher because you need to deliver the hits. Then, you want to do B-cuts. You run out of time. It’s like I’d need two-and-a-half hours up here to do everything I think they’d want to hear, but you can’t. You have to mix it up, pick and choose, and hope you’re playing the right song in that city. Either way, they’re all great songs. These bands haven’t gotten this far because they write bad songs [Laughs]. You just can’t get to everything in the night. You build the best show for that hour or so on stage.
Brent Smith: Sully and Rick touched on three major points. You want to get them going. You want to have nothing but pure energy, and you want to be honest. The audience can see right through it if you’re trying to put some sort of façade in front of them. They don’t like it. They want you to give them your absolute best. That’s what we’re all going to do down to ourselves and everyone in Godsmack, Staind, Papa Roach, and Adelitas Way. It’s something I was thinking about a second ago when we were talking about everybody’s vocal styles. It’s down to the musicianship and vocal styles of all five bands on the main stage. It’s a powerful evening. Let alone the two stages in the beginning of the day, when that pavilion opens up and those gates come up and they come into our world, it’s on.
Sully Erna: He’s right, man. What I love about this bill is all of the talent on this main stage is really diverse and unique in their sounds. None of us really sound like each other. That’s really great. Sometimes, you go to like a death metal festival or whatever, and the bands sound too similar. They’re too close together. For a fan, it can sound like the same band over and over again sometimes. On this bill, the music is really compatible, but it’s very diverse. Each band has a different sound from the others. That’s what’s going to keep people fresh and enjoying the evening.
Question: Alright, so what are you going to cover together?
Sully Erna: We just told you we don’t know yet [Laughs].
Question: Can’t we throw around some ideas?
Rick DeJesus: Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping”! We’re doing it [Laughs].
Sully Erna: We’re going to do “My Sharona” or a Doobie Brothers song. [Laughs] It’s impossible to say.
Brent Smith: I know that we’re all talented individuals. I think we can all sit down and go with our gut. The biggest thing will be everybody getting on the same page. You want to do something anthemic, and you want to bring a song with a unified feeling that will really set the place off. We’re all smart guys. We’ll figure it out. That’s why we do what we do.
Sully Erna: I personally think we should all do the male version of “Lady Marmalade” [Laughs].
Brent Smith: That’d be good.
Question: Are you guys going to try to catch some of the unsigned bands on the Ernie Ball and Jägermeister stages?
Sully Erna: Brent said it earlier. For sure, when you’re there. I’m not going to be there every day hanging around, but there will be days I am. On those days, I’m going to try to catch as many bands as I can. I don’t know what their music sounds like or what their performance is like, but I’ve been surprised in the past. Sometimes, I don’t always watch the opening bands because we could be tied up doing press or photos or we have a full day before. You don’t get the opportunity to catch the earlier bands. When I have though, I’ve been really surprised at times, and I’ve become a fan. We did a show a while ago, and I was in my dressing room and I heard this chick singing on stage. At that moment, I had nothing to do. I was bored. I was like, “I’m going to watch this band from the side and check them out. It sounds cool. It’s a girl singing.” It wasn’t Halestorm because I’d been touring with Lzzy and I knew what they sounded like. This band blew my mind, and now I’m a humongous fan of Dead Sara. It’s those kinds of surprises that come from going and watching the other bands you don’t know much about. Watch out for that band. Their stage show is ridiculous. They’re so good on stage. It made me feel like an old man. I want to personally check out as much as I can.
Brent Smith: Sully makes another good point. I was reviewing our press schedule the other day, and there’s a lot going on. Everyone on the main stage has a full day of press. Whenever you get an opportunity, you do the best you can and watch who you can watch. There are two other stages before the main stage opens up. If you have time in the day, you go out there and check it out.
Sully Erna: That’s the great thing about having six weeks. You may not get to it in the first week, but you will be able to get to see every other band a few times. It depends on our schedules.
Brent Smith: The show starts off at 1pm in the afternoon. It’s a long day. Sully and I are the last two of the night, and you still have a performance to put on. You have to be ready for that. You want to check out other bands, but you have to be rested and ready for the hour you’re on stage to give the people what they pay for.
Question: How did you guys meet?
Brent Smith: I met Sully a long time ago in Knoxville, TN at the Electric Ballroom with my first band signed to Atlantic Records. This was back circa 1998. I don’t think you remember meeting me. Godsmack was playing a 2000-capacity club on their first record. You were doing a Zombie cover of “Thunderkiss ’65.” Hell, Rick and I met each other on The Sound of Madness. We’ve known each other for three or four years.
Rick DeJesus: We’ve been honored you guys have really helped us. We came out as a young, hungry band, and Shinedown really took us under their wing and showed us the way. It’s been a great couple of years knowing Brent, and I look forward to getting to know Sully as well. I can’t wait to go and do this. I’ve been amped for this tour. I can’t wait to get out there.
Brent Smith: 2005 was our second record, and Sully and the guys were doing a humungous tour. They asked us to come out there. It was us, Rob Zombie, and Godsmack. We were out there for three months. In my personal career of playing live for ten years, I learned so much from that tour. I learned the proper etiquette, how to tour right, and put on a proper production. I’ve got to give a lot of props to the man. I’ve learned a ton from Sully. He’s a brilliant individual and a talented guy.
Sully Erna: Thank you! You’re making me blush!
Brent Smith: I have to be honest. You’re at the forefront of why a lot of people love rock music. Rock ‘n’ roll hasn’t gone anywhere. A lot of that is because of what you and the bands on the main stage have done. That’s what makes UPROAR so genuine and beautiful. It’s a tour that shows the world what’s up. A lot of people will be flying in from other countries to see it. It’s not just the United States.
Question: Even though the genre is still technically “underground”, the numbers of the tour show how much passion people have and will always have for rock music.
Sully Erna: I agree.
Brent Smith: I’ve said this on stage before, and it’s true. Rock ‘n’ roll is not a genre of music. It’s a way of life for a lot of people. You cannot, on any level, take away the power or passion from a fan who’s inspired and basically gets out of bed in the morning because of the awe-inspiring feeling of what rock ‘n’ roll does to them on a daily basis. At the end of the day, you can be inspired by a lot of different genres of music, but it will never stray too far from drums, bass, guitar, badass vocals, and a killer song. That’s the beauty of rock ‘n’ roll. It ain’t going nowhere.
Rick DeJesus: Never! I see what’s going on in music as a young artist. I’m watching who’s influencing the next generation of kids, and it’s a bunch of clowns. If I can do anything with stomping those people and bringing back the real shit, I will. I grew up on Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains. We’ve become underground. We need to be the role models on people’s walls that are cool. There’s a lot of electronic shit out there with people pushing buttons and pop songs being remade one-hundred times with auto-tune all over the place. Sometimes, they’ll tell me there’s no chance in hell we’ll get on Leno or Kimmel. I should open up magazines and see Brent and Sully because these guys are artists and geniuses. They’re putting their hearts and souls into records. The shit is real. A bunch of trash is taking over the media and the world. I want to be part of anything I can. If I’ve got to do hand-to-hand combat to stomp some of these false artists out, I will.
Brent Smith: When we ended our last record cycle, I had interviews with quite a few journalists. They said, “How does it make you feel the days of selling ten million records are over?” I said, “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” You have to connect with people. There’s a young lady by the name of Adele. She personifies a vocal style and honest, musical sensibility played with real instruments. She’s about a month-and-a-half off from selling 10 million records in the United States. It’s a different style of music, but at the same time, it’s not. It’s rhythm and blues. Music is a pendulum. It’s constantly swinging. It will always come back around. You can have a gimmick and shticks that work every once in a while, but it will always come back to drums, bass, guitar, fantastic vocals, and a killer song.
Rick DeJesus: It’s coming back right now. UPROAR will be a part of that. Thousands of people will come out and have the best time of their summer. Nothing can compete with what we’re about to bring from every artist on the stage.
Sully Erna: I want to endorse something Brent just said. He hit on something very important I think people need to realize. I have a different opinion about a lot of stuff. With Adele, he hit it right on the head. She’s probably one of my favorite artists right now. I listen to less rock music now than I ever have. I draw influences from so many different styles of music. That’s why when I did my solo record, it sounded completely different than anything I’ve done with Godsmack because I’d draw from world music, Dead Can Dance, and Mazzy Star. These world artists play their instruments like we do, but it’s a different style. For me the beauty lies in the work put into it. I’ve got to tell you. Even with the electronica and pop artists out there, at times there are people writing songs for them, but it’s still an art. For what it’s worth, it can be really powerful. Nobody wants to like Lady Gaga in rock ‘n’ roll because she’s the pop diva selling out arenas everywhere. Good for her! She’s writing huge, fat hits. She won me over at a certain point. I’m gonna tell you straight up. When I saw that HBO special and I was looking at the Monster Ball concert, at first I was like, “This is ridiculous. It’s so cheesy.” When those credits rolled at the end, they showed her in the dressing room, warming up with her backup singers and singing from her heart. That made me realize this girl doesn’t run tape, and she can sing her ass off. I don’t care what anybody says. You may love her, hate her, or think she’s a kook, but she’s the modern day Grace Slick from Jefferson Starship. She’s just a really bizarre artist. That girl can really sing her ass off, just like Adele. I love the diversity of music and think it’s important people keep trying different things because otherwise we all sound the same. We have to have those kinds of influences. My hat’s off to them. Raw talent draws people to her—like Brent was talking about. Adele has sold 10 million records off raw talent. Some songs are just her and a piano or her and a guitar. She doesn’t even need an instrument. She can just sing, and it’s overwhelming because it’s so amazing. Besides the lyrical content and being able to touch every broken heart in the world, there’s still a passion and sincerity to her voice that’s so important for people to hear, recognize, and embrace. That form of artistry isn’t as around as it was when people were cutting vinyl like Etta James and Aretha Franklin. I’m glad people acknowledge that and it’s becoming admired again. To me, that’s the heart of rock ‘n’ roll. To hear a singer reach for that note and crack a little bit is the most beautiful thing in the world. I don’t want it to be perfect all the time. Like Rick was saying, it gets carried away with auto-tuning and pushing buttons to make a song happen. There’s an art to rock ‘n’ roll and this music that needs to be nurtured and savored. I’m so grateful for artists like that.
Rick DeJesus: I’m fans of those artists as well and the superstars are undeniable. The electronica stuff is at the point of oversaturation where every Tom, Dick, and Harry is trying to make these songs. When that starts happening, it’s time for the genre to step in. Lady Gaga and Adele are the gems. Their art is beautiful. The Top 40 are saturated by people chasing the dollar. Electronica music is oversaturated like people said about rock a couple years ago. When everyone is running towards that, you have to stick to your art, pain, and what’s inside of you. You have to do your thing. That’s coming out of all of us, and I feel a shift coming.
Sully Erna: It’s a different world, but there’s beauty and a lot of work in it. It’s a different kind of work. It’s the difference between someone who slings a hammer and builds a house and someone who sits in a cubicle and works on computers all day. They’re both exhausting and some do it better than others. Rick’s right though. There are some real cheeseballs out there who are just whatever. Look at Nine Inch Nails though! That’s completely electronic, and it’s insanity. I couldn’t do it. It all comes down to understanding they’re two different worlds. Rock ‘n’ roll has always been the black sheep of the family. People have tried to condemn it for years. It’s stronger than any kind of music because it always survives the worst of times and the most controversy. For what it’s worth, we’ve always had to fight this battle. Like Brent and Rick said, here we are. We’re not going away. You’re not going to kill it. If you don’t love it, that’s fine. Whatever feeds you those vibrations and gets you off your feet is where you need to be. Rock music is our art. We play our instruments, sing our notes, break cymbals, and smash guitars. That’s the beauty of what we do.