Arthur Magazine vs. Godsmack

ARTHUR magazine editor Jay Babcock interviewed Godsmack frontman, lyricist, and producer Sully Erna this week about some of the promotional purposes for which the band's music is used. Godsmack has a strong following among enlisted guys in Iraq, and that fact is not lost on military recruitment publicists. The band has sold millions of records, and their most recent album “IV” debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart last week. Snip from the interview transcript:

SO I NOTICE YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN REALLY INVOLVED WITH PROMOTING THE MILITARY. [1]

Well, they actually came to us, believe it or not. Somebody in the Navy loves this band, because they used ‘Awake’ for three years and then they came to us and re-upped the contract for another three years for ‘Sick of Life.’ So, I don’t know. They just feel like that music, [laughs] someone in that place thinks that the music is very motivating for recruit commercials I guess. And hey, I’m an American boy so it’s not… I’m proud of it.

YOU’RE PROUD OF RECRUITING YOUR FANS INTO THE MILITARY?

Well, no. [laughs, then jokingly] Don’t be turning my fucking words around, you!

WELL, TELL ME WHAT YOU MEAN. YOU SAID YOUR MUSIC IS POWERFUL, IT’S GOT AN EFFECT, LIKE YOU SAID, AND YOU’RE LETTING THE MILITARY USE IT. THE MILITARY, WHO ARE THEY RECRUITING? 18 TO 30-YEAR OLDS, RIGHT?

I guess… I don’t know what their recruit age is. I know it’s at least 18.
(...)

IN 2003 YOU DID A SHOW THAT STARTED WITH VIDEO FOOTAGE OF APACHE HELICOPTERS HONING IN ON A DESERT TARGET INTERSPERSED WITH THE WORDS “WE WILL PREVAIL./STRONGER THAN THEM ALL.”
(...)
Yeah…?

SO YOU’RE USING MILITARY IMAGERY WITH YOUR MUSIC AT YOUR CONCERTS.

First of all, it was a COMPUTER image, a computer-animated helicopter that didn’t… There was no scene of a desert in there. It was a helicopter that rose up from the screen and scanned the audience. It was an EFFECT. And then it shot out missiles that hit the stage.

Link to full transcript. See also "Selling War: How the military’s ad campaign gets inside the heads of recruits," by Greg Goldin in the LA Weekly. Snip:

The Navy’s tweaking of this theme is “Accelerate Your Life,” which promises
“adventure, travel, career, patriotism, technology, education, honor.” Set to
music from the band Godsmack, a voice-over intones, “If someone wrote a book
about your life, would anyone want to read it?”

(thanks, Paul Cullum!)

Reader comment:

Michael J. Harris says,

Sully said, 'It was an EFFECT. And then it shot out missiles that hit the stage.' Anyone else thinking of the Party Posse, Bart's boy band from the Simpsons episode "New Kids on the Blecch", that turned out to be a subliminal ad for the Navy?"

Snip from transcript for that Simpsons episode:

Milhouse:
There's trouble in a far-off nation,

Ralph:
Time to get in love formation,

Bart:
Your love's more deadly than Saddam,

Nelson:
That's why I gotta drop da bomb!

Link