How RUSH's Neil Peart inspired GODSMACK's "Serenity" | Revolver

How RUSH's Neil Peart inspired GODSMACK's "Serenity"

Sully Erna recalls how a declined collaboration sparked years-long friendship with the Professor
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Godsmack's third album, Faceless, turns 20 this year, and during a recent conversation with Revolver, we asked frontman Sully Erna to look back on his band's commercial smash, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and produced the band's most longstanding hit, "I Stand Alone." 

"I liked the record. I don't love the production," Erna said of Faceless. "When I listen to it, I don't think we got the production right compared to the strength of the songs. I mean, obviously, our biggest single we've ever had, 'I Stand Alone' — that stood at No. 1 for 17 weeks on the charts — that's on that record. That was a great moment because I got to do my first real video, with The Rock and Kelly Hu from The Scorpion King, which gave me a little bit of an acting bug and I kind of pursued that."

However, there was one aspect of Faceless that's even more memorable to Erna than a No. 1 single and an acting gig alongside The Rock — the opportunity to meet one of his heroes, Rush drummer Neil Peart

"But my fondest memory is I got to meet my idol on that record," Erna enthused. "It turned out that Rush was playing in Miami when we were down there living and recording that record. [Drummer] Neil [Peart's] assistant reached out to my assistant at the time. He's like, 'Hey, we're in town. We know you guys are fans of the band and Sully always talks about Neil [in interviews] and he'd love to have you guys at the show.' 

"So they invited us, and it was so ironic because I had just been reading his book Ghost Rider, and I was so moved by the book that it inspired me to write the song 'Serenity.' I had just demoed the thing and handwritten all the lyrics. And so we went to see them. Of course, we had a great time. They put us on the stage during the drum solo and me and Shannon sat there with our Rush hats and shirts and tour books looking like nerds.

"And I get to meet Neil. I gave him the lyrics to 'Serenity' and even asked if he'd be interested in playing the drum track on that song, although he politely declined. He said, 'You'll see one day when you're well into your 50s that when you're on break, you're on break. And once this is done, I'm going to be taking some time off.' And now I get it because I'm in my 50s. But it still allowed me to establish a relationship with him, and over the years I got to know him really well and hung out with him a few times."