GODSMACK frontman Sully Erna recently spoke with WMMR's Sara and recalled meeting legendary RUSH drummer Neil Peart, along with his GODSMACK bandmate Shannon Larkin, and the funny interaction the two drummers had.
"Me and my drummer Shannon, who idolized Neil, finally got to meet him several years ago," Sully said (hear audio below). "It was great to just hang backstage with him and sit and chat. This guy doesn't really meet many people anymore; he's gone through a crazy life of his own. But it was really nice to be able to kind of share stories with him and tell him how important he's been to us.
"So, they [RUSH] were retiring. We got to see the second-to-last show [of RUSH's 'R40 Live' tour.] And Shannon [says to Neil], 'So, are you really done?' And he's, like, 'Yeah, I think I'm done.' And then Shannon goes, 'Yeah, but you're gonna still do a side project or something, right?' He's, like, 'Yeah, no. I'm pretty much done.' And then [Shannon] goes, 'Well, what about just having a drum kit in your basement? Are you ever gonna hold sticks again?' And he put his arm around Shannon and he goes, 'You know what, son? I think I've done about everything I can do on the drums.' And Shannon goes, 'Yes, you have, sir!' and he walked away. It was just one of those things that I feel Neil has literally done everything that could possibly be done on a drum set."
Erna told The Pulse Of Radio a while back that meeting the RUSH drummer was a highlight of his 20 years as a recording artist. "Being able to meet Neil Peart a couple of times, I didn't need to meet anyone else after that," he said. "As much as I love the Steven Tylers and the Joe Perrys and the James Hetfields, you know, I quit school because of RUSH. Really, that's all I did is I studied RUSH, you know. I sat home and strapped on headphones and played 'Moving Pictures' and 'Exit… Stage Left' and 'Signals' and all these great albums."
Last year, Erna told Classic Rock magazine that RUSH's "Moving Pictures" was one of several albums that changed his life.
GODSMACK's third full-length album, 2003 "Faceless", featured a track called "Serenity", which Erna wrote after reading the book "Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road", penned by Peart.
"The song was inspired by a book I read by Neil Peart, 'The Ghost Rider', and it's about the tragedies he went through," Erna told Metal Edge magazine. "The poor guy lost his wife and kid within a 10-month period, his dog died, and then his best friend went to prison for dealing weed when he was supposed to go out with him and ride his motorcycle to just clear his head and help comfort him. He had been through so much, he just got on his motorcycle, and within 14 months drove 55,000 miles — from Canada to Alaska, to America, to Belize, Mexico, back to Canada — and basically journaled out this thing about how he tried to heal himself and not put a noose around his neck. It's just an amazing book, and he meaning I got out of it was so inspirational, because I'm thinking, 'God, if a guy can get through that kind of shit, why should I bitch about anything?' That's pretty heavy duty. So I got this beautiful song, and the cool part to the story is, I got to meet Neil Peart and hand him this song and ask him to play drums on it. Though he had to decline because they were touring and stuff, he wrote me back a letter and signed my book, wished me the best of luck, and kind of gave me his approval on the song, because I was really nervous about it. For one, he's one of my drum heroes, and for two, I didn't want him to feel like I was prying into his life on such a sensitive subject."
GODSMACK is continuing to tour in support of its latest album, "When Legends Rise", which was released in April 2018. The disc follows up 2014's "1000hp" and is the band's first release through BMG after splitting with its longtime home, Republic/Universal.