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Sevendust: ‘Infernal metal intensity’ melded with heavenly harmony, in SLC Nov. 2

October 23rd, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

By Max Parker Dahl

Coming to Salt Lake City on Nov. 2 is a group that has circled the globe, touring with names like Slipknot, Korn, Metallica, Staind, Disturbed as well as hauls cross-country with Ozzfest; they have three gold albums, have been to the brink of financial collapse and back, and still remain relatively unplayed and unpraised.

It is difficult to find a definitive genre to describe Sevendust; even by its members. Their infernal metal intensity is balanced with a choir of heavenly harmony as Lajon Witherspoon, drummer Morgan Rose, guitarists Clint Lowery and John Connolly all contribute vocally. Bassist Vincent Hornsby may not sing, but all members of Sevendust contribute to the writing process and bare their souls when recording and performing. A rare brotherhood has persisted for the men of Sevendust, and has kept them optimistic, relevant, grounded and informed. After spending four years without guitarist Clint Lowery, the band’s original lineup has released its eighth studio album, Cold Day Memory.

Personable, affable, family man and front-man vocalist Lajon Witherspoon took a few moments to reflect on the journey that has brought Sevendust to this current tour — as well as animal rights, the armed forces, and technology.

Hard News Cafe: So what does having Clint back do for the band? Musically as well as for cohesion?

Lajon: For a long time without Clint we had this beautiful puzzle that we had framed, but there was a piece making. Having him back is like having this whole puzzle back together. It’s the original style, the writing process that we love — because he’s not only a guitar player, he’s a singer too — so me and him, we really work well together. It’s just the original lineup, and it’s how it’s supposed to be. It definitely shows on this new album

HNC: How did it happen?

Lajon: It’s always what we always wanted, what we always talked about. It was a hard thing when he left. It was just something that was always talked about we had the opportunity to make it happen again, and we welcomed him back with open arms, it was like he never left.

HNC: What message are you trying to convey with this new album?

Lajon: It’s good music, it’s rock n roll music, it’s truth, it’s things that we’re going through in our lives. We’re not necessarily trying to put a message out, but I think the songs definitely relate with everyone out there because we are growing men going through the same thing that everybody goes through; with families, wives, kids, love, loss, anger… It’s all and everything! It’s just an album about what everyone in life goes through emotionally.

HNC: Online reviews have been raving. One review put it as the “perfect mix of beauty and brutality.”

Lajon: I like that, I agree. We are trying to paint a picture of a story where you can have “heavy” and you can have “slow”. We’re not afraid to write a heavy song, and turn around and write a ballad. It’s all about music to us. It’s about having longevity, and about being relevant. We’re very blessed to still be able to do that.

HNC: Sevendust has done a lot of big projects. Music for soundtracks, WWE themes, and recently with the Atlanta Falcons. How do you get involved with these projects?

Lajon: My buddy Endsel Dope, from the band Dope, works for Banshee Music, who owns the rights to a lot of sports music, pretty much all of it. He asked me to come in to do a song for the NHRA which is the National Hot Rod Association. We did the song then we kicked back, taking it easy–he said, “I like the song, I have a longstanding song if you’re interested, would you look through it?” I changed it around, rewrote it, and the Altlanta Flacons picked it up. Then we got the band, because, it’s great to have the singer from Sevendust, but if we could get the whole band it makes a better story. I got the guys to come in to rewrite the music, and we shot the video in front of the Georgia Dome.

HNC: Growing up in Atlanta, were you a big Falcons fan?

Lajon: I’ve grown up being a football fan. Period. So when I moved to Atlanta, It was just something cool to be a Falcons fan. Not just a fan of the Falcons. I’m a fan of football period.

HNC: What about when Mike Vick was with Atlanta?

Lajon: You know what, I was never a super-fan. I mean, he was good, but he wasn’t one of my favorite players. That whole thing with dog fighting involvement, that’s horrible. I don’t even know what he’s doing right now for Philly.

HNC: What direction is the band taking looking forward? How long do you plan on making music?

Lajon: I don’t know what else we would do! We might just continue to play and write music forever. We’re going to Australia, and I think we’re going to Japan for the first time. We were recently in South Korea for the troops. We’ll keep doing our music, to be relevant in this industry, and be able to go to these places and pack them out. Even if they’re not playing us on the radio, still we are able to go out and jam and pack these places out. Ultimately, it’s about those people who are supportive of us, that have made all of our dreams come true and kept us relevant in this game…that’s who we owe it to. To God and the people out there those, who I feel like, are family. We don’t have fans, we have family. It’s a family affair, that’s all.

HNC: Name the first song that comes to mind that really inspired you to become a musician?

Lajon: It would probably go back to church days. Seeing my father singing in church, and my mom, all that type of stuff. That’s what really inspired me, it was the choir. I love Christian music. I listen to it every day of my life. That’s an avenue that I’d like to go down too, to work with some Christian bands. To do something like that…definitely! I’m all about that. DC Talk, that type of stuff. I love it, Juice box, come on, get out of here! I love that type of stuff!

HNC: If the church choir really inspired you, where does your aggressive power come from?

Lajon: I think everybody has that. We all have that, it’s just a part of life I think. Not necessarily aggression, I feel more of an outlet. You have to have that. It’s an emotion that you have in there. What better place to write about it and get it out than in a song, that’s what we like to do. We feel like Sevendust is therapy too. We find serenity on that stage.

HNC: What response have you received on this tour?

Lajon: It has been different, maybe because we are older now. It’s just a different time. I don’t know if it’s because the planets are aligned right, but it has been incredible response, it’s a lot of love. I feel like each night is a magical experience that has been really cool. Sometimes I laugh at myself, because when I talk about it, I think, “man, you sound like Dewey Cox. At the end of the movie, ‘it’s a wonderful ride’” you know what, it has been a beautiful experience, and it has just gotten better now.

HNC: What do you miss most about “normal life”?

Lajon: Being with the family. We try not to tour as much, because it gets harder. My birthday was Oct. 3, and I turned 38. I have two kids and a beautiful wife, so that gets hard. Clint has a baby boy on the way! But we are out here, right now in a hotel room waiting to perform tonight. Hearing the little one say “dada” or “I love you”, or seeing a picture drawn for daddy. But I’ll get to see them. We just got a new puppy, an English bulldog for the baby.

HNC: Have you heard about Big Boi of Outkast breeding dogs in Altanta?

Lajon: Oh yeah, it’s a beautiful breed of pit bull. I know a couple of guys who have bought from his breed. Those Dogs get a bad rap because people who fight them. It’s almost a hassle now to have one in Georgia with the banning it, insurance policies that you have to have. Anything that we could do out there to rescue those dogs, especially those blue pits, such a pretty color.

HNC: If the band broke up tomorrow, what would you do with your time? I saw that Morgan tried his hand at ‘tattoo artist’…

Lajon: I definitely wouldn’t allow him to tattoo me! I would get back to music. We are working with some other bands. It would definitely be something in music. But ultimately, if it would make a happy family, I would work at Chuck-E-Cheeses. I’m having an incredible experience, and if it all got taken away, I would say “I’ve done enough to say thank you, I’ve really enjoyed the experience.” I guess it would depend on what would be the reason to quit making music. Is there something that could possibly make me not want to do music again, ever in the world? No, I don’t think so. What would be the reason for the band to break up, or the reason for us to stop? I think even if it stopped, two of us could get together and jam…we’d call it “Twodust, formerly Sevendust”

HNC: Could you share your opinion on the state of the metal/music scene today?

Lajon: I don’t know what ‘state’ it would be in, but I do know that it is good, it is relevant and people won’t be able to ignore it. Bands like Five Finger Deathpunch, who we love, Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, and Disturbed are big bands that are doing what they’re doing to keep this movement going. Metal, even when they say it ‘dies’, it never goes away, it is never gone! It’s always there. You can’t ignore it, when it’s on the radio, you need to jam it because that’s what the people want, and that’s what’s moving it forward; people who like music. They don’t necessarily need to listen to it, but its good, and its music. I’m not out there for a radio station playing a song that I don’t like. If I don’t like what they play, I change it and turn it to the one that I do like. It’s really cool to be part of the industry for embracing it right now. I think it’s a good ‘state’ to be in.

HNC: Is there anyone you would like to tour with at this point as musicians?

Lajon: Tool, Kiss, Kings of Leon, different gigs. It was incredible to play several times with the band Prodigy. That was an experience within itself. I mean, we have played shows in Germany, playing to 80,000 people. Crazy!

HNC: You would want to tour extensively with Tool?

Lajon: Yeah, I love them. We toured with Tool in 98, with Ozzfest. We were only able to say hello, because we were such a young band. After that we haven’t had a chance to run into those guys, and I don’t really know them, but they are definitely one of my favorite bands as well as A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer. Maynard is incredible. He’s someone I’d definitely like to meet and talk with and catch up with.

HNC: Is there one song that you love to perform?

Lajon: All of them. The night is an emotional roller coaster, and I love to paint a picture of beautiful music. It’s cool to have a catalogue as big as we have because we can pick and choose and feel the crowd out. We have a set list, but we change it around here and there.

HNC: What song have you written that has deep, emotional value for you?

Lajon: All of them! But to get down to the core of that question, I guess one song, “Angel’s Son” seems to set the mood more than anything. It was originally written for a friend Lynn Strait, a member of the band Snot. He was killed in a car accident with his best friend Dobbs and actually it’s kinda weird, one of the places we toured a lot with that band is the Salt Lake, Utah area when we started out. Being around so long, and meeting so many people with the career that we have seen death even more, we’ve lost more people. To me that song has turned into not only a song about death, but about life and celebrating with people that have met come into our lives and have gone and left us. That song just keeps reiterating itself, if that makes any sense. It has been a learning experience.

HNC: How did you end up in Sevendust? And what has it done for you, personally?

Lajon: I almost wrestled for college, almost went to the Marines, then I began really started dabbling into music a lot more. I remember the recruiter coming by my house EVERY Saturday. It got to a point where it got weird, I was telling him that I was going to be in this band, but he was telling me ‘you can be in a band in the Marines! Elvis was in the service,’ but I wasn’t buying it. It was an incredible adventure, but I had the opportunity to be in a rock and roll band during those high school ages, and it turned my whole life around. That’s what I really wanted to be, I really wanted to be a performer. After going to Afghanistan and Iraq and being around those brothers and sisters in the service, I say “Damn, I wish I would have been in the service” it makes me feel that way. But I’m glad that we did what we did and that our music is able to take us to the troops out there. Those women and men out there, the grandpas and the grandmas fighting out there. In a sense, I fulfilled that dream of being a soldier. I remember being in a conference room with a commander in Iraq and being handed a coin, he coined us and it was one of the top coins. And I looked at him, it was such an emotional feeling and he showed his appreciation for not only the Army but all of the armed forces and United States of America had for us, and it was awesome. We took a picture, it was something very touching to us, when I said, “when we were soldiers” he looked at me and said, ‘No young man, you are’ and I looked at him and said “you’ve got to be kidding me”. He explained ‘if you guys can come over here on your own and get into the mix with us from Afghanistan to Iraq, you ARE soldiers.” It changed my life. It was incredible. At my house I have over 200 coins, I have patches, flags that were flown; everything is framed in glass cases. There are beautiful people that I have met from the reserve, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines — even the South Korean soldiers that I have hung out with. Everywhere. Every branch, and hanging out with our allies in Iraq. All we do is just a little bit; it’s amazing how appreciative they are to us. I would recommend that to every band, being involved with the USO or whatever avenue they can to get involved with the troops, because it is definitely a life-changing experience.

HNC: Any funny experiences from onstage or touring?

Lajon: A bass player fell on his face the other day, facing the guys of 10 Years. I saw him the next day, and it looked like he ninja rolled six miles down a concrete hill. So we all laughed about that. He told us it was time to hang it up for a little while if we got that ugly.

HNC: With non-stop touring, how do you stay in shape and keep yourself looking pretty?

Lajon: Think of it like this: we get up on the stage for over an hour every night, you’re getting your work out. I’ve always said, “Sevendust and sports.” We go to the gym, we work out and keep weights here with us on the road

HNC: How do you spend your free time?

Lajon: At home, I ride motorcycles. That’s what I like to do, that’s my serenity. Out on the road, I was playing that Words With Friends for a while, but I can’t do that, it’s too much, it was taking over. Some of these guys out here on the road it becomes “Words With Life” because all they’re thinking about is playing. It was too competitive, so I couldn’t do it anymore. I would find myself at 3 in the morning, looking at my phone and being mad because the person I’m playing with is beating me. It was like ‘I’m becoming enemies with the friends that I was friends with…over this stupid game.’ You end up having to play against 5 people and then you can’t get your friends who you beat in Words With Friends to text you back because you beat them so bad. They’re going to have to do a write up for Words With Friends one day and say ‘it wrecked a lot of people’s friendships, you shouldn’t have played it as much as you did’

HNC: What about with the rest of Sevendust?

Lajon: We watch movies, scary movies. It being Halloween and all, we want to go check out Paranormal Activity 2 and with working out. Some of the guys play golf out here, there’s always something going on. I like watching my stories, especially Jersey Shore. It’s a disaster that I can’t wait to see what happens. You don’t really get to see that stuff from the road, so you get home and people are really watching this, I had to look into it and now I see why.

HNC: So are you a Blackberry or iPhone guy?

Lajon: I’m an iPhone kind of guy. Some of it’s amazing. Facetiming with my wife, she was talking to me, and I heard was excited kids voices, I had to jump out of bed because I was in my underwear. It works fine taking video, picture, I can get online…it does everything for me, except teleport me. I don’t need to have anything else.

HNC: I hear that is what they’re working on at Apple, the Teleportation App

Lajon: I wouldn’t be surprised. In South Korea we met a young man doing a seminar with new phones. I got to see 3-D stuff where the picture and video comes away from the top of the phone. It was definitely some Star Trek type of stuff; I definitely need to hold out for THAT phone. It’s so weird and scary. I think about our grandparents and those who came before us. Even the iPhone improvements from flip cell phones, that’s a drastic change that’s kind of freaky for us. Think of the cats that had the original phone…not even the cell phone, look how life has progressed. That’s something to try to grab a hold of. I think we get fooled by movies and stuff, but it’s really happening out there. It’s amazing what’s going on with technology, I love it. Cars running by themselves. Autopilot cars are trying to be introduced. And moving forward with cars, we know all about biofuels, there are a lot of tour buses out there running off biofuels. I think it’s a good investment.

HNC: That’s insane! Is there anything you’d like to leave us with?

Lajon: I look forward to seeing everyone in Salt Lake, to having a good time and continue building a relationship in Utah. Thank you for supporting the band, being there with us. I’m not telling you to buy Cold Day Memory and listen to it, but if you do, thank you. We appreciate it. I’m sure you’d enjoy the show if you came out; we’re going to make it special.


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  1. One Response to “Sevendust: ‘Infernal metal intensity’ melded with heavenly harmony, in SLC Nov. 2”

  2. By Ben on Oct 25, 2010

    Excellent interview! Definitely sounds like a show not to miss. 🙂

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