Posted by: pop-break | April 19, 2013

Interview: Sevendust (2013)

bill bodkin is too close to hate …

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If you ever want to fluster Sevendust lead singer Lajon Witherspoon, tell him he’s one of the best heavy metal vocalists of all-time.

While this might sound like some sort of journalistic hyperbole or an interview gimmick where you flatter the person you’re speaking with — this statement is one that’s hard to disagree with.

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Let’s take a moment to think about this — who has a better range than Lajon? The answer, which will undoubtedly include ’70s Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Halford from every decade, is quite frankly very few.

See, what the famously dreadlocked and septum-pierced singer from the ATL has the ability to do is make the most ferocious and intense vocals have this beautiful sense of melody to it. And conversely he’s able to make the most sincere and harmonious vocals still have a sense of badassery and horns-in-the-air metal feel to them. Don’t believe it? Check out his song “Angel’s Son” which was dedicated to his late friend Lynn Strait of Snot. This song will absolutely blow you away.

Yet, despite appreciating the compliment paid to him, Lajon doesn’t cite his own vocal prowess on why Sevendust has enjoyed a near 20 year existence in the world of hard rock and heavy metal. While the band’s contemporaries scramble to put together nostalgic “reunion tours” or have completely fallen off the face of the earth, Sevendust remains a constant.

The reason?

Love.

Yes, the love that Lajon and his band (whose line-up has barely changed, outside of guitarist Clint Lowery leaving and then returning) have for each and the love they share with their army of lifelong fans is what fueled the Sevendust ship. They wear this love on their sleeve, leaving it all on the stage for their fans, who in turn have supported them for years through record, merch and ticket sales. And it’s this love for the game and for the fans that has kept them on the road for nearly two decades — a road that will bring them into Pop-Break’s hometown of Asbury Park, N.J. when they headline the famed Stone Pony.

Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin talked to Lajon about the band’s new record Black Out Sun, the band’s longevity and why the band came to from the Dirty South to the Dirty Jerz to record the new album.

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Pop-Break: How does Black Out the Sun differ from previous records?

Lajon Witherspoon: We took a year off to wrap our heads around working on solo records and other. Then we were writing a song a day, starting jamming a bit. Black Out Sun is probably my favorite Sevendust album. It might not be my favorite tomorrow [laughs] but right now it’s my favorite right now.

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PB: You guys actually came to New Jersey to record at Architekt Music Studios with engineer Mike Feretti — you guys are Southern/ATL-based band, why come all the way up here?

LW: The recording experience was incredible. We were working from noon to midnight and were off on Saturdays. We ended up working working there because Clint [Lowery] and Morgan [Rose] had worked there and Mike wasn’t afraid to do different kinds of production work.

PB: The new record dropped on your own label 7Bros. — how does it feel to have your own imprint? Are you guys planning on adding bands to the label or is this just a Sevendust only thing?

LW: It’s good man — and it made a lot of sense. We have more control on the record … it’s a real hands on experience. In the future we might add some other bands to the label but right now we’re growing and putting all our efforts into this record and seeing how Black Out Sun does.

PB: I’ve spoken with a lot of bands and to them, record sales aren’t as important as they once were. Now that you’re head of a label, do sales mean more to you or is it just an ‘is was what is’ kind thing?

LW: You want it to big as possible of course, but we’re at the point where we’re doing this for the love and then hitting the road and touring. We don’t need a #1 single, we’re going to tour the world and we get the love and respect from our fans.

PB: Vocally do you find it hard to change between your patented guttural roar and that super-melodic voice of yours?

LW: When I come out on stage, it’s just a magical experience. That’s my serenity. It’s kinda like how some people stutter in real life but when they get onstage it all goes away. That’s how it is for me … I just get up there and everything goes away. Vocally … some days are a bit rougher than others, but you just gotta rest man [to keep it strong].

PB: Sevendust has been around since mid-’90s. Many of your contemporaries come and gone, but you guys are still touring, putting out albums. What do you think has kept the band relevant, that keeps people coming out to live shows and buying albums?

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LW: Honestly, we’re blessed. We never gave up, we knew were destined to do this. There was also a lot of praying and love from our families that kept us going.

PB: In the same vein, are their any regrets in the career so far? Did you wish for national dominance or are you guys happy with the way your career has gone.

LW: I wish we had done the last OzzFest. We did a lot of them and Ozzy was just so incredible to us. Plus we got to play with bands like Tool, Deftones. We had a great run, met so many great people.

PB: The line-up for Sevendust has stayed pretty consistent over the years, what is it about these guys that has made you want to stay in a band with them.

LW: We’re a real band. A lot of people don’t understand that a band is not just a group of guys playing music. We are a band of brothers. We’ve seen the baddest sides of each other and been together through the happiest times of our lives. We’ve seen death, new life … this is a marriage, we’re in this till death do us part.

PB: So, what are the band’s plans for the rest of 2012?

LW: Just keep on rocking the world! We’re going to keep building incredible relationships with people around the world. We’ve still got a lot left to do with this band.

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Responses

  1. […] Check out Pop-Break’s interview with Sevendust front man Lajon Witherspoon. […]


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