Sevendust
1995
United States
Music group
The Atlanta-based band Sevendust was initially comprised of frontman Lajon Witherspoon, guiratists John Connolly and Clint Lowery, bassist Vince Hornsby, and Morgan Rose behind the drum kit. The band first appeared in 1995 as Crawlspace, releasing the single "My Ruin". Shortly after, the group changed name to Sevendust, burst into the music industry in 1997, with their self titled debut.

The band became one of the rising stars in late-'90s heavy metal, and the band's bottom-heavy riffs assert them as pure metal, but their soulful melodies make their music surprisingly accessible.

The band is very unique. On stage, the band puts on a great show from beginning to end. They have hard riffs, and a set of vocals that will send chills down your spine. Finally a metal band with a singer that can actually sing. The band had a certain groove on their first album, opposed to the steady tempo release Home. The album has the same pace basically throughout the whole album, however they still posses that something that makes your pulse throb with the beat.

The band released Home in 1999. The album was a hit right away. The band toured all over North America, playing over 800 shows alongside groups like Creed and a gig at Woodstock '99. No doubt their shows have a high-energy level. Keeping fans jumping and moshing to the music all night.

Their angst-ridden third album, the aptly-titled Animosity appeared in fall 2001. Orlando, Florida, December 14th, 2000 - It's Sevendust's final show, the last of more than three hundred on a grueling eighteen-month tour in support of their second album, 1999's Home. Tack on the previous twenty-four months, which were spent recording their debut album, slamming through hundreds more gigs in support of that, then writing and recording Home, and you're looking at a final tally of over eight hundred shows and two albums (with combined sales of nearly two million) in less than four years. Along the way, the Atlanta-based band reached new heights with fiery performances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and Farmclub, monster tours with the likes of Creed, and a nearly legendary, festival-stealing set at Woodstock '99. A heavy dose of success that ultimately exacted an equally heavy price. "Everybody in the band plays so hard that if you were to look at our medical problems, we resembled a football team," says drummer Morgan Rose, who had to undergo physical therapy when he got home. "I don't want to make it sound like a sob story, 'cause we're living a dream here, but everything needs to be done in moderation. We're looking at each other and we've got guys that have shin splints so bad that it takes thirty minutes to wrap them, we have a bass player who needed surgery on his knee, and we're basically not allowed to get off the road."

The seeds of Animosity, Sevendust's third and finest album, were planted during that fateful tour and nurtured once the band got home. They finally reconnected with their families by taking their first vacation, a total of six weeks, in more than three years. It was during that time that all of their accumulated emotions began to pour themselves into reflecting on the past, contemplating the future, and the writing of new music. After this time of reflection, the band's immediate goal was to reorganize their business infrastructure, including a new booking agent, personal manager, business manager, and lawyer. Having befriended Creed on their last tour and admiring their business atmosphere, they hired Creed's management firm Jeff Hanson Management and Promotions, who immediately put together a new team of people to nurture Sevendust back to physical, mental, and financial health. With a new attitude and a new family surrounding them, Sevendust began to write, looking at the past and present with different eyes. "The title of the record says a lot," admits Lowery. "There are issues that we had with people who led us the wrong way and disappointed us, and this was a chance to get it off our chests. We finally felt some sort of closure with those issues by writing these songs."

Despite the anger and frustration that perhaps all the members of Sevendust expressed, it would have been too easy for Animosity to be solely an angst-ridden, explosive barrage of simple metallic rage. Sevendust had something completely different in mind, an idea that began with "Angel's Son," their biggest radio hit yet and a moving tribute to the late Snot singer, Lynn Strait. "We realized that we didn't have to try to be the heaviest band in the world," explains Rose. "Our initial goal as a band had been to be a brutally heavy band musically that also featured the unbelievable vocals of Lajon on top of that, but somewhere along the line, we separated ourselves from letting him showcase his voice. When we did Angel's Son and people reacted the way they did, we realized that we could do exactly what we had originally wanted to do." "I set out to sing," says Witherspoon simply about his goals for Animosity. "I set out to sing my ass off, sing my heart out, and write songs, write real songs, and put our hearts into it." Relocating to their new management's home of Orlando in mid-February of 2001 to write, the band enjoyed the luxury of having far more time than ever before to create the record they wanted: "For the first time in our career, I felt like we actually had time to get back to a normal life, then we started writing the new music," continues Witherspoon. "We had enough time to write the music, live with the music, and know the music so well that when we went in the studio, we were all so impressed with each other. We were just very proud and excited." The band enlisted producer Ben Grosse (Fuel, Filter) and settled into Orlando's Transcontinental Studios to capture what Lowery calls the "contrast of heavy and light music together." First listen to the seething, coiled power of "Praise" or "T. O. A. B." for the heaviness and aggression that Sevendust is rightfully known for. Then flip to "Crucified" or "Trust" for an extraordinary combination of that aggression countered by beautiful melodies and passionate vocals, propelled even further by the tight, sinuously soulful rhythms that have also become a trademark of this versatile band. Exhibiting a new and more mature side of Sevendust, are "Angel's Son" and "Xmas Day," songs that showcase the band's depth with heart shattering, poignant
expressions of sadness that reach an emotional level rarely heard these days in the heavy rock field. "It's basically about a friend who's lost their way and fallen to pieces, saying that they've given up hope," says writer Lowery of the latter tune. "And having to find a way, as much as
it hurts, to say goodbye."

Then there's "Follow." While Sevendust kept this album close and personal, there was room for one guest appearance -- from good friend Aaron Lewis, lead singer of Staind. "Aaron and Jon Wysocki (Staind's drummer) flew in and were playing golf with Morgan," recalls Witherspoon. "So we just said, 'Hey, would you like to come down to the studio and do a song?' So Aaron came down, we let him listen to a couple of tracks, he heard 'Follow,' and I said, 'I think this would be a great song for you to sing on.' He did the second verse and some harmonies on it, and it turned out great!"

The triumph of Animosity leaves the band brimming with confidence. With this album Sevendust redefines both themselves and their brand of hard rock, taking their anger and turning it into something that is at once heavy and beautiful. "We really hope that people out there understand
where we're coming from on this record, and we're eager to see what they're gonna do," says Lowery. "It really means a lot to us what the fans think about this stuff. We wouldn't be doing it if it was any other way."

Sevendust's current state of mind is perhaps best summed up by the song "Shine," a gem of heaviness and harmony that expresses their desire to transcend personal, professional and musical boundaries. "I have such a hunger right now to make sure that Sevendust does the best it can possibly do, because it's time," concludes Witherspoon, all memories of broken bodies and dampened spirits erased. "I'm hungry again, the band is hungry again, the energy is there and we just can't wait to go and kick everybody's ass."

Not compromising on heaviness or rhythm, the 2004 album Seasons contains some of Sevendust's most fully realized songs they ever released.

"This is a recovery record," says Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose candidly about the band’s fourth studio album. "A bulk of the record is just dedicated to the realization that we’ve done some bad things to ourselves and people around us over the long haul."

It’s not like Sevendust have ever shied away from the personal, the heartfelt, or the painfully honest on any of their previous three albums. But this time, these Atlanta-based practitioners of their own special brand of uniquely melodic heavy rock have looked even closer within themselves than ever before, uncovering some harsh truths in the process. "We wanted to almost apologize in certain spots," continues Rose. "While on other parts of the record, we wanted to come clean about some things. It’s all real life stuff, and very close to us."

Guiding them this time was the sure hand of producer Butch Walker. Well known for helming punk confections (SR-71, Bowling For Soup) as well as pursuing his own eclectic pop-rock career, Walker may seem like an odd fit for the hard-rockin’ Sevendust. But the band’s relationship with Walker – who also hails from Atlanta – goes back to their earliest formative stages, when he produced the demos that ultimately led to the band’s record deal.

"Butch is great," says guitarist Clint Lowery. "We already had a closeness, with him being from Atlanta and all that, and there was a language that we already spoke with him. Usually when you work with a new producer, you have to get to know him, learn what kind of person he is, and where his head is at. We already knew Butch’s history, he knew ours, and we understood each other from the get-go, so we could cut to the chase and just get right to work."

Working with Walker was a homecoming in more ways than one. After recording 2001’s Animosity in Orlando, Florida, and 1999’s Home in Massachusetts, Seasons was cut right where it all started, in Atlanta, at Walker’s Ruby Red Studios.

"Atlanta is always gonna be home to this band, so there’s always a natural feeling there," confirms Lowery. "It’s just about being comfortable. We tried to get away from Atlanta on the last album, and it kind of backfired because we wanted to be less distracted, but when you’re away from home, it’s kind of like any other tour you’re on – you get these little wild hairs that you don’t get when you’re home. In Orlando, we did the opposite of what we were trying to do, which was focus on the music. Doing the record in Atlanta, everyone was really focused."
All the comforts of home helped to make Seasons the most diverse, groove-oriented disc in Sevendust’s catalog. Without losing anything off the band’s edgy, aggressive sound, the new album incorporates more pronounced melodies and a newfound looseness on tracks like "Broken Down", the groove-heavy "Separate" and the elegiac title cut. Meanwhile, heavier tunes like "Enemy" (the first single) and "Disease" benefit from the raw, live approach the band and Walker took towards recording.
"We’d used loops and electronic stuff like that in the past, but this time, I just wanted to get down to the basics of what makes us a good live band," elaborates Lowery. "We just wanted to make it as organic as possible. We didn’t want to do any tricks or effects that we couldn’t duplicate live. I think we’re a good enough band to pull it off and explore different territories, both heavy and acoustic, and we just did that on this one."
Delving into different lyrical territory was a major element in the songwriting for Seasons, and the band took their journey in an altogether new direction this time. "There are songs about being pulled in a bad direction and how you’re trying to keep yourself together and stay away from that side of life," says Rose. "A few of us had a rough time with drugs and alcohol, and we tried not to really go deep into discussing it, but it seems to have somehow grabbed the pen of a lot of people. We tapped into a lot of that and as a result, it’s a pretty healing record."
"I believe that Sevendust has gone through a metamorphosis," agrees singer Lajon Witherspoon. "We were these young, wild kids at the start -- there was a lack of moderation when we were younger. Now you have men in the band who are sober, like Clint, and I think you’ve seen a lot of that on this album – a change from boys to men. We’ve grown up together. There’s things on this album just dealing with love, loss (Witherspoon lost his brother in November of 2002), hurt, and things we’ve been through, how we feel now and how we’ve overcome things."

Just getting to the point of making a fourth album in the current musical climate, dominated by disposable pop, is a challenge and an achievement by anyone’s standards, and the men of Sevendust don’t take their position lightly. "We’re the luckiest band around," says Rose. "The people that come to see us are unbelievable. They’re like family. I know that when I look at the itinerary and see we’re going to Fort Wayne, Indiana, I know that so-and-so lives there, and maybe we can go and grab something to eat with those people. It’s a great place for us to be as a band – being comfortable and solid and knowing that the people who listen to our music treat us like family, we treat them like family, and we’ve got a really close relationship."

"I still can’t believe that we’ve finished recording our fourth album," says Witherspoon. "And people out there still want to hear what we have to say, and care about the band. That’s a beautiful feeling to continue to have such a cool career."
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