Sevendust have been around now for over 16 years, released 8 studio albums and toured the world many times over. Through financial and label woes the band has survived to keep doing what they love, which is bringing music to the people. 2008 saw the return of original guitarist Clint Lowery after 4 years away from the band and it now seemed with Lowery’s return that Sevendust are back, almost revitalized in a way.
Fresh off the release of their 8th studio album ‘Cold Day Memory’ and currently on the‘Carnival of Madness’ tour in the States, we were lucky to be able to chat to Lajon Witherspoon singer for Sevendust, who have just been announced they are heading back to Australia for the Soundwave festivals in 2011. We got to talk all about the newest album, the return of Clint Lowery and his undying love for Australia….
Hi Lajon, thanks for taking the time to talk to us, it’s a pleasure to talk to you.
Awesome, pleasure to talk to you, you gotta be kidding me man, it’s definitely a pleasure to talk to you.
Firstly congratulations on ‘Cold Day Memory’ which we feel is such a great returning to the Sevendust of old, just what was it that set this fire burning once again?
You know with Clint Lowery coming back, I can kinda say long story short, I can say it’s like you have this puzzle that you could put in a frame and show it to everyone but you know, we had it, we had the puzzle and we didn’t put it in the frame but we still had it but now that missing piece is there so we put it in a frame and you can see it again, you know what I mean? It was still cool to show to everyone and it feels cool but I think that missing piece was the original band and that’s what we have now and we’re very happy.
Not taking anything away from Sonny Mayo but having Clint Lowery back in the band seems to be a major influence in not only the bands sound but the songs on this new album.
Oh definitely, not anything to take from Sonny at all, you know, he was great, definitely when you start a seed and it grows and that’s the plant and I feel that’s kind of what we had there and it was just good to have him back it was like he never left and he came back. We didn’t even jam together for a little while, it just became brothers again just like ‘what you been doin?’ and listening to what’s been going on in life and he just picked up the guitar and he played and that tone came out and his voice and my voice with John came out and he’s like my Clint Sambora to my Black Jovi I say ha ha ha ha! You know what I mean in a silly way but the chemistry I feel was needed to be back and we did it man and it was a cool album to do together you know
Well I’m a big Bon Jovi fan so that was a cool reference ha ha.
Oh yeah I like that one too ha ha ha hey let me tell you something, our old, well she started out as our merch girl, she was my neighbour Cindy and then she became our tour manager and now she’s out with Bon Jovi actually working for them right now
Good gig to get!
Yeah if you want some tickets, I got you; just call me back dawg ha ha
The recording process for this new album was captured and shown to the world via video on you tube and your website. What was the reasoning behind doing it this way where other bands may completely shy away from showing any imperfections that may arise?
I don’t know, I thought it was crazy to do it because you know I’m always, well not just me but a few of us have always been the kind of the guys to be, I don’t like to say mysterious, but I’ll say shy to that type of thing. The idea came up and Rafa actually I call him Ralphie, that did the artwork and the video documentary, you know he’s worked with bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed and really cool cat and just became a part of the organization in a sense and really it wasn’t even like there was a camera always around, because a lot of the footage was even done by us with flips, so it got kinda natural and I’m not one of the big guys on the computer and I don’t like to do that a lot but to be able to see that and see the responses was so cool and we figured that man, we’re doing something that is different and it’s really cool, these people are seeing that we’re real guys, we’re not trying to live like no rock star, doing cribs, getting down and dirty and we’re doing it for the reason we started doing this which was about the music you know and I feel like you get to really see that side of us, we’re a hard working band, and I think that’s cool, and I kinda get shy when the camera comes around, but we’re real and we have a good time and I think its cool that the people get to see that.
The one thing that we’ve always loved about Sevendust is the melodic nature of the songs in the midst of a whole lot of heavy, how are the songs usually constructed to get this formula just right?
I like to sing, that’s what I like about it man. I like to sing and I think I’m very lucky to be able to be in a band with a bunch of singers, you know, everyone can sing in this band, I mean from Clint, Morgan, John, Vinnie, all of them can sing. It’s very cool to have your brother sit there and sing something to you and he might say ‘its not gonna sound cool and don’t laugh at me’ but damn you can sing, and its cool. I’ve always been from the point that not everything should come from one persons point of view, we’re all grown men and if anyone knows each other, we know each other, its family and if my brother beside me has a song or a thought, or something that’s going on in his life that’s made him cry in front of me and I know he cant get home in two months and we’ve gotta deal with this together, if you’ve got something to say, I’m gonna sing it you know what I mean and that’s another thing that’s really cool about this band, its not a big ego thing when it comes to that. We started this for a reason and I feel like it’s our destiny to finish it off together and we’ve been very blessed if that makes sense.
It certainly does. Now one of our favourites is ‘Karma’ are you all believers in Karma and has there ever been a time when Karma has come back and bitten you?
Oh my god Karma whooo bust out man! I’m the king of Karma my friend, oh my god, every day of my life. You know and I don’t even know how to say it, you try to live right and you slip and you get off the beaten path and I think Karma is something that hits you every single time and it feels like you would learn so as I get older I try to live better if that makes sense ha ha ha yes sir, I’m the King of Karma baby.
How was it working with Johnny K as producer on this new album compared to previous producers such as Butch Walker and Shawn Grove?
Oh my god, you just said Shawn Grove and Butch Walker! Ahh that’s crazy! Let me see, Johnny K was so cool to work with man, but you know what Sevendust we’ve done a few several albums without having a producer so we had a certain method that we went into with it, we wanted to really get in there and get this album done. I think what we really needed was someone to come in and really police. Kinda the things that were going on as there were so many ideas and I think Johnny was able to do that and have some great ideas and give us some suggestions. He was a really cool guy just to hang out with and just the other day we did like a little thing for the Atlanta Falcons and we were able to go to Johnny’s studio and actually record again and to be back in that studio. I tell you what, it was 30 below zero the last time we were there and the other day we were there it was 100 degrees, outside I think the temperature was 104 ha ha ha so we got both extremes in Chicago but it was cool to go back in the studio. A band Pop Evil, Johnny was working with and we just took a day and did a song and Johnny actually worked with us with the song and he was just a really good energy and so much respect for the bands he’s worked with and a cool guy that we definitely like to work with again.
Where the band shines is on the stage and we’ve had the privilege of seeing you on your previous visits to Australia, the last time with Ozzy Osbourne…
Oh my god, I was gonna say, last time we were in Australia, and I talk about this like I’m the big shit when I say it ‘yes the last time we were in Australia was Sevendust and Ozzy Osbourne, take it, take it home’ ha ha
Now you’re finally coming back in February for the Soundwave festival, what can we expect to see at these shows?
I will tell you what. This is what I’d like to say. We’re gonna bring it, oh but it’s already gonna get brought so you might as well say we already brung it because it’s gonna get brought ha ha
Ha ha I can’t wait!
I can’t wait either man, Australia to me man, now listen, I don’t know if you know, I hope you take this and this is something that’s really cool, but when you go into my theatre room, from the first time that we went to Australia, I bought the little Qantas plane that flies around in a damn circle. This thing is a jet and I would hate for it to fall off that string because it would probably break every album and TV in the downstairs, but it still hangs from the ceiling in the theatre room and that’s the first thing you see when you go in. I love it man, Qantas plane and you guys! You know what, Australia is so beautiful and the people are so really cool to us and I can’t wait to get back and my wife is mad that she’s not going to be coming with us but we look forward to getting there.
Are you going to try and do a sideshow for us while here for Soundwave?
Oh yeah definitely, we’ve just gotta make sure that happens man, we’ve just gotta talk to the agency about all that and making sure that we come back, but we can not wait, you have no idea. This is a joke within the camp, from the first time we were in Australia when we walked from the hotel right there on the water you could see the Opera House. It’s beautiful and the big bridge, oh my god you’ve gotta be kidding me, and there was this man right on the water going back to the hotel and all he kept saying was ‘Australia… look at the view, Australia’. For years that’s what we always say and it’s so cool man, you guys are in our hearts always, you have no idea.
I’m glad that you guys are able to still make it down here!
Yes sir and I can’t wait man, you have no idea and I think the people there are beautiful, I mean I guess it’s because you guys are in Australia, I don’t know what’s going on but it’s just a good vibe man ha ha
Do you have a favourite memory from a previous tour of Australia?
Let me see… I tell you what, when we were there with Ozzy and the Grand Prix race was going on and I remember just being in my hotel and hearing the fast cars just all down the streets you could hear them. I was like, you’ve gotta be kidding me, this is going on in the street? I remember more the shows were incredible, I feel like we’ve been there before when we were there, the way that everyone accepted us, that’s what I remember. I remember feeling like home, it was cool.
Lastly, there’s a whole lot of ink in, actually I should say ‘on’ the band, are you all collectors of different artists work or do you have a loyalty to a certain tattooist if so, where?
Oh no, you know what, I’m old man, and I’ve had, let me see, I had Philip Lewis he’s from New Zealand he actually did my chest piece and Tony Levis did my arm in Miami and a guy named Stu out of Fort Wayne Indiana. So there are not very many, but I don’t know if I’m a loyal guy, but if I feel it, it takes me a long time. The latest tattoo I got is my wife and my newest baby on my arm and then probably I would think, 5, 10 years ago? It’s been a long time since I got a tattoo, I have to be in the moment and I have to really feel it. Especially out here on the road. I tell you what I think it’s tomorrow or the next day, they’ve got a guy out on the road to come and do tattoos, they’ve got like five guys coming down for Shinedown and I might need to hurry up and try and feel it ha ha ha.
Thanks for your time, once again, absolute pleasure.
Oh it’s pleasure to talk to you man and I can’t wait to see you, make sure we hang when we get to town alright.
Will do, thanks LJ, see you soon.
Thank you brother. Bye.
Sevendust are playing Soundwave 2011.
Saturday 26th February – Brisbane
Sunday 27th February – Sydney
Friday 4th March – Melbourne
Saturday 5th March – Adelaide
Monday 7th March – Perth
General Public tickets on sale Thu 26 Aug, 9am. www.soundwavefestival.com