STORY BY CHRIS CAMERON
For Digital First Media
Metal rockers Sevendust formed in 1996 in Atlanta and have forged one of hard rock’s most diehard audiences. 2014’s acoustic offering “Time Travelers & Bonfires” saw an big response from that community, being quickly funded through a PledgeMusic campaign. Just a year prior, “Black Out The Sun” entered Billboard’s Top Hard Music Albums chart at #1 and landed at #18 on the Top 200. They kicked off their career with a string of three gold albums, beginning with their self-titled 1997 debut and continuing with “Home” in 1999 and “Animosity” in 2001.
Sevendust recently received their first-ever GRAMMY nomination after two decades together as a band. “Thank You,” the debut single from their latest release, “Kill The Flaw,”received a nomination for Best Metal Performance.
Sevendust is comprised of vocalist Lajon Witherspoon, the dual-guitar attack of John Connolly and Clint Lowery, and the driving rhythm section of Vince Hornsby on bass and Morgan Rose on drums.
Connolly took some time out from touring to speak with Ticket.
TICKET: It looks like you’re about halfway through the spring “Kill The Flaw” tour. How’s it going?
CONNOLLY: Going great so far! Crowds have been awesome and we’ve been having a blast.
TICKET: “Kill the Flaw” has been a big success and “Thank You” has been a commercial standout. When you’re writing the songs that ultimately make it onto the albums, do you have a strong sense about which songs are going to really resonate with fans?
CONNOLLY: Usually the one’s we struggle with (laughs). For some reason the songs that are tough to finish end up being singles these days. “Decay” was difficult to finish; “Thank You” was the same and it was one of the last songs we finished for the record.
TICKET: Congratulations for the GRAMMY nomination. I know it sounds cliché to say it was nice just being nominated. But seriously, was it cool being recognized at the awards ceremony?
CONNOLLY: Absolutely. It’s always nice to be recognized especially by your peers. It was especially cool for our families as well.
TICKET: When people think of Sevendust they associate the band with the metal genre. Is it fair to classify the band’s sound simply as metal?
CONNOLLY: Depends on who you ask but I’d say so. Soul metal (laughs). We got lumped into the Nu Metal thing but Lajon sings and we’ve always had guitar solos. I guess we were hard to classify for some folks.
TICKET: “Kill The Flaw” is your tenth studio album. In some respects it must be nice to have lots of material to draw from when creating the set lists. Is it actually challenging having to decide what’s going to make it into a show?
CONNOLLY: Yeah, it is. We have so many songs that it’s hard to please everyone. We’ve changed the set up quite a bit over the last six months or so. We’re playing songs we haven’t played in decades.
TICKET: Some might think that the band is only influenced by metal acts, but between the members of Sevendust you have a variety of musical influences, correct?
CONNOLLY: For sure. Vinny and Lj jam country, Clint and Morgan jam Nine Inch Nails. It’s kinda all over the map. I’ll be jamming Gojira and The Civil Wars back to back.
TICKET: In an age of artists coming and going rather quickly, what do you attribute to the band’s staying power?
CONNOLLY: We love what we do and love doing it together. We respect each other and try not to take it for granted. We really are doing what we always wanted.
TICKET: What advice do you give to young musicians looking to get established?
CONNOLLY: Write songs you want to hear. Be yourself and know it’s a tough business to break into. It doesn’t happen overnight.