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‘We’ve still got a lot of gas’: Sevendust singer on band’s new album, tour

Rock band Sevendust plays at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (Contributed photo)
Rock band Sevendust plays at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (Contributed photo)

Last year, drummer Morgan Rose, perhaps inadvertently, caused a stir about his band, Sevendust, when in an interview on the Jamey Jasta Show he indicated there wouldn’t be many tours left for the band.

Soon, as other online and print outlets began spreading the news about Rose’s comments, the internet was abuzz with speculation that Sevendust was on the verge of plotting a final tour and calling it a career.

Various members of Sevendust were quick to clarify the situation, saying Rose’s words may have been taken out of context and assuring fans that the band is far from finished.

Now a year later, Sevendust has released a spirited new album called “Truth Killer” and is , with a stop planned Monday at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg. Singer Lajon Witherspoon is nothing if not excited about the future of his band.

“Tomorrow, I’ll be 51 years old,” he said, before stopping himself to note he surprised himself by revealing that detail. “I still feel like I’m 20 (or something). Let’s not say 20. I feel a lot younger than 51, you know what I’m saying. It (the band) keeps us young. I feel like there’s still a long way for Sevendust to go. We’ve still got a lot of gas.”

If anything, Sevendust may be experiencing something of a rebirth — or at least opening a new chapter in a career that now spans 14 albums, and as of 2024, 30 years.

“Truth Killer” marks the veteran band’s first album after signing with Napalm Records, and there’s been a whole new energy around the project, Witherspoon said.

“Napalm’s just great,” the singer said, noting that being on Napalm will allow Sevendust to build their touring base overseas and expand that audience. “Right out of the gate we started doing videos and press. Everybody from everywhere I’ve talked to, from Belgium, I mean, just amazing interviews. It’s been exciting. You know something good is going on if that is happening. It’s been a pleasure to be involved with these people.”

Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose and vocalist Lajon Witherspoon perform at the Hollywood Palladium in 2009. (KELLY A. SWIFT/FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER)
Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose and vocalist Lajon Witherspoon perform at the Hollywood Palladium onThursday. ///ADDITIONAL INFO: disturbed.0130 – 01/29/09 – Photo by KELLY A. SWIFT, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER -Sevendust opens for Disturbed. Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose and vocalist Lajon Witherspoon perform at the Hollywood Palladium onThursday. ///ADDITIONAL INFO: disturbed.0130 – 01/29/09 – Photo by KELLY A. SWIFT, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER -Sevendust opens for Disturbed.

And the actual writing and recording of “Truth Killer” was rejuvenating as well. Early on, all five band members — Witherspoon, Rose, guitarists Clint Lowery and John Connolly and bassist Vince Hornsby — got together to work on material at a 300-acre farm inherited by Witherspoon’s wife.

It was a great way to bond again, after the pandemic had kept the band members apart — save for several livestream performances — for much of that period.

The band set up in the newly renovated two-bedroom house on the property, and with no visitors other than family and little to do anywhere near the farm besides music, it proved to be a comfortable setting where the band could focus on the task at hand and have a great time in the process.

“The energy, it was magic,” Witherspoon said. “It was fun to wake up and do a big breakfast thing and hang out and then just jam past dinner, you know, grill outside. You could put fireworks up. I’ve got tons of crazy fireworks out there in the garage, just having a good time, being brothers the way we are. It was more intimate, really, really close.

“We were there to do a job and that was what we were able to do, and it was just (fun) to be in that setting,” he said. “We cooked dinner every night, man. Maybe we ordered a pizza one night, but other than that (we cooked), it was fun. We’d go to the grocery store. We’re cooking spaghetti tonight, we’re having steak tonight. We’re grilling out, listening to music outside, watching the sun set. Then going back in and listening to some more music before we go to bed and then waking up the next day early and doing our same schedule, we were working maybe from 11 to 11, or to whenever we felt like stopping.”

After wrapping that session, more writing continued until Sevendust headed to Orlando, Florida, to record with Michael “Elvis” Baskette, who also produced the band’s previous two albums, 2018’s “All I See Is War” and 2020’s “Blood & Stone.” Being back at Baskette’s studio provided another setting that stoked creativity.

“We were in the big house, the big mansion house,” Witherspoon said of Baskette’s Barbarosa studio. “Good God, it’s a beautiful mansion with an indoor pool and stuff in there.

“When you get there, it’s amazing. You know immediately why you’re there,” he said. “You cannot (get away) from the reason this is a music magic house.”

Beyond the physical surroundings, the chemistry the band has built with Baskette added to the experience.

“I think Elvis is incredible. His ideas are incredible. Everything he comes up with, anything he’s suggesting, is just amazing,” the singer elaborated. “He’s just very laid back and letting us do what we’re going to do. It always comes easy with him. It’s never like ‘Oh, s***!’ or under pressure or I feel stressed out, or I can’t sleep because I’ve got to do vocals tomorrow. It’s never like that. I’m so excited about getting in the booth (to do vocals).”

Witherspoon, who said he feels “Truth Killer” flows nicely and shows the growth and maturity of Sevendust, has good reason to feel proud of the latest album.

Like “Blood & Stone,” the new album continues to showcase the melodic side of Sevendust while retaining the crushing riffs and heavy beats that have always characterized the band’s sound. Songs like “Love and Hate,” “Won’t Stop The Bleeding” and the title track pair thick guitar riffs with big vocal melodies, especially in the choruses. Fans of the heavier side of the band will likely be drawn to “Fences,” whose furious tempo and choppy guitar riffs push the song toward punk, and the grinding “No Revolution.”

The band also makes more prominent use of sequencers, programmed rhythms and other synthetic/electronic sounds, which makes for a cool blend of traditional instrumentation and computer-generated sounds. Witherspoon said this sonic hybrid, which is particularly pronounced on “I Might Let The Devil Win” (a real twist for Sevendust with its simmering and soft textures), and rockers like “Everything,” “Superficial Drug” and “Holy Water,” was very intentional.

“It’s something that we definitely wanted to do,” he said. “Cliff came in, doing a lot of those sequencers and stuff like that, which was incredible to be around and to hear and to see. ‘Let’s try this, yeah, we like this’ and everybody would agree on ‘Yeah, that sounds cool. Let’s try it. Let’s go for it.’ It was definitely something we’ve always behind the scene done and talked about, so it was really cool to be able to finally have the time to say hey, we’re doing this. Let’s go for it.”

Witherspoon said the band will be playing several songs from “Truth Killer” on the tour, with the current single “Everything” and “Fences” being among the tracks featured in the show.

“We’re going to be really banging out a lot of the new songs,” Witherspoon said. “It’s a lot of the new stuff we’re trying to put out there so people can (discover it). We’ve been gone for so long, with the pandemic and everything, and it’s amazing to have the opportunity to play a new album. Of course, we’ll have stuff in there that the nostalgic (long-time fans) will love to hear.”

Alan Sculley is a freelance writer. 

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