For you non-Sevendust followers, Sevendust is an influential metal band out of Atlanta, GA that was formed in 1994 by bassist Vince Hornsby, drummer Morgan Rose and guitarist John Connolly. After recording their first demo, the trio found singer Lajon Witherspoon and guitarist Clint Lowery. Like many bands, they endured many name changes before settling on Sevendust, at which point, Twisted Sister guitarist J.J. French signed on to manage the band.
In April of 1997, they released their debut self-titled debut CD on TVT records and since then they have gone on to release eight more studio albums, with their most recent release, Cold Day Memory, dropping last April.
Back in 2004, Clint abruptly and mysteriously left the band toward the end of their tour for the Seasons album to be replaced by guitarist Sonny Mayo. Some speculated that he left the band because he wanted to play with his brother, Corey’s new band Dark New Day. However, in March 2008 Clint returned to Sevendust, right before the release of their seventh CD, Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow. Sevendust, who is also known as one of the hardest working bands in the industry, is back to full strength with its original members in place.
Below, Lowery discusses expectations for the new tour with their peers, Korn and Disturbed, his split from Sevendust in 2004, bringing technical guitar playing back to his band and writing a song for his hometown NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons.
Sevendust has already done some touring with Disturbed, and you actually played in Korn for a little while. Is there some degree of excitement to be touring with friends?
Yeah, man. We’ve known Disturbed forever, and Korn, I’ve obviously known those guys a lot more than I did before. It’s going to be really cool and we’re really excited about it. A bunch of those bands are each part of what we are, and it’s going to be cool. We’re definitely going to be excited to play in front of people who haven’t seen the band yet, and to play on the same stage with those bands, it’s going to be really cool.
I saw you on the Cold Day Memory tour, and that set kicked ass. Is the set list going to be pretty similar to that one?
I don’t know, man. We have a 30-minute set on this, so I think that we’re going to switch it up. I’m actually going to have this guy Brad fill-in and play for me for the first couple of weeks of the tour because my wife and I just had a child and I need to help her settle in before I leave for tour. I think that when we put the set list together, it’s hard to fit in six or seven songs that encompass the whole band, but we’re just going to try to make a very aggressive set so that people can remember who we are when we leave.
Yeah, I doubt that you’ll have a problem with that, and congrats on the new baby. You know, the last set that I saw you perform, you came out with an acoustic guitar and performed an amazing and emotional rendition of “Angel’s Son” with Lajon, can we expect something like that in this set also?
Yeah, on that we did a medley of that song “X-Mas Day” and then “Angel’s Son.” I don’t know if we’ll do that on this particular tour just because it’s more of an aggressive tour. We’ll probably try to keep it all electric on that song. I mean we’ll pull off some kind of surprise, but not acoustic.
What’s your favorite song to play live these days?
Right now, my favorite song to play is “Splinter” off of the new CD. It’s just a fun and very aggressive song to play, and it’s a great opener. In fact, we open with it now.
What happened to your hair, dude? The previous tour, you had a full head of hair, then the last time I saw you, you were bald. Did you lose a bet or something?
(Laughs) No, no….No lost bets. I just cut it off, man. I just kind of got bored of it, and cut it off. Now I’m growing it back out.
Who is the Atlanta Falcons fan in the band? You guys were asked to create a theme song for them this season and you came up with “Falcons on Top.” How did that whole thing come about?
Morgan and Vinnie are big Falcons fans, and it came along because a friend of ours had a tie-in with a company that plays songs from bands like us, they contacted us since we were from Atlanta, and it just all made sense. Ordinarily, we would not do anything like that, but it seemed like the cool thing to do because they’re the hometown team and we wanted to support. It’s just really cool that they did end up on top because it would’ve felt really weird to write that song for them, and they ended up being the worst team this year.
As a Sevendust fan, I have to ask: back in 2004, what made you leave the band right in the middle of a tour? I mean, couldn’t your brother’s project, Dark New Day wait until the end of the tour?
It wasn’t as easy as that, and it wasn’t the middle of the tour. It was at the end of the tour with three or four shows left. It was a nightmare, man. I was going through a lot of drugs and alcohol issues at the time, and I thought that I was going to die. I didn’t just kind of leave the tour, like “Hey, I’m going to leave.” I was dying of alcoholism. I needed to come home and at the time, it was a crappy way to leave, but my family was worried about me—there were a lot of things going on, and there were a lot of people that assumed that I just left. I hated that I had to leave.
I have no problem talking about it now, but before it was kind of just my business. Don’t get me wrong, I did want to play with my brother. I was going to do both bands, but like I said I was going through a really complex time, and my thinking was that I needed to come home and go to rehab and get my crap together. I’m glad I’m back and that’s all I focus on now. I love these guys, I respect the fans so much, I never want to bail out on shows, but sometimes life happens.
Since, you’ve rejoined the band, Sevendust seems stronger and more popular than ever, what’s in store for the hardest working band in the business?
(Laughs) We’re going to focus on this tour coming up, and John and I are already starting to work on some new material. We want to make a really aggressive metal record. I’ve been kind of nostalgic here lately and that’s been kind of influencing me right now so I think that we’re going to have a very interesting next record, and it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of preparation, and I’m trying to shred again, and I’m trying to get back to the more technical aspect of playing metal. It got lost for a while and I grew up on that technical era of shred guitar, and I kind of want to pull that stuff back out. I mean keep who we are, but venture out to a little more technically challenging stuff.
Is it true that you were planning to offer online guitar lessons via Skype?
Yeah, there were a couple of friends of mine that wanted to learn a couple of different things. I just did a small run where I did a small group of people on Skype and did a few lessons, and it was a cool way to connect with some fans. It was a quick thing that I wanted to try while I was home, and I was thinking about expanding on it later on as time goes, but doing it from tour. I just think it’s cool, man. I would’ve loved to have had a guy that I was into to go through riffs and songwriting techniques with me video-to-video. I really enjoyed it, and I’ll do it again. It was fun.
Catch Sevendust live on the Music As A Weapon tour at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC on Jan. 21, Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ on Jan. 22, or the House of Blues in Atlantic City, NJ on Jan. 30. For more info, log onto sevendust.com.