The last time I talked to Lajon Witherspoon, voice of the mighty Sevendust, he and the boys were about to release their eleventh studio CD Kill The Flaw. Since then, Sevendust toured with Godsmack, Breaking Benjamin, and Shinedown before heading Down Under to perform in Australia and New Zealand for the first time in six years. Then their song “Thank You” was nominated for Best Metal Performance at this year’s Grammy Awards, which Ghost ended up winning. Sevendust also performed at the inaugural Rock Carnival in Clark, NJ this past September.
This week, Sevendust kicks off their headlining tour with Trivium, Like A Storm and the newly added Westfield Massacre opening. The tour stops at NYC’s newly named PlayStation Theater on May 3, at Reverb in Reading, PA on May 21 and Rock ‘N’ Derby in Schaghticoke, NY on May 22. I finally got to hang with Lajon at the Rock Carnival and made him promise to call me before he headed out on this headlining tour. Well, he kept his promise and here’s what he had to say:
First and foremost, congratulations on your new baby boy!
Hey, thanks, buddy!
So, since the last time we saw each other, you’ve been nominated for a Grammy, which was well-deserved. You’ve been on the road since Kill The Flaw’s release including your first trip back Down Under in six years, and now it’s time to headline the U.S. When does Sevendust take a break? Because even when you took a break, you didn’t take a break…
Oh, well, actually, it’s funny. We really haven’t been that busy. It seems like it, but let’s see…We did the Godsmack run, which was incredible and went all the way to Canada and then we were off for several months. Then we did the Breaking Benjamin-Shinedown run, which was an incredible arena tour, and then we took off several months up until the Grammys and we went to the Grammys, but yeah, we’ve been off. And then we went to New Zealand and Australia, which we’ve never played there and it was incredible, man. But even between those times, we’ve been able to be off.
Back to the scheduling, because of my four-month-old son, in December, we had to shut stuff down and thank the Lord on that because we were able to get back to family and do some really important things. So, we look forward to heading out on this headline run, but we’ve actually been sitting back for a minute, which is incredible not to be like it has been before where we were just like everywhere over and over just saturating the USA. It’s been good to be able to pick and choose these tours and not be out there as much as we were before. So, it’s pretty cool.
I guess in the greater scheme of things, as fans, we don’t really get to see the time you’re taking off. I mean you’re actually on a lot of big bills…
Oh, yeah! We’re busy still, but if it wasn’t for me having my son, it slowed down. If he wasn’t here, I’m sure we’d be out there like Kunta Kinte on a new episode of Roots. (laughs) But this has been great, man!
You know, I think that Trivium is a great match, musically, for a Sevendust tour, and Like A Storm’s young energy really makes this tour a great package. Were you a fan of both bands before this tour?
Yeah, we’ve known Trivium for a while, man. We’ve always played festivals and things like that with them, so it’s really cool to have them come out, and a lot of people seem interested and feel that this tour will be a good matchup together. So, I look forward to it.
Like a Storm…I met those guys a couple of years ago hanging out with Tremonti. We actually took Wolfgang Van Halen up when he joined the Tremonti band, and that was the first time I met those guys. They were very nice guys. I liked the band, and it’s cool to have these guys out, and you know what’s fun about it, these headline shows that we’re doing with them, I believe they’re doing the festivals too. It will be a fun tour. It’s always cool to mix up the shows wherever we are playing whether it be a theater or a club and then by the weekend or a Friday or a Saturday, you play a Rock On The Range or a Rocklahoma. We’re actually playing Rockfest here in my hometown of Kansas City.
So, yeah, man, it’s exciting. We’re also bringing out Tommy Vext’s band, Westfield Massacre. They’ll be opening up the tour. This is a new band from L.A. and I look forward to having them out too.
Speaking of festivals, last September, Sevendust played our Rock Carnival in Clark, NJ. This May, you’re back for Rock ‘N’ Derby in upstate New York and a couple days before that, Rock On The Range. Is it safe to say that Sevendust likes festival season?
You know, some of these festivals, you can’t play them every year. So, there are several that we haven’t played in three years or maybe two years. They kind of twist the bands out. So, that’s definitely fun. We just happened to capture one of those seasons where we’re able to play all these festivals. We hadn’t done Rocklahoma in several years, we haven’t done Rock On The Range in a couple years, the Kansas City Rockfest, we haven’t done that in three years. So, these festivals, they’re always fun. You get to see a lot of cats that you haven’t seen in a while or been on tour with. It makes for a good day.
At the Rock Carnival, we finally had the chance to meet because you and the guys actually walked around to check out other bands like King’s X. Are there any bands on the upcoming festivals that you’re on that you’re excited to see?
All of them, man! It’s so much fun to run into different cats. I know that we’ll be playing some shows with the band we lost the Grammy to, Ghost, so I’ll be looking forward to their sets and see what’s going on. There are so many people out there. So many festivals have different bands that I’ve been looking at. I think ZZ Top is on one of the bills somewhere, which I look forward to seeing them. Maybe they’re on a different day. There’s a lot of stuff going on that I can’t wait to see. I especially love it if we don’t headline and we get to play during the day, so we can actually hang out and see some of the other bands. That’s like summer camp, man!
When you see the guys from Ghost, will there be any fun poked like, “Hey, we should have won that!”
No…Not at all! You know what, man, I feel so very grateful that we even got nominated. For me, it feels like we opened up a door and an avenue that we can go down for our genre of music for us. At the end of the day, the nomination is something that can never be taken away from us. So, at least we got someone interested in us.
For me, after being in the band for 20 years, I don’t think that validates us as a band, but for me personally, growing up watching the Grammys as a kid and always being there on that Saturday or Sunday to see that each year was an amazing energy and feeling in something that you always wanted to be part of as an artist and especially me becoming an artist, and wow, what an experience to be able to bring my family, and I hope in the future that we get nominated again and actually win a Grammy, but at least we got these cool gold medals that came with these certificates. So guess what? I’m framing it and putting them up somewhere. (laughs)
Well, I’m sure it was a good reason to get dressed up too, right?
Well, the women were a nightmare, but we were cool. (laughs) I’m like, “You gotta be kidding me!” Right after we found out we were nominated, they were on the phone making appointments to get hair done and makeup. My wife tried on…I think there were 652 dresses here at this house at one point in time. I said, “We’re going to be on the red carpet for about 13 seconds. No one cares, your feet are going to be hurting.” Ah, it was funny and all the things I said would happen, happened, but we had a great time, man. I can’t wait to do it again.
Now, the Sevendust train rolls through the newly named PlayStation Theater in NYC on May 3. Do you have any memories of a past NYC show that you can share with our readers?
Oh my God, I love New York City. That’s where we started. That’s where Sevendust signed to TVT Records and has always had this incredible energy in New York for us. I’ve had so many experiences there.
I remember one time we played a Ferry for WSOU, Seton Hall Radio, man! I remember, I think the band Pro-Pain was with us, and we had just started playing and the kids went so crazy that above their heads were these wood crates that they busted and pulled the life jackets out of. (laughs) I remember thinking, “I don’t think this is a good idea. Maybe we should get this thing back to dock.”
There were stories like that and even back in the day when we played CBGB’s and places like that growing up and coming to the city and thinking we were getting wined and dined when at the end of the day, we were paying for everything. (laughs) But it was exciting to be on TVT and have a record deal and doing what we dreamed of, and I’m still living the dream, even though it’s a little bit of a nightmare, but at least I get to do it.
Why hasn’t Sevendust filmed any official music videos for any of the songs on Kill The Flaw? Every video lately has been a lyric video…Why not film an actual music video?
Well, I don’t know. We talk about it, man. I think everybody knows what we look like. (laughs) You definitely can’t see us on MTV. That’s for sure! We might as well be a reality show, maybe you’ll see us then. Like you said, we did a lyric video, and I think in the future, we’ll probably talk about doing a video. I think we will, but we’re not in a rush for that just because I feel that the day of the videos, it’s just, I don’t know…I mean, I watch videos when I see them, but I’m not on the computer hunting down videos. I don’t know how many people are out there saying, “Yeah, man! I saw your video last night on my laptop.” (laughs) If they didn’t see it on Friday Night Videos…Wasn’t that a great show, man? I remember being so excited saying, “Oh, man! Look what they have on!”
Well, what song would you do a video for off of Kill The Flaw?
Oh, man. That’s a good question. I would like to do one for “Death Dance” or “Letters.” I think “Letters” would be really cool. I mean there are so many on that CD. We’ve been talking about it and we said, “Nah, we’ll see what kind of timeframe we have. Let’s see if we have another single ready to drop, we’ll probably do one.”
Does it make it easier to write and track new material when your manager owns a pretty amazing studio in Butler, NJ?
We ain’t ever going back there again. (laughs) No, it’s great, man! We love George [Roskos], we love Architekt. You have to change sometimes, and even though we love having that and we’ll always have access to that, but I think on this next run, we’re probably going to go somewhere different. Maybe not record the new CD in the winter like we did the last three times there. That’s how the seasons seem to fall into our time frame.
But George has been incredible to have in our organization and he’s definitely turned every page and may that be to be that young, hungry man that cares about not only the well-being of the band, but also our families, which we’ve never been accustomed to in this music business we’ve been in. We’ve always had people with their hands in our pockets. It’s work, work, work, work, and at the end of a damn tour, I got a t-shirt from another band and a Chick-O-Stick and I’m like, “What the hell is going on around here?” When I see the guy that might be managing us with a Jaguar, a Lamborghini and a couple of campers waving to us saying, “I’ll see you next tour.” We were like, something’s wrong here.
I never got to ask you this last time, but if you were given an opportunity to collaborate with any other musicians, not in Sevendust, on a project, who would they be?
I would have to say Prince. How about that? Prince would be cool to collaborate with. It would be awesome. Even if we just wrote a song. I mean he wrote that song (sings “Manic Monday”). He wrote so many hit songs that people don’t remember about. Man, I think he would be great to collaborate with. He’s still a musical genius!
One last question before I let you go, and this will be a tough one…Which 5 Sevendust records are your Top 5 favorites?
Oh, Seasons, Animosity, Time Travelers And Bonfires [acoustic CD], Sevendust, the original album, that’s one of my top because that’s the reason we’re here, and then I would say Cold Day Memory was good. That was fun. And then Kill The Flaw now. I think that’s five. [No, LJ that was six, but those are all killer records.]
Catch Sevendust live at the PlayStation Theater in NYC on May 3, Reverb in Reading, PA on May 21 and the Rock ‘N’ Derby in Schaghticoke, NY on May 22. For more on the Sevendust tour with Trivium, Like A Storm and Westfield Massacre, visit Sevendust.com.