History And Discography Of Sevendust

Sevendust

Photo: Ted Van Pelt [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta natives Sevendust have been mainstays in the hard rock and metal scene since 1994. They’ve shared stages at clubs, small venues, large concert houses and outdoor festivals with some of the biggest names in the industry. They’re one of the most dedicated and hardest working bands around. The band originated with drummer Morgan Rose, bass guitarist Vince Hornsby and guitarist John Connolly. The trio had been together in a previous band called Snake Nation. After recording a demo for their new band, the group decided they needed a new vocalist. After about a year, they found local singer Lajon Witherspoon. Witherspoon had been singing in the R&B group Body and Soul in Atlanta in the early 90’s and got to know the guys after his group opened for Snake Nation. Guitarist Lee Banks was the final member to join the new rock band that was now known as Rumblefish.

After finding out that another band had already laid claim to the Rumblefish name, the quintet decided to abandon that name. They would later have a song called “Rumblefish” on their second album. The band chose the new name Crawlspace and had their song “My Ruin” featured on the Mortal Kombat: More Kombat soundtrack in 1996.

When Banks could no longer keep up with the band’s schedule, another guitarist had to be found. The foursome took extended looks at a couple of guitarists from the North Carolina band Still Rain: Troy McLawhorn and Clint Lowery. Clint eventually won out, and the classic lineup was formed. After finding out that there was also another band called Crawlspace and that they wanted money for their naming rights, the guys had to search for yet another band name. During this time, Hornsby happened to find a pesticide canister in his grandmother’s garage labeled Sevindust. A quick spelling change, and the new name Sevendust stuck.

Sevendust Debut Album: Sevendust

Sevendust released their self-titled debut album in April 1997. Produced by Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French, it was the world’s introduction to the raw energy of Clint and John’s guitars, Vinny’s subtle bass grooves, Morgan’s infectious rhythms and Lajon’s powerful voice. The album is anchored by modern classics like “Black,” “Bitch,” “Too Close to Hate,” “Wired” and many others. The song “My Ruin” was also added to their first release.

Their debut album spent sixteen weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and reached gold status in May 1999. The guys in the band started touring behind it relentlessly, including stops at Ozzfest 1998. Their record label, TVT, released a Live and Loud compilation that showcased their performance at Chicago’s Metro in September 1998. This was used as an infomercial that TVT used to promote the band on late night television.

Sevendust Album Two: Home

Sevendust’s sophomore album Home was released in August 1999. The songs “Denial” and “Waffle” soon became crowd favorites. This was also the first time that the band worked with musicians from other bands in recording some of the album’s songs. Deftones frontman Chino Moreno lent his vocals to the closing track “Bender.” Singer Skin from the group Skunk Anansie co-wrote and sang along with Lajon on the track “Licking Cream.” Sevendust toured with Skunk Anansie for several shows in Germany.

The band continued their diligent tour schedule, taking the national spotlight at Woodstock 99, where they shared festival stages with Korn, Limp Bizkit, Megadeth, Bush, Godsmack, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and many other rock and pop acts. Heading into the new century, Sevendust appeared with Kid Rock, Ted Nugent at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan to ring in the New Year 2000. They continued their momentum by teaming with Coal Chamber, Hed PE, Sepultura, Mudvayne, Slipknot and many more of their contemporaries for the Tattoo the Earth Tour that summer.

Sevendust Album Three: Animosity

In November 2001, Sevendust released their third album, entitled Animosity. This was a marked departure from their first two discs. The album features heavy rockers like “Praise,” “Trust” and “Crucified,” the uplifting anthems “Shine,” “Follow” (featuring Staind frontman Aaron Lewis) and “Live Again,” and more introspective songs like “Xmas Day” and “Angel’s Son.” “Angel’s Son” was originally recorded on a compilation tribute album to honor their late friend and touring partner Lynn Strait, frontman of the band Snot, who was killed in an auto accident in 1998. Two months before that, TVT released Retrospect, a DVD collection of music videos, live performance and interviews with the band members. Also included was their Live and Loud electronic press kit.

The group continued their typical tour schedule until early November 2002. Shortly before one of their shows, the group found out that Lajon Witherspoon’s brother had been shot and killed in Nashville. The band continued with an abbreviated set that night, but postponed other shows until mid-November and eventually went on hiatus until 2003.

After some much-needed time off, the band regrouped in 2003 to begin work on their fourth album with TVT Records. Shortly before the album’s release that October, Sevendust embarked on a small run of acoustic shows for the first time. Their acoustic concert in Athens, Georgia became the subject of their 2004 live CD/DVD release Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live, their first live album.

Sevendust Album Four: Seasons

The album Seasons debuted in October 2003 to their highest opening chart position (#14) of any of their albums to date. The record was fueled by aggressive songs like “Enemy,” “Broken Down” and the Morgan Rose vocal-infused “Face to Face,” which became the band’s traditional encore finale for several years. It’s still one of the most popular records in the band’s catalog many years later.

In December 2004, following their performance in Columbus, Ohio, lead guitarist Clint Lowery announced that he was leaving Sevendust. He wanted to record and perform music with his brother Corey, and went on to become a founding member of the band Dark New Day. The guys found a temporary replacement to fill Clint’s shoes for the rest of the tour. Afterwards, they selected their friend, Snot guitarist Sonny Mayo, to fill the open slot. John Connolly slid over to lead guitar while Sonny joined the band as their rhythm guitarist.

Sevendust Album Five: Next

At about the same time, Sevendust and TVT Records ended their working relationship. In 2005, the band turned to their engineer/producer friend Shawn Grove for assistance in recording their fifth studio album. Sevendust released the album Next in October of that year on their own imprint label, 7Bros Records. The album was distributed by Universal Records under their label WineDark Records. New songs “Pieces: and “Ugly” were soon released to become modern hits alongside their classic songs. A few months later, TVT Records released a Sevendust greatest hits album called Best Of (Chapter One: 1997-2004).

Unfortunately for the band members, their record label did not live up to expectations in terms of promoting the new record. The new album wasn’t being promoted and they were not receiving the money they were promised. WineDark Records went belly-up in 2006, leaving the members of Sevendust without a record label or distribution for their music. The implosion also left the band heavily in debt.

Sevendust Album Six: Alpha

In March 2007, the group released their sixth album, Alpha. Full of high-energy metal songs like “Clueless,” “Confessions of Hatred,” “Deathstar,” “Driven,” “Beg to Differ,” “Burn” and the title song, it marked another solid new album for Sevendust. The band toured behind the disc, which was the first rock album to be distributed through Warner Brothers’ Asylum record label. Sevendust began touring in support of the album that winter with the bands Red and Diecast as supporting acts.

In December of that year, a CD/DVD entitled Retrospective 2 was released. The compilation included a couple of new studio tracks, live recordings, concert footage and other special features (including a hilarious featurette starring Morgan Rose as “Pete the A&R Guy).

Sevendust Album Seven: Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow

In 2008, the band went back into the studio with producer Shawn Grove as he worked on his third album for them. Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow was released in April of that year. The album was highlighted by songs like “Prodigal Son,” “Hope,” “The Past,” (featuring Chris Daughtry on vocals), and “Sorrow” (with contributions by Alter Bridge members Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti). It was another successful album release for the band.

A few days before Chapter VII was released, it was announced that Clint Lowery was returning to the band. He had spent a few years with his brother, vocalist Brett Hestla, guitarist Troy McLawhorn and drummer Will Hunt in Dark New Day and briefly served as a touring guitarist for Korn. Now he was ready to return to the group that made him a household name in the modern rock community. Sonny Mayo graciously departed, and Clint reclaimed his spot in Sevendust as lead guitarist, while John Connolly returned to the rhythm guitar slot.

Sevendust Album Eight: Cold Day Memory

The group toured with Black Stone Cherry, Overscene, Neverset, Disturbed and other bands before taking some time off in late 2009 and early 2010 to start recording another album. Cold Day Memory was released in April 2010 and the songs “Unraveling,” “Forever,” “Splinter,” “Strong Arm Broken” and a few others were added to their live sets. Sevendust embarked on the Carnival of Madness Tour that summer with Shinedown, Puddle of Mudd, 10 Years and others. That fall, a definitive edition of their debut album was released with bonus studio, alternate and live recordings.

Sevendust Album Nine: Black Out The Sun

After spending time globe-trotting while on tour with Korn, Iron Maiden, Stone Sour, Ill Nino and others, the quintet headed to Architekt Studios in Butler, NJ to begin work on another record. Working with engineer Mike Feretti, Sevendust released Black Out The Sun on their 7Bros record label in March 2013. The songs “Decay,” “Picture Perfect,” “Murder Bar,” “Got a Feeling” and others helped make this album the band’s first #1 album on the Billboard rock charts. The band began touring in support of it with Candlelight Red, Coal Chamber, Devour the Day, Otherwise and a few more rock groups for the next year.

Sevendust Album Ten: Time Travelers and Bonfires

In 2014, the group announced that they would be working on a crowd-funded acoustic record. Fans were asked to submit their choices for Sevendust classics to be recorded on the new album. Released in April 2014, Time Travelers and Bonfires gave fans new songs like “The Wait,” “Come Down” and “Under It All,” as well as acoustic-based versions of familiar songs like “Trust,” “Gone,” “Karma” and “Black.” The band kicked off an all-acoustic tour in support of the album that spring. Their performance in Denver in April 2014 was the subject of a live DVD that was made available for sale on the band’s website in November 2016.

Sevendust Album Eleven: Kill The Flaw

The next winter, the members of Sevendust returned to Architekt Studios to record the album that would become Kill The Flaw. Released in October of that year, the first single “Thank You” became Sevendust’s first Grammy-nominated song. While they lost out that year in the category of Best Metal Performance to the band Ghost, the guys were honored to be nominated. They toured for the better part of two years in support of the album. During their tour schedule, they opened for Breaking Benjamin and Shinedown and headlined smaller venue tours in the United States and Canada with Sidewise, Trivium, Like a Storm and others as opening acts.

Sevendust Album Twelve: All I See Is War

In the fall of 2017, Sevendust met at the home of Florida record producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette to record their first album on Rise Records. All I See Is War was released in May 2018. It was praised by critics as another evolution of the veteran group’s sound. The band quickly released companion performance videos on YouTube of the songs “Not Original,” “Medicated” and the first single “Dirty.” They released a traditional music video for the album track “Unforgiven” later that fall. Sevendust started up the tour cycle by hitting the spring and summer festival circuit in the US, before opening for Clutch on several fall concert dates. They guys also embarked on some European concert dates, and have more US and Australia tour dates lined up in 2019.

Sevendust Solo Projects and more….

When the members of Sevendust aren’t recording or on tour, they are usually keeping busy writing or recording music. Guitarist Clint Lowery released a CD with Morgan Rose on drums called Last Parade under the side project Call Me No One in 2012. He also released four EP’s under his self-titled Hello Demons Meet Skeletons from 2008 to 2013. Clint has produced albums for Revolve and Three Years Hollow, among others. He even spent part of the summer and fall of 2017 playing guitar with Seether on their tour. (Clint’s brother Corey is now Seether’s touring lead guitarist.)

Drummer Morgan Rose has also produced albums for Candlelight Red, Neverset, the Infinite Staircase and other bands. He is the co-owner of Headbangers Con, a music and tattoo convention. Headbangers Con had their first convention in Portland, Oregon in November of 2018. Morgan has played drums on albums by Eye Empire, the Infinite Staircase. Ghost Embrace and the side project Le Projet. In 2009, he notably filled in for Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee and Korn drummer Ray Luzier for several shows.

John Connolly (lead vocals and guitar) and Vince Hornsby (bass guitar) are half of the side project Projected. Combined with Tremonti guitarist Eric Friedman and Alter Bridge drummer Scott “Flip” Phillips, the quartet have released two albums: the single disc Human in 2012 and the double-disc album Ignite My Insanity in 2017.

Lajon Witherspoon quietly released his solo track “Love Song” in 2017 shortly after a tragic shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is reportedly working on material for his first-ever solo album. There are no details yet as to when that record will be released.

Lajon often says that they don’t have fans, but rather friends and family. He also refers to Sevendust concerts as family reunions. That sentiment is very true. There are people who come from around the world to attend their concerts and have kindled lasting friendships at their shows. Their dedicated friends and family show up in droves for every show, no matter whether Sevendust is playing as an opener, on a headlining tour, playing a spring or summer festival or playing one of their albums in its entirety live. (The band did a short run of dates playing their debut album for its 20th anniversary in 2017, and just played their album Home front to back during one of their shows at Atlanta’s Masquerade Theater during New Year’s weekend in December 2018.)

When you’re at a show, take some time to admire the five talented musicians on stage. You might get a photo of the “Connolly Leap,” get a finger point from Vinny (aka “The Boss”), catch a drum stick that Morgan has thrown into the crowd or a guitar pick from Clint, or be fortunate enough to shake hands with Lajon during one of their songs. Every show is different, and the guys never disappoint. Their catalog is full of great music from great people. An evening with Sevendust is always a very memorable night!

 

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