SEVENDUST guitarist Clint Lowery says his band's past use of the Confederate flag was done "as a spoof."
The Confederate battle emblem has long been decried as a symbol of racism and violence, and it has become a frequent target for protesters following the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of police.
When SEVENDUST played Woodstock '99, SEVENDUST's Vince Hornsby played a bass with a Confederate flag on the body.
Asked in a new interview with the "Talk Toomey" podcast how he feels about SEVENDUST's past association with such an offensive and divisive symbol, Clint said (hear audio below): "Our thing was funny, because we were doing it as a spoof. We were trying to kinda use it in this cynical way, so it's gonna be completely misunderstood now. We were using it in a smart-ass way… It's confusing.
"We're all being educated — everyone's being educated," he added. "Things we thought were cool before aren't cool anymore, and I understand why they're not cool anymore. And it's, like, okay, yeah, I didn't know enough about what the situation was to even have a… It was just ignorance. You do things as a younger person — you're, like, 'Oh yeah, this is cool. This is against the grain' — and you realize the sensitivities; you learn about it. And that's what I think that I'm trying to do — is, like, okay, that wasn't cool. That wasn't a decision that was something I'm very proud of. You live and learn, you admit when you do wrong and you change. And that's what everyone needs to do. I can't control anybody. I just do what I do, try to be as open and loving as I can. And that's it."
Lowery said he tries to teach his children to love everyone, regardless of their race, but also to realize that not everyone feels the same.
"My contribution to this world is gonna be my education that I give to my kids and show them love and show them how to give love to others of all nd every background," Clint said. "But then I'm also gonna teach 'em to defend themselves — that people in general can be good; people in general can be bad. But for the most part, you treat people with kindness and respect. And if anything changes — someone's coming at you, verbally or physically — you defend yourself. 'Cause that's gonna happen too. But I really just wanna show them love, and I love that they have compassion in their hearts at a very young age. My proudest moment will be sending two people out in this world that have a good heart. That's really all I want."
SEVENDUST's African-American lead singer Lajon Witherspoon voiced his views on the Confederate flag during a 2018 interviw with Billboard. He said: "Listen, man, I used to wear a belt buckle that had a Confederate flag on it. Just 'cause I flew that flag doesn't mean I was a racist. We're just country boys, and that's a country-boy thing. That's what the cool thing about it was — that Vinnie would have a Confederate flag with me [a black man] standing beside him. At that point, love sees no color at all. But I can't say, 'This guy flies the flag the same as this guy,' because everyone has different values."
In a 2013 interview with Bloody Disgusting, Witherspoon said he hasn't seen racism at SEVENDUST gigs these days, but years ago on tour with SLIPKNOT he saw "a couple of knuckleheads" in the mosh pit give the Hitler salute, oblivious to what it meant.
Asked if he or SEVENDUST are viewed or treated differently because he is black, Lajon said: "No, not at all. You know, if it is, I don't see it. I have no room for ignorance in my life. I think that we've built a relationship and… not a fanbase, but a family base that really doesn't tolerate that. I'm the kind of guy that says, 'If you don't like it, don't come,' you know what I mean? We're not forcing anything on anyone. I know that that's still there, but I don't have time for that ignorance. We just keep on moving because it can never be the way it was before."
Four years ago, Witherspoon told The Salt Lake Tribune he sometimes thinks about whether his race might have slowed the band's rise.
"I've always wondered if I had not been a black man in SEVENDUST, would it have even gotten bigger?" he asked. "At the end of the day, I'm glad that it took this long because we're still here."