Prior to the group's performance at the Carolina Rebellion festival earlier this month, SEVENDUST vocalist Lajon Witherspoon was interviewed by LA Lloyd. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as followed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On his earliest musical influences:
Lajon: "Growing up for me, church was [my] first introduction to music, growing up as a Baptist. I remember still to this day, I couldn't wait to sing in the choir, but I was too young. None of the robes would fit me. I would always go past the robe closet and be like, 'Oh my god — it's red and it's gold lapels. They get to wear that?' And if you're really good in the choir, you get to wear the white one with the red and the gold. That, to me, was exciting, so I knew even [as] a child that the entertaining part of it was something that I wanted to do. I finally made it into the choir of the church, and that was fun, and that wasn't enough, and I got in school, and I was in choir in school — chorus, is what they called it in school. That was fun, and that wasn't enough, and they were like, 'You might want to do show choir.' I went to a thing and they're dancing and stuff, and I was like, 'That's not exactly...' I didn't like the songs, so then I got in a band in high school. My father was in a disco band, so I would get to see him rehearse. I would get to go to soundchecks, and I can remember the smell — the furniture, the candles and the whole energy of him playing music and what it was like."
On the song "Dirty", the first single from the group's new album "All I See Is War":
Lajon: "This is one of the first songs that was written. We went to Atlanta, and me, Morgan [Rose, drummer] and John [Connolly, guitarist] got together and put the song together. I feel good about it, because for the first time in a long time, we were able to let a team come in and police us, being Rise Records and some other people — kind of, 'You guys pick what you think should be [the single],' and 'Dirty' was one of the first songs they said, 'We think this would be great to represent what's going on,' and I agreed. I think it's really cool to have someone come in and look over, because we can be the worst. I think every song can be a single, and I can't wait to share the next single. I feel like this album has more than one — I think we can go deep with this."
On working with producer Michael "Elvis" Baskette:
Lajon: "The studio was themed after [Disney's] Haunted Mansion, so it was really like going into a different world — candelabras in the walls, and this beautiful velvet design, and the furniture was gothic, stuff that you just don't see [regularly]. Really fun and exciting to go in. It was cool to work in an environment like that. It was an experience like no other."
On the new album's themes:
Lajon: "I think the title — I don't want to be political, but 'All I See Is War' is definitely something that's going on in the world. The song 'Dirty', I kind of wrote that [about]... it could have been a man or a woman going to war; it could have been a grandma sitting on a bus or a train trying to get to her grandkids' house. You see things everywhere — you see war. You see different acts of war — maybe not somebody blowing something up, but you definitely see things going on. The picture on the new album, you see the kids playing, and it's innocence — they're having a good time, but behind them, there's fire and stuff. I have children, and my daughter goes to school and she comes back and she knows about something that I never would have taught her. You never know what they're going to learn, and I feel like it's all around. Maybe one day it will get better, but it's something we definitely can't hide from."
On signing with Rise:
Lajon: "I never thought that they were still signing bands in this day. For us to get courted by several labels was so fun. It's like trying to pick a girlfriend — who's going to be the coolest? To be honest, Rise seemed like it was going to be the best partnership, and it's been great to work with them so far. It's awesome to have a team that cares about you, to take you down an avenue that not necessarily we were going to be able to do just [as] SEVENDUST by ourselves. I really feel that they have their finger on the social media world. It's really amazing to see them work behind the band, and I look forward to seeing what's going to happen in the future."
On reaching an age where band members have families who occasionally join them on tour:
Lajon: "[It's] amazing, because I remember back in the day actually talking to the band and saying, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we were together long enough to have kids and wives, and have them out on the road with us?' It happens now. With that being said, the last time my wife rode on the bus with me, she said, 'No disrespect to you guys, but I'll never, ever ride on the tour bus again.' She used to when she was younger, and now... I remember the last time she rode on the bus with me, she was like, 'Can have my own bunk? Scoot over!' I was like, 'What? What happened to the days of cuddling?' They still come out and hang out, especially if it's a close ride, and the kids, they love it — you can't keep them out of the bunk areas."
On being a staple at rock festivals such as Carolina Rebellion:
Lajon: "They're exciting, man. I remember the days of the Ozzfests and Lollapaloozas, things like that. Those, to me, were movements. I feel like Danny Wimmer and all the guys that are out there putting on these big festivals, it's a movement. You can't ignore or deny when you have 20,000 to 30,000 kids coming out to enjoy music and nothing bad happens, and it's just a bunch of people having a good time. It's incredible to be a part of. I hope that these things don't stop and keep going forward."
"All I See Is War" was released on May 11. It marks SEVENDUST's first album for Rise Records, the Oregon-based metal and hard rock label which was purchased by BMG in 2015.
In 2016, SEVENDUST received its first-ever Grammy nomination after two decades together as a band. "Thank You", the debut single from "Kill The Flaw", got the nod for "Best Metal Performance".