Back in 2010 and 2011, after years of nonstop touring and album releases- the guys in the Atlanta band Sevendust were hinting to fans that the end may be extremely nigh for the band. The constant process of recording, touring and repeat had worn the band down to a nub, and it seemed that Sevendust might be winding things down.
But it’s funny now a little bit of time away makes the musical heart grow fonder. With members Clint Lowery and Morgan Rose formed their own group called Call Me No One, guitarist John Connolly formed the band Projected. When speaking with Connolly, that time away helped put things into perspective: “We had been burning the candle for so long, you tend to take for granted the cool stuff along the way. We took a full year off, and by the time that was over- we were chomping at the bit to start working again”.
Once the band was in a studio in New Jersey, a new set of band directives through everybody for a loop according to Connolly, “We made a conscious decision not to write any music before we entered the studio- which was taking it back to the old day and getting five guys in a room. Usually, I have a bunch of ideas before going in and I’m sitting at home, telling myself ‘don’t write’ before we went it. But it turned out really great”.
Given the events leading up to the band’s time apart and new approach to the studio, the band’s new album, “Black Out The Sun”, has a decidedly darker tone than past albums. According to Connolly: “At the end of the day, we’re brothers and when you are around five guys all the time, there’s gonna be little things that will get under your skin. At the time, Lajon (Witherspoon- lead singer) moved to Kansas City, and everybody was working on side projects. People were starting to read between the lines. But we can suck that darker vibe in, but there’s still plenty of hope in the songs”.
But it was in that darker time for the band, and along with Connolly’s time in Projected that really helped him appreciate things a bit more as Connolly explains: “I had probably written about half the songs 6 to 12 months before we went into the studio. There was a song that was written on Obama’s first inauguration day- that’s going back 5 years now. These were songs that I loved, but the songs hadn’t found a proper home. Vinnie (Hornsby- bassist) put down his tracks, but none of the guys who played on the album weren’t actually in the same room until about two months ago, six months after the album came out”.
During his time in Projected, the man he sympathized the most for was the lead singer Witherspoon, according to John: “For me, it was all about expanding my skillset. I have the utmost respect for what Lajon does, being out in front. I wasn’t used to be out there and singing, so there’s always time for self-improvement and helped me understand the process”.
Now that everybody is back in the Sevendust fold, the time away also helped the band understand life on the road a bit better. “In the day, there wasn’t a care in the world. All I needed was a backpack and guitarist. We’d do 21 cities in 17 days and it wouldn’t phase us, but now it’s just different. We still have a good time on the road, but all of us have kids and families. We’ve got to be smarter nowdays because of them”.
Connolly understands along with the personal commitments, that the business model of the industry is world removed from when they first started. “It’s a double edged sword, selling physical CD’s might he harder, but there has been so much advancement in social media that it’s the way to go. I learned a lot on what you can do online and how to promote music these days. When we started, we were handing out tapes and CD’s to people to get heard, but with social media- it’s a time of huge opportunity for bands. The old school structure on how to do things is just a bit sketchy now”.
With the band going strong on the road, the band hits the road with Coal Chamber, who toured with Sevendust in the early days before disbanding. To Connolly, it initially seemed surprising to him: “We’ve known Dez (Fafara) for years, and when I heard about them reuniting and touring, it was like ‘really?’, ‘you serious’? There will be a little bit of a throwback element and bit of nostalgia on this tour, but there will be still plenty of people interested in the new stuff”.