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'Under it all': Interview with Morgan Rose of Sevendust

Rose talks acoustics, development and growth.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Sevendust has often been referred to as one of the most underrated metal bands of the past 20 years, but remain a band united in their mission for quality music infused with genuine passion and dedication since their formation in 1994. Since then, the band has released nine studio albums and toured tirelessly in pursuit of their dreams of spreading their musical love to the masses. On the advent of release of their tenth studio release, the acoustic Time Travelers and Bonfires, got a chance to chat with drummer Morgan Rose about the decision to go acoustic, song development, and his predictions about the future of Sevendust.

What made you guys want to do an acoustic record?

MR: We’d been talking about doing it for a long time. We had been asked about it for a long time, and finally we got to the point where we were ready to give the album cycle, the Black Out the Sun cycle, a rest. Once we did that, the wheels started turning.

How did the writing and development differ for record this as opposed to previous records?

MR: It was similar to Black Out the Sun. We went in there with no real songs. It wasn’t like we went in there with full songs and rehearsed a bunch, and then went in and tracked. We went in there with riffs and parts, and that way everyone could get involved. We thought it would be pretty easy, because we really only had to revamp six songs and then write six songs from scratch. So, in our eyes we were just like, it’ll come to us on how to redo the old songs, and as far as the new ones go, god, we only have to write six songs we’re used to writing 13 to 15 songs. So, it was real painless.

Did you guys write more than the six new songs that made it on the album?

MR: There were a few extra tracks, but we’re kind of a band that will start something, work with it for a little while, and then if something doesn’t come or if it starts to feel weird, we’ll just move on. There are probably parts to a bunch of songs, you know, but we just realized- no, let’s just move on. So, we don’t have trim too much fat when we get done making a record. I don’t remember the last time we had to argue about what was going to make it onto a record.

Were there any specific stories or influences that went into these newer tracks?

MR: Yeah, you know, we write stuff that is true life events for us, whether it’s us or somebody else. There were a number of songs that really hit home, but “The Wait” is for sure the one that’s the deepest. It got to the point where when we finished the vocals for that, I don’t even know if we had back ups on it yet, we were all sitting in the control room. I had to keep leaving because it was hitting me so hard that I couldn’t even listen to the song in full because it was just breaking me down. You know, it’s that feeling of waiting on someone to pass and it’s tortuous. So with that, all of us had lost someone incredibly important over the last year to year and a half. So, it really hit home, each one of us was having to almost relive that feeling.

“We went outside of the box on a few of them and really tried to reinvent the songs.”- Rose on the revamped songs.

“Upbeat Sugar” is one of my personal favorites. Where did that name come from?

MR: Oh god, the names are always…It seems like almost every record there’s some weird name that pops in there that’s just a working title and then… (laughs)

Like “Waffle”?

MR: Oh yeah, “Waffle” is another one (like that). But yeah, there’s really nothing exciting about the title. It was really just a way to remember the riff. (chuckles) We try to be so clever, and then when it comes to this it’s like ’Yea, I don’t really know what we were thinking when that was there.’ (laughs) Still to this day there are a few songs I don’t even remember how they go by the title. Obviously “The Wait” I know, and I think “Under It All,” I know that one. Yeah, there’s a few that I’m like, “How does that go again?” because I don’t remember it by the title. I’m already at track numbers. I mean I’m in the band and I’m still calling it by track number (laughs).

You guys played ShipRocked again this year (for the fourth time). How did it go for you this time around?

MR: The acoustic thing was mind-blowing. I mean, we didn’t even rehearse for it, you know? We didn’t play any new songs. We threw together a set list pretty late and just said, “This is what we’re going to do.” We played the theater inside, and you know, we’ve played that thing twice over the years, maybe three times, and never sold it out. We really thought that it would be a sparse crowd. We were going against Living Colour at the same time slot, and I would’ve gone to see Living Colour. (chuckles) So, I was thinking ‘who’s going to come down here to see this?’ About 15 to 20 minutes before we were going on, somebody came in and said, “It is beyond sold out. They have turned away everyone else that’s on the boat. Everyone has tried to get in here for this and there’s a line going down the side of the boat. It is at capacity, plus some.” It was really weird; it was like we didn’t expect much, so it really got us excited for the acoustic tour, because we were like “wow.” We knew that people wanted to hear the record and maybe see the show, but we didn’t know it would be this much of a demand. There was a moment in the show where we finished a song and it was silent for a minute, then it started that roar. Lajon wasn’t saying anything, we weren’t playing anything, and we all just started looking at each other and our jaws were on the ground. That was the loudest crowd that I can remember us having in years and it was deafening.

So, what’s up next for you guys?

MR: Well the original idea was that we were going to close down the cycle for Black Out the Sun and focus on this record as a new cycle and obviously it wouldn’t be as long as a regular record because it is somewhat of novelty to go out and play acoustic. Its not like we could come through two and three times on this cycle, but you never know. There’s been talk about us jumping on one of the Summer festivals and bringing back Black Out the Sun for that. Unless we land a major festival or tour, whether it be Uproar or Mayhem or something like that, or a major support slot with somebody; I don’t think we’re interested in headlining the record anymore. So, this could be it for a little while. You know, we’ve kind of mulled around and “what do we want to do after the acoustic stuff is done?” and I think we’re really just waiting to see if something looks attractive to do over the Summer. There’s a second leg that’s been booked for the acoustic thing and so, I think it’ll run itself into June. So, we’ll either be done with this album, the acoustic record in June and then get ready in June or we’ll fold up shop then and start discussing when we’ll get together to write another record. Which I assume, if I’m just going out on a limb, would probably be…something that we would start writing and recording somewhere in the Spring of 2015.

You still have plenty of time to catch Sevendust on the road and hear some of the incredible new stuff on Time Travelers and Bonfires. The tour kicked off in Athens, GA on April 1, but there are still plenty of dates left on the newly extended acoustic run! Time Travelers and Bonfires has officially been released, and you can read the review of it here. You can also find out more about Sevendust via Facebook and watch their videos on YouTube! Don’t miss your opportunity to see this milestone in their careers and witness what’s already been described as a truly intimate and breathtaking experience.

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