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Interviews : “We’ve got a new album to play on top of the old stuff” – An interview with Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust)

By on January 26, 2019

It’s probably a good problem to have in a number of ways, but it must also be a pain in other ways, when you are a long-running band with many albums behind you, writing a setlist that attempts to please a broad range of your fans as well as the band members can be problematic. Florida’s mighty Sevendust have hit the quarter-century and 12 album mark in their career, and their ever-affable frontman Lajon Witherspoon sees both the good side and bad side of it.

“Oh man, it’s best and it’s the worst!” He laughs, “We could be rehearsing a song we haven’t played for a while, and we get maybe halfway to the chorus and we’re like ‘nope, never again!’ But that whole process is fun, too.

“You know, it’s funny, sometimes we go to our favourite pub here at home and they have one of the electronic juke boxes, and there’s a hundred and something Sevendust songs on there or something. And it’s like ‘if we were on a game show right now, and you asked me to sing that song, I’d lose!’” He laughs uproariously again, “I might be able to sing some of it, but I’d still lose, I haven’t sung that song in 20 years.”

Of course, the sign of a great song is whether it stands the test of time or not, and Witherspoon feels that many of their older tracks certainly do so. “Looking back into the archives and seeing that we’ve done so many songs, even back then we were just kids but I still love a lot of the stuff we wrote,” he recalls fondly, “I don’t know what was going on in our minds, we all go through things, but they still all mean something, it’s all real, there’s nothing fake about it.”

Aussie fans will be able to see it all in action come April when the band comes out for what is their fourth tour here, and Witherspoon reveals that they are having very similar issues when attempting to pick a satisfying setlist for their Aussie fans. “12 albums? That’s crazy man, there’s too many songs,” he mock-laments, “we don’t know which ones to pick. We’ll be at reahearsal and we’ll say ‘what songs are we going to play in Australia?’ But it’s actually exciting, we’ve got a new album to play on top of the old stuff.

“What’s funny is we recently did the 20th anniversary of the album Home. We played songs that we haven’t played for 20 years. We know them again! We might bring some of those songs back out there. We did some deep deep cuts and deeper deeper cuts, and we’d have about a zillion other songs in our heads, so there’s no telling what we’re going to bring to Australia. But whatever it is it’ll be fun, it’ll be exciting, and it’ll be something to talk about.”

The latest album, All I See is War, released in May last year, was the first record released under a new deal they signed with Rise Records (Make Them Suffer, The Acacia Strain, Dance Gavin Dance) back in mid-2017, and Witherspoon reports that the new relationship is going swimmingly so far.

“We’ve done more videos for this record than we have ever done before,” he says, “and it’s thanks to Rise Records, it’s incredible for us to be with those guys. They really back the band, they have the whole social media outlet covered, which is so important in this day and age.

“It’s been exciting, man, it’s been so fun. I’m a married man, but within the music industry this is like having a new girlfriend!” He laughs again, “but we’ve been pretty much by ourselves, flying the flag for ourselves for so long, and to have someone behind us now and to believe in us again, and have the energy behind us to be able to come back Australia again, it’s just been an incredible time for us.”

A word that comes to mind when someone mentions the name Sevendust is consistency. They are a band that just keeps delivering the goods, they give the fans exactly what they want, album after album, and it never seems to get stale. Witherspoon, humbly, agrees.

“I think that’s just because we are who we are,” he says, “we try to think outside the box, but we’re not going down the street from the box, if you know what I mean. It’s not so far, you’re not gonna get scared to come with us!

“When we get together, it’s a band, you know? A lot of people have groups, a lot of people have people that jam, and then you have bands. And I like to think that Sevendust, we’re a band.”

It’s difficult to believe that Sevendust, when tracing their origins right back to the very beginning, is actually celebrating a quarter of a century as a band this year. “Hey listen, you’re freakin’ me out here!” He chuckles, “It’s absolutely crazy to think we’ve been a band that long. I was talking to the guys in the band the other day and I said ‘do you remember when we were kids and we looked at each other and we said wouldn’t it be crazy if we were still a band and we had kids ourselves’, and we actually made it happen!”

And fans of the band can rest easy, as Witherspoon feels that there is plenty more to come too! “There’s a lot more to come, Rise Records is excited about the band, and there’s a lot more to do, I think we’ve got at least another 10 years to go.”

Catch Sevendust across Australia this April thanks to MJR Presents. Tickets available now here!



About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.