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INTERVIEW – Lajon Witherspoon, SEVENDUST, February 2016

| 12 March 2016 | Reply

INTERVIEW – Lajon Witherspoon, SEVENDUST, February 2016
By Shane Pinnegar

Lajon Witherspoon, Sevendust 01

Grammy nominated metal band Sevendust return with shows this month for their first Australian tour in six years. SHANE PINNEGAR caught up with dreadlocked singer Lajon ‘LJ’ Witherspoon while he was shopping with his kids.

Sevendust Australian tour dates, 2016:
March 13 – Perth, Capitol
March 14 – Adelaide, The Gov
March 16 – Gold Coast, Coolangatta Hotel
March 17 – Brisbane, Eatons Hill
March 18 – Melbourne, 170 Russell
March 19 – Sydney, Metro

100% ROCK: How are you doing, LJ?

LJ: I’m great, man. We cannot wait to get there this March. Thank you for taking the time. I’m out and about with my kids and I’m in a toy store right now, so bear with me.

100% ROCK: Oh fantastic. That’s quality time right there, man.

LJ: Yes sir!

100% ROCK: Not long until you touch down in New Zealand for the tour. You must be getting pumped.

LJ: We cannot wait. It’s been too long, and New Zealand is a beautiful place. We cannot wait to get there and rock out with everyone. I count the days, man.

100% ROCK: It’s a really gruelling schedule – you’ve got 7 shows in 9 nights, I think it is, plus traveling from place to place. How do you keep your body and your voice in good shape on a schedule like that?

LJ: I pray every day to the Lord and thank him, and you know, I rest. I believe in a lot of rest, staying healthy. That’s what we try to do. Keeping healthy and hitting the gym. I’m 43 years old now, so we got to try to stay in shape.

100% ROCK: Kill The Flaw [Sevendust’s tenth studio album] has been out for a few months now, and it seems to have got a really good reception from critics and fans.

LJ: I tell you what, it’s been incredible. We didn’t know what to expect but we knew when we took off a year and did the whole acoustic thing [culminating in 2014’s Time Travellers & Bonfires album] that once we got back in the studio we were ready to hit it hard and give it our all. The feeling we had, we knew something good was going to happen but we didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. The reception has been great, and like I said, we just can’t wait. Before all the other good things, like the Grammy nomination and all that stuff came about, what we were excited about was getting back to New Zealand and coming to Australia. It was one of the most important things to us, to build that relationship up, brother.


100% ROCK: That’s fantastic, man. We’re looking forward to having you down here that’s for sure. Talking about that Grammy award nomination, you’re up against some pretty big bands in there [with their track Thank You]. What do you think your chances of winning are?

LJ: I have no idea but I hope we bring that thing back. Let’s see… Slipknot, Lamb of God, Ghost. Everybody’s great, man. We know those guys, I’ve never met Ghost but I like what they do. I just really love the fact that – I would love to be able to bring a Grammy home under Sevendust. After all the hard work that we’ve done. A lot of people say they take the Grammy with a grain of salt but to me, it’s incredible. I would love for us to be able to do that. [Ghost’s Cirice won the award]

100% ROCK: Will you be attending the ceremony?

LJ: Yes, we are going for sure.

100% ROCK: Fantastic. You’ve got to shake that lot up.

LJ: The whole family joins in, so it’s either going to be a good thing, or it’s going to be a nightmare.

100% ROCK: I don’t think it’s going to be a nightmare. Look, you’ve been nominated: that in itself is pretty spectacular.

LJ: You know what I said. At the end of the day I said to the guys, ‘you know what, even if we don’t win it, the nomination is something that they can never take away from us.’

100% ROCK: Absolutely man. Going back about 10 years ago, you guys were in serious financial problems. That would’ve crushed a lesser band, but you soldiered on and look what’s happened.

LJ: Yeah, I think all that stuff has only made us work harder, and to continue – I think we were destined to be good. We have a lot to do, and I think with us being able to get back to you guys, it just seems like it’s the beginning of a new thing.

100% ROCK: Fantastic. You’ve got a real knack, as a band, of balancing heavy brutal music with a lot of melody and light. Do you need a very delicate touch in the studio to be able to create that balance?

LJ: No, you know, actually what we did was we went in the studio and we just wanted to go in without any music at all. We wanted to go in and be the band that we are. To sit down and look at each other and say, ‘what have you got today?’, and just start playing. That’s what it was like. It was like that every day from 12 noon until 12 midnight, Monday through Sunday. We only take off Saturdays. When we get to work it’s like a big beehive, and that’s how we like to get down.

Lajon Witherspoon, Sevendust 02

100% ROCK: I believe you got noticed by a couple of your bandmates when you were singing in a soul band early on. Do you try and bring elements of that soul music into metal?

LJ: Oh absolutely, man. Since day one. That’s something that I’ve always thought that I’ve tried to do. I made a point, I think you can’t get away from the soul once you’re born with it and it’s in you so that’s always something that I try to bring.

100% ROCK: When you took some time out to do the acoustic stuff, did you find that you approach a song completely differently when you’re playing it as a full metal song versus as an acoustic song?

LJ: You know, if you think about it, a lot of songs that we write are from the acoustic C. It’s easy for me to break it back down. I might have to look at it in a different light, but normally, even an acoustic song, I can listen to it and it be heavy. Some of the acoustic songs are heavier than some of the actual metal songs if you think about it.

100% ROCK: Absolutely. Is there going to be an acoustic element to this tour is it all going to be loud and proud the whole way though?

LJ: Absolutely not, with that being said. Being able to come to New Zealand and Australia, we might be able to bring something out because that’s something that you guys have not ever seen from us. Who knows if we might bring an acoustic guitar out and do a couple songs from Black Out The Sun.

100% ROCK: Yeah, right on – that’d be cool man. Mix it up a little bit, that would be awesome.

LJ: Absolutely.

100% ROCK: You’ve been together playing with these cats since 1994, more than 20 years, apart from a few years where Clint left. Are you still as tight as brothers as you were when you started?

LJ: I think we’re even closer as brothers now, man. Yeah, we said that one day we would have our kids on stage and have our families on our tour bus, and we have that now. It’s been great, man. We’re closer – we’re actually closer. As older men, we have a lot in common as we’ve grown up together. It’s incredible.

Lajon Witherspoon, Sevendust 03

100% ROCK: That’s fantastic. You talked about a possible solo album a few years ago, have you made any progress with that?

LJ: Yeah actually, that’s still going to happen. After this Sevendust machine slows down a little bit I’ll be working on my solo stuff. I’m excited about that still too, to venture into that. Everything right now has been so hectic I kind of put it down behind me for a minute.

100% ROCK: That’s fantastic. Just a slightly touchy subject, look, skin colour should never be an issue to anyone but sadly it is amongst some people. Have you encountered much racism in the rock and metal fraternity?

LJ: Absolutely not at all. The thing that I say about that is, there’s no room for ignorance and I don’t allow it so, I’ve not really dealt with it a lot. It’s out there, of course it’s out there. We’re still dealing with it to this day with people saying ignorant things. Not to knock anyone for what they believe in, but just don’t bring it to me. Stay in your lane, and I’ll stay in mine. Let’s keep it moving.

100% ROCK: That’s really good news to know, that you’re not subjected to that, at least in music. Music’s about open mindedness, and passion…

LJ: Absolutely. This world would be a crazier place if we didn’t have music.

100% ROCK: Absolutely, definitely. You do have a very hectic schedule of course on this tour but apart from the shows themselves, is there anything you’re hoping to see or do when you’re on tour in Australia this time around?

LJ: Just to see beautiful Australia and to make sure to rebuild relationships that have been – you know, that I’ve not been able to see in six, seven, eight years since we’ve been able to come back.

Your place is beautiful, and the people are incredible and the energy there is contagious. What more of a better place would you want to come to? People like the music, man. It’s great. I can’t wait and hopefully one day I’ll have residency in Australia.

100% ROCK: Oh cool. That’d be awesome. Look mate, I’ll let you get back to your kids. I appreciate your time today, thank you very much and good luck on the tour!

LJ: It’s a pleasure and I look forward to see you in Australia in a month, brother.

100% ROCK: Right on. See you man, thank you.
March 13 – Perth, Capitol
March 14 – Adelaide, The Gov
March 16 – Gold Coast, Coolangatta Hotel
March 17 – Brisbane, Eatons Hill
March 18 – Melbourne, 170 Russell
March 19 – Sydney, Metro

Category: Interviews, News

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