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| 1 December 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “With 2020 being a year of transition for so many, Morgan took the newly found time he was given, and decided it was time explore ideas of growth and change. With Clint on guitar and Jason Christopher [Corey Taylor, Prong] on bass, Morgan tracked six songs in less than ten days at The Lair in Culver City, CA. Fans of Morgan’s main gig will be pleasantly surprised at the different shades presented on Controlled Chaos, as the EP presents a varied musical blueprint on the legendary drummer. Morgan sounds equally at home singing with a keyboard and orchestral accompaniment as he does belting out his trademark primal screams in a full band setting. Controlled Chaos will be available everywhere on November 27th.” We were able to grab some phone time with Morgan to discuss new music and so much more…

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Toddstar: Morgan, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule, especially with the holidays rolling up. We really appreciate it.

Morgan: All good, buddy. Thank you for taking the time. Crazy world right now.

Toddstar: I know, right? The crazy world has made a little better. Not too long ago a new album dropped from Sevendust – Blood & Stone dropped on October 23rd. Fast forward another month, and we’ve got a killer EP. What can you tell us about Controlled Chaos, which comes out November 27th on Rise, that your fans might or might not grab the first or second time they listen through this EP?

Morgan: Oh, I mean, it’s not Sevendust. The first song is definitely the closest thing to Sevendust on it. I shouldn’t really say it’s not Sevendust. I mean, it’s two of the guys in Sevendust, so obviously there’s going to be a little bit of bleed over from that. I mean, Clint plays guitar on the whole record and me and Clint wrote the whole record. He wrote all the guitar parts. Jason Christopher from Corey Taylor’s band plays bass, and I sing, play drums. I wrote all the vocals for it. So the record is really just almost like a biography for me. I mean, it felt good to be able to do that just in the sense where… I mean, I’m talking about myself. So that took me a second to really even come to grips with that. Because a lot of times when I’m putting together vocals, we call it cavemanning, but I’ll be writing a melody first. Words don’t really matter. You’re just writing melodies and syllables will start to happen, and then words will kind of develop, whether it’s just a place mark word. Nothing that’s actually going to stick, but just something there. Then you’ll go back and put the words together. And with this, I started to do that. Then I would find particular words. I would be like, “Okay, I’m going to write about this.” And I started with that and then I would build it into a real topic and something that I wanted to talk about. I thought that I was writing about other people. Then when I got done with it and started to look through it, I was like, “Oh, I’m writing about me.” There’s a few songs in particular that fell into place that way. So it’s a really personal record. I think that people will definitely relate to some of these words and some of these topics. So I’m excited for people to hear it.

Toddstar: I really am too. I didn’t know what to expect. A lot of times when you see or hear the drummer is putting out a solo album, you really don’t know what to think. I still remember the Peter Criss solo record didn’t quite hit the mark.

Morgan: Yeah, that wasn’t my favorite.

Toddstar: I kind of went into it “What have we got here?” The more I listened to it, I mean, from the intro you got the little musical interlude into the answer. But the album really came together for me once you got into “Come Alive” and the finale with “Exhale.” How different was it for you to kind of draw these songs together? Because they are a little less aggressive. We’ll use that term. There’s some of the stuff that you’re used to writing. What was the writing and production for you? Because it is such a different kind of shift.

Morgan: I mean, I really like mellow, dark music. I mean, that’s really my favorite music. I love heavy music, no question about it, but I have a much easier time writing vocals for stuff that isn’t heavy. So I mean, I’m a big Depeche Mode fan, and Nine Inch Nails and The Cure and stuff like that. I’m in that world. I love that kind of music. So to have those type of progressions to write over was really kind of refreshing for me. I love major, minor stuff. Like I said, I mean, I’m the kind of guy the way I like to describe it is like, some people they get really sad or something and they want to put on Pantera or something, like get me out of this mood. I need Pantera to just get me banging, to get out of here. And with me, I go for the sadder stuff. I’m kind of like emotionally stick my finger down my throat. And I’d rather get it over with. Instead of sitting there and trying to take some Pepto or whatever and try to fight through it that way, I’m like, let’s just get this over with. And that’s how I handle writing music like that. I want to get right to it. So it was easy for me. I mean, the writing part of it really was not hard at all. It went really quick. The tracking part of it got a little weird because I’m not a singer. So I thought that in my mind, I thought, I scream all the time and I don’t lose my voice very often, so this should be super easy. We did the first song, I keep thinking “Clarity” was the first song. And so we did that song. It really had no expectations about it. It was like, we’ll do this song and maybe I’ll throw it out on my website and do like a single, just so there’s one song out there and say, Hey guys, here’s a track of me singing because you never hear me sing. So I thought maybe I’ll just do that. And then Rise Records got ahold of it. I had to let them hear it, like they had to hear it before I was going to be able to do anything. Because they had first rights. And they heard it and said, “We want it.” And I was like, oh damn. Now I get to write four more. And then, so I get in the studio, the writing part of it was easy, but I get in the studio and it was like, okay, you got 10 days to track all the drums, write all the vocals, track all the vocals, any extra piano or anything you want to put on it all has to be done in 10 days. And I did the next song, which I really can’t remember what the next song was. It might’ve been faster, man. But whatever the next song was, I did it and it blew my voice out right away. My voice was gone after the first day of those 10 to do those four songs. And I had written “Exhale,” which has got a lot of falsetto in it. So I was like, damn, what am I going to do about this falsetto because I can’t even talk right now? And so I finished the other songs. I took a few days off. I finished. I had two more songs to do before “Exhale.” I knocked those out and I gave myself a few days to just chill my voice for a few days and then go in and do that. And I pulled it off. But it was definitely… I gained a whole new respect. I’ve been saying that in every interview. I gained a whole new respect for singers just because I’d never thought about it like that. Having to do it over and over until it’s right. It was way more taxing on my voice than I thought it would be. So kudos to all the singers out there that I’ve thought were wimping out for the last 20 something years.

Toddstar: You mentioned it, you’re known for the screams on all those Sevendust records. That’s your niche; that’s what you do. Other than that, was there a mindset for you while you were writing these tracks that you’re going to turn these into a more melodic sound for your voice or was it just the natural progression with the music you wrote to go along with the lyrics?

Morgan: Well, like I said, Clint wrote the guitar parts, so it came in where it was like, I’ve been basically looking at this saying, this is basically the way that me and Clint work. Me and Clint will write together in a million different formats. Not a million, but like three or four. But it’s so funny how I realized that I was like, in Sevendust everybody writes. There’s songs that certain people will have more of their hands in on, whether it be a song like “Dirty” where the riff, the groove of the song was built by me because John said, “Go in that room and play some beats.” And I went in and I played the beat and he put the guitar part, basically chunked the guitar part to my beat. And then Clint wasn’t even in that state with us, and we sent it to Clint and Clint added the countermelody on it and that became a song. But ultimately, the song musically was John’s. And I guess you would put me in that world too, because I had written the groove that the song was built off of. But really, it was kind of like John’s. And those guys write all the riffs. John and Clint write all the riffs. That’s just the way it is. So you get that and then you get this pile of material… at any given moment, it could be 12 to fucking 40 songs. And everybody it’s almost like, okay, everyone grab a pencil and put your finger on which song you want to work on. And if it’s not taken by someone already then go for it. So anyway, long-winded way of saying this, because I don’t want anyone to take anything negative about anything. The bottom line is, is that me and Clint have had moments where me and Clint will write the predominant part of a particular song and we’ll do something like that. And in Sevendust. And then in that particular moment that me and Clint might have our hands in on writing something, Lajon will be the singer of that particular track. Now Lajon writes and Vinnie writes and John writes, but at any given moment, it could be me and Clint wrote the lion’s share of a track and Lajon is the one singing it. Well, then you turn around and you go, okay, me and Clint have a band called Call Me No One. So me and Clint write that. And then Clint is the guy that’s singing that. And then you have Morgan’s solo things, and me and Clint write that. And then I’m singing that. So really it’s kind of like the same shit. I mean, it’s really weird when you think about it. It’s like, so me and Clint write in Sevendust, Lajon sings. Me and Clint write in Call Me No One, Clint sings. Me and Clint write in my thing and I sing. And it’s kind of like, I’m probably fucked up for giving everyone that information and bringing it to light. But really it’s just kind of like, it’s kind of like Italian food. It’s like it’s got the sauce, it’s got the pasta… it’s bowtie or it’s angel hair or it’s fettuccine, but it’s still pasta. Sevendust is pretty diverse. The one thing that seems to be a little different and that I love is that Clint’s solo record doesn’t sound like a Sevendust record. Call Me No One doesn’t seem like Sevendust or Clint. And I really don’t think that my record sounds like Call Me No One, Sevendust, or Clint. That’s a big testament to Clint in that aspect because he’s the one common factor in all of that.

Toddstar: That leads me to the perfect segue because, to me this isn’t Sevendust. It’s not even like a Sevendust side project or offshoot in that I think there’s so much of you in this, not only from the beats to the sound, but the vocals. With that said, and you made the comment, when you’re doing the Sevendust thing and the way you and Clint write and everything else, there’s always so many tracks to choose from. Does that mean there’s enough laying around that we could be seeing a Controlled Chaos II? Or are you just going to enjoy this ride and see where it takes you?

Morgan: I mean, the reality of it is, Clint and me are very close on all levels, and he is for sure my musical soulmate. I link most of what I do to him. So it’d be hard for me to think about doing it outside of but without him, you know? I mean that isn’t really what I’m looking to try to do. But at the same time, there are other guys out there that I do write with and I like writing with them as well. So I mean, there’s definitely, if this one goes well, I mean, I could do a thousand of these things. I mean, I’m constantly doing co-writes and production with other people. So I mean, Clint’s a very busy man. And he is, without question, he’s one of, if not my favorite writer that there is out there, and he’s super diverse. So I think I helped in a sense of letting him have a little outlet for some of his music, and he absolutely helped me in giving me exactly what I wanted to do, something different. But yeah, we could do this thing as long as anybody cared to hear it.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Toddstar: Well, I think it’s great stuff again. I keep spinning the five tracks plus the instrumental. I can’t get enough of it.

Morgan: I appreciate it.

Toddstar: Again, Blood & Stone is out there so people can really dig their teeth into a lot of Morgan Rose material right now. The biggest thing I miss is watching Sevendust crush it live. You just do it the best in one of my favorite venues. And I know it’s a venue near and dear to you guys’ heart. What can you tell me about your relationship with the Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan?

Morgan: Oh yeah. I mean, that’s my favorite place to go. I mean, Kevin and the gang will say, because Kevin’s better-half is part of that whole crew too. That’s home base, that’s a family affair for us. We have a lot places that we love to play and we do have a lot of people in those places that we love seeing and hanging out with. Kevin is super close with us, and we always look forward to going there and we always feel different when we leave there. So we love it there. I mean, God, when we go there, we do multiple shows. I mean, we never go there and play one show. We miss it. I mean, it’ll be super exciting when everything opens up and we can get back to that. I wasn’t planning on being reminded of The Machine Shop today. It’s definitely one of our favorite spots.

Toddstar: Awesome. I love the place. I was talking to Kevin yesterday.

Morgan: He’s amazing.

Toddstar: Yeah, he is. Other than touring, what do you miss the most? What was kind of stripped from you when the world kind of shut down eight months ago that you’re finding more and more you just miss, Morgan?

Morgan: I was talking about it, but I mentioned it to my girlfriend before. I was like… I didn’t love playing live music that much anymore in the sense that, if you do something for 20 plus years for such a large portion of every year and you start to get where it’s like, I’m not 20 anymore. I’ve got kids. I’ve already missed one of their lives completely. I have a 12 year old and it’s like, when we knew that we were going to have some time off, I was like, I’m down with that. I’m very excited for it. When Clint went and did the solo thing, I was looking at him like, man, you must be crazy. He had the itch to do that. And that was his only window to do it. But what I really lost was, I didn’t realize how much I missed being out there and being with the people, and I really don’t have much else to offer the world. I mean, my thing is, I offer my being a father, that’s an obligation that I love. That is a responsibility that I love. But the only thing I have to offer the world is music. So not being able to make people happy and not being able to feed off of that, I mean, that’s, I guess you would just call me a people pleaser. And not being able to do that freaked me out. So now it’s like, I have this conflicting thing where I feel like it’s going to happen soon and that makes me extremely happy. And then I realize that that’s going to pull me away from my kids and pull me away from my girlfriend and my family. And that makes me realize, damn, we’ve been off. I don’t want to become institutionalized away from the road either. So I think it’ll probably end up playing the way it did when I first had a child, where it was like, I really can’t wait to play and look at the faces of the people that are going to come unglued because they’ve been locked away like everyone. And then at the same time, it’s going to be, damn, I’ve got to really figure out how to balance my personal life and my family life with that. So I’ve got anxiety about all of it. But that’s me, I’m constantly fucked up.

Toddstar: Well again, I mentioned you guys crushed it so well. And especially you. It always takes me back to my childhood. And this sounds almost ignorant, but watching you prowl around your drum kit, your drums, reminds me of watching the Muppet show. My favorite character was always Animal. And watching you, it takes me back to that moment. And I know you and I age-wise, we’re about a year apart. So I know you know what I’m talking about.

Morgan: Yeah, absolutely.

Toddstar: That to me, it’s like I’m instantly eight and watching Animal just crush it. So for me, it’s always a pleasure to watch you on a kit. And I can’t wait until everybody can get their hands on Controlled Chaos this Friday through Rise Records. They can dig what Morgan Rose is offering the world. And then we can all get together at a venue near you. Especially for me, we’ll be at the Machine Shop and we’ll say hello, and we’ll enjoy some good ass rock and roll together once again, Morgan.

Morgan: Can’t wait, buddy. I appreciate it.

Toddstar: Awesome brother. Well, we’ll talk to you soon.

Morgan: You got it. Thanks so much, bud.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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