Sevendust: Lajon Witherspoon is a Metalhead Forever
By Jay Rollins
Lajon Witherspoon thank you very much for taking time out on the road to speak with Metalheads Forever Magazine.
It’s a pleasure I like the name, Metalheads Forever, I like that, that’s [straight forward]
Yeah straight to the point.
Before we get into all the new stuff that is happening with band’s new record and tour I’d like to mention how Sevendust has been an active name in the music scene for over 2 decades and you’ve recently returned from your first real break since the band’s inception. After dedicating so much of your life and time to both touring and recording what was it like to finally step away from band life for a bit?
Man you know that’s a great question. It was incredible, it was amazing and awesome. It was awesome for me to be able to take my daughter to more than one of her daddy daughter dances. You know, to be able to be at her basketball games and modelling events. To be with my two-year-old son on his birthday, just all those things that you miss and take for granted. Maybe when we were younger, but now that we’re older those things you can never be taken for granted. So it was a good time unplugged we can be husbands to our wives you know, the whole thing man, needs to be done.
That’s awesome did you pick up any new hobbies or was it just really connecting with the family once again and like you say the things that often artists do end up missing?
Yeah, my idle time is not good ‘cause I got me a couple of more motorcycles, I bought me a ’64 Ford Falcon, so yeah it’s good to be back on the road ha ha.
Awesome. On May 11th fans will receive the band’s 12th studio effort All I See Is War, which will be Sevendust’s first release on Rise Records. What sparked the decision to partner with a label instead of continuing to release music under your own moniker 7 Bros. Records?
Well man I felt the day of bands getting signed was long gone and what a great opportunity to finally allow people to know that we were interested in a record deal with Rise Records and some of the people that recorded us, and at the end of the day man it just seemed like they had their finger on everything that we wanted to be a part of. What an incredible history it’s been already, it’s cool to have someone on your team to take you down an avenue that you might not have been able to go down.
Yeah absolutely, team means synergy and opening up more doors.
A part of that was Michael “Elvis” Baskette who produced Slash’s last solo album World on Fire, and is a notable favorite of Mark Tremonti (Tremonti, Creed, Alter Bridge) and Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators), as well as numerous other world class artists.
He’s a good friend of ours.
Considering in the last few years with Sevendust typically handling production yourselves, was it hard to give up any creative control or was it just that good of a fit?
No no, when we went in with Elvis the first thing he said is “I don’t wanna change anything man, the only thing is, if I could do anything to help is get that original beginning Sevendust sound” he said “you guys do what you do” and that’s what we’ve always done man. Elvis was like a member of the band
.Nice, and you decided on Elvis just because of that long lasting history with the band?
Oh yeah man we were the first band to ever live in his house, so it was amazing.
Wild. As I mentioned All I See Is War is out May 11th but “Dirty”, “Medicated”, and “Not Original” have given us a taste of what’s to come. The songs we’ve heard so far are heavy hitting in every way, from rhythm, to leads, and especially lyrical content. Am I right in saying that a common motif is conflict and the album is focused around different personal wars, so to speak?
Oh yeah definitely, it could be personal wars, it could be. I think people can equate those to anything that’s going on within in their lives, so yeah definitely.
Absolutely, maybe I just made that connection because of my own personal life and trying to figure things out now and like that’s the cool thing about art, where your lyrics are so meaningful.
In regard to lyrics, is there any song stands out for you personally on the new album?
I love em all man, “Sickness” is a special one to me too though, yeah “Sickness” is a good one.
Cool, can’t wait to give the full album a listen.
The band has acknowledged that there was an immense amount of quality music comprised before you even entered the studio, possibly enough ideas for 50 plus songs. Do you think taking some time away from recording and band life helped solidify All I See Is War as an album in total?
Oh heck yeah man cause we were ready to get back in there, you know it was like, it was time to get back to doin’ what we we’re doin’. Like having a baseball player that was sitting on the bench for a little while watching the team, and kinda I guess refining his skills, and I feel like that’s what we did and we refreshed and we’re just ready to get back in the game again. We’re in it, ha ha.
Revive that hunger and fire at the same time, just solidifying what you guys already do so well.
Exactly man and then having our wives behind you feels great, like it’s a new energy behind the band.
Man for sure. A full tour began late April and marked the beginning of a rigorous headlining tour schedule with labelmates Memphis May Fire and Fire From the Gods, alongside Madame Mayhem. How has the road been treating you?
It’s been great man, it’s a lot of fun out here everybody’s really cool. Tunes have been great every night so far, we’re in Nashville Tennessee tonight man. We’re just looking forward to getting out on the road with this man like I said it’s been a great tour, the energy is off the charts.
Have you had a chance yet to check out any of the opening acts on this tour?
Yup, I was hanging out with Matty, the singer from Memphis last night and I invited him to come in to do our prayer that we do every night, and sure enough I told him five minutes before we come on to come into the dressing room and there he was. He hangs out with everybody man.
That’s awesome, get that community feel going with everything.
Speaking of which, among the tour dates are a few festival dates where you take the stage with Stone Sour, Five Finger Death Punch, Stone Temple Pilots, and a bunch of other great acts. Is there any band you’ve really enjoyed sharing the stage with in the past?
Oh man yeah, all of those bands but I’ve really enjoyed – I got to share the stage with the new Stone Temple Pilots singer, Stone Sour, I was able to share the stage with Ozzy, so you know it’s great man. I think we are soon to play with A Perfect Circle, I can’t wait to do that.
Even though there was a bit of time off, and considering when some bands say they take time off they mean like 5, 10 years, you guys really didn’t take a whole lot of time off and it seems like you didn’t miss a beat. Like you say, you solidified and now you’re back stronger than ever playing awesome shows everywhere.
It’s a blessing man, I feel like the planets kinda have aligned a little bit for us and we’re just gonna try and ride this wave for a minute.
Whether it be as co-headliners, a band opening for Sevendust, or even possibly Sevendust supporting another band. If you could go out on the road with any two bands who would you choose?
Oh man, let’s see. Right now I’d probably say Breaking Benjamin and A Perfect Circle.
Oh man, I would love to see A Perfect Circle and Sevendust tour that would be wild.
There are so many bands out there that I would love to tour with. I’d like to go back out, I’d like to do the Deftones and Sevendust. You name it man, I just love music.
Absolutely. I’m not sure if you personally had any hand in putting the current lineup together for the headlining tour, but diversity in metal seems to be a big issue now and people [saying] we need to see all ethnicities and women and everyone else on stage, did you have any hand in choosing the bands that you’re currently out on tour with?
Oh yeah definitely man, we’re excited, we always have a hand in what bands we bring out on tour. I am a strong believer in everybody being in this music industry. I love seeing women out here on the road. I love seein’ everybody, but especially bringing the ladies out here is incredible, and bringing them in the metal scene, you know let them do their thing and they’ll rock harder than some of the guys out here that I’ve seen so hell yeah.
Oh absolutely yeah and for me it all goes way back to loving Girlschool and it’s like we need more of that attitude, the more attitude and the more diverse attitude the better because everyone’s got a story and a hardship.
Absolutely brother, absolutely.
Absolutely that’s great. Since the early days when you were working with Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French and Mark Mendoza on the Sevendust self titled debut album back 1997, you’ve basically maintained the same lineup which is amazing. What would you say has been the most pivotal moment of the band’s career so far and key to sticking together?
We’re brothers and family man, you know that’s it. We love each other, we get mad at each other, we can call each other douchebags but at the end of the day we are family and this is something we started together. I think that we all know that it would be foolish for us to take it for granted.
Absolutely and everyone brings such a unique style and when you hear Sevendust you’re like, this is Sevendust, you know what I mean, and you don’t wanna mess with a great formula.
Well thank you, ha ha.
I remember reading an interview, I believe it was with Clint actually, and it was mentioned that acoustic albums like Time Travelers & Bonfires may become a regular feature in the Sevendust repertoire. Has there been any more discussion about revisiting the acoustic side of things?
Yeah we didn’t know exactly how that was going to take over and it was a hit. We enjoyed it and we look forward to doing it again man for sure, and taking it out on the road which is incredible. Right now we’re playing a venue in Nashville that we played on the acoustic tour and I can’t wait to rock it electric. Like last night, we played Club L.A. and the last time we played there it was acoustic so last night was really special too.
Nice, and it’s interesting that you get to bring both a very different vibe to your audience and artistry and still get those same messages across in a lot of ways.
Man, that is awesome. Thanks again for taking the time to speak with Metalheads Forever Magazine and I hope the Nashville crowd gives you the great reception you deserve. Is there anything special we should keep an eye out for in the Sevendust camp coming up?
Just some more surprises and I wanna say I’m a metalhead forever and love you guys and thank you very much for all the support and we look forward to seeing everyone out there.
Awesome man and we’ll definitely be in touch and keepin’ track of all the great things to come.
Alright thank you brother you have a great weekend.
Cheers brother you too man.
MHF Magazine/Jay Rollins