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November 3, 1999
Metal's gradual resurgence in the mainstream is something that most metalheads are aware of, and the "metal-ness" of the bands getting this mainstream attention is often questionable. Sevendust is one such act receiving a great deal of attention following the release of their second album and a widely seen appearance at Woodstock '99. The Metal Update had a talk with guitarist Clint Lowery to get the band's perspective on their music, the mainstream, and the most important question of all...
METAL UPDATE: Is Sevendust a metal band?
CLINT LOWERY: Are we a metal band? Um, let me think. I guess it stems from the traditional things you would call metal like heavier guitars and thick sounding drums and all that stuff, and heavier vocals. But I think it's a little more than . . . it's more progressive metal. It's more of a non-traditional . . . not singing about dragons and demons metal. It's more just a different breed of metal.
MU: You come from Atlanta, right?
CL: The band comes from Atlanta.
MU: Is there a big scene down there? Your brother was in Stuck Mojo?
CL: Yeah, my brother was in Stuck Mojo for a while. Now he's playing with some of the guys from Life of Agony, and my younger brother is the singer for Kilgore now. There's a bunch of activity. Someone's doing something somewhere at all times.
MU: Is it a hot scene in Atlanta?
CL: Well, I wouldn't really say it's hot. As far as heavy bands, there's not a bunch of them. There's us, Mojo, a couple other ones. You know, Marvelous 3 is kinda . . . Collective Soul, Black Crowes, it's more of that kind of stuff. A lot of new pop rock bands coming out. So there's not a lot of heavy bands there.
MU: Too bad.
CL: Yeah, but it's gettin' better.
MU: Well, what are you listening to now?
CL: Slipknot, Meshuggah, I got Rage's new one. I listen to other stuff too, like PJ Harvey, and the old Police.
MU: Did you like Machine Head's cover of "Message in a Bottle"?
CL: I thought it was pretty cool.
MU: Which bands out now would you say are your contemporaries?
CL: What do you mean by contemporaries?
MU: Bands doing the same or a similar thing as you.
CL: I don't know. The thing I hate is when we get lumped into the Korn category. I mean, I don't hate it, because it's cool, but I guess we're compared to like what I said before, the new metal. It's not necessarily new, it's just different. It's not like it's an old and young thing. That's why I guess we're put into that category -- that Korn . . . I've even heard that we were Tool-ish. I don't know, there's different categories that we have been put into.
MU: How do you feel about that?
CL: Well, I mean it doesn't bother me. It's gonna happen regardless, it's always happened. People need somewhere to stack their socks. (laughs) Everyone needs to put it a certain way. Yeah, if it makes it easier for 'em . . . I mean, it's kinda cool in a way, if you get compared to a band that you really respect, because it makes someone that ordinarily wouldn't listen to you give you the benefit of the doubt based on the comparisons.
MU: What kind of bands would you like to see Sevendust compared to?
CL: Pantera. Tool. Those kinda bands are just . . . all around, even if you don't like them, you respect them. It is sincere. Those kinda bands, I really can't say any more. Those two. System of a Down, I have a lot of respect for those guys.
MU: So how do you think your new album is being received right now?
CL: I don't know. I think the way that we felt about the record . . . we didn't really have all the time that we wanted to have to make it. I think it's one of those albums which kinda maybe grows on you. I don't think that people thought we were gonna come out with stuff like that. You know, I've been reading the emails and talkin' to people. And everyone is pretty much saying that they like it. And, of course, then there's the negative input from people. That's good. Not everyone's gonna like you. I hope everyone enjoys it for what it is. It's music. And we make it. It's not extra political or anything. I think it's doin' OK. We're lucky.
MU: You were considered one of the surprise bands from Woodstock '99? Do you think that performance helped sell some records for you? That's right around when the album came out, right?
CL: Yeah. It was right around that time. Actually it was before. That was definitely a big deal, because -- I mean it's kinda hard to say what would have happened if we hadn't played, especially because the show was before the album came out. I mean, I'm sure it helped. The exposure alone. Especially being the underdog band. I think it definitely affected the first week's sales.
MU: How did the experience affect you guys as a band?
CL: It was kinda disappointing that . . . not that the fires happened, but that all the emphasis was put on that. But it affected us because we realized how much heavy music is predominant now. It kinda made me realize that.
MU: Do you think that metal's comin' back around?
CL: I think that the mainstream's comin' back to metal. It's always been there. That's just how it goes, that's the cycle. I'm sure it will maybe go away, and the mainstream will find something else to gobble up and suck down. But it's definitely been more accepted by the masses.
MU: How do you think bands like Korn affect the metal scene?
CL: They affect it. But you know, other bands like Pantera affect metal. I mean there's metal fans, and then there's kids who have this outlook on metal, and what they perceive to be metal. A lot of actual Korn fans probably don't use the word metal. But, to me, I'm kinda strayin' away, left-to-right, but I don't know . . . It's pretty much . . . they sell a lot of records and they do really well and they're really inventive. And that, in turn, makes people listen to a heavier mix. A heavier brand of music.
MU: You said earlier you didn't have as much time to finish the album as you wanted. Was that because of the record company?
CL: No, no. It wasn't the record company at all. Well, I wouldn't say it was totally not them. You have a budget and a certain time to do it. We're involved with decisions, along with our management. About where we want to record the album, how much we want to spend. All those factors really determine the time you have to record an album. How expensive the place is you record at. We picked a really good studio, that's really expensive with a really cool atmosphere. And we got someone like Toby Wright. It's just like, you want to stay in there -- I'm a fan of recording music, then coming back to it, and then fixing it.
MU: You always want to do more.
CL: Yeah. Instead of doing eleven songs on the record, I wanted to do fifteen.
MU: Where did you record the album?
CL: We recorded it at Longview Studios in North Brookfield, MA. It's like a cavern. It's huge.
MU: Sounds cool.
CL: Yeah, but that was before The Blair Witch Project. (laughs) Kinda freaky as hell to be out there now. It's in the middle of nowhere.
MU: But it was good for thinkin', clearin' out your head, gettin' the music done . . .
CL: For the first six weeks. (laughs) And then it was like, OK. This is old. (laughs)
MU: How do you like TVT?
CL: We've always said in the press and everything that they've done a really good job for us. And they have been good to us. From the president to the secretary who answers the phones. They're all good people, and they work hard. You always have limitations with a mini-major, but they just seem like one of those small labels that can still get the job done. Just through the work ethic.
MU: How do you respond to people who say one of the reasons for your popularity is that TVT pushed you guys so hard?
CL: Well, it's definitely gonna hurt your feelings to hear people say stuff like that, I gotta admit. Some of it is true. They're giving us a lot of opportunities for people to see us. But I don't think they are exactly knocking on people's doors and saying here's a CD, give me fifteen bucks. (laughs) But it does help. A lot of bands don't have that exposure, and it's sad because they don't get a chance. I feel bad for them. It is partially 'cause of TVT. I will be honest.
MU: Other critics say that, while the live Woodstock performance was awesome, seeing the same banter later on the tour made everything seem so scripted. Is it true?
CL: Yeah. (laughs) It's scripted, but it's not as scripted as I've seen before. Lajohn will say the same thing, he'll say, "do you wanna get high?" Or do you wanna do this certain thing. And it's kinda scripted. But it's not so scripted that it always happens at the same time or at the same point in the song. It's kinda just one of those traditional things that Lajohn would always say. But I guess it is kinda scripted, in a way.
MU: But it doesn't kill the spontaneity at all?
CL: No, I figure that has more to do with marijuana. (laughs) No, I'm joking. (laughs) there's still things that Lajohn says that he said at Woodstock. Obviously, he's not sayin' "it's beautiful being in Woodstock" when we're playin' in Cincinnatti! (laughs) It's different situations every day.
MU: Did Lajohn come from a different musical background before Sevendust?
CL: Not totally different. They were kinda a rockish -- kinda a funk/rockish band. Like a Follow for Now, from Atlanta, back then. I've heard people say he was from a straight-up R&B band. But no, he was from a rockish/funk band.
MU: What do you think having an African-American singer in the band does for Sevendust?
CL: I think it helps, the way he sings. A little bit of . . . rather than just the -- hit all the time with really aggressive styles -- the soul of it. Being like a soul metal band. And it's always good to stand out.
MU: When you first came out, no one else was really doing that soul metal thing.
CL: No, it was like us and Mojo. We had some similarities because it was really heavy music. Yet, say Bonz was a rapper from Stuck Mojo and Lajohn was always a soulful singer. So we were the same type of band because of that. Because these types of music aren't supposed to go together. And they do. It's just cool.
MU: You said earlier that people think the first and second Sevendust albums are different. How do you think they differ?
CL: I just think, just basically sonically, it's different. I think the lyrical content is a little deeper. I mean, I don't want to dis the first album. I still like it. It's just not quite as open-minded, lyrically. It's still good. I don't know, it was a different producer there, with a different perspective - with a different outlook on our band - wanted us to try different things. We wanted to try different things. We were a little more mature, I guess.
MU: Some people say they like the older album better because it has more of an edge. What do you think?
CL: There are definitely things about the first one that have an edge to them, have a little darker side to them, at times. I think there's an edge -- there's the same qualities on the second one as the first one. But there's definitely more melody on this one than on the last. Maybe that's why. I can understand why they say it, but we still consider that when Lajohn goes off and sings melody that it still has an edge quality to it.
MU: Who are you currently touring with?
CL: We're out with Machine Head and Orange 9.
MU: And what's next?
CL: We'll be going to Europe in another week and a half or so. For two weeks. We're going to Berlin, London, Holland. We're gonna spend most of the time in Germany.
MU: Holland, huh?
CL: I know what you're thinking . . . (laughs)
MU: (laughs) Well, your first album cover does have a picture of a guy smokin' a doobie!
CL: It has happened. I don't want to impress any kids with that stuff, but it happens!
MU: Anything else you wanted to say to the Metal Update readers?
CL: Thank you for being interested in the band. And thank you for giving it a shot. And if you have either the first or the second record, we deeply appreciate it. And thank you for spending your hard earned money on the shows.
-- LINKS --
review of Sevendust's 'Home'
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