THIS IS AS SEVENDUST AS IT GETS
A CONVERSATION WITH JOHN CONNOLLY OF SEVENDUST
If you ask John Connolly of Sevendust if he regrets not pursuing his childhood dream of being a professional runner, he’ll tell you no, without hesitation.
When he was a kid, all he wanted to do was run. ‘I remember my mom used to just give me crap about that all the time. What do you mean you’re going to be a professional runner? Is that even a thing?’ he laughs. It is a thing. But running is a sport that takes a lot of time to see the progress and you need lots of patience, which 14-year-old John did not have. ‘I had zero patience whatsoever.’
But looking at how much time he was going to have to put into it, he redirected his focus. It wasn’t something that he thought he wanted to do for a living. He didn’t give up on it, he just prioritized music. ‘It was 100% the right call.’ He feels like he probably would have gotten far too competitive at the college level, perhaps have destroyed his knees. Furthermore, there’s that small percentage of people who actually break through and make it a profession. He’s super thankful that he chose music because now he has an enjoyment for the sport. He’s not burned out on it and for him, at the end of the day it’s all about the charity. Even if you mess it up, you’re still going to finish and raise money for a charity, which is a big win. ‘I figured it’s probably my turn to give back a little bit so. The community has done so much for Sevendust over the years that I think it’s the least I can do is give a little bit back. I’m doing something that I’m going to do either way. Sevendust got me out of it, and in a weird sort of way got me back into it too.’ Take a Chance For Charity has asked hm to run in the New York marathon and the National Down Syndrome Society is going to sponsor it this year. He’d been training, so he’s already in marathon mode, ‘I love running and I was going to run anyway, and I might as well raise money for a really good cause.’ Being a triathlete and going on tour with the band has been challenging, so he’s put the triathlon on pause, for now. But staying active and being an athlete has allowed him, as well as the rest of the band to be very active on stage, something that isn’t always easy being over the age of 50. It’s just the nature of Sevendust to be active both on and off stage. Lead guitarist Clint Lowery is a cross fitter, bassist Vince Hornsby plays a lot of golf, and Morgan Rose with his drums on stage, there is so much energy that goes into Sevendust.
Along with staying active and having side projects and lives, there came a time when it was time to write the album. The process is usually to pick some dates and then band gets together. And they come out of the first session with a song or two and at the point decide it’s a good start. Writing this time was a little unique. The band loaded up some food and headed out to a remote area in Kansas, with no distractions to a house that belonged to front man Lajon Witherspoon’s family to spend a few days getting started on Truth Killer. Unlike other sessions where they might get a couple of songs out of it before calling it good and moving forward, he says ‘That session was probably one of the more unusual sessions because “Fence” came out of it, “Truth Killer” came out of it, “Holy Water” came out of it, “Superficial Drug” came out of it, “Chilled” came out of it, half the record came out of that first session, which is very unusual for Sevendust.’ So many tracks came from that session that they were in good spot, and they were ready to roll. He credits the fact that they were super excited to be together again after not being able to tour for Blood & Stone.
They didn’t set the bar, and yet this album came together easily ‘We were already kind of talking about “Truth Killer” being the album title. “Fence” will probably be the great track, it’ll probably be the first thing you’re gonna hear, “Holy Water”, “Everything” was in there.” They started in a strong place because they had a lot of time to prepare. And not spending a lot of time on demos that they know are better suited elsewhere is something the band has learned to do well over the years. ‘Which is probably why we get a lot more songs out of these demo sessions. you listen back and it’s like oh that might have been out of tune or notes are in wrong places. But it always sounds very much like Sevendust. This is as Sevendust as it gets. And the band isn’t one of those bands that sits down to write with the idea that there’s a message to send out to the world. There are plenty of bands that get political or write concept albums, and that’s okay if that’s their thing. ‘It’s just our therapy. Our therapy comes out in music.’ For John, it’s not about anything other than the human connection. Sevendust prefers to make it general enough they can open the door to accept what is probably a very common thread to what a lot of other people are feeling whether it’s positive, or negative or even hopeful, it’s more about the therapy sessions for them. Bringing fans together is something they do well, and they’re about to embark on a journey two decades in the making to do just that.
Sevendust just did a run with Alter Bridge and a listening party for the new album which will be out July 28th. ‘We’re sort of in the whole getting the record set up phase right now. It’s the calm before the storm. We’re doing all the press; we’re talking about the record.’ They’re set to pick things back up and go back out with Alter Bridge and bring Mammoth WFH in August for a short run before starting their Machine Killer Tour with Static X and Dope in October. It’s been over 20 years since they went on tour with them, and they pitched the idea of it being sort of a Throw Back Tour, wondering if fans will still be into it. ‘We put that thing on sale and the tickets went absolutely bonkers. Promoters were like what is happening here right now?’ he chuckles. ‘We were all bands that came out around the same time, I mean our fans love Static X and Static X fans love Sevendust, it’s just one of those things that just works. I don’t know why it works but it works.’