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Members include John Connolly, guitar; Vince Hornsby, bass; Clint Lowery, guitar; Morgan Rose, drums; Lajon Witherspoon, vocals. Addresses: Record company--TVT Records, 23 East Fourth St., New York, NY 10013, (212) 979-6410. Website--Sevendust Official Website: http://www.sevendust.com.
Sevendust is ranked among the top groups in new metal ("nu-metal"), a rock hybrid that combines traditional heavy metal with elements of industrial rock, pop music ballads, hip-hop, R&B harmonies, and lyrics that alternate between life-affirming and nihilistic. Almost-constant touring as both headliners and as openers for bands such as Creed, Megadeath, Godsmack, and Metallica, combined with increased airplay and participation in the Van's Warped Tour, Iggy Pop's R.O.A.R. Fest tour, Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfest tour, and the Tatoo the Earth tour, have raised Sevendust's popularity and sales to levels approaching other nu-metal acts such as Powerman 5000, Staind, and Slayer. Like other nu-metal bands, Sevendust is noted for its socially conscious lyrics and musical accessibility, the latter often credited to lead singer Lajon Witherspoon's vocals, which have been compared favorably to Living Colour's Corey Glover and the Doors' Jim Morrison.
The band formed as Crawlspace in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1995. Drummer Morgan Rose told Jason Bracelin in CMJ New Music Monthly that his father was a guitarist and his mother, who followed the Raspberries in the 1970s, took her young son to see David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust tour, which he witnessed while sitting on the shoulders of a security guard. He credits his father with teaching him guitar and claimed that he was able to play Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 Was 9" when he was three years old. Rose teamed with Lajon Witherspoon, who has been performing in a variety of soul-music oriented bands.
The group almost didn't get its big break. When they discovered that an Atlanta industry showcase gig they had booked was obscure and difficult to locate, they almost cancelled. Luckily, they played anyhow, and some executives from the record company TVT got lost looking for another club and saw Crawlspace's set instead. The group signed with TVT. By 1996 the band had a manager, former Twisted Sister band guitarist Jay Jay French, and had contributed the song "My Ruin" to the soundtrack of the film Mortal Kombat: More Kombat.
Sevendust recorded their self-titled debut album with producer Toby Wright after changing their name in 1997. Sevendust earned gold record status, helped along with a half-hour television concert entitled Sevendust: Live and Loud and plenty of touring. The band's follow-up effort, Home, released in 1999, also went gold. Sevendust members, however, dismissed it as unrepresentative of the group's abilities. "We got a few really good songs out of it, and there's some songs on there that'll never get played again. Never," Rose told Bracelin.
While touring to promote the album, the band's drug abuse caught up with them. Rose overdosed on cocaine in 1999, and one of the group's road crew died of an overdose in 2001. Despite Witherspoon's acknowledged daily marijuana use and consumption of tobacco and alcohol by band members, Rose insisted that the band remained drug-free since his cocaine overdose. In 2000 they recorded a Twisted Sister song for an album honoring their manager's former group, and contributed the song "Fall" to the Scream 3 film soundtrack.
Sevendust toured more than 39 consecutive months in support of Home and returned to Atlanta nearly bankrupt. Blaming French for their financial difficulties, the band dismissed him as manager in 2000, and, after signing with a new management team--Jeff Hanson Management and Promotion--moved to Orlando, Florida, to be closer to them. Their third album, Animosity, released in 2001, blends songs that range from softer power ballads--such as the tribute to late singer Lynn Strait of the band Snot called "Angel's Son"--and aggressive heavy metal music. "We realized that we didn't have to try to be the heaviest band in the world," Rose explained in a press release for Animosity. "Our initial goal as a band had been to be a brutally heavy band musically that also featured the unbelievable vocals of Lajon on top of that, but somewhere along the line, we separated ourselves from letting him showcase his voice."
Produced by Ben Grosse, who had also produced albums for the bands Filter and Fuel, Animosity reflects the eight months the members of Sevendust took to write and record the songs, and many critics noted that it included several songs that display Witherspoon's soulful and melodic vocal range, which causes it to stand out from the group's preceding albums. The album also features the vocal stylings of Aaron Lewis from the band Staind. Some also speculated that the album's most bitter lyrics concerned the band's former manager, especially the album's lead track, "T.O.A.B.," in which Rose wrote: "How is it that you sleep?/... Black and white, I ask this question/Twisted lies come clean." Assessing the album for the Aquarian Weekly, Adrian Gregory Glover wrote: "It's rare these days to see a band take a huge leap forward without compromising its original vision." Following the release of Animosity, Sevendust began playing an extensive tour to support the album, which went gold in March of 2002, and contributed a song to the 2002 fantasy film The Scorpion King.
Sevendust has spent years touring to support their album releases and have also soared in visibility with sets on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and Farmclub. Over the years, they have managed a tour with Creed and a "nearly-legendary, festival-stealing" performance at Woodstock '99. To Metal Edge's Brian Reesman, Witherspoon said, "Man, right now, Sevendust feels magical to me. It's exciting. I get up and I can't wait to play. I can't wait to let the people hear these new songs and to hear their reaction.... It's mutual energy, and it's great."
by Bruce Walker
Group formed in Atlanta, GA, as Crawlspace, 1995; single "My Ruin" appeared on Mortal Kombat: More Kombat soundtrack, 1995; released first album as Sevendust, 1997; appeared on Iggy Pop's R.O.A.R. Fest tour, 1997; appeared on Vans Warped Tour, 1998; appeared on Ozzfest, 1999; toured as opening act for Limp Bizkit, 1999; coheadlined tour with Coal Chamber, 1999; released second album, Home, 1999; performed at Woodstock '99, 1999; toured as supporting act for Creed, 2000; recorded song for Twisted Sister tribute album, 2000; appeared on Tattoo the Earth tour, 2000; performed as opening act for Kid Rock, 2000; released third album, Animosity, 2001; appeared on Music from and Inspired by the Scorpion King film soundtrack, 2002.
- Billboard, March 6, 1999, pp. 77, 84; July 29, 2000, p. 14; November 24, 2001, p. 22.
- CMJ New Music Monthly, November/December 2001, pp. 59-61.
- Dayton Daily News, April 1, 2000, p. 6C.
- Entertainment Weekly, November 16, 2001, p. 172.
- Grand Rapids Press, November 26, 2000, p. G10.
- Journal Star (Peoria, IL), March 9, 2000, p. C06; March 14, 2000, p. B03.
- Metal Edge, January 2002, pp. 6-10.
- New York Times, February 8, 2002, p. E7.
- Rolling Stone, March 30, 2000, p. 28; January 17, 2002, p. 50.
- Spin, February 2002, pp. 90-91.
- Washington Post, January 25, 2002, p. T07.
- "Lejon Witherspoon Interview," Fort Wayne Music, http://www.fortwaynemusic.com/content/interviews/sevendust.092701/index.schtml (February 20, 2002).
- "Sevendust," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll (February 20, 2002).
- Sevendust Official Website, http://www.sevendust.com (February 20, 2002).
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