At the turn of the century, heavy music was in an odd state of affairs. Grunge was dead, Metallica had forgotten how to write riffs and the age of nu metal came about - and thankfully disappeared fairly quickly. Whilst so many bands died off when the genre started to fall away, Sevendust was one of the very few that evolved and carved their own lane. Developing their own niche of heavy, groovy rock, they shed their nu metal beginnings in favour of a more mature and wider reaching sound.
Whilst the journey had its ups and downs, the shift obviously paid off as this month sees the release of the bands 12th studio album All I See Is War, the latest in a long line of stellar records. What is it that’s kept the band going for over 20 years? Frontman Lajon Witherspoon explains, “I don’t like to say we have fans, I like to say we have family. That family has supported us for so long and kept that energy there. That’s a huge part of what has kept us going and stopped us from ever giving up”.
All I See Is War is everything you’d expect from a Sevendust record in every possible way. It’s packed full of immense groove, huge riffs and powerful, soulful melodies and marks the next logical step in a long and consistent discography. Most bands don’t make it past album number three nowadays, so reaching album 12 is no easy feat by any means. Witherspoon attests this longevity to the group’s ongoing creativity and hunger to create.
“Every one of us in the band writes, so we’re never short of ideas when it comes to hitting the studio,” he says. “We actually went into the studio with 60 songs this time. We really felt like we had something to prove. After taking some time off and coming back with the backing of a new record label, we felt so energised and excited.” That excitement is certainly evident when listening to All I See Is War. It would be easy to assume that a band with over 20 years and a dozen records under their belt might sound tired or burnt out, but Sevendust sound like a fresh band with a new lease on life here.
Sevendust has had a very sordid history with labels throughout their existence, but it sounds like the band has finally found the right home in new label Rise Records. “The thing about Rise is that they really have their finger on the pulse, not only in their history but also with their approach to marketing and social media. The relationship has already been so great and it just makes me feel like that young kid getting his first record deal that never thought it was going to happen. After so many years of doing things ourselves, it’s so exciting to have a passionate team behind us.”
With the new record ready to hit shelves, it’s time for Sevendust to hit the road and reconnect with the aforementioned family they’ve built over the past two decades. Witherspoon is all too aware of the special and unique bond that has formed between band and audience as they’ve grown up together.
“I think about it all the time,” he says. “We’ve grown up together and that seems so crazy. I was 21 years old when we started this band and now I’m 45. The fans that were with us 20 years ago now have kids and those kids are coming along to shows. It’s like we have multiple generations of Sevendust fans that have grown up before our eyes. What more could we ask for?”
The frontman’s genuine gratitude and appreciation for their audience is plain to see, and it’s so easy to understand how the band can continue to release music and tour the world after so long given the undying and unconditional support they receive from their fans.
All I See Is War is out Friday May 11 through Rise Records/BMG.