December 15, 2002
Orlando, Florida, December 14th, 2000 - it's Sevendust's
final show, the last of more than three hundred on a
grueling eighteen-month tour in support of their second
album, 1999's Home. Tack on the previous twenty-four
months, which were spent recording their debut album,
slamming through hundreds more gigs in support of that,
then writing and recording Home, and you're looking
at a final tally of over eight hundred shows and two
albums (with combined sales of nearly two million) in
less than four years.
Along the way, the Atlanta-based band reached new heights
with fiery performances on The Tonight Show with Jay
Leno, Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and Farmclub, monster
tours with the likes of Creed, and a nearly legendary,
festival-stealing set at Woodstock '99. A heavy dose
of success that ultimately exacted an equally heavy
"Everybody in the band plays so hard that if you
were to look at our medical problems, we resembled a
football team," says drummer Morgan Rose, who had
to undergo physical therapy when he got home. "I
don't want to make it sound like a sob story, 'cause
we're living a dream here, but everything needs to be
done in moderation. We're looking at each other and
we've got guys that have shin splints so bad that it
takes thirty minutes to wrap them, we have a bass player
who needed surgery on his knee, and we're basically
not allowed to get off the road."
The seeds of
Animosity, Sevendust's third and finest album, were
planted during that fateful tour and nurtured once
the band got home. They finally reconnected with their
families by taking their first vacation, a total of
six weeks, in more than three years. It was during
that time that all of their accumulated emotions began
to pour themselves into reflecting on the past, contemplating
the future, and the writing of new music. After this
time of reflection, the band's immediate goal was
to reorganize their business infrastructure, including
a new booking agent, personal manager, business manager,
and lawyer. Having befriended Creed on their last
tour and admiring their business atmosphere, they
hired Creed's management firm Jeff Hanson Management
and Promotions, who immediately put together a new
team of people to nurture Sevendust back to physical,
mental, and financial health. With a new attitude
and a new family surrounding them, Sevendust began
to write, looking at the past and present with different
eyes. "The title of the record says a lot,"
admits Lowery. "There are issues that we had
with people who led us the wrong way and disappointed
us, and this was a chance to get it off our chests.
We finally felt some sort of closure with those issues
by writing these songs."
Despite the anger and frustration that perhaps all
the members of Sevendust expressed, it would have
been too easy for Animosity to be solely an angst-ridden,
explosive barrage of simple metallic rage. Sevendust
had something completely different in mind, an idea
that began with "Angel's Son," their biggest
radio hit yet and a moving tribute to the late Snot
singer, Lynn Strait. "We realized that we didn't
have to try to be the heaviest band in the world,"
explains Rose. "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. When we did Angel's
Son and people reacted the way they did, we realized
that we could do exactly what we had originally wanted
"I set out to sing," says Witherspoon simply
about his goals for Animosity. "I set out to
sing my ass off, sing my heart out, and write songs,
write real songs, and put our hearts into it."
Relocating to their new management's home of Orlando
in mid-February of 2001 to write, the band enjoyed
the luxury of having far more time than ever before
to create the record they wanted: "For the first
time in our career, I felt like we actually had time
to get back to a normal life, then we started writing
the new music," continues Witherspoon. "We
had enough time to write the music, live with the
music, and know the music so well that when we went
in the studio, we were all so impressed with each
other. We were just very proud and excited."
The band enlisted producer Ben Grosse (Fuel, Filter)
and settled into Orlando's Transcontinental Studios
to capture what Lowery calls the "contrast of
heavy and light music together." First listen
to the seething, coiled power of "Praise"
or "T. O. A. B." for the heaviness and aggression
that Sevendust is rightfully known for. Then flip
to "Crucified" or "Trust" for
an extraordinary combination of that aggression countered
by beautiful melodies and passionate vocals, propelled
even further by the tight, sinuously soulful rhythms
that have also become a trademark of this versatile
band. Exhibiting a new and more mature side of Sevendust,
are "Angel's Son" and "Xmas Day,"
songs that showcase the band's depth with heart shattering,
poignant expressions of sadness that reach an emotional
level rarely heard these days in the heavy rock field.
"It's basically about a friend who's lost their
way and fallen to pieces, saying that they've given
up hope," says writer Lowery of the latter tune.
"And having to find a way, as much as it hurts,
to say goodbye."
Then there's "Follow." While Sevendust kept
this album close and personal, there was room for
one guest appearance -- from good friend Aaron Lewis,
lead singer of Staind. "Aaron and Jon Wysocki
( Staind's drummer) flew in and were playing golf
with Morgan," recalls Witherspoon. "So we
just said, 'Hey, would you like to come down to the
studio and do a song?' So Aaron came down, we let
him listen to a couple of tracks, he heard 'Follow,'
and I said, 'I think this would be a great song for
you to sing on.' He did the second verse and some
harmonies on it, and it turned out great!"
The triumph of Animosity leaves the band brimming
with confidence. With this album Sevendust redefines
both themselves and their brand of hard rock, taking
their anger and turning it into something that is
at once heavy and beautiful. "We really hope
that people out there understand where we're coming
from on this record, and we're eager to see what they're
gonna do," says Lowery. "It really means
a lot to us what the fans think about this stuff.
We wouldn't be doing it if it was any other way."
Sevendust's current state of mind is perhaps best
summed up by the song "Shine," a gem of
heaviness and harmony that expresses their desire
to transcend personal, professional and musical boundaries.
"I have such a hunger right now to make sure
that Sevendust does the best it can possibly do, because
it's time," concludes Witherspoon, all memories
of broken bodies and dampened spirits erased. "I'm
hungry again, the band is hungry again, the energy
is there and we just can't wait to go and kick everybody's
Lajon Witherspoon - lead vocals
John Connolly - guitars
Clint Lowery - guitars, vocals
Morgan Rose - drums, vocals
Vince Hornsby - bass