June 4, 2014 Interview – Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
Longevity is a feat many strive for and few achieve in the world of rock-n-roll. Atlanta, Georgia natives, Sevendust, has conquered that goal with twenty years of success topping the alternative metal world with passion, dedication, and loyalty to their craft. Unquestionably one of the most fan-friendly bands on the planet they have built a following so emotionally involved with their music they may as well be family. Looking to keep things fresh and continuing to satisfy their fans Sevendust released their first ever acoustic album in 2014 titled Time Travelers & Bonfires, which is being called one of the best releases of the year. Recently we sat down with lead vocalist Lajon Witherspoon about his undying passion for music, the journey of Sevendust, touring, family, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Sevendust is celebrating twenty years together. In that time you have released nine studio albums, toured relentlessly, and become one of the most well-respected hard rock/metal acts in the world. How does it feel to be where you are after all these years of hard work?
Lajon Witherspoon – I cannot even imagine it is at that level. It is a beautiful feeling to be able to still be in the industry and go out and tour the world. I do not think we have fans, I think we have family and friends out there. It is an amazing thing, I would not ask for anything more.
CrypticRock.com – It is really amazing. The fans have grown up with Sevendust like a family. Sevendust’s music has always been extremely emotionally driven lyrically and musically. Each album has been consistently solid for the band. When you sit down and write together what is your approach having been together as long as you have?
Lajon Witherspoon – When we get together it is easy. If anyone knows each other, it is definitely us. A lot of people ask how do we write. I say it is great because we are all able to write. How foolish would it be, how foolish would I be, if it all came from one person’s point of view and prospective. We are all grown men, we all have lives, a wife, kids, and we all go through the same things everyone goes through. We all have a story to tell, so it is easy when we all get together.
CrypticRock.com – It definitely shows in the music in an organic way. Now your voice is perhaps one of the most distinct and powerful in all modern hard rock. You clearly leave it all on the table when you perform on the albums, and live as well. Body language can speak louder than words sometimes. Watching you perform, you show expressions of happiness, sadness, and aggression. Tell me about the emotion you exert on stage each time you perform?
Lajon Witherspoon – It is like a roller coaster for sure. It is therapy in a sense for me to be on stage. A lot of time music, for me, takes me back to that time and moment when that song was written or what was going on in my life. That is my passion, for that hour or two on stage is where I let it go. I cannot help it, it is in my soul and bones.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to see. It not only makes the music better, it makes the performance better. People really connect with that human emotion. You had your issues in life like we all have. In 2002 your brother was tragically murdered. This was an extremely sad time in your life. It is always extremely hard to lose a loved one. How did this awful event alter your life and prospective?
Lajon Witherspoon – It definitely changed my life completely, it was one of those moments where you cannot believe it happened to you, your family, and your loved one. It made me look at things a lot differently and appreciate life even more. It is definitely something I still deal with everyday because you cannot believe it. I just pray that one day we will see each other again. I know he is with me in spirit.
CrypticRock.com – That is a good outlook to have. In April Sevendust released the acoustic album Time Travelers & Bonfires. The album has received rave reviews all over the place. What was the writing and recording process like for this new record?
Lajon Witherspoon – Going into this, we did not go into it with songs. We just went down there. It was the same thing with Black Out The Sun. We went to Architects Studio in Butler, NJ. It is a beautiful place. We went into the studio and locked down from 12 Noon to 12 Midnight. That is how we get down, it is just a magical experience. It was a good time, the pledge was a good idea. If it was not for the family and friends out there who supported this album, it would not be able to happen. We were able to go in and ask which songs would you like us to re-do. Everyone told us and we were able to choose from a bunch of different songs which was hard to do. We also came out with six new songs. It came together great because it was a familiar place. It is a gift, it is a good hub for us, and good energy. It is a little magical town, there is not very much going on, but you create a good energy while in there, it was good for us and worked.
CrypticRock.com – Sounds like a great experience to have. Sevendust has been no stranger to the road as you have toured as a headlining act and among every rock festival in North America. Now in 2014 you are doing something very special in the acoustic tour. This comes a decade after your amazing Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live (2004) album. What inspired the band to go out and play this full on acoustic tour?
Lajon Witherspoon – To be honest with you, since we went out ten years ago, Southside Double-Wide was incredible. We only did a handful of shows. It was a great vibe and energy. It was kind of out of element and we just did a showcase for fun. That being said, all these years people have been saying they would love to see us do that again. We had the opportunity to do it with the pledge and the album. We said let’s do this acoustic album and take it on the road. The response was incredible and now we are on the second leg of it. I think it was something everyone wanted to see, now we have the opportunity to take it around the United States, and that is what we are going to do. We are going to rock it.
CrypticRock.com – It is a great and exciting experience for the fans. It is clearly a different vibe playing acoustic opposed to electric. Many Sevendust songs are very heavy and aggressive, yet translate well into acoustic arrangements. What was it like sitting down and rearranging some of these tracks?
Lajon Witherspoon – Actually, some songs we thought we could not breakdown acoustically, but we still had fun trying. The older songs we did acoustically this time around we never tried. They sound different to me, they sound like different songs, the acoustic breakdown is so different. I think once people hear this whole new acoustic album we have out, it is not the run of the mill acoustic album. It is completely different I feel.
CrypticRock.com – The record is really great. The songs are definitely different and the new songs are excellent. As you said the experience was really great. What was the experience like getting that much closer to listeners with the pledge.
Lajon Witherspoon – It was fun. We were able to interact with different family and friends out there that supported the album. They would do FaceTimes with the band. We had a couple of dinners with our good buddy Chef Eric. A couple of people were able to come into town and have a studio hang out with the band and go to dinner with us. At the very end, just like Black Out The Sun, we were able to bring guests into the studio, play a little show, and have a listening partying for them. It was really cool.
CrypticRock.com – What are some of your musical influences?
Lajon Witherspoon – Oh man, I have so many. I love so much from R&B, to rock, to jazz, and classical. I am influenced by everything. I definitely like a lot of old school stuff. I like some of the newer stuff out there too. I love music, anything with conviction, if that makes sense.
CrypticRock.com – That makes perfect sense. A lot of times, when it comes to metal music, many people limit themselves. It is important to be open and listen to a lot of things because there is a lot of great music out there.
Lajon Witherspoon – Absolutely. I would never limit myself. That was something growing up, that music was never limited. It was all around me all the time. It is a good time, music is fun. Where would the world be if we did not have song or thought like that. I think it would be even crazier than it is now.
CrypticRock.com – That is extremely true. Music is extremely therapeutic. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
Lajon Witherspoon – I love horror movies. One of my favorite films is The Exorcist (1973). It is still one of the scariest movies to me. That paranormal activity, I get into those kinds of things. There are so many, if it is a good horror movie I like it.
CrypticRock.com – The Exorcist is a freaky film. It definitely is still effective to this day.
Lajon Witherspoon – That is one of my favorites as well as The Shining (1980). I liked Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects (2005) and his re-make of Halloween (2007). I thought that was great. I have not been to a good movie in a while. Since I have been home I am busy with my family. I have been to two daddy daughter dances.
CrypticRock.com – That is understandable. Having a family now, is being on the road so much wearing on you? How do you manage being away from home as much as you are?
Lajon Witherspoon – As we have gotten older, we make a conscious decision not to stay out as long as we used to. That being said, the family comes out to different shows. They come out on a weekend when we can hang out with them. We do not try and go out as much. When we were younger we would leave for two years. It is not like that anymore. We have kind of slowed it down. Recently, we were off the road for two months. It was incredible and we would normally never do that. It was a blessing to take that break, recharge, be daddy, and a husband to my wife.