June 11, 2018 Interview – Morgan Rose of Sevendust
When picking a career, try and find something you are passionate about and surround yourself with people whose company you enjoy. Easier said than done, for over 2 long decades, Sevendust has been fortunate enough to pursue their passion for music and share a blood-like bond together, but here is the kicker… it has led to a ton of success. Easily one of the most recognized names in the Hard Rock world today, Sevendust’s story continues to be written as they celebrate the release of their 12th studio album, All I See Is War as they continue to tear up stages around the world.
Building a reputation as some of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys in Rock, they do not look at those who listen to their music, buy the merchandise, and come out to the shows merely as fans. Instead, they are more like family. Taking the time to discuss the philosophy of Sevendust, Drummer/Vocalist Morgan Rose sat down to break down everything from the band’s beginnings to their latest album and beyond.
CrypticRock.com – Sevendust has been established for over 20 years now. Having recently released your 12th studio album, the band shows no sign of slowing down. What would you say has been the key to the band’s longevity through everything?
Morgan Rose – When we started, our following consisted of about 3 other people in Atlanta. The way that we were brought up, we were extra respective of the game and extra respective of the people who would spend the money to come and see us. It started out where we would play in front of 5 people, and we would meet all 5 of them, let them know how much we appreciate them being out there. Then, that 5 turned into 20, and 20 turned into 50. We just made sure the people that supported us knew that we appreciated them being there.
We are the people’s band kind of band. I think the loyalty has been the key to being relevant. I think the fact that I put the band together, because I loved everybody in it as a person, would be the other key. When people ask me, “What advice do you have?,” the only advice I’ll ever give is – when putting a band together, make sure you love the guys you are playing with. You could get lucky and end up in a tube for 20 years trying to figure out how to jockey around each other in a hallway.
CrypticRock.com – It has been a great run and Sevendust continue to be the people’s band. Through it all, the core of Sevendust has essentially remained the same, minus a 4 year gap without Clint Lowery. In a 2013 interview with CrypticRock, Clint stated you guys are like family. At this point, could you imagine sharing the stage night after night with any other group of musicians?
Morgan Rose – Of course not, no. When Clint when on his hiatus, did Dark New Day and played with Korn for a little while, there really wasn’t any personal stuff going on between the guys in the band, it was just something that needed to be done on his end. When I got him back in, he was right, he wanted to do it, we wanted to have him back.
We are family, we are brothers. We are going to get on each other, we are going to antagonize each other every now and again. We are going to do what brothers do. It has been 21 years on the road together, minus the 4 years without Clint, but we spent a few years together before we got a deal. We are going on an insane amount of time together. For us to be able to have the 5 of us, and for the most part be extremely happy with each other, it’s crazy!
When Sonny came into the band, it felt like that was the right thing to do because Sonny was also family with us – it was almost like the cousin came to play with us for a few years. Long-winded answer, no, I could not imagine playing with anyone else. Whenever we do anything different, we always miss this.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear how strong the bond is between the members. As mentioned, the band recently returned with your 12th overall studio record, All I See Is War. What was the writing and recording process like this time around?
Morgan Rose – It was a lot different. In typical Sevendust fashion, we had gone through some business stuff that wasn’t so great. It forced us to be in a position where we thought we would be off for a year, with nothing to do, and then get back together, write a record, and move on with it. Clint had booked time to go play with Seether. I had booked production gigs/studio stuff. John had planned the Projected record. Lajon had some ideas of what he wanted to do. Everybody kind of had a plan, and then it all got destroyed by this brutal business thing that happened with us.
We did a few of those anniversary shows, and we added a few more, because we thought it would be a good move. Then the guys started writing. Instead of us waiting a year to get together and write, John and Clint started to put riffs together. Everything was being done away from each other and it was really interesting. Me, John, Vinny. and Lajon would get together in Atlanta, we wrote a handful of songs, and sent them to Clint while he was on the road. Then he would add stuff to it, then me and Lajon went to go meet with Clint in St. Louis and wrote a few songs there as well. Everything was being paired up, and by the time we got together with Elvis, there was about 60 song ideas. He made the comment that, of all the years of all the bands he has worked with, he never had that material to go through and it was overwhelming. We have a record or 2 worth of songs that barely got a look, just because there was just too much material to go through. That was the difference.
The difference was, instead of us sitting in a room and putting it together, we kind of paired up and put the skeleton of the songs together. Then, when we went in with Elvis, he put his hands on it, then we all started massaging those ideas.
CrypticRock.com – Interesting how it all worked out. Lajon Witherspoon had mentioned to us in a previous interview that everyone is actively involved in the writing. This makes for a wonderful collaborative effort. As for yourself, what headspace do you have to be in to sit down and write a song?
Morgan Rose – Well, lucky enough for me, I usually go through some sort of catastrophic personal situation right when we go in to do a record. (Laughs) Clint has been known to say in interviews, “It wouldn’t be a record if Morgan wasn’t going through some catastrophic moment in his life.” I have gone through just about every breakup. Almost every one of them happens right when we’re getting ready to write a record. Lyrically, I am invigorated to go in there and try and put my feelings on paper. I would enjoy not having to go through that stuff, but it definitely makes for interesting topics.
I try not to go through the same exact lyrical content. It gets a little tired to be talking about woe is me, I got screwed over here or there. It influences it a little bit, but sometimes I use some of those ideas to go back into another part of my life. Usually the headspace is a pretty dark one for me.
CrypticRock.com – Wow, that is unfortunate that happens like that. As you said, sometimes strife makes for inspiration.
Morgan Rose – Everybody’s got a story and everybody’s got trouble. Everybody has their ups and downs, you ride the waves, you enjoy the good stuff, and you appreciate and expect the other shoe is going to fall at some point. Being the people’s type of band, a lot of people go through so much of this stuff that I can’t even come close to counting how many times people have said we have helped them through a tough time. We aren’t special at all, we are just 5 southern dudes who got lucky. We were in the right place at the right time, and we enjoy putting our heart on our sleeve. We had no idea it was going to affect people the way that it does. It’s pretty humbling.
CrypticRock.com – It has to be. Now, some of that is lucky, and you may be too humble to say so, but you guys are one of the hardest working bands in Rock out there today.
Morgan Rose – Thanks. Like I said, we had 300 people who knew who we were. We sold 311 records the first week our first record came out, and I thought, “Wow, everybody bought them ,” as naive as could be. I didn’t know 50 records sold in New York, and I said, “How? How do they know us in New York?” The next week was 450 records sold and I thought, “Woah, we haven’t even done anything, who are these people?” Again, we appreciate the opportunity that has been given to us and we work real hard.
CrypticRock.com – You certainly do. With All I See Is War, is there a theme? We are living through some troubled times socially. There seems to be a very underlined theme surrounding this album right down to the album title.
Morgan Rose – You know, it was one of those things when the title was brought up, and there were a few different titles we were mulling over, I knew this one would probably be the one that would catch the ear and the eye. The cover lends itself to it, but it is not a politically driven record. We were definitely not going to get into that world and alienate half the people that support us.
The lyrical content was really not built around that. It’s a vague way to describe what is going on in everyone’s personal life – it’s turmoil. I see it in my normal life, putting your hand over your face going, “You have to be kidding me, I’m 200 years old and I am still dealing with this shit?” Of course, you turn the TV on, and you want to turn it off real quick because of the craziness going on.
It is not a politically driven record, that wasn’t the idea. It was just something that made sense to us. Like I said, it’s a very vague way to describe and wide open for interpretation.
CrypticRock.com – Understood, and leaving something open to interpretation makes it that much more personal for a listener. Sevendust are without question a live band – you live and die by your live performances. Is each night a new experience, and how do you keep the energy level consistent after all these years?
Morgan Rose – There is an interesting way to describe that. For instance, the last 5 shows have been 5 of the hottest ones I could remember. We are not the way that we used to be as far as the self-inflicted damage we put on ourselves with extracurricular stuff. Some of the guys are in tip-top shape. Me, I tend to have a few more beers or cocktails maybe then the other guy, but I get my rest. As far as the show goes, you can definitely feel like “I don’t want to do this tonight – I feel like crap – I am so dehydrated from going into 4 or 5 days in a row of this heat.” You don’t feel like doing it.
We have all kinds of superstitious stuff that we do that gears up before we go on. It kind of goes step by step from I don’t want to do it, to, then it feels a little more ok, then you take the next step and you feel you are almost ready. Then you do your personal pray, that gets you locked up, then you do the group pray and that feels like, “Ok I’m feeling a little bit better.” Then as you are walking to the stage, the lights go up, the intro starts, and it is like, “DING!” It’s like a switch. As cliche as that may sound, the switch is turned on when that happens.
There have been many nights where I talk about what is open to eat after we get done, while I am walking to the stage, in a sold out venue. No butterflies, no nothing, no thought of anything other than, “What the hell am I going to eat when I am done?” Then I hear the sound of the people when the lights go off, and all of a sudden, we aren’t talking about food anymore.
CrypticRock.com – That makes sense. You get that adrenaline kick from the crowd. One can imagine you guys pick each other up when you are down, right?
Morgan Rose – (Laughs) Like I said, every now and again, I might hit the old brewsky a little hard. One thing I’ve learned really quick, and everybody did, is you better not be gripping about feeling bad because of what you did to yourself last night. Then it’s like, “Maybe we should add a few more songs” or, “How are you feeling today buddy?” There are the jabs and nobody is going to give you any pity. Without question, if you did it to yourself, you better be ready to put in the extra effort that night. It’s more about not letting the other guy down. A lot of days people are walking around saying, “I feel great man, I feel fantastic,” and others are looking at them smiling going, “Ohh, you’re a liar.” (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – (Laughs) That is hilarious and it is just more endearing to hear about the comradery the band shares. My last question for you is regarding films. Lajon is a massive Horror fan and Clint told us he digs them too. Are you a fan of Horror films, and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
Morgan Rose – Oh god, yea. I am arguably the biggest Horror fanatic in the band, I go old school too. The classics are always Halloween (1978), which is one of my favorites. Even the semi-corny, but cool, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). My dad took me to see The Exorcist (1973) when I was around 5 years old. He took me to see Jaws (1975) when I was a kid, and The Exorcist, so for a while I wouldn’t be in a room by myself and I wouldn’t go in the water… sweet!
I Spit on Your Grave (1978) too, I like to go into the old school stuff. There is this movie called Rituals (1977) that nobody knows or talks about, I remember that when I was really young. It came on HBO or something and totally freaked me out. I am a big Horror guy.
CrypticRock.com – There are a lot of great Horror films from the ’70s and ’80s.
Morgan Rose – Netflix tries to occupy my time, whether it be low budget or stuff that is so underground it went Netflix ready. I have gone through some of that stuff and I have been disappointed. Of course the CGI can get a little bit more realistic than some of the stuff I grew up on. It just tries so hard, the storylines are beat, and everything has been used up. Blumhouse has been putting out good stuff, that is the go to now. If I see they are going to come out with a movie, I go after it. I am a big fan of that company.
JUL 13 Rock USA Oshkosh, WI
JUL 14 Country Fest Cadott, WI
JUL 15 INKcarceration Mansfield, OH
OCT 13 Discovery Park Sacramento, CA
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