The UK could be forgiven for forgetting about Sevendust – the band hadn’t played here at all in several years. But last year the hard rockers from Georgia started to put that right – joining Black Stone Cherry and Stone Gods for a hugely successful UK run.
Guitarist saw the Bristol Academy date of the tour and found Sevendust’s reputation as a fantastic live band is very well earned indeed. In fact we’ve seen few support bands put in such a committed performance. But before the show I sat down on their tour bus with guitarist Clint Lowery for a chat.
A principal songwriter in the band, Clint (far right in the photo above) has rejoined Sevendust after four years away from the band. In that time he played in Dark New Day with his brother Corey and also spent 2007 on the road with Korn as a touring guitarist to replace Brian ‘Head’ Welch. He’s also found time to record a solo E.P under the name Hello Demons… Meet Skeletons (available on iTunes now with proceeds going to charity). There’s a lot to talk about…
It’s been a long time since Sevendust have played in the UK, has this tour gone well?
“It’s like starting over for us. The last time we came over was about ten years ago but we needed to come back before now of course. But we plan on coming back as much as we can.”
So what’s it been like for you returning to the Sevendust fold?
“It’s awesome. Being away was one of those things where it was a good thing to do – I got to play in a band with my brother [Dark New Day] and play in Korn for a little while. But Sevendust is home for me – these are the guys I cut my teeth with in the music business. I’m excited about making another record, writing and playing more adventurous stuff on guitar with this band. I’m going to be playing more solos in the future.”
You mentioned Korn and Dark New Day, and you’ve recently released a solo E.P, how do you feel you have developed as a player during your time working on these different projects?
“I grew up in the shredding era – Steve Vai and Yngwie. But I’ve never really had a chance to use all that woodshedding I did. It’s going to be interesting to do that now. I’ve concentrated on songwriting rather than solo parts over the years and I’m getting back into the flashier stuff. It takes technique and discipline and I need to improve on it but overall I’m just trying to get back to the fundamentals again.”
What was playing with Korn like?
“I didn’t work with them on a creative level, it was more of a friendship – ‘Hey, come in and play with us for a while.’ Obviously they are their own entity and I think they’re waiting to put the original line-up back together but I really admire them as a band. They came out a little while before Sevendust did so there’s mutual admiration there. They were pioneers of a sound and I was in awe of those guys so it was really good to play with them. But it wasn’t like Sevendust – this is family, that was a good job.”
So you think the original line-up of Korn will reunite with Head on guitar?
“Yes I do. I don’t know when it will happen but I think Head is the most needed guy in that band right now. I don’t know where he’s at with his spiritual adventures but I hope he comes back.”
Was it strange hearing the three albums Sevendust made after you left?
“It’s kind of like watching your ex with someone else! Of course I was really proud of what they did, I was a big fan and supporter but it was hard. It was emotional because of stuff going on between us at the time, a few conflicts because of different things but that’s the past now. But putting that aside, I love these guys – I love their music and what they do so it was cool to step outside and watch what they do from an outside perspective.”
What brought about your acoustic solo project – Hello Demons… Meet Skeletons?
“It’s a digital release for charity but I’ve wanted to do an acoustic project for a few different reasons. I didn’t want to have anything similar to the Sevendust sound because I wanted to save that writing style for them. I recorded all the instruments and it was cool – I’m limited with my drumming skills but for what the music calls for it was ok. That kind of brushwork. I’ve always admired Dave Grohl and his ability to do that kind of thing and I like to see this as a novice version of that.
A solo project takes the democracy out of the process but that enables you to clearly see your vision through as a writer. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing but for me this was a smooth process in the studio.”
What were your other inspirations for the project?
“Chris Cornell is amazing in his melody choices and there’s also an Alice In Chains influence there with the harmonies I guess. I don’t sound like those guys but they’re the ones I listen to and get moved by musically.”
The mellow side of Sevendust has always been an interesting dimension to the band but can you see the band’s sound moving in a heavier direction on the next album?
I don’t know for sure. Personally, because I’ve just done this acoustic thing I’d like to go heavy but obviously bring a melodic flavour to that. Heavy with a hook. Lajon’s a singer [Witherspoon, Sevendust vocalist], not really a screamer and you have Morgan’s [drummer] vocals, my vocals and John [Connolly] sings too. There’s going to be a lot of vocal dynamics. That’s a good thing about me coming back I guess – it brings another perspective, another layer to what Sevendust is.
Have you written any songs since returning?
“Yes, it’s been slow because we’re getting back into it. But we’re going to take our time and out together that we need to. Concentrate and make a tasteful and heavy record: a Sevendust album the fans have been waiting for.”
What’s your gear setup now?
“It’s changed – I’m in transition now. I’m playing Diamond heads now but I was with Hughes & Ketner during Dark New Day and Boogie with Korn. I’ve always have a Mesa/Boogie MKIV for pretty much my whole career. But over here in the UK my rig is scaled down because we’re limited on time and space.
Right now I’m using the Diamond with PRS guitars.”
What do you like about Diamond amps?
“I just started using the Phantom heads. They’re cool, really raw kind of amps. It’s still on a trial basis right now so I’ll see how it goes.”
What PRS is your main guitar?
“My favourite is my Custom 22 but I also have Singlecuts and a seven-string Singlecut that PRS made for me when I was playing with Korn. That one is special to me.”
What do you like about PRS guitars?
“The Singlecuts have that classic feel but in general PRS guitars are very reliable. They’re like the Cadillac of guitars!”