Chattin' it up with Sevendust
Mike Hess
10/29/2002 1:52:43 PM

"Trust me, the last thing I wanted to do after touring that first album was play a guitar."

Hanging out backstage with the members of Sevendust sure isn’t as crazy as one would think it to be. Clint and John (guitars) both lie on the floor, catching up on some well-deserved relaxation. Bassist Vinnie sits on the opposite side of the room on his cell phone, giggling like a school-girl on laughing gas. Frontman Lajon enters casually with a scantily clad reporter, shares a joint with her, and the two suddenly disappear. Who knows where to... but I sure as hell could speculate. Man, I want to be a rock star.

But, being that I’m currently not one, I took the time on January 30 to interview John Connolly, the goateed, tattooed axeman from the Atlanta-based rockers Sevendust. Reserved and quiet in his manners, Connolly took a relaxed position backstage, wearing a Dallas Stars hat, Adidas warm-up pants, and a leather coat covering his full-sleeve tats.

I’m sure you guys are amped to be back out on the road. How’s the tour going so far?

Well, It’s only day three, so we should be up to speed. The first show is just like ‘cross your fingers’ and hope we’ll be able to pull it off. It’s the first time we’ve played a 90-minute set. Normally, we only get about 70-minutes when we’ve headlined a show. This time around though, we kind of short changed ourselves on the rehearsal because everyone wanted to stay home as long as possible. (The band had played over 700 shows in just 2 ½ years in support of their first album, so they know the trials and tribulations of being road-tired.)

With your latest album, Animosity [TVT], there was a ton of time allotted to you guys to record it, where the other albums were rushed a bit. Do you think that made the difference in the quality?:

Absolutely. The first one was just kind of an extended demo. We threw ‘em down, took about three weeks to record it, and we got a gold record out of it. On the second, we spent a lot more money, but had way less time. It was towards the end of our first tour that we really picked up steam, and that was when the album started to be successful, so we had to ride the wave and keep the momentum going. Trust me, the last thing I wanted to do after touring that first album was play a guitar.

So this time around, we told the label “We'll call you when we’re ready.” We didn’t wanna short-change it, and knew it was going to take time. We could write it in a month, we can write it in a year. We relocated down to Orlando where I live, rented an apartment, we rehearsed together, and just wrote for about a month, and at the end we’d go in, demo them, and then go home again for 2 weeks. And that gave me and Clint time to sit back and write. We did that 4 or 5 times and then we had the record.

Which of the tracks on the new record are your faves?

“Crucified” and “Trust”. That whole section of the record is where we got the most out there musically. We really pushed what we could do melodically with keeping the weight and toughness. Crucified has the big melodic chorus and the middle where it’s just death. Those 2 songs are most representative of what we are as a band. The rest are either totally heavy, or all melody, so those are the best of both.

My favorite is “Crucified” too. Those growling guitars at the end are brutal! Is that straight up guitar, or were there effects in there?

It was fun doing that in the studio, man. That’s cool that you picked up on that. When we were recording it, we were like ‘Should we really fuckin’ go?’ and then we did it. That’s straight up one a side, and then a double. And then after that we first we used a couple of effects.....we used a meatball, which is basically an envelope filter, but really high tech, with a bunch of knobs that you can adjust everything.

I noticed in the CD sleeve that you thank the guys of Pantera. Now, I’ve had the uh....pleasure(??) of drinking with Vinnie from Pantera, and I can’t even fathom hanging with them on a regular basis. What’s the bands relationship with them?

We met them on the road, we drank with them one time, and we drank with them again, and they’re the guys where if you drink with them a couple of times, they suck you in. There’s NO badder guitar player than Dimebag. The best rhythm is James Hetfield, but the best all around is Darrell, man. He’s born to kill that guitar. They’re great guys, and one of my biggest influences.

(Pause in conversation so that John can add Jaime Rivers, a Boston Bruin player, on the guest list)

Any chance of you guys being on this years Ozzfest?

It’s going to be interesting to see. With Ozzfest, there’s only one confirmation so far, and that’s System Of A Down. It’s going to really depend on what happens, cause there’s going to be one other tour this summer that we may take advantage of (Creed’s arena tour). The tough thing about Ozzfest is with the sheds, they really throw things off. There’s no GA on the main stage, and when we did Ozzfest in 98, we were like the third band onstage, and we we’re playing to the lawn, which is a million miles from the stage. But they seem to have adjusted and figured out something that works well, so it’s definitely a possibility.

Ever have a day job that you think back on and say, “I’m so thankful I do this for a living now”?

Me, Vinnie and Clint installed heating and air vents in houses in Atlanta. It’s 110 degrees outside and the attic you’re in is 150 degrees, walking around on wobbly 2x4 beams... it wasn’t the hardest job in the world, but as far as safety’re out jamming all night playing shows and partying, you only get three hours of sleep, the last thing you want to do is go up on someone’s roof in the morning. That job is the one all three of us would say “yep....that one”.

You guys hit the road harder than any other band I know of. What do you do to chill?

I love going to the gym. We’ll do at least 4, sometimes 5 or 6 shows a week, so it gives me a break, and I can let out my aggravation. A couple of the guys play golf. We’re all video game junkies.

“Angel’s Son” has taken on a new meaning since the 9/11 attacks. What are your thoughts on that?

It sucks that the song had to be written in the first place, but it’s cool that people can find meaning in it where it was written for a completely different one. It’s a dedication to Lynn’s mother (Lynn Strait, of the hardcore band Snot, who was killed in a car accident), and NY has totally embraced it as an anthem almost. It’s a great feeling that something you’ve done can put a persons soul at ease after a painful time.

Is there anywhere you hate touring?

Europe. It’s the land of inconvenience. In the US, if you want to eat. There, you’re lucky to find a bag of chips and a flat soda. I hate going to sleep with money, waking up, and none of my money works. You really get spoiled here in the states. Touring the UK, you go state to state, and pretty much only the accents change. You go there, there’s countries as big as states, and the languages change, the money...not very fun to tour. If we actually got over there and could schedule it out and have it make sense it would propbably be a really interesting place to go...but right now, I don’t like it at all. Hopefully the Euro Dollar will help that whole system though.

I always ask this question in interviews. Give a one-word description to each of your bandmates.

Lajon (vocals)= vibe

Morgan (drums)= 38 second pause.....sports

“he’s only doing this cause he couldn’t make the cut in baseball” he jokes.

Vinnie (bass) = redneck

Clint (guitar) = crazy

Ok...Now you have to pick entirely new bandmates. Who would they be?

Drummer – Shannon Larkin

Guitar – James Hetfield

Singer – Chris Cornell (after a 29 second pause)

I noticed the song titles on the new album resemble a ‘seven deadly sins’ type of vibe. What’s your take?

Man, I never really thought of it like that before...that’s good stuff, man.

The song titles this time are pretty much words that are in the song. In “Black” (off of their self-titled debut)we never said “black”... in “Bitch” (off of Home) we never say “bitch”. This time, things were all messed up with the band and the business side of it. The ship was sideways, still afloat, but taking on water majorly, so we had to give the business side a major facelift, and the titles came out of what we were going through. We don’t write about fairy tales, we don’t write about dragons, and we’re not a political band. We like to write things that are more personal, cause it’s therapy for us. It was a dark period, which is why Animosity ended up being the name of the album.

Things are a little bit cooler with our lives right now, we’ve actually gotten to a point where we can focus on what we want to do instead of trying to have to steer the ship at the same time.

Do you think that touring non-stop so much is what makes your shows so energetic and wild?

It’s easy to afford pyro and big video screens if you’ve got a hit single behind you, but when we first started, we had no money. It was us and our rigs, and we couldn’t spend any money on props, so it came out of necessity. And we were on tour with Snot, and we just pushed each other to death. They’d steal shit from us, we’d steal shit from them. They were the hardest band to follow, still to this day. And now, I want to be that band that’s a bitch to follow. We were broke, we were hungry, and wanted to make it.

Who out of you guys is married, and who’s living the rock star life?

Three of us are married, one’s engaged, and one is still uhhh...undetermined. (Completely avoiding name-dropping while wearing a sly grin)

Alright... I won’t pry. That’s all I got though. Thanks a ton, and I can’t wait for the show.

Cool man, you can hang with us anytime.

For more on Sevendust, take a look at the Nighttimes live show review, or check out their website at


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