John Connolly of Sevendust Interview & Live Show Review
On April 15, 2014 Sevendust released their latest studio effort, titled Time Travelers & Bonfires. This acoustic offering blends the Sevendust history with a twist of stripped down acoustic instruments – augmenting reimagined versions of classic 7Dust tunes with some brand new tracks and creating a nice package of old and new. From top to bottom, you have a serious acoustic lover’s dream of material that highlight the vocal harmonies of the entire band, which are finally brought to the forefront of the music.
Pretty stellar timing I might add. Last year’s Blackout The Sun is a ferocious beast of a record and easily the darkest in their catalog. I love the album but it did make me wonder if everything is all right in Sevendust-land. Clearly, those were some pissed off dudes writing that thing.
Now we have a Sevendust record for when it’s time to mellow out by the fire with a good book in our laps. In many ways it feels like an extension of the classic Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live album that came out in 2004. Now… that swell piece of work continues to be one of my very favorites; captured at the onset of a tragically short acoustic tour and features an eclectic mix of Sevendust tunes from the very first record through 2003’s Seasons.
In my opinion, the highlight of the album and DVD is the band’s take on Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” sung by guitar extraordinaire Clint Lowery. Until this week, I thought they tapped Lowery to sing the song solely based on his voice. As Andrew and I found out recently, that is not the case at all. More on that later.
Time Travelers & Bonfires is an extension of Southside in that every track is acoustic; however what you are listening to is a bonafide studio gem that includes a nearly unimaginable take on “Denial” and beautiful versions of “Trust” and “Crucified”. Even the intensely provocative “Black” gets a new stripped down treatment.
As for the new songs, I can’t speak highly enough about “The Wait”. Lajon’s voice shines throughout on this song.
Per the usual with Sevendust, there is some touring… actually a ton of touring. This first trek, in particular, is pretty intense. We can expect more dates later on but they’re covering quite a bit of territory right off the bat.
I recently caught the show at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, which I feel was the perfect venue for this event. It’s a small room with great acoustics and good sightlines. They’re playing two sets with an intermission and no opener. They have a friend on keys with them. There are microphones, stools and candles. It was simply perfect.
The highlight of the show was when LJ spotted Tommy Vext from Snot in the audience. He actually brought Tommy on stage to contribute vocals to “Angel’s Son”, Sevendust’s beautiful song eulogizing the late Lynn Strait, Snot’s original lead singer who tragically died in a car accident years ago.
It was a truly poignant moment in the set and if I wasn’t so wrapped up in the moment I might have recorded it. Tommy and LJ delivered a performance so moving I had goosebumps. Clint was grinning from ear to ear when Tommy belted out the second verse. It was one of those special moments that happen very rarely at a show and I’m thankful that it hit me so hard that the last thing on my mind was grabbing my phone to record a piece of it.
Finally, I just want to mention that it was really refreshing seeing and hearing something different from the band. I did not hear “Face to Face” or “Praise”. I did not see mosh pits. I did not even break a sweat. Instead, my favorite moments were the aforementioned “Angel’s Son”, the relaxed, jovial atmosphere of the engagement, which contributed to some funny stories as well as playful renditions of Seal’s “Kissed by a Rose” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and the unusual Sevendust setlist you’ll see copied below. For the curious, my favorite song of the night (other than “Angel’s Son”) was “Karma”, from 2010’s Cold Day Memory.
It’s well documented on this website that I see a lot of Sevendust shows and I think they’re all pretty great but I must say this particular show stands out. I’ll go on record and say it’s in the top 5 greatest shows I’ve seen this band play.
A few days before the House of Blues show, Andrew and I welcomed longtime Sevendust guitarist John Connolly to the program. John marks the 4th Sevendust member we’ve had on our show and just like his fellow bandmates, he was a terrific guest and exemplified everything we appreciate about these guys.
Please give the audio a listen and see for yourself. He’s a true professional. He plays guitar in the best live band in the world. He plays in another band called Projected. His name is John Connolly and he’s awesome.
Before I sign off here are a few bullet points on what to expect in the audio:
- John’s opinion on the intense tour routing.
- The story behind why Clint Lowery was tapped to sing “Hurt” on the Southside live record instead of Lajon Witherspoon.
- John’s take on the current landscape of KISS.
- We discussed the Projected record, my favorite song “12804” and the future of the project.
- The tremendous success of the Sevendust Pledge Music campaign.
John Connolly… Thank you for your time. We’ll see you at some shows very soon.
For tour dates, please visit the Sevendust facebook.
Under It All
Got a Feeling
You can download or stream the audio here. If you’d like to download, right click and Save As.