Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interview: Sevendust

by Chad Cooper, April 2011

If you’ve never heard nor seen Sevendust, then you don’t know rock music. The five-piece band from Atlanta has been throwing down since their self-titled first release in 1997.

While bands struggle to continue to keep their heads above water, it’s the polar opposite with this band. It may be cliché to compare Sevendust to an aged fine wine, but it seems this band continues to get stronger and gain more popularity with age (if they weren’t good and popular already).

Often called road warriors due to the hectic touring schedule, Sevendust has recorded eight albums and are on the road again entertaining their family of fans with a plethora of hits that include “Black,” “Denial,” “Praise,” “Angel’s Son,” “Enemy,” “Broken Down,” “Driven,” “Prodigal Son,” “Unraveling,” “Forever” and “Last Breather.” The last three are respectively hits from last year’s release on Atlantic Records, Cold Day Memory.

There is not much out there about Sevendust that hasn’t already been said. Fresh off a tour in Australia, lead vocalist Lajon Witherspoon spoke with us about his fondness of music, some history on the band and his take on the future of one of the hardest working bands in the business.

Born in Nashville, Witherspoon, 39, had music as an influence dating back as a kid. And who thought that the youngster would go on to be named in the Top 100 Metal Vocalists of All Time by Hit Parader magazine?

Has music always been a part of your life?

Pretty much. My father was a singer in a band and I was always singing something. Growing up in Nashville, my grandfather was a trainer for Tennessee Walking Horses and on his farm, you would hear everything from country to rock and roll.

Was there any particular moment that led you to the industry?

I always liked to sing and play different things and music made me feel different. I always thought it was magical and I still feel that way today. I remember singing in the church choir and was so excited about singing whether it was the church or boys choir.

What may be more impressive than Sevendust’s music is the ability to
maintain a very loyal fan base.

I think we bring a family mentality to these shows because I honestly feel like we have grown up with a lot of these fans. I can look out into that crowd and remember a face and see fans that have had children, like we have now, and bring them to the show. It’s a beautiful thing. I think people know we are a real band and not a bunch of rock stars. We care and never take it for granted.

The energetic live show doesn’t hurt either.

We always try to bring it and we can’t help but do that. Even when days you are tired, we give it our all. We have this pre-show ritual where we do a prayer. If the Rock God hasn’t hit you before then, it will.

How amazing was the Australian trip?

It was an incredible trip. It was summertime over there and hot but it was beautiful. We played with bands like Nonpoint, Pennywise and Slash. We knew most of those guys so it made it that much more fun.

While recording your last album, Cold Day Memory, you guys decided to do some video diaries, which became an online craze. How did that come about?

We were going to record it anyway for a DVD and the idea was brought up to maybe put some clips online. I had my reservations about it, but it turned out to be incredible. You get to see a different side of Sevendust. Where it was recorded (Groovemaster Studios in Chicago), we thought it was kind of haunted so we ran around and did a bunch of stuff.

How good of a feeling was it to get your original guitarist, Clint Lowery, back for this album?

It was like a getting a missing piece of a puzzle. That was the original seed that was planted so having him back was our sound.

You guys have tons of hits so is it challenging to put together a set list?

I can say this — it’s a good problem to have. It’s awesome to have great songs to choose from.

What’s left for Sevendust to accomplish?

I think there is a lot left for Sevendust to do. For one, we recently signed with CAA (Creative Artists Agency) so all of the sudden, it seems like there has been a fire lit under this band. CAA reps bands like Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold and Three Days Grace. We normally wouldn’t go on the road with those bands and now we are on the same agency. So look out!

Sevendust will headline an all ages show on Tuesday, April 19, at Scout Bar in Clear Lake. Advance tickets are $25. Visit scoutbar.com for more details. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011


by Chad Cooper, April 2011

The Nuge is an avid hunter, advocate for groups such as the National Rifle Association and the right to bear arms. He’s joined the ranks of the New York Times Bestseller list with the 2000 publication God, Guns and Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Despite what they see on television, those cannot deny the fact that a career, which basically began in 1958, has led Ted Nugent to sell over 40 million records thanks to hits like “Strangehold,” “Dog Eat Dog,” “Free-for-All” and the 1977 classic “Cat Scratch Fever.”

Nugent was also involved directly with the groups the Armboy Dukes in the late 1960s and signed a record deal with Frank Zappa’s DiscReet Records and produced the song “Great White Buffalo.”

Nugent also helped form the 80s supergroup Damn Yankees, which recorded the power-ballad “High Enough.”

The 62-year-old rockin’ bow-hunter took time to answer some questions about his illustrious career.

Performing for over 50 years, how do you avoid the burnout factor?

I have been blessed my entire life with the ultimate lifestyle of hunting, fishing, trapping and all things — the Great Outdoors. This thrilling, perfect conservation lifestyle truly cleanses the soul and immerses me into the purity of mankind’s spiritual primal scream that demands the highest level of awareness and respect for nature that provides all sustenance for a supreme quality life. In other words, I kill many things in between tours and it is so much fun it makes me play killer music. Literally.

You have been praised for your playing style and cited as an influence by many. Who was your single greatest influence?

I suppose I would give the ultimate salute to Chuck Berry, but so many have inspired me. James Brown, Bo Diddley, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Wilson Pickett, the mighty Motown Funkbrothers, The Ventures, Duane Eddy, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Booker T & The MGs, Junior Walker and the Allstars, The Stones, Beatles, Yardbirds, Kinks, Who, Hendrix, SRV, so many.

What was the motivation for Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids?

This wonderful charity propelled by incredibly generous volunteers was a response to many requests forever for direction on how to get kids turned on to the outdoor lifestyle. Ultimately, the great Fred Bear guided me to increase my promotion of the hunting, fishing, trapping and the exciting hands-on conservation lifestyle for young people as a powerful alternative to the curse of drugs, alcohol, gangs, crime and so many other life destroying death wishes.

Do you ever utilize your position as a Michigan Co-Sheriffs Deputy?

I do indeed patrol with my fellow officers in Michigan, plus I conduct FALCON (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally) raids here in Texas, executing federal felony arrest raids. My adrenalin sources are not average.

There’s no doubt that you are passionate about this country. Was there a particular moment to cause you to begin speaking out for/against certain things?

As I watched a growing segment of America align themselves with obvious America haters, like anti-gun groups, anti-hunting groups, the SEIU, AFL-CIO, NEA and others unhesitatingly marching and protesting side by side with the American Communist party for example, I was compelled to maximize my moral obligation to participate in the most dynamic way as possible to earn my place in this sacred experiment in self government.

Is it true you picked up a bow before a guitar?

It was close. The merger of the mystical flight of the arrow and its pure animal soundtrack pretty much erupted simultaneously. Still does.

Do you consider any particular moment the greatest in your musical career?

Every night, every song, every jam session forever with my incredible bandmates going way back into the 1950s, most intensely the last 7-8 years with Mick Brown, Greg Smith and now back again with Derek St. Holmes provides indescribable highs and musical adventure fun beyond your wildest imagination. I am truly a blessed man. That we captured it all on my 6000th concert DVD in Detroit in 2008 says it all.

Official Ted Nugent website

Thursday, April 7, 2011

INTERVIEW: Theory of a Deadman

by Chad Cooper, April 2011

Despite just three albums under their belts, Theory of a Deadman are no longer rookies of the music industry. Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, the three-some, which includes Tyler Connolly (vocals/guitar), David Brenner (guitar) and Dean Beck (bass) have just put the finishing touches on their upcoming untitled fourth album on Roadrunner Records.

The band saw success with their first two records, Theory of a Deadman and Gasoline, but it was their third album in 2008 that got the Theory train rolling — Scars & Souvenirs.

The 13-track disc saw an unprecedented nine singles to radio including “So Happy,” “All or Nothing,” “Hate My Life,” “Not Meant to Be,” “By the Way” and the No. 1 “Bad Girlfriend.”

Theory of a Deadman is sharing the stage with Stone Sour on the Avalanche Tour 2011 with special guests Skillet, Halestorm and Art of Dying. The tour will play Reliant Arena, which is positioned near Reliant Stadium and Reliant Astrodome, on Tuesday, April 12, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $35.25 and can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com.

About a week into the 31-city tour, Brenner took time out of the tour schedule to answer some questions.

Your last studio album, ‘Scars & Souvenirs,’ was a monster. During the recording process, was there any early idea it would be a great success?

We have a good feeling going into every record we have recorded but it really helped because we worked with Howard Benson for a second time and Mike Plotnikoff was the engineer again. We were also aware of how prepared we needed to be. The prep work was there with the songs and it made them so much better.

Were you surprised at the longevity of the record, being eight singles were sent to radio?

It was surprising, but you never know what to expect because we still feel like we are a young band in this industry. Every time you face a new record, it doesn’t really matter what you’ve done in the past.

How far along is the band with the new record? Any pressure because of the previous success?

It’s written, recorded, mixed and mastered. We got a few songs back and we have rounded it down to two songs for the first single. It looks like an end of June or July release date. As far as pressure, it’s a driving force but we like to challenge ourselves. Here we are doing a fourth record and we wanted to create some of that pressure. We want to be that band that answers the call and performs under pressure. It’s nice to have something driving you because you never want to become lazy in this industry.

Can you give us some scoop?

We worked with Howard and Mike again for a third time and we didn’t want to mess with it too much because we wanted to do what we thought was going to be successful and we loved working with him so it wasn’t a hard decision. We wrote a few songs that we thought some brass horns would work well with so we experimented with some horn players coming into the studio. There’s some rock-a-billy sound to a few songs and I’m really excited about that.

Do you reflect on the growth of the band by listening to your earlier music?

I feel like we revisit those memories every night on stage, especially when we play a song from the first record. It’s cool to look back and I always look at it from a fan’s perspective because I look back on some of my favorite bands’ growth and that was one of the things I always cherished as a fan of music. You always want to have progression. It’s audible history of a band.

Any particular moment that spurred you to want to become a musician?

Growing up in Vancouver and being so close to the Seattle scene really helped the idea along. I listened to of course Pearl Jam and Nirvana but when I heard Alice in Chains, I felt like I needed to know how to do it, so I credit them on making me want to play music.

Heard you guys were big hockey fans?

We are huge hockey fans and it helps when your team, the Vancouver Canucks, are the best team heading into the NHL playoffs. This has been their best season ever because their previous season high in points was 105 or something and they are well over that. Hopefully they can bring home the Stanley Cup. A few weeks ago, we played in an arena that had two hockey rinks and we asked if we could get on the ice and they let us. We rented some skates and found some sticks and a goal and about eight of us played hockey for about an hour and a half.

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