Sevendust have always been a hard band to pin down into a single genre. With their blend of heavy grooves and downtuned riffs, coupled with the signature soulful vocals of Lajon Witherspoon, the legendary band have well and truly carved their own lane. With the band set to return to Australia in April, we asked guitarist John Connolly to break down the five records that shaped the unique sound of Sevendust.
Pantera – Vulgar Display Of Power
For me, hands down the most important record of my musical journey. Master of Puppets was close, but as for defining what metal could be and was, Vulgar was such an exciting time in music. It had all of the aspects of the Big Four, but with that Van Halen swagger. The Abbott brothers had announced they were there to stay on that record. Such a powerful and dynamic collection of tunes.
Metallica – Master Of Puppets
Kind of the record that really started it all for me. I knew I wanted to play something after hearing Master. Drums it was, and I set off to learn every song on that record. There was an element of the record that I can only attribute to Cliff Burton, since I've never heard it since. It was that classical theme/vibe that was right around every corner and it was unreal. Such a perfect album for that time and place. They really redefined metal as Pantera did after them, but this record was the beginning of something dangerous in metal.
Alice In Chains - Dirt
Hard to understate just how important Alice In Chain were in helping us find our sound. This record in particular was very important timing wise, as it came around just before we took the original Sevendust demos into the studio and was a really big record for us because it showed you could have dynamics while being heavy. Heavy wasn't all about speed. Sometimes the slower songs were the truly heavy ones and this record had that in spades. The beginning of how we approached melody and harmony writing. We still get excited about hearing new Alice In Chains coming out. They are one of the bands that have managed to stand the test of time.
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
This record was so important for us on so many levels. From the forward thinking production to the quirky/dark themes throughout, it was a game changer on just about every level. So dark and sad, and truly an emotional journey. Trent took hold of the industrial rock thing and made it his own on this record. All the rules were bent if not broken and it was musically such a genius piece of art. Still one of the records that brings back so many memories and emotions of what we were all going through at the time, which was pretty much growing up and becoming adults. This record was a huge piece of the soundtrack during our lives at that time.
Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger
There were so many great Soundgarden albums and songs, but something about this one was almost a perfect cross section of the punk rock band becoming the rock band. They still had that attitude and the riffs were always so different, but the lyrics and vocal melodies started to turn into big hooks and they started to gain a little bit of accessibility because of that. That helped me in a major way by mentally allowing Lajon just to be himself and the rest would sort itself out when we were all playing. You didn't have to be a certain way or sound all the time. Soundgarden really helped me see that Sevendust could have many gears to work in, but could still be true to ourselves and what we are as a band. We were just beginning to scratch the surface.
Sevendust kick off their Australian tour in Brisbane on Thursday April 25 at the Tivoli. Tickets are available now via MJR Presents.
All I See Is War is out now via Rise Records.