Interview || The One With John Connolly of Sevendust

With a career spanning over 25 years, Sevendust are seasoned veterans in their field. The band released their latest album, "Blood & Stone", earlier this year. We are hosting guitarist John Connolly who detailed the creation of the album, the cover of Soundgarden's "The Day I Tried To Live" and life during the pandemic.

© Travis Shinn

U: Your latest album, “Blood & Stone”, came out a few weeks ago. How’s the reception been so far? 

John Connolly: So far so good. Interesting releasing music during a pandemic since there is no rule book written for this. We are pretty much learning as we go, but the fans seem to be really getting into it.

U: What was the writing and recording process like?
Demo mode is basically the same as always. Clint [Lowery, lead guitar] and I start stockpiling ideas in a Dropbox folder and the guys start listening and picking things that they think we should work on. We do that for a few months then we start having group writing sessions where 2 or 3 of us get together and start refining demo ideas. Then we start pre-production with Elvis and start picking the best material to make up the record.

U: Do you think this is the most integral album you’ve released so far?
Yeah I think so. I think every time we get another shot at making a record, it's a chance to start fresh and come up with a whole new batch of music to represent what we do as a band. Each time you refine what it is you actually do and make it better.

U: This is your 13th album, it contains 13 tracks and it came out in 2020. You really did try your luck there, didn’t you? But kidding aside, you decided to release new music during a particularly dark period. How important was it for you to provide people with art to relate to and to ease what they may be going through?
Very much so and considering we wrote and recorded this all pre pandemic, even more so to put out music to help people try to focus on something else for awhile. As a form of release and a way for folks to unplug and lose themselves in music.

U: What is the reality of the band during a global pandemic? How do you manage to stay creative?
: Reality is, we are stuck at home, so lots of writing happens. Its' one of the few things we can actually control, so we tend to take advantage of those things. Kinda hard not to write about the obvious though, so it's kind of a double edged sword. We tend to write about things that are going on around us and this past year has had quite a bit of subject matter to focus on.

U: It would be impossible to not mention the brilliant cover of Soundgarden’s “The Day I Tried To Live”, which was also released early on as a single. Why did you choose this band and why this song? What does it represent to you? And lastly, why did you opt to reveal it instead of letting people discover it as a surprise/the album’s epilogue?
Soundgarden and Chris were huge influences for everyone in this band and out of all the songs we had discussed, this one kept ringing that bell. It was an immediately recognizable piece of music and was far more tragic lyrically after his passing. And lyrically it kinda hit the nail on the head with the current state of the world with the pandemic. It had to go first because its such a beautiful song and needed to go when it did. It was saying something that resonated with a lot of people.

U: As a follow-up to the previous question, was it intended to open the album with the track titled “Dying To Live” and to close it with “The Day I Tried To Live”? Is there a connection between the two?
Not intentionally, but its sometimes unavoidable when you are working in the same space. Subconsciously there is always be a connection between all the songs on an album somehow. We didn't sequence until much later and that was an interesting thing that just happened. Fate or freakish coincidence? Either way, it was not by design.

U: If Sevendust were members of the Spice Girls, what would be your Spice Names?
Juicy Spice (Lj)  Alien Spice (Mo) Redneck Spice (Vinny) Cleetus Spice (Clint) Cons Spice.

U: If you could have a 1-minute phone conversation with a younger you, what age would you call and what would you tell yourself?
I'd call the 18 year old version and say, "You might want to take guitar as one of your electives. Just may be of some use down the road".

U: What do you want the band’s legacy to be?
That we made music for the sake of making that particular music and we love doing it. We still get excited to jam and we've done 26 years of shows. We love what we do.

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