by Callum Doig
Twenty-one years on and still going strong, Georgian natives Sevendust have been one of the most acknowledged metal bands since their inception, spawning a successful career with a great catalogue of records in their history. The quintet will be returning to Australian shores for the first time in five years, since their festival attendance as part of the Soundwave 2011 line-up. Speaking to drummer and co-founder of the Atlanta-based group, Morgan Rose had quite a lot to talk about with their upcoming tour, as he and the band are profoundly energised to be coming back to our shores.
“We’re ecstatic about it” he says. “The minute we found we were offered to come and headline, we were like that’s what we need and want. We haven’t headlined in over ten years, so it’s gonna be an awesome tour. We’re expecting to pour out everything we’ve got every night.”
In 2013, Sevendust were announced to be part of the 2014 line-up for Soundwave, but as it turned out, the band were pulled out of the line-up due to financial issues, that also involved a lot of backlash thrown at both AJ Maddah and Sevendust. Rose confirms that they never cancelled, but instead, were screwed over.
“The people deserve to know” said Rose. “The situation was that we never cancelled. That’s the main thing about it. We never cancelled Australia and instead, it’s usually just been taken away from us. It’s usually been someone saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’, or ‘you can’t come now, we can’t pay you from our budget unless you have $100K to pay for yourselves’. It’s always been weird. Then they announced ‘Sevendust cancel their Australian tour’ and it’s just been shit, because we didn’t cancel, they just couldn’t pay us.”
That being said, everyone in the band were told that they had to sacrifice a lot of their own money just to come and perform at the festival and get hardly anything back by the time the tour would be over. “When Soundwave came, in the eleventh hour, we were told by our people that we were gonna lose $70,000, and we couldn’t afford to lose that. We’re trying to clean up the trouble the past few people put us on, and we can’t afford to lose that money on top of that and not make anything from it.”
“We started cutting off whatever we had like other people involved and still bring everyone in the band to come and play, and that’s where it went bad. Someone said ‘I’m gonna send a message and ask for some planes to get us there’. And when that went out, the response to that was ‘nope, you’re no longer needed’, and we were like ‘wait a minute, we didn’t say anything’. We didn’t even know that was going out. We didn’t know that there was any correspondence, we were just ready to go. Next thing you know, we got the call saying ‘you’re not going’, and then social media started to happen and it all went crazy.”
“I’ve met AJ a few times, and I like him, but that festival is a lot of work. I know other people have their opinions, but we didn’t do anything wrong and I know that’s probably a shock, but we made a deal. I wasn’t in the conversation, but we never cancelled.”
Though they have managed to perform at festivals and support many acts the last few times in Australia, Sevendust haven’t had the chance to go out on a full Australian headline tour since 2004. So with this being the first time for them to go out as a headliner since then, Rose is definite about their enthusiasm to finally put together a big headline set for the Australian fan base.
“We’re able to go and put our set list together, do longer sets and do stuff we usually don’t do anywhere else, because we don’t get to go to Australia all the time. So, we can basically do anything we want there. I don’t believe that people are gonna be coming to the show all bored, so we can put an exciting set together and play for a long time. Not to mention the fact that it’s not that thrilling to hurry and do a thirty or forty-minute set and get off stage fast with a million of other acts playing.”
“Headlining is much more comfortable, because the stress level is way lower than playing a festival where you have to hurry up so much. The people approaching and paying to come to the show, I think there’s a decent amount of them coming to see us. I’m sure other bands are gonna play and see them as well, but it’s not gonna be the same where you go to Soundwave. You know you’re playing for a lot of people who are paying to see you at the headline shows.”
With the brand new record Kill the Flaw and its predecessor Black Out the Sun out for the Australian audience to have a chance to hear songs of those albums live for the first time, Sevendust are very eager to finally get to perform them along with a handful of other classics in their discography.
“The new ones off Kill the Flaw are the favourites for me. To be honest, we have so many records but how do you play the majority of the record if you have eight or nine other records that people wanna hear songs off of those in a headline position? We did the record and really didn’t know what to expect and have any expectations about it. It got received which is great, and we can actually play a bunch of these songs in Australia. Like I said, it’s gonna be a long set and be able to play a bunch of new songs and throw in a couple of acoustic ones as well.”
Many people have likened Sevendust to be part of the nu metal genre since they began. However, being a metal band in general, Rose has always been against the concept of Sevendust being called a nu metal act, as they’ve never considered themselves to be one and that there was a whole different perception to their sound that didn’t make them out to actually be one.
“I never liked the term to begin with. I never thought we were a nu metal band. I’ve always considered nu metal to be something that’s getting dangerously close to the hybrid of rap and rock. We never used seven strings or rapped at all. We were never into that. We just weren’t that kinda band. We came out in an era where they were calling it that. We told people what we were, and we weren’t gonna be given a label unless we gave ourselves a label. We’re kind of an alternative to metal. We have metal influences and metal in our sound, but we’re not a strict metal band. That’s probably half the reason why we’ve been able to do this for so long. At the same time, the other reason for the huge, popular success was that we refused to conform to what was going on at the time.”
After going on for over two decades, Morgan Rose and everyone else in Sevendust are amazed that they’ve managed to go this long with such a big fan base that has always been changing as the years go by. It’s now a mixture of their young audience who are now adults, who have kids of their own who have been going to their shows as of late. But what exactly makes them so sure and confident that they can keep going on and pulling in big crowds all around the world?
“I think the only thing that I ever thought that we could do this for a while, was during the last record. I looked at the crowd and thought ‘I know all of these people’, because they’ve been around so long. They were twenty-year-old kids when they first saw us who are now close to their forties, and now, they have kids of their own that are eighteen years old. The crowds aren’t getting smaller, I mean, they’re all the same. We’ve lost people due to responsibilities, because they have jobs, but their kids end up going to them instead.”
“It’s becoming a generational thing. I think there’s so much loyalty in the band but we never take it for granted. But the loyalty is so strong. We love the people who support that and we let them know that, and they let us know that they’re loyal to us. I never thought we were able to do it this long, and then gradually, these people still come. It’s become a family affair. We’re extremely grateful, and I think we can do this for a while.”
Sevendust 2016 Tour Dates
Fri March 11th – The Studio (Auckland)
Sun March 13th – Capitol (Perth)
Mon March 14th – The Gov (Adelaide)
Wed March 16th – Coolangatta Hotel (Gold Coast)
Thur March 17th – Eatons Hill (Brisbane)
Fri March 18th – 170 Russell (Melbourne)
Sat March 19th – Metro (Sydney)