Interview with Morgan Rose of Sevendust
Speaking to drummer Morgan Rose of Atlanta, GAís Sevendust, we spoke about founding member Clint Loweryís return to the fold, the process of making their latest offering COLD DAY MEMORY, and the rigors and perils of being a musician constantly on the road
Share the process of making COLD DAY MEMORY with Johnny K producing and Clint coming back to the fold.
We put a lot of work into this one. We went to Chicago to do it, which was totally out of our element. The last time we were really out of the south or even really away from home was when we did HOME. It was freezing up there, and weíre in there with a producer for the first time since SEASONS and the first time dealing with somebody we didnít know since ANIMOSITY. Everything was like rewinding the tape and going back to the roots for us and we were doing some things that we hadnít done in a long time and then having Clint come back and not having done a record with him for about six years. It was really kind of interesting for us to start giving and taking and going through that whole process again but it ended up being something that was really therapeutic for all of us. And it turned out on the record. I think itís the best record we ever did.
Clintís presence is definitely felt in a major way here on this album.
The interesting thingÖwe all write stuff but there are certain things that we just couldnít do for three records. So thereís actually stuff that Clint wrote, he wrote a bunch on the record and thereís stuff that I would write or John would write that we would have written, you know on any of the three records he wasnít here but there was just no one here to be able to fill that stuff that we were writing or something. We had to write for what we had to work with and now it makes our life a lot easier as well, being able to write for what we have now and itís the original.
Have you guys had any contact with Sonny since Clint returned?
Yeah. The situationís fine. It was weird at first. Sonny came in and really helped to keep us afloat and we did some special things with Sonny. Iíve heard plenty of people say we have Sevendust and we have Sonnydust. And it is two completely different bands. I like both dudes, but those records with Sonny were just completely different. I love Sonny and always will and he knows that. I havenít talked to him in a little while, but weíre good. The weird part is Clint actually talks to him more than anybody.
Thatís a testament to you guys being a family.
Yeah, we enjoy playing with each other for sure. I donít think weíre gonna be able to pull an Iron Maiden, though. I heard somebody say that they should just keep Sonny and Clint.
Is it tougher these days to write a set list?
Yeah, theyíre just longÖthe way that we play, the brutality of trying to keep up with what we did 12, 13 years ago. Itís amazing to even try to explain the aches and pains that we feel. Itís like the most basic of things are becoming harder to do just because our bodies, theyíre obviously breaking down. Thatís the hard part, just being able to try to figure out where our limits really are. I mean weíll play an hour and 40 minutes a night and if I was playing drums like Larry Mullen Jr. of U2, I could play for ten fucking hours, and Iím a huge U2 fan, so thatís not trying to deface him in any way. Itís just the physical aspect of what we do makes making a set list harder now. The amount of records and options are there, but now itís just a matter of how many you can really play.
Not only are you an animal behind the kit, but youíre singing throughout the whole show. Now that Clintís back though some of the burdens off your shoulders?
I really should a never started doing that, thatís one of my biggest regrets. Absolutely, yeah. Clint loves to sing and heís great at it. He developed this really cool heavy voice on the new record. That took a lot of heat off of me and the others. I split time with him on this record, which excites me greatly.
What keeps Sevendust going?
We-talked about this the other dayÖwhen we get out on the road we want to go home. We go home, we want to get out on the road. Itís just one of those things. We have family stuff which makes us miss home a lot more than we used to. But you know, this is just all we know. Weíve spent a large portion of our life, an extremely large portion of our grown up life out here. Weíve become institutionalized almost. It is just the only thing that we know. We canítÖ.we donít know how to handle other people other than each other, we donít know how to do a daily routine without each other and without this life, you know? Itís gonna be really interesting when we decide to hang it up. Thereís gonna be some need for some help.
What other options are there for you after Sevendust?
Iíll probably look at songwriting or producing. I think thatís gonna end up being most of our callings. Thereís guys that that I thought were gone and itís funny, theyíre still behind the scenes with the songwriting thing. Any type of fame or acknowledgement doesnít mean anything to me. I mean I donít give a damn about any award-- the only award I would like is a fan award. If we were able to fulfill a Grammy, even a nomination or just something to be invited to say that we were a part of the party in that aspect, would be something special. But, I donít care about the popularity contest too much so Iím not gonna miss that. I appreciate and Iíve been flattered by the screaming people but thatís not what gets my juices to want to do this. I enjoy the people, I enjoy the friendships we had with Ďem, and I enjoy my band and being with them. But thereís guys that weíve played with back in the days that I thought, ďman, their career went away. Theyíre goneĒ. Then I find out that guyís living in a $3 million mansion because heís just writing songs for Miley Cyrus. You gotta be shitting me, I had no idea. This dudeís got all the greenbacks, heís got all the money.
The liner notes from the album this year was extremely difficult for you. Could you talk about the album in correlation to your healing process?
This record, I had the hardest time being involved just because my head was completely shot outÖitís like my life doesnít ever seem to be in line, and for the majority of the last ten years Iíve endured relationship-wise complete failures. The fact that, going through arrests and having my father going to prisonÖI mean just the basics that most people, everyone has to deal with, if they get to live long enough, you get to watch your loved ones pass away. Those are all tough things, that everyone has to deal with and divorce is something that people have to deal with too. But in the fashion that you go through some of the things that I went through that I really donít want to really indulge on too much. But I mean I can just reassure you that the, ďWeíre not getting along, we might as well not be togetherĒ factor was not the problem. So there were some really interesting reasons for me not being with the woman that I married and I take full blame for making the decisions and choices that I made to be with them. I just made stupid choices that I have to live with. And not a lot of people watch their father have 40 SWAT guys put machine guns to their head and take Ďem to prison. I had to go through that and just a bunch of stuff that happened the last few years beenÖyeah, it just wore me out. It got me so used to being beat up that I just expected it. And when we did this record I was single and I was free and my father was getting ready to get out of jail. Iíve been basically without my dad for five years and he is my best friend and my confidante. Thatís the guy that helped me through life when things were going bad. All of the sudden I was getting 15 minutes max with him, basically once a week. My support system was my grandfather and my father and my grandfather passed away and my dad went to prison. So itís like I had nobody to really turn to and I had the use the band in full. They helped me get through it. And I met someone else. I wasnít planning on that. I thought that I was finally for the first time in my life enjoying the perks of the ďsex, drugs and rock and rollĒ because Iíd been married for almost all of my career, but it didnít take long that I met somebody and went, ďOh damnit.Ē I think I like this person. And then I fell in love and realized that I donít know if Iíve ever been loved in my life.And thatís a pretty crazy thing to think about, you know, when you realize I think about, you know, when you realize I think that the girl that Iím with now is the first person to ever love me.
Would that be appropriate to say your performance on this album was a liberating one as you could take your problems out on the drum kit?
Yeah, it was. The problem with the record, was that I write a lot of lyrics and theyíre always real, theyíre always from my life or the guyís life. And the problem was that I didnít want to talk about it. You know? It really beat me up so bad this time around that I really didnít want to talk about it. And that was hard. It took me a long time to finally relax, to be honest between Clint basically saving me through the process of writing the front part of the record and meeting the girl that I met to feel like, wow, there is life after this. That was when I really started to begin to dial it in. That was when I felt it was okay to talk about the stuff, when I realized that I was gonna survive it. I really didnít know if I was gonna survive the shit to be honest with you. I was thinking about some stupid things, very selfish stupid things. I lost almost 30 pounds. I only weigh about 90 as it is. But I mean I was real weird. Down to muscle and bone, thereís nothing there. Itís gone. So yeah, I mean it was definitely scary for a little while. Everybody was scared for me but I got through that.
Whatís the tour itinerary looking like this time around? Any special plans for the summer?
The Carnival of Madness thing itís something that weíre excited about. I mean it makes us feel, kind of, a little bit like we did in the beginning .I mean thereís a lot of bands on there that have done a lot of damage over the years and sold a lot of records, do real good at radio. And you know, our style of playing and our style of music makes us feel like weíre the police of that tour. Itís something that, you know, I mean and the thing is, is like I can name the majority of the people out of that entire, you know, band, the bands that are on that tour, and weíre incredibly close with just about all of Ďem.
Looking at this tour, I can safely say youíve taken every one of those bands looks on the road at one point or another.
Definitely, weíve recently brought out Ten Years, we brought out Chevelle right out of the gate, you know, before they ever sold any records. Weíve played with all of Ďem so many times and Shinedownís Brent, is a killer guy, thatís all I have to say about him. Very talented on top of it, but heís just a great guy, real humble. And thatís what we enjoy. We like the humble guys. We love being around those kind of people. So you know, it should be real funÖshould be a lot of fun and as I said, we are kind of like the police, so we will take the role of bully. Weíll probably be hated by some of the crowd out there. But thatís usually what happens to the bully.
Do you ever feel sometimes like you never got the full due that you deserve?
Itís one of those things that we go back and forth on. We look at it one way and say God, all these bands have gone and sold more records than us. And then we look at some of the bands that sold more records that are not doing this anymore. And then we look at very few that have continued to sell records that are a high level that are still going. At the end of the day you kind of look at it and go, would I have rather sold 6 million of the first record, 2 million of the second one and been on my way out and gone on the third one? Or would I rather do close to a million, you know, all the way up until people stop buying records? And now I just go in there and do the same venues that I did 12 years ago? And some people would say, ďMan, but youíre not getting any bigger.Ē And Iím like, ďBut it ainít getting any smaller.Ē You know? Thatís why I said, you could probably grab an absolute giant handful of bands that have bigger followings than us, and you know, in our genre of music. But weíll take our best 1,000 and weíll put Ďem up against anybodyís 1,000. I donít give a shit who it is. You know? I mean we have the best people that there is, Ďcause they are the most loyal. They have followed us and become families with us when weíre not the flavor of the week. You know, we have not been accepted by the industry in that way. Weíve just continued to be underground from day one.
Is there a stigma involved with you being viewed as an underground band still?
Cheryl Valentine who is the the queen of radio was the one that said recently ďYeah, that song you guys got out is gonna be the biggest song you ever had because youíre not screaming.Ē And it was weird, she goes, ďThe minute that somebody hears screaming, they turn it off.Ē And weíre like, ďWait a minute, you know, what about Slipknot or System Of A Down when they came out?Ē Sheís like, ďTheyíre small exceptions to the rule. But if you really think about it, the bands that have songs that do really high numbers donít do a bunch of yelling.Ē And thereís something to be said about it. You know, weíre a band that does that. And not only that, but, you know, weíre not exactly screaming through the whole thing, so itís like, whether itís aggressive or not, when you sing a beautiful melody, all of the sudden screaming comes, how he killed it. But oh damn, there he goes again. Heís just put the wrench inside of nice, calm waters. So you know, not to say thatís what weíre looking to do. But I think that thatís something that hurt us from the beginning. And once you donít begin there from the start, I think people just started to expect that thatís what theyíre gonna get.
What kind of stuff are you currently listening to on the road? Anything new? Anything old? Anything influencing you, I guess, helping you through your times?
Not a whole lot of new stuff. I know that Lajonís been playing that Paper Tongues a lot. Not a whole lot of heavy stuff at all. You know, Iíve been listening to A Perfect Circleís record and I mean really itís weird, itís like I really donít listen to many new things at all. I mean I listened to Jackson Browne the other night. I listened-- I listened to Switched the other day and thatís-- thatís heavy. But you know, nothing new. I havenít listened to anything new-- we pulled ourselves into that hole in the studio and I just never really got out of it. I havenít really paid any attention to whatís going on in the real world.
Do you think that helped the album in general, to focus on what was, like, what you needed to do? Almost like maybe helped dial back--
Well, I mean maybe-- I mean if we were listening to somebody else maybe we would write something that would sound like somebody else. But thatís not our style. We really try to write for ourself and try to write what would be-- if weíre gonna patronize anybody, itíll be ourselves.
Hitting back on touring, is there anyone you feel that never paid forward to you guys after youíve taken them out on the road?
Iím glad you brought that up. Godsmack is the fucking living example of it. Godsmack had told us that they were gonna take us out 1,000 fucking times. And you know what, it never happens. I have no idea why. I mean weíre friends with the guys. Shannon is one of my closest friends. Sully Ernaís talks to Clint. But the bottom line is that I know for a fact that in our small little vibe that we are, at the end of the day, we can actually get anybody to go out with us. And the fact that Godsmack canít get it together to bring us out on the road when we took them out when they werenít anybody, after 12 years, confuses the shit out of me. Everybody knows that that tour would be good. I have no idea why itís not happening. Disturbed did it, took us out and kicked the shit out of everybody. They were awesome. Those guys respect us. I mean we respect each other. And when they offered us many tours that we just couldnít do, and I think the last one that we did with them, they kind of said, ďOkay man, whatís the problem? You know, weíve offered you guys, like, three tours. Do you not want to go out with us? Whatís the deal?Ē And weíve had to make it happen. And it was definitely one of my favorite tours weíve ever done. We had such a good time with those guys. But thatís the one band that we took out and turned around and repaid it. Staind did it. Those guys, we respect each other at the highest level. I just canít get it. I just donít understand why Sevendust and Godsmack canít go on the road when every single-- I mean we have the same fucking album cycle. Thereís no excuse for it. But just ainít gonna happen. Iím almost at the point where I just donít even want it to happen. You know? Iím just-- Iím over it. We like the guys and I donít wanna start shit with anybody. But one thing I can sayÖthereís nothing anybody can say about it, Iím just stating a fact.
Is there any band you havenít played with that you want to play with, like a tour with or whatever?
The only band that we havenít played with that we would have loved to have played with is Pantera. Thatís the oneÖwe got to play with Damageplan a handful of times. But thatís the one thing that really hurts and itís starting to sink in a little more Ďcause Iíve seen Vinnie and over the last months. And itís like when you donít see Darrell with VinnyÖwhereís your brother at? Itís sinking in Ö I donít know if thereíll be any closure any time soon. Heís not coming back and thatís really hard to handle.
What do you do to take care of yourself in general?
Oh man. I donít do anything. I do nothing at all thatís positive to keep myself out of harmís way. I mean obviously thereís drugs and alcohol that certain people donít have to be involved in, but itís not the safest place out here. Weíre very accessible. If somebody wants to do harm to us, weíre very easy to find. That goes for just about any band out there. I remember when I was a kid going to see bands you couldnít get close That was half the reason I felt like I wanted to do it. I was like, ďWhat is he doing? Who is that? What are they like?Ē I donít know anything about. Mystique was so high that, like, theyíre different humans, like superheroes to me. And I realize now that thatís not the caseÖthereís no mystique anymore. I mean with the exception of a few bands, you can get to anybody.
What are your ultimate expectations for Cold Day Memory?
I hope that it does something great now. I mean weíre real proud of it and we worked real hard on it. So I think that weíre gonna have to let it marinate. See what people think of the whole thing. Itís a deep record. Itís reminding me of the old days when every one of my friends told me a different song they wanted released as a single. We donít really know what to do with the next song. But thereís some options out there.
Do you feel like youíre stagnant at all?
No. As I said,, I think our only thing is just looking at the mortality of the body. Thereís certain thingsÖJohn and Clint and Vinnie will go and work out and do the best things that they can to minimize the damage. I could use that excuse that, hey, Iím getting a workout every night on the drums. You know? Thatís my favorite one. Iím so full of bullshit. Yeah, I might get some cardio up there, but I donít do anything to prepare myself for that. When I go home, I go to the gym. When I go on the road, I go to the bars. I donít drink anything when Iím at home. I donít stay up till 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning at home. I do that on the road most of the time. Itís like my vampire hours kick in. I donít drink during the day or anythingÖitís not like I wake up and start drinking. I never have a drink ever until after the show, if Iím gonna have one. And but either way, I stay up late. Iím late to bed, late to rise. Iím starting to believe some of the people that said as you get older you just kind of got to get it together. You gotta realize, Iím not 20 anymore and Iíve got to start taking care of some things here. Iím starting to feel it now. The ailments are the things that are slowing me down.
Have you maybe thought about doing some therapeutic things like massage therapy or yoga or something like that?
Well, my girlfriend, you know, consistently tells me to do yoga and of course I go, ďYeah, yeah, I need to do that.Ē And, you know, I donít do it.
Do you guys ever do any songwriting or anything like that on the road, or do you find it tough to do?
I mean I would be able to do a lot of that stuffÖthe other guys, you know, they do all kinds of stuff to keep themselves in shape, and keep their mind in shape. Iím not consistent enough with any of that.
Do you think maybe because you miss home? You miss your kids? Is that part of it?
Well, thereís definitely the depression, for sure. I mean you know, and itís gotten weirder lately. You know? I wonder why my day has been lay down, not move. I mean Iíve done that for years. But sometimes I think recover from the night before, whether it be, you know, many times now because of having a drink. Just the fact that I just put my body through a car accident and I donít feel like going and rubbing the open wound. So I lay down and veg out, bum out the whole day and then get up and go do another car wreck. Wake up the next day and go, ďI really donít feel like doing anything good for myself other than laying here, and feel good, relaxing.Ē You know, itís a vicious cycle. I guess we can mark it down to laziness. I hate to admit that, you know, but I guess I just so damn fucking lazy.
Do you feel your conditions will affect the future songwriting of the band?
No, I think that weíre no different than most people in life. They tell you that cigarettes are bad for you and, you know, nobody quits smoking them. Until something bad makes them stop, and they kick themselves. You know, I think that Iím getting to that point where I donít know how much really more I can take with that preventative work to make sure that I donít break down out here.
Looks like you guys have a lot of good stuff lined up this summer.
Yeah, I mean weíre gonna go for a long time. You know, weíre gonna go to Australia. Weíre gonna do Japan. Weíre gonna do Europe a few times. Weíre going to Korea at the end of June. You know, weíve got the summer tour over here. We still havenít done a proper major market headline run, so thatís for sure gonna happen. This thingís gonna go for a while.
Be sure to pick up COLD DAY MEMORY, the latest studio recording from Sevendust and visit them on the web at www.sevendust.com