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[Interview] Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon Talks ‘Black Out The Sun’, Touring, And Racism In Metal

Tomorrow marks the release of melodic hard rock band Sevendust’s ninth studio album Black Out The Sun, which is the followup to 2010’s Cold Day Memory. In anticipation of this release, we got the opportunity to do a one-on-one chat with singer Lajon Witherspoon to discuss the album, touring with Coal Chamber, Lacuna Coil, and Candlelight Red, the 1999 show with Metallica in Detroit, and more. We also got to ask if Witherspoon had ever encountered any racism during their career as well as Lajon’s love of horror. You can check it all out below

Make sure to pre-order your copy of Black Out The Sun on iTunes.

Bloody-Disgusting: How are you doing, sir?
Lajon Witherspoon: I’m fantastic. How are you, brother?

BD: I’m doing well. It’s a bit cold here in Michigan, so I’m waiting for Spring to arrive.
LW: I’m doing the same thing myself! We just got to Boise, Idaho and it’s, like, 30 degrees with all the wind chills [laughs].

BD: So how’s Boise treating you?
LW: I love it! I breathe better here [laughs]. The air is good, man.

BD: What’s going on in your life right now?
LW: Well, the new album, Black Out The Sun, is coming out soon, so we’re excited about that. But right now we’re touring with Lacuna Coil, Candlelight Red, and Coal Chamber will meet up with us in Phoenix in about a week. So it’s rocking. Every night has been incredible! The shows have been sold out and everybody has been rocking! I’m feeling very blessed right now.

BD: You’re touring now with some killer bands. I gotta say, I’m a big fan of Stolen Babies, who’ll be joining up with you fairly soon. What are your thoughts on them?
LW: I can’t wait to see them!

BD: So, I have to tell you that the first time I saw Sevendust was opening up for Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, and Metallica at the Pontiac Silverdome on December 31st, 1999! Talk about a way to kick off 2000!
LW: [laughs] That is awesome, man! That was a beautiful time [laughs]! I remember it like it was yesterday! We had such fun! That tour was so big. Hanging out with Kid Rock and Metallica and I remember seeing Ted Nugent pull up with that damn buffalo on a trailer [laughs]! It was a pretty crazy day, man! We had a good time!

BD: When I went to that show, I wasn’t old enough to drive so my mother of all people took me to the show. When Nugent came out riding that buffalo, she grabbed my arm and asked, “What is going on?” [laughs]
LW: [laughs] Did you know they had to reinforce the stage that night?

BD: Let me guess, it wasn’t because of the buffalo but because of Ted Nugent, right? [laughs]
LW: [laughs] That’s funny! Good times though! Good times!

BD: Sevendust is a band that is known for mixing great melodies with some crushing heaviness. What do you think it is about the genre and yourselves that lends itself so well to these two spectrums?
LW: Man, I like singing and I like soul and everybody in my band is the same! We just bring it from the soul. We’re a rock and roll band! We keep it real and it’s not all about being the heaviest vocals in the world. I think the melodic vocals can be heavy if they lyrics are deep and the meaning behind them and the people are getting it. It’s just something we’ve never really been afraid of. I like to think, you know?

BD: Black Out The Sun comes out in five days. What’s going through your head as that date nears?
LW: I’m very excited. I can’t wait for everyone to hear the album and share the experience we had, which I feel was a magical experience. I’m just really looking forward to it.

BD: Do any of the songs on Black Out The Sun have a special meaning or some significant story for you?
LW: Every last one of the songs have a special meaning. We took off a year and decided to come back and do this album. We had a lot of stuff that we needed to talk about and we were able to do it.

BD: With all the touring coming up, what else is in the future for the band?
LW: Just to really bang it out this year. Go overseas, go to Brazil and South America. You know, build a relationship with a lot of people and hopefully get a lot of people to understand this Black Out The Sun album. I just feel like Sevendust has a lot more to do and I feel so blessed and we thank everyone out there for the support.

BD: I wanted to ask what might be some delicate questions, if you don’t mind. Metal is not exactly known for having a great many black or African American musicians within, although I do see that changing with each day. Do you feel that you or Sevendust are viewed or treated differently because you are black?
LW: No, not at all! You know, if it is, I don’t see it. I have no room for ignorance in my life. I think that we’ve built a relationship and…not a fan base but a family base that really doesn’t tolerate that. I’m the kind of guy that says, “If you don’t like it, don’t come,” you know what I mean? We’re not forcing anything on anyone. I know that that’s still there but I don’t have time for that ignorance. We just keep on moving because it can never be the way it was before. Peace! [laughs]

BD: Have you experienced any kind of racism within the metal world?
LW: Well, years and years ago, back in Arizona, there was a little incident where some kids were in a mosh pit and they were moshing to the music and jamming but still throwing up Heil Hitler signs. I think they didn’t even understand what they were doing. But that was so many years ago and I haven’t seen anything like that again. So no, not really.

BD: There seems to be a growing number of African Americans and blacks embracing metal and, in turn, the community seems to be embracing them right back. What else do you think can be done to bring down these boundaries, these stigmas?
LW: I don’t know man. Just keep playing music? Because music is a healer and as long as people give music a chance…rock, metal, country, whatever…as long as it has conviction, I think it brings people together. This world would be crazy and be an even more messed up place if we didn’t have music. That’s my own opinion, but god bless music and god bless the artists that play it to the people who listen to it. It makes everything work together and holds all of us together.

BD: Jumping to a completely different topic now. Since I write for Bloody-Disgusting, I have to ask if you’re into horror movies at all?
LW: I love horror movies! What are you talking about? [laughs]

BD: Yeah?! Let’s talk horror! What are some of your favorites?
LW: Everything! You name it! My top scariest film is The Exorcist to this day. But any scary movie, and if it’s something I’m watching or I want to watch it or a friend tells me to watch it, I just…I love it. It’s just me. I’ve always been that way.
I think that someone who really has a catch on horror in our genre right now is Rob Zombie. I think it’s amazing how he’s captured that he’s been doing and I look forward to seeing his next stuff too.

BD: What got you into horror? What kicked off that passion?
LW: I remember being a kid and being afraid and always turning the station and going into another room when the commercial, I believe it was called “The It” and it was an old school baby carriage and it would turn around and all you would see was this freaky monster hand out of it. It was triggering as a child. I was hoping that wasn’t loose in the house [laughs]!

BD: Lajon, that’s all I’ve got for you today. Thank you so much for your time and I wish you nothing but the best of luck with Black Out The Sun and all the touring you have ahead of you!
LW: Well thank you so much, man! You have a blessed day and I’ll talk to you soon!

Got any thoughts/questions/concerns for Jonathan Barkan? Shoot him a message on Twitter or on Bloody-Disgusting!




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