They say hindsight is 20/20, but in the nonchalant manner Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose recalls the addition of vocalist Lajon to the Atlanta quintet's mix, you'd never imagine this band was the latest focus of attention for indie juggernaut TVT - the same label that launched Nine Inch Nails into the national spotlight, turned Gravity Kills into one of the last years most amazing success stories, and is nurturing Sevendust's ascent ot the top of the heavy metal market.
"We thought that if we could find a singer who could sing over the heavy music, it might sound original," Rose explained at New York City's Coney Island High, the site of Sevendust's coming-out performance April 12 (only three days before the release of their self-titled debut), their first Big Apple show since singing with TVT less than a year ago.
As was evident by the explosive 30-minute set, what Sevendust got was more than a singer, it was the element they had been seeking that could take an already musically dynamic assault to the next level. "Before joining [Sevendust], Lajon was singing in an R&B band, we didn't know if it would work," Rose continued. "He started singing heavier than he does now, at first, but that's not what we wanted. People were giving us shit, saying 'you should just let Lajon sing.'" When they let him "just sing', the end result is a depth-charge with the potential to shake the most stable foundation, swirling subtle melodic forays and jarring, punchy vocal blasts with an uncompromising musical arsenal that out muscles any of today's heavy music contenders
With band influences and tastes that sway from the coffeehouse soul of Maxwell and super-group Earth Wind and Fire to traditional metal and "good ol' boy rock," there's more than your standard metallic grind being churned out by Sevendust, graphing the dual guitars of Clint Lowery and John Connolly over a molten answer to the Atlanta Rhythm Section in bass player Vince Hornsby and Rose. "We're an alternative to metal that's melodic," explains the drummer. "We all love metal, but we're not a metal band, it's go that soulful feel. We're all just fans of music, we listen to all kinds, from Earth Wind & Fire to Ministry. I think that's what ties us together, we know what sounds good to us."
And it sounded good to TVT as well, who became enchanted by the band's infectious sound after hearing them early last year, accidentally, at the Gavin Convention in Atlanta. "It was a run down, tiny place, and we never expected anyone to see us there, but it was a show," said Rose. Ironically enough, months later, it was also the band's live show that sealed the deal with TVT. As manager J.J. French tells the story, TVT, upon hearing Sevendust's demo, faxed him a final contract offer, hinging only on seeing the band perform live. French told the band little more than that the label would be there, and was showing interest, knowing full well that he'd be working with a signed band by the end of the night.
After signing with TVT, the band made their debut as Crawlspace on the platinum More Mortal Combat soundtrack, changing their name to Sevendust after learning that another band already had the rights to the tag. But whatever steam they may have lost with the name change, they're making up tenfold as they zigzag across the country to promote their debut. Northeast dates included the New York City show with Powerman 5000, dates with the Rollins Band, a Virginia show with labelmate Gravity Kills, a hometown appearance at Atlanta's Midtown Music Festival, and a performance at the Foundations Festival in Los Angeles in early May, Possibly opening for Anthrax. Not to mention interest from several larger summer tours, including Ozzy Osbourne, who has made Sevendust the only band not playing Ozzfest to be featured on the tour's compilation CD.