Had the pleasure of interviewing Lajon Witherspoon a couple weeks back. His band, Sevendust, is currently touring behind their new album,Kill the Flaw, and they’ve brought along Trivium and Like a Storm as tour support. We talked about how excited he is to get back on the road, what keeps him and the band trucking along, how fans have been responding to the new album’s material and even how good of a show Justin Bieber puts on.
How’ve you been doing?
Lajon Witherspoon: I’m good man, just getting ready to do this tour. Just leaving out Monday so looking forward to getting out there doing these headlining shows and these big festivals we’re doing.
Yeah, I saw that you’re doing quite a few festivals with some smaller shows too. What day do you guys get to starting your tour?
I believe we’re starting on Tuesday [April 26th], maybe Wednesday, who knows? It’s 700 miles to Louisiana, to the Varsity. The next band slides in tomorrow night.
I know you guys are coming up here [to Iowa] next month [5/13], I’m excited for that.
Man that’ll be great, I love that area.
You guys are touring with Trivium, who I’m a huge fan of, how did you guys get around to touring with them? I would say you guys aren’t very similar.
No, but you know, doing festivals and shows, and always having a respect, and liking the band, and them being Orlando boys– it was cool to be able to team up. We try to tour with a lot of different people and it seemed to make sense. A lot of the promoters seemed to be really into this tour so we thought it’d be good and it should be fun. They rock. And, Like a Storm, I met those guys when they were out with Tremonti so I look forward to having a great time, and also they get to do a lot of these festivals too, so that’s a good look too.
I’ve seen Trivium live a couple times already and they’ve always put on a good show
Yeah, it’ll be good.
What excites you most about this tour, compared to like five years ago?
Oh you know, it’s a different time; we’ve got more music, we’re older, we’re wiser, our shows are better. We were able to take time away and not be in everybody’s face every other week it seemed like, so people are excited to see us. It’s thrilling to be able to take an off time and to have done that acoustic album and to get back a year later and do the electric album and really be hungry for it. So it’s exciting to just go out plugged up on a full-on headline run. 13 headline shows and the rest of the festivals that makes it even more exciting right there because you play during the week these shows, and then on the weekend, all of a sudden you’re playing in front of forty thousand or fifty thousand people.
Seems like it’d be a good change of pace after a while. Do you prefer one over the other?
No, of course I love the festivals but those intimate and not-so-intimate crowds are some of the best shows too, so I like it all, especially if they’re giving it to you harder than they’re giving it to then.
I know I like to see some of the bigger bands like Avenged Sevenfold, or some big band that could fill stadiums play in a smaller venue like you guys are, so I like that you’re doing that.
Yeah we definitely look forward to getting out there.
You guys have been a band for 20 years, what little things or routines do you guys do to keep the shows fresh or interesting?
On this set, on this run, it’s exciting because we’re whipping out one of my buddy’s company here, DSF Lighting for sound and lighting. It’s really cool because they’re helping us put together a great light show for this run, so that’s gonna be fun. Maybe some video, some things we’ve never done as far as that for a show. So that’s going to be fun to do to see how we pull that off, and it’ll be really cool to rehearse the whole set up this weekend.
The past couple shows I went to, I went to see Between the Buried and Me a couple weeks ago and then Bullet for my Valentine a couple months ago, they seemed to get into the whole light show and videos behind them– I always like that. It’s always cool to be there just for the music but it’s cool to have some visuals along with it too.
Oh yeah, that’s a part of the show man, we’re in the show business and it’s always been a dream to get to do things like that. I don’t think you need them, I think some bands need them to brighten up the boringness of their display, but I think sometimes it’s fun to do, and like you said, it’s cool to watch.
Now I’ll tell you something really funny you might get a kick out of; a buddy of mine and I took our wives out to see Justin Bieber at the Sprint Center– and I didn’t think I was going to be impressed– but I’ll tell you, I was impressed with the production of the freaking show, it almost blew my head off. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff they were pulling out from, first off the stage, and then when you thought that wasn’t enough, all of a sudden– a stage that you never saw until they brought it down from the damn ceiling. Then all of a sudden a stairwell comes up from the floor, they get up and stage goes up, and there’s a damn trampoline. And then all of a sudden, I don’t know, the stage turns into a water park with rain falling, it was crazy. There was 37 busses or semis– I could do without that.
Sounds like something to remember if I were to have gone to that too.
Yeah it was crazy to see, but we’re not going that far [laughs].
I’m usually a metalhead, but I know for those types of shows like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, I would probably be able to enjoy them because they would, or should, put on a good show.
We were at the Grammys this year and we got to see Lady Gaga perform the day before, which was pretty interesting and cool to see.
How were the Grammys?
Oh man, great. I had a great time, are you kidding me? I’ve been wanting to do something like that since I was a baby. For me it was just a really big deal to be a part of, and also just to feel like we opened the door for bands in our genre to be noticed at that level, with your peers, is something I think is great. Even though we didn’t win the Grammy, the nomination they can’t take from us and that’s a big deal.
With Kill the Flaw, I like how you guys walk the line of really melodic and heaviness, especially in the second half of the record. I like the funky, groovyness that “Chop” has. It’ll be my first time seeing you guys next month and a lot of the songs sound like they translate really well live. Have fans reacted well to the new stuff compared to songs like “Enemy” or “Black?”
Oh, you know, it’s been great. We actually got the chance to take it out even before. We went out with Godsmack and went as far as Canada and it went over well, then we did a Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin tour which was a great run for us. Then the New Year’s show and then also going over to New Zealand and Australia with the new stuff. Everyone seems to be very into it and it’s exciting to have these people already singing the songs and it still be fresh to us. This album has a certain air about it, it has some groove, some heavy that’s cool, and it’s fun playing.
One last question before I go, what’s something you could tell me about the tour that would pump me up most for next month, or anybody else for the rest of the tour?
I mean, if you wanna come to have just a damn good time. It might be just my crazy side but I feel like music is a healer and I feel that if you come to a Sevendust show, it’s not a concert, it’s a family reunion and you’re gonna feel that energy once you’re there. It’s cool and kind of contagious I think.
Definitely agree with that.
LJ: Right on man, thanks for taking the time to do this.
Yeah, thanks for talking to me too! I’ll see you in about a month or so on the tour!
You can see Sevendust’s full list of tour dates here.