Rock It: Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose discusses new album ‘Black Out the Sun’

Posted on November 14, 2013


Rock It: Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose discusses new album ‘Black Out the Sun’

Sevendust (Photo Provided)

Sevendust (Photo Provided)

By: Rachael Mattice

At 1 a.m. on a Monday night a few weeks ago, I was awoken from sleep to pick up a few drunken friends who needed a ride home.

Willing and understanding but enraged, my irritation was completely erased when I heard Sevendust’s latest single, “Decay,” on WKHY. The track is from the band’s ninth studio album, “Black Out the Sun,” to be released nationwide Tuesday from their own label, 7 Bros. Records.

I have early memories of the Atlanta-based hard rock band. I recall hearing the tracks “Praise” and “Live Again” from their album “Animosity” for the first time.

I remember driving to the small city of Appleton, Wis., with a boyfriend in ninth grade to see them live. My boyfriend was so giddy when one of the guitarists, Clint Lowery, walked briefly near the fan line outside. I remember being ecstatic to get to the front and gasping for air against the gate.

However, as with many bands you listen to in earlier stages of your life, fandom slowly filtered out. Although I followed several of their albums after, the attraction wasn’t as strong as those introductory years.

But as I drove that Monday night, smiling while turning up the song to disturb the slumbering neighborhoods of Lafayette, I remembered my interview with drummer Morgan Rose from a few weeks before.

As one of the rare bands that still has its original lineup after 16 years, Sevendust reflects their chemistry and loyalty to one another through their music. The band has consistently produced golden albums since its formation, sticking to a distinct melodic-hard rock format. “Black Out the Sun” is no exception.

“I don’t think we tried to reinvent the wheel on this one, we didn’t try to do anything real different,” Rose said. “It sounds like our early records, but more modern. Some of it was really challenging, but there is a lot of simplicity and cohesiveness.”

Rose said Sevendust’s ability to stick to a straight direction and “not overthink it” gave them the mindset to write an old-school Sevendust album. This ambition and work ethic pushed them to finish the lyrics, music and melodies in just 28 days.

Ironically, the first single off the album, the catchy-yet-explosive “Decay,” was one of the last songs written for “Black Out the Sun,” taken from a riff written for their previous album, “Cold Day Memory,” that a producer passed on, Rose said. The song covers the themes of aging, humanity and death.

“We interpret the song as a high-profile breakdown of humanity and the decay of that part of a person,” said Rose. ‘Decay’ is the first single in a while that is very aggressive; some of them in the past have been very gloss-over, or basic rock. People love the heavy riffs.”

The breakdown of humanity also revolves around the album as a whole. “Dark AM” is one of their blundering tracks but still iconic Sevendust-melodic with some of the best clean vocals from LaJon Witherspoon. “Picture Perfect” has a piercing ring to it, much like “Skeleton Song” from “Seasons.” Unlike any of their other tracks recorded, “Got a Feeling” is an experimental song with vocals from all five members and also Rose’s favorite.

“We’re definitely going to perform this song live, but we need to figure out the production so it isn’t all five of us at the front of the stage looking like we are sitting in front of a campfire.”

“I perceive this song as having to do with my nana since she passed away. She was an important mother figure,” Rose added. “I was also going through a breakup and was in the hospital a few times – it wasn’t an easy time in my life.”

“It seems like I go through some kind of traumatic breakup every time we write a record, but the band is my strength.”

“Murder Bar” is far from the theme of self-entitlement.

” ‘Murder Bar’ was about a sports bar down the street from our hotel called Roar of the Crowd. Clint and I had gone to New Jersey to the same studio to record the ‘Call Me No One’ record. Clint doesn’t drink anymore, but I still do and I saw the bar. The studio owner told us not to go over to this bar because we will probably get murdered. So it was easy to not go over by myself.”

“We finished the record and didn’t step foot in the place. When we did the Sevendust record, I missed the first day of recording because my nana had passed away. I was back home for a funeral. The next day, LaJon told me he had gone over to this place and said it was killer, just a little hole in the wall joint. The owner is an ex-boxer, and I’m into boxing, so it was interesting to me that he trained some high profile guys. ”

“We didn’t know why the studio owner didn’t like it but we thought that place was awesome and just started calling it the murder bar and ended up being regulars.”

Aside from Rose and Lowery’s side project Call Me No One, “Black Out the Sun” is only the second album released on the band’s label 7 Bros. Records.

“The business side of it has been a partnership through Warner Bros. We go to them for advice but at the end of the day it’s our decision. We decide where the money goes and what songs to pick, who produces. It’s real liberating in that aspect.”

“We would be multi-millionaires if this deal was done 10 years ago. We sold over four million records when we were signed to a label when we first started and we didn’t make $1 off of those records.”

“The first time we released an album on our own, we sold about a 100,000 records pretty quick and (weren’t) expecting to see money from it. Next thing I know we see a six-digit check for the royalties for our album. Most of the money is in touring and merchandise though.”

More with Morgan Rose

Question: You definitely use your whole body in the experience at a Sevendust show. How so you recover from that on tour?

Answer: There is a lot of pain involved in what I’m doing. I have to roll out of bed and have one of our crew guys crack me from neck to tailbone in biofreeze to get moving in the morning. I get a decent amount of rest out here. I learned that from a bunch of hockey players I am friends with.

Q: Don’t you wish you could bring a chiropractor with you on the tour bus?

A: God yeah, they would be real busy with me.

Q: How do your kids influence your music?

A: Occasionally I’ll do some writing that comes from my kids, but most of the time the only thing they influence is a decent amount of depression because I can’t always be with them.

When I’m with them I’m on cloud nine, when I’m not I’m sad. I always have to fight through some form of depression because my daughter is 13 and I have missed eight or nine years of her life. I talk to her every day and technology has made that easier, but it’s something you really have to try and separate while you’re out here.

There have been times for all of us when we don’t want to do this because we are missing our children’s lives. But we dreamed of doing what we love since we were kids and feel accomplished. I don’t feel comfortable being paid for performing as much as it is for missing my family; that’s the paycheck.

Q: Do you plan to do more with your side project, Call Me No One?

A: Clint and I did one tour with that and will do more with another record. That is a side band that we really had a good time writing for. We had a year off and it didn’t get in the way of Sevendust, which is still our No. 1 priority. That was already clear with everyone.

I think that was a misconception to the public because John and Vinnie did Projected, LaJon was thinking about doing something else before the next album cycle starts. We enjoy writing music and recording it; we keep ourselves busy in our time off.

I did a lot of production work for a lot of bands this year and it was extremely rewarding. Even though we paired off and did it, it was something familiar. I got to see John (Connolly) and Vinnie (Hornsby) play in their band the other night for a charity show and John was the frontman. I was able to sit there and watch John play for the first time in his career. It was a proud papa moment.

Sevendust Black Out the Sun

Sevendust’s “Black Out the Sun” (Photo Provided)

Q: Is there anything new you want to do on future Sevendust material?

A: We want to see the response to this record. You have to be 50/50 and be happy with what you’re writing but also be conscious about what your supporters want. I think we have such loyal supporters because we still sound like us. There are a few bands that have taken our blueprint.

Maybe we’ll push heavier, maybe we will do an acoustic record, maybe folk (laughs). John says we’re going techno-goth.

We could’ve gone dubstep on this thing real easy and we didn’t want to do that. I thought Korn did dubstep really well – it was an innovative move. They have done it, though; we can’t really turn around and do a dubstep metal record because we will just be following our friends.

Q: I also saw you launched your own clothing line Alien Freak Wear. When did you first start this? Where did the inspiration come from? Was this something you’ve always wanted to do?

A: It’s been a project of mine for awhile. I never planned on doing anything crazy with it. I was approached by some big companies that wanted to merge with it and didn’t take it. It was more of a boutique and novelty type of thing and was more for the people that support us and me. I’ve done some charity stuff with it. It’s humbling to see the amount of people that support it.

It was 14 years ago that we launched it. We were at a Sevendust signing – Vinnie is like the mayor, getting into deep conversations with people, and I was after him. While I was waiting for the fan lines to move through I started doodling the alien symbol. Kids wanted me to put that symbol next to my autograph signature. My wife at the time thought it was pretty cool and suggested to put it on a t-shirt.

Three people run the small company now and have different ideas and designs and put the drumheads I use for every album cycle and put them on the site.

Q: In some of your DVDs in the past, you had an alter ego called Pete. Will he ever make an appearance in Sevendust’s DVDs in the future?

A: Oh I’m sure. There is tons of footage of that guy. He has been coming around a little bit. There is somebody that actually started a Twitter page for him and we don’t know who it is, but it’s genius. We’re excited to be back out here, the band is really close and needed to take that year off to refuel. We appreciate everything and the people that support us and nothing is monotonous.

Pre-order “Black Out the Sun” at and visit the band’s Facebook page for tour updates.

Mattice is a producer and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached on Twitter @RachaelM_JC.

Posted in: "Rock It" Column