Sevendust performs in support of Three Days Grace and Avenged Sevenfold on Friday in Wilkes-Barre.Courtesy photo
Few heavy metal bands would refer to their shows as a “family affair,” but no band is quite like Sevendust.
Since the release of their first self-titled album in 1997, the Atlanta, Ga.-based group has had several gold records and Billboard-charting hits, but singer Lajon Witherspoon is most proud of their fan base’s dedication, giving him both hope and relevance for over a decade.
Sevendust is touring in support of Avenged Sevenfold with Three Days Grace and will be at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre on Friday, April 29.
Witherspoon said he wanted to be in a band from a young age. With his father being an artist, he was always around instruments as a child. Every genre “from country to R&B to jazz” was accepted in his home, so when he joined the band that would eventually become Sevendust, those influences came with him.
“Everyone kind of has their flavor, but we all eventually end up liking the same type of things. It’s really cool to have a band full of eclectic music listeners,” Witherspoon said.
The 1990s introduced a new wave of metal acts into the mainstream, many of them having since faded away. Witherspoon said it’s a credit to their personal, yet relatable songwriting that has produced eight albums and kept them “still relevant” in an ever-changing industry.
“What you see is what you get. We’re not trying to write songs to necessarily be just like that one-hit wonder…We’re a band that I feel take our time with the songs, and it means a lot. I think everyone can get something out of it. We’re not preaching to anyone. We’re just writing about stuff that happens and goes on in our lives the same as everyone else’s,” he explained.
“If my brother comes in with some lyrics, I definitely know what he’s going through because I might have been the guy who was sitting in the back lounging when he was crying thinking about what he’s talking about in the song. I think that’s what’s been able to keep us strong, being like that.”
The band hasn’t been afraid to experiment with their sound either, mixing soulful melodies with harsh breakdowns and dual vocals. They also perform acoustic versions of their songs, which fans have embraced wholeheartedly. Witherspoon feels that the band has always been able to connect with their audience, no matter the size of the venue.
“In a Sevendust show, we always try to bring it in. To me, they’re more like family reunions but just in a bigger place. We always seem to somehow command the crowd, and I think that’s something a band is able to do when you have a connection with people.”
Now 38, he’s grown up with his fans both literally and figuratively.
“Honestly, I feel like we’ve all grown up together in a sense. It’s been a blessing for us to now see that the cat that was my age…He has two kids and my kids come to shows and guess what? His kids come to the show now,” Witherspoon said.
“It’s been very interesting to grow up with people on the scene. That’s kind of how we’ve done it because I don’t really like to say that we have fans. I like to say that we have family because that’s a true statement.”
While it’s hard to leave his actual family at home while on tour, he feels blessed to be able to take people away from their troubles and “bring a piece of serenity” to their lives. The music seems to be as much of an escape to him as it does to his fans.
“We always found a way to make Sevendust work. Even in the darkest hours, I think we always that we had hope enough to say, ‘You know what, man? Even if this all falls through, we could get in the van or buy an old bus and still show up and some of those beautiful people that have grown up with us are going to show up to the show, so we can do this no matter what,’” he said.
“It might not be the biggest, but we know somebody is going to come out.”
When he is able to return home, Witherspoon said he’s still able to be the man he is on stage, but with a few “less cuss words.” While both his children are also musically inclined and enjoy rocking out with their father, he admits that his 11-year-old is still not convinced that her old man is cool.
“When are you going to realize that I’m kind of cool?” he asked with a laugh. “You better hurry up before it’s too late and I’m not anymore!”
What: Avenged Sevenfold with Sevendust and Three Days Grace
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre
When: Friday, April 29, 7 p.m.
Cost: $44.75, $39.75, $25