Interviews

Clint Lowery “Dirty” was the Standard for Every Song We Wrote for the New CD – All I See is War!

 

Interview by Robert Cavuoto

 

On May 11th, Sevendust will release their new CD, All I See is War, and continue the tradition of delivering music with raw guttural power, killer riffs, and strong melody. With a trifecta of gold albums in their back pocket including, Sevendust [1997], Home [1999], and Animosity [2001] the band has already ignited their journey to success!

In early 2017 Lajon Witherspoon [lead vocals], Clint Lowery [lead guitar, backing vocals], John Connolly [rhythm guitar, backing vocals], Vince Hornsby [bass], and Morgan Rose [drums] took advantage of an eight-month writing process and came up with their first new song “Dirty” which set the standard for every track on the CD. It offers pummeling drums and guitar driving distortion into an expansive refrain that immediately imprints itself before a hummable solo. The neck-snapping groove of “Medicated” gives way to another unshakable chant, and “Risen” drops a hard-hitting and hypnotic hook that’s primed to set festivals ablaze.

I caught up with guitarist Clint Lowery to discuss the band’s dynamic new offering, how he captures the perfect Sevendust riff and opens up about his darkest time with the band.

 

Robert Cavuoto: The songs “Dirty” and “Medicated” seem to perfectly combine the band’s innate guttural power, killer riffs, and strong melody. What can you tell us about this lethal combination that makes Sevendust so unique?

Clint Lowery: A long time ago when we started this band; we had a niche that set us up apart from everyone else. Three records in we started to see pattern and formula that always gets the results we wanted. We know our strengths and weaknesses. We also let our fans help us with our direction based on what we hear them talking about. We hear what they like and don’t like about the band and use that data. We enjoy hearing what our fans think about the band as we are fans of bands and often wish they would do a certain type of record. We don’t look at ourselves any differently because we happen to be in the band.

Robert Cavuoto: One of my favorite aspects of Sevendust is the thought-provoking lyrics, how important is that to you as a musician to not to get caught up in the old musical clichés of writing songs about sex and drugs?

Clint Lowery: To me, lyrically those old clichés can kill a song very quickly. First I want the melody to be strong to give the song emotion. After that I want the song to have strong lyrics. That’s where the struggle comes in, over time things change and you grow into a different person; your priorities change and the way to you see things change. The challenge is to find a way to say something that is interesting and has sincerity. I don’t want sing, “so and so screwed me over” there is just so many ways that you can say that. I try to have a unique approach to what and how I want to say.

Robert Cavuoto: The band also has great guitar phrasing which allows the melody of the lyrics to breathe and flow. How important is that phrasing to Sevendust’s sound?

Clint Lowery: Phrasing is huge. Musically we try and leave space for the vocals. The fact that we have Lajon’s vocals coupled with Mogan and mine; those different layers can make some interesting things happen. We are unique in that we have multiple people in the band who can sing.

Robert Cavuoto: I was wondering if you were singing the line “All I See is War” in the background of the song “Dirty” and how that phrase translated into the CD title?

Clint Lowery: That was me. I was on tour in Europe when the four guys came up with the song. When I got the song, I sang a little voice memo melody to the pre-chorus and the chorus and sent it to them. To me that song was the first new song I heard musically was really moved by it. The line “All I See is War” was when I was looking at all the lyrics I had to chuckle because all I saw was the word “war.” It’s about all the conflict in the world, so “All I See is War” is a phrase that encompasses all the lyrics.

Robert Cavuoto: How do you know when you have captured a riff that is worthy to be on a Sevendust CD?

Clint Lowery: For me, it just to write a bunch of riffs [laughing]. John and I wrote a lot of songs separately as well as together as a band. You just have a feeling. If a riff moves you in a way that you want to sing something or gives me an idea for a melody that I’m in the right direction for our band. With guitar riffs, I try to find two or three moments where the guitar players will listen to something that I wrote and say “That’s a clever riff!” If I haven’t gotten that feedback or haven’t heard it on the playback, I want to keep working until there is something cool. Vocally it’s the same thing. “Dirty” was the first song written, and we used it as the standard for every song we wrote for the CD.

Robert Cavuoto: Was there a song on this new CD that came upon you like a gift?

Clint Lowery: The song “Not Original” is very melodic and I was writing it more for a solo CD. At the time I was into the Stranger Things TV show and soundtrack with all the 80’s and Peter Gabriel songs. I had no intention of submitting the song for the CD, but then Lajon and Morgan came to my house for a vocal writing session and liked it. I loved the music, but I was struggling with a topic for the lyrics. The song was really written out of frustration because I didn’t feel creative and didn’t have anything to offer. When Lajon put his vocals on it, it really came to life.

Robert Cavuoto: Are you and the band more comfortable as songwriters now than 21 years ago when your debut CD came out?

Clint Lowery: I won’t say more comfortable if anything I would say we are more uncomfortable. There was a time, years ago, when we were comfortable, but now the challenge is staying relevant and writing something we haven’t written. We have to work a little harder. There is a comfortable element or formula that we use, and if we stray away from it, we ultimately end up coming back to it to do our best work.

Robert Cavuoto: Do you always challenge yourself musically?

Clint Lowery: Tapping into our producer Elvis Baskette was a good way for us to challenge ourselves. We had a referee, someone who we wanted to impress, and someone who would challenge us. When we were done working, he was the one that said, “I think you could do better.” His dynamic really helped us.

Robert Cavuoto: I spoke with John Connelly in 2015 and he told me the darkest time for him in Sevendust was when you left the band. The band seems to have had some dark lows. What was your darkest time in the band?

Clint Lowery: My darkest time was right before I left the band and when I left the band. I was thinking about my new life than realizing that I was the problem. I was struggling with drugs and alcohol back then. I was making a lot of crazy decision trying to survive. I thought of leaving the band that I would be able to find this new way to do things. That wasn’t the case; I needed to get sober and pull my life together. Being away from the guys and trying to figure out how to get my life together was the toughest.

Robert Cavuoto: We are glad you are doing well! How does it feel to have your own PRS signature series guitar?

Clint Lowery: Oh man, it’s the best. It was a long time coming, and if it had happened to me when I was in my early twenties, my head would have exploded [laughing]. I was so thankful to all the people at PRS. It’s one of the highlights of my career.

Robert Cavuoto: What is the process for that, do you design the guitar body or do pick from their available models?

Clint Lowery: Some guitarists who have a signature model had a very distinct idea of what they wanted to do. They let me start the process of what I wanted to do, and they told me some of the realities, so we collaborated on the design. I was able to do anything I wanted, but there were a few guidelines with that shape of the body that I had to follow. They were great. I’ll probably get another one in a couple of years.

Robert Cavuoto: I saw on your Facebook page that you have some new guitar picks that you will be throwing out to the craziest fans, what does a fan have to do to get a pick?

Clint Lowery: They don’t have to do anything that crazy, it’s more about connecting with the audience. I’ll toss to the people throwing the best energy off. Sometimes there are people acting like they don’t want to be there, so I’ll throw some picks at them just to annoy them [laughing].

 

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