Sevendust's HomeInspired By Life On Tour

Bandmembers say album's lyrics recall 21-month experience on the road.

The members of the Atlanta rock group Sevendust had to go on the road to

build Home, their second album.

The tone of the record, bandmembers LaJon Witherspoon and Clint

Lowery said, was shaped by the experiences they shared — or endured

— during 21 months of touring from April 1997 until January.

"You think about how much you learn within a year," vocalist Witherspoon,

26, said from his Atlanta home last week. "After two years on the road,

we would damn sure learn, and we went back into the studio ready to

record a second album."

In addition to inspiring their creativity, the prolonged exposure to U.S.

audiences seems to have boosted Sevendust's commercial fortunes. Before

this year, the band was part of several package tours, including the

Ozzfest in summer 1998. This year, the band performed on the Vans Warped

Tour and played the final day of Woodstock '99 in late July.

Following all of that concert activity, Home — plastered

with heavy guitars, funk grooves and Witherspoon's alternating soul and

punk vocals — debuted at #19 last month on the Billboard 200

albums chart.

While the album has slipped to #64 in the weeks since, the single "Denial"

(RealAudio

excerpt) is at #14 on Billboard's active rock chart and

is at #1 on CMJ's college chart.

"It's an exciting time right now," Witherspoon said.

"It changes everything, because we have expectations for ourselves, and

we want to make a dent in the industry," guitarist/primary songwriter

Lowery, 27, said during a recent tour stop in Milwaukee, where the band

was playing a show with fellow hard-rock bands Skunk Anansie, Staind and

Powerman 5000. "When we got the news we were #19 on Billboard

... it kind of hits you like a motivator. Damn, we want to go out and

kick everyone's ass" (RealAudio

excerpt of interview).

Lowery and Witherspoon said that all is well in the bandmembers' lives

these days. Witherspoon even became a father for the first time last month.

But a casual listener might think otherwise from the lyrics on Home,

which chronicle exhaustion, frustration and life's other speed bumps.

"Headtrip" (RealAudio

excerpt), which begins with a solitary guitar riff and then kicks

into three layers of uptempo guitar-rock, was written about what Lowery

called the "disappointing attitudes" of the other bands they have

encountered on tour. "Headtrip, trouble with your head so in the clouds,"

the chorus goes.

According to Lowery, "Denial" is based on an argument with a woman, which

he recorded at one show. Fading in with majestic guitar noise and bass

drum, the song builds with Witherspoon shouting words that, Lowery said,

include some taken straight from the tape of the argument: "Why don't

you just say what you mean/ All I hear is steam/ And never say that to

me/ Never say that to me/ Wipe that shit off your face," Witherspoon

screams.

Other songs on the album — "Insecure," "Grasp" and "Bender" —

reflect the darker side of touring, while the title track sounds like a

battle march. After crying out for relief from the road in the verses to

"Home," the chorus finds Witherspoon declaring he's home and not to be

bothered.

For Witherspoon, all of the traveling meant the end of relationships and,

upon his return home, the need to rebuild his life in Atlanta.

"[You leave] your house for a month, and sh-- is out of order. So you

think about leaving for 21 months and coming back, [and you find] sh--

is gone" (RealAudio

excerpt of interview).

Home was recorded earlier this year at Longview Farms, a studio

tucked into a North Brookfield, Mass., barn. Toby Wright, who has worked

with Alice in Chains and Korn, co-produced the record. Lowery credited

Wright with bringing the fire out of the band when it came time to record.

"He's just a great motivator," Lowery said. "At the same time, he'll

piss you off just to get a performance out of you. [There were times when]

everyone thought he was a complete prick. At the very end of the day,

we would realize he did it on purpose."

The band's first album, 1997's Sevendust, was recorded more modestly

in Atlanta by former Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French, Sevendust's

manager. That album attained gold status, according to the Recording

Industry Association of America.

Sevendust, consisting of Witherspoon, Lowery, drummer Morgan Rose,

bassist Vince Hornsby and guitarist John Connolly, took their name from

a restaurant sign in Atlanta. The group formed in Atlanta in 1996 after

Rose recruited the other members from various local bands. Witherspoon

played in a band called Body and Soul. The others played in metal bands

Steel Rain and Snake Nation.

"We had always known each other growing up on the scene. I was the youngest

cat, so they said, 'Let's try to get this cat and see what he can do.'

That first night we jammed, it was an easy process ... we just did our

thing, and that's what it's been like. We never set out to get a record

deal. We liked each other, we'd get f---ed up together, enjoy each other's

time and play music. So that was what was cool about it, and that's how

it started, and that's how it still is now with the music" (RealAudio

excerpt of interview).

Next month, Sevendust begin another headlining tour, with Chevelle, Staind

and others serving as openers. Witherspoon said the band's chaotic road

life ultimately is just a part of its mission.

"I still think we're before the beginning, because there's so much we

still have to do," he said. "Being out in front of those people, that's

where I think it's the most important. The intimacy between the band and

the crowd ... MTV is great and everything else is cool., but that's where

it's the realest."