SEVENDUST - All John Sees Is A Social War

SEVENDUST guitarist John Connolly recently spoke with Mark Derricutt about seeing nothing but war ahead of their tour opening New Zealand performance at Auckland's Power Station later this month. Listen to conversation, or read the transcription below...

Hey John!

Hey Mark. How are you?

Good. How are you? Thanks for taking the time out to sit down and chat with us. It's been a bit of a mission getting ahold of you. Sounds like you guys are quite busy with this tour.

Yeah, my pleasure, it's been good so far. We kinda started it pretty strangely. Normally we do Ship Rock like kind of as a standalone thing, but the Ship Rock cruise was actually the beginning of the tour. It's kind of a strange way to start, you know, with a five day party cruise. But no, no, it's been good so far. We're about halfway through this run right now and the show's been great.

So you're currently touring for ...

All I See Is War.

All I See Is War, that's right, yeah. So for those who have not actually heard the album or dug into, fully into the lyrics yet, what's the story behind the album? Is it, obviously war comes thru as a moment of thought and I guess with the way that the world is going currently, what's the story behind the album?

It's just kind of a sign of the times, you know? When we were making the record it was like, you know, you couldn't go on Facebook or Twitter without somebody blasting somebody and you know, you can't have certain things or say certain things to certain people 'cause people get offended so easily these days. I don't know, it's weird. It's like over the past five or six years it just seems like instead of working together it just seems like a lot of society is just kinda like super, super divided. And it's not just with politics, you know? I mean, we totally, especially here in the United States, trust me, we get it. You know, we have a very polarizing president but even before that it just seemed like everybody had this thing where they could just get on Facebook and just blast people at will. And it's just, it's kind of an unhealthy spot to be in. But it was more of an observation just because literally that's what we saw.

We go into the studio and kinda get secluded and kinda lose ourself in our own world when we're making a record. But every now and again when you pop your head out to come up for air and check the news or, you know, just a couple hours here or there, it just, it was crazy how much stuff was happening of people just being pissed off at each other. There's no like ... Yeah, we're not even talking about the literally war, you know, like in Afghanistan or Iran or Iraq or any of that stuff. We're talking about what we see just grabbing your cell phone in between meet and greets.

Yes, the social media war.

Yeah. It's kinda sad the fact that it's a ... You know. I think social media is such a great tool and it's an amazing thing depending on how you use it. You know what I mean? There's a million different uses for it but it just, it seems to give everyone a license to want and form an opinion and if your opinion doesn't fall in suit with theirs, you know, you just got ... You're gonna get put on blast for whatever reason. And that's just kinda what we were observing when we were making that record. It was like, hmm, well, if this is reality, this is ... You know, we're not the type of band who kinda says, we're gonna make a record about space dragons or time shifts or stuff like that. We're kinda one of those bands that kinda goes off the cuff and you know, if there's things that are happening in the world around us, we typically tend to either write about them or name records after them, for sure.

Yeah. That was one thing I always notice is like, working in IT - primarily; the internet trolls have always been there but now with social media it's just much more accessible and visible to everyone so it's kind of being addressed more.

So now that the album's been out for a while and you're halfway through the tour, what's the general response been like? Is it consistent to like how previous albums have been responded or has ... Do you actually notice a difference between albums and releases that maybe we've not done as good as we did on the last album or people are not necessarily liking this direction or that direction or ...

No, I mean I think the general consensus is everyone is really, really happy with the direction. I mean this is the first time we've used a producer in quite a few years. We've gone through, you know-

So you self produce.

No, we did not self produce this one, but we have self produced several records in the past. We self produced almost half the catalog. So, you know, we used producers, then we got away from them for a while, then we went back to them, then we got away from them, and now we're back. You know, we did this record with Elvis Baskette. It was just, it was cool to have an outside opinion, you know. But somebody who, as much as he's a sonic producer, he's gonna make things sound great, he's really more of a songwriter. So, you know, and being that he's also a fan of the band, he kinda knows what our bar is and what our standard is and if it didn't meet up to his expectations then we were basically letting a fan down. It was kinda one of the coolest situations to be in because it was like, he got it, you know, he understood our catalog, he understood where we came from. But he's a great singer, he's a great songwriter, he's a great guitar player. And he just won't let stuff slide. You know, when you self produce you sometimes, you know, it's late and you're like, alright, that'll work, that's good enough. He'd be the guy who'd be like, "You know, I'm just telling you, I'm not loving it." And we'd go, "alright."

So did he push you further than you were before or just kind of keep that-

I think so, yeah..

I know you've got a level to keep, but push you forward or?

I really think so. You know, in a lot of ways when we self produce it's not a matter of being lazy or getting complacent with something, but sometimes we just ... You know, sometimes you're around it for too long. You know, you start to get demoitis and you don't realize that you've got demoitis. And if you listen to something once or twice and it catches you, then you know it's good. If you listen to something like 10 to 15 times before it catches you, there's probably something going on there and sometimes it's hard to detach yourself from the personal attachment to whatever mood you might have been in when you were coming up with that demo or whatever vision you may end up having but nobody else can see. That also happens, you know. I mean, there were times we brought in so much material with Elvis, but I remember there was one instance where we were just going down the list and we got into a song that everyone was wanting to make these huge, wholesale changes to and I just, I had a vision for it and I was like, well, no disrespect, but I think we'll work on something else.

Because I could kinda see it through, but it just wasn't gonna fit Sevendust, you know. So it was like, alright, you know, those moments are fine too, but it's cool to have somebody in there as a sounding board. You know, and even when we self produced we had someone in the studio with us, it wasn't like we were in there just winging it. You know, we had Shawn Grove who engineered and co-produced and helped us navigate the first three records that we did, then we had Mike Ferretti who came in for Black Out The Sun, Time Travelers, and then the Kill The Flaw record. He was a good sounding board too, but Elvis is, you know, every note was going under the microscope. So it was a win-win for us because we got back with a producer that we've respected and wanted to work with for a long time. Fans really, really dug the end result. So, we actually we're planning on hopping in the studio with him again later this year to work on the next record.

So with that in mind, you're playing Tuesday, April 23rd here in Auckland at the Power Station and continuing on some more shows. Can we expect some new material maybe from this album in progress or is there any kinda hints to...

Our album in progress? Probably not. That would be a little bit ... You know, that's the other thing about social media and all these freakin' smart phones and stuff, you know, years ago we would bust a song out in the middle of a show and nobody had any means to put it up on YouTube. Now if we do something it's gonna be on YouTube and then Blabbermouth picks up and then Loudwire runs it...

And then the trolls get a word.

And then all of a sudden we've got this huge chunk of ... Right. And then the trolls get ahold of it and they're like, "It's not heavy enough." This, that, and the other thing. Unfortunately in today's age we have to be very careful about what we play and when we play it. I mean, if we're joking around about stuff it's one thing, but if it's something that's kinda serious and we wanna actually spend a little bit of time in the studio with, I think we're gonna keep that under wraps.

It's amazing how fast stuff goes up on YouTube.

So what kinda time frame can we expect this new album? Is this like next year, end of this year?

Yeah, no, I think we'll probably do most of the work we're looking like September, October, November, somewhere in that window to actually preproduce and then record it all. So if I had to guess I'd say the record will be out in the Summer 2020.

Yeah, the following year.

So you've been with the band since the band founded, right? What would you say the trick to the longevity of the band is, of keeping the creativity over the years? What's your secret? Is there a secret?

Not trying so hard. I mean, I think back in the day we all tried and, you know, you try to get on the same page with the folks that you're making music with but ... You know, I think sometimes forcing a vision or forcing everyone to have that same vision can ... It can work wonders 'cause it can get you all on the same page working towards the same goal, but at the same time, you know, we've got five very, very different personalities in this band and sometimes trying to do too much of one thing can be counterproductive. So I think, I think we approach the whole songwriting process and recording process a little more relaxed than we used to be. That's not to say that we don't get busy and we don't get to work when we get in there and do it, but we just try to keep it more enjoyable because it is something that we absolutely love to do. I mean, a lot of people hate going in the studio but we're just as comfortable in the studio as we are up on stage.

So there's a certain love there. And the last thing I wanna do is have being in the studio a miserable experience. You know, 'cause it's kind of a chapter of your life, it's like that's the creation process, that's where it all starts, stems, you know, forms. That's the nucleus of whatever that next chapter is and it's, I don't know. I mean, even after all these years of making music and doing it, there's just something that is so exciting about when he pulls out the rough mix and everybody in the room is kinda glancing around at each other going, okay, that's badass. You know, there's something about that that's just ... You can't replicate it, you can't replace it, so as we get older I think we enjoy that part of the process a whole lot more. We try to stay as engaged as we can in it and just have fun with it at the end of the day and remember why we kinda started doing this in the first place.

Cool. So that was our beep so if we just wrap this up now. It's been great to chat with you. So I look forward to seeing you guys at the Power Station.

Alright. Sounds good, brother.

Checkout images from SEVENDUST’s 2016 performance at Auckland's Studio.