By MIKE CHAIKEN
Sevendust learned that, indeed, absence does make the heart grow fonder.
The metalcore band, which is headlining a gig at the Webster Theater in Hartford Sunday with Coal Chamber, Lacuna Coil, and Stolen Babies, has been stalking the world since 1994, releasing nine albums along the way, including its latest “Black Out the Sun.”
As the years have passed, explained Sevendust’s guitarist John Connolly, the band has done something other bands with its kind of longevity—such as Metallica, Disturbed, and even The Eagles— have been unable to do. It’s kept its original line-up intact.
The band from Atlanta is still Connolly, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon, guitarist Clint Lowery, drummer Morgan Rose, and bassist Vince Hornsby.
And even nearly 20 years together, Connolly said, the band members are still attached at the hip and love each other to death.
But that kind of camaraderie doesn’t mean that the members might not sometimes need a break from each other.
And in 2012, said Connolly, the members of Sevendust went off in their separate directions. And during that time away from the band, they took on several different music projects, said Connolly.
“It’s important to get get away from each other,” said Connolly of the 2012 hiatus. Although the members very much wanted Sevendust to continue, they didn’t want to risk getting burnt out.
“We needed to miss it,” said Connolly. “For us, it’s about keeping it fresh and keeping that respect (between the members) up.”
If the band’s latest album, “Black Out the Sun,” is any indication, the separate ways for Sevendust paid off. In one interview, Witherspoon called the record the “purest form” of Sevendust. And Connolly had to agree with his lead singer.
“To me, it sounds like a ‘Greatest Hits’ record of songs you never heard before,” said Connolly. “Everything is pure Sevendust and we broke a bit of new ground.”
Looking back to 1994 when Sevendust first released an album, John said the band has evolved “a lot but a little” since those early days. “(That first album is) very relatable (to who were now),” said John, adding there is a definite “common thread” through all of Sevendust’s music over the years.
The biggest difference since the early days is more reliance on vocals in Sevendust circa 2013. In the beginning, the focus was on muscular instrumentation and Witherspoon was the sole voice. But these days all of the members of the band have a hand in singing on the albums, said Connolly. In that regard, Connolly said the band is lucky to have a singer “who is gifted but open to letting some of us help out (on vocals).”
The band also has stepped away from its tendency to write seven to nine minute “epics” as it did in the 1990s, said Connolly. “We’re a little more efficient in getting to the point.”
For the current tour, Sevendust is headlining a diverse group of bands you wouldn’t normally expect to be part of the package with the group from Atlanta. Coal Chamber, Lacuna Coil, and Stolen Babies are all hard and heavy rock bands. But they take different approaches as to how they mine that musical bedrock.
“It’s always cool to give the fans something to see,” said Connolly when asked about the tour package coming to Hartford. Although Sevendust has toured with like-minded groups such as Godsmack, Nonpoint, or Disturbed over the years, he said the band also likes to bring in bands that sometimes are off the radar, but still are interesting and something of value to the fans who are spending their money on tickets.
After the current tour, Connolly said Sevendust has its eyes on the summer circuit. The band either will team up with the Carnival of Madness tour or the Rock Star Energy Drink Uproar Festival. After that, the band will be looking at another headlining tour before tackling another album next summer.
Sevendust, Coal Chamber, Lacuna Coil, and Stolen Babies perform at the Webster Theater in Hartford on Sunday, April 14. Doors open at 6 p.m. For more information, go to WebsterTheater.com and Sevendust.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN