Lajon Witherspoon is the frontman for Sevendust and one of the best rock singers around. The band recently released Time Travelers & Bonfires, an all acoustic album with an acoustic take on previous songs, as well as six new acoustic tracks. On top of that, the band is currently on an acoustic tour. I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Lajon to discuss acoustic Sevendust, his favorite musicians, Sevendust shows, the first concert he ever attended, and much more.
Alex Obert: You’ve discussed in the past how surreal it was to play shows with Metallica, but how did you discover them?
Lajon Witherspoon: It was in high school with the kids I was playing in bands with. This was when I discovered metal with my buddy, Lee Banks, that’s when I was turned onto the all that kind of stuff, the double bass fills and the screaming guitars and the Trace Elliot bass. I think I was around seventeen years old when I found out about that kind of stuff. Understanding it, feeling it, liking it, and being into it was really cool. I’m into all kinds of music.
Alex Obert: Getting into Time Travelers and Bonfires, why was Come Down the opening track?
Lajon Witherspoon: It’s a moving song, I think we wanted people to know that we’re bringing it.
Alex Obert: How do you feel you will adapt from the traditionally intense Sevendust show to an acoustic show on this tour?
Lajon Witherspoon: Strangely and oddly enough, it’s pretty much almost like an electric show these days. (laughs) You’ve got pits going and everything, it’s crazy.
Alex Obert: Have you ever seen Nirvana Unplugged?
Lajon Witherspoon: Yes, it’s incredible. Just to see Kurt Cobain, it was incredible when he was alive. It’s funny that you talk about Nirvana, we were just in Seattle the other day and we were talking about those guys and the scene and the different bands that came through there. So it definitely was very cool.
Alex Obert: Kurt Cobain passed away so early in his career, another musician who passed away too early on, are you a fan of Jeff Buckley?
Lajon Witherspoon: Oh my God, yes. Of course! I love Last Goodbye. Incredible singer. I still listen to his music. He did pass away very young and it’s unfortunate.
Alex Obert: A singer that was heavily influenced by Jeff Buckley, what is your relationship like with Myles Kennedy and Alter Bridge?
Lajon Witherspoon: I love those guys. They’re wise, we’re all family. (laughs) It’s funny, we were talking to someone today that saw us back in the day with Creed. And we’re still great friends with all those people. Not friends, family. I was just recently with the Tremontis and the Phillipses, we had a birthday party for my wife. It was really cool. We’re all still good and tight. And Myles is a brother too. And it’s more than just the music, our kids get together, our wives hang out together, we hang out together. It’s fun, it’s cool.
Alex Obert: Using Alter Bridge as an example, seeing as you’ve played shows with them before, do you watch them perform from the side of the stage?
Lajon Witherspoon: Of course.
Alex Obert: What would you say is your favorite Alter Bridge song?
Lajon Witherspoon: I listen to them every night. But I don’t even know, I own every album. I listen to Alter Bridge and Tremonti’s band, several different things.
Alex Obert: Alter Bridge was on and your bandmate, Morgan Rose was on, but will we ever see you on That Metal Show?
Lajon Witherspoon: Well I was supposed to do it, but I think there was going to be too much chocolate on that show that night with Living Colour and me on there. (laughs)
Alex Obert: But you’re open to appearing on the show in the future?
Lajon Witherspoon: Of course. I would have loved to have done it. I think it’s a cool show.
Alex Obert: How did you develop a relationship with Rich Ward of Fozzy and Stuck Mojo?
Lajon Witherspoon: Growing up in Atlanta knowing Stuck Mojo and going out on the scene as a young kid. I wasn’t able to get into the shows, but because I was in a band, they’d let me in the clubs while underage. (laughs) Stuck Mojo was one of those bands that I would always go see. It was cool to go see them rock it. And I think Rich, to this day, is one of the best guitar players that are out there, as far as playing his licks and his performance. He’s right on point.
Alex Obert: Which other bands do you consider close friends?
Lajon Witherspoon: There’s Staind, Five Finger Death Punch, Alter Bridge, there’s so many, man. I know I’m missing a lot, but I would say pretty much anyone that we’ve run across where we’ve been in this together. Those that understood, those are brothers of us. Lacuna Coil, Halestorm. I remember Lzzy Hale coming up at us when she was twelve years old, she’s like my sister.
Alex Obert: We talked about great singers, but how do you warm up for shows with a voice like yours?
Lajon Witherspoon: Smoke a bit, have a cold beer. (laughs) I’ll pray. I feel as long as you get your rest and you stay focused and in the zone, then it’s alright. Some days are harder than others. But as long as you have conviction, somehow you’ll always make it through. I play and I get my rest. I don’t have a hot tea and walk around talking to people. (laughs)
Alex Obert: Of the newer bands out there, who do you still have yet to tour or play a show with?
Lajon Witherspoon: We’ve pretty much played with everyone! (laughs) We did something pretty new recently when we went out with Asking Alexandria several months ago, that was an incredible adventure for us. These kids are throwin’ it down! I feel old, but I’m proud to be in front of those kids so they can see us. I’d love to go out with more bands like Asking Alexandria.
Alex Obert: Do you have any openers for this tour?
Lajon Witherspoon: No, there’s no openers. The only band that opened up for us was last night, my buddies, Sidewise, from Kansas City.
Alex Obert: How do you feel it changes the game when you don’t have any openers?
Lajon Witherspoon: It’s weird. But you know what man, they stay and they jam, it’s an evening with Sevendust. We don’t know what to expect, but it’s gonna be incredible.
Alex Obert: I’d love to break down an older Sevendust song and get your view on it. Feed off of the 2007 album, Alpha. How did that song come about?
Lajon Witherspoon: That’s writing in the studio, doing what we do. It depends on what’s going on in life, we all get to write together. If anyone knows each other, it’s us. I think Feed is one of those kinds of songs.
Alex Obert: An acoustic song that Sevendust is known for is your cover of Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt, what was your reaction when you first heard his version?
Lajon Witherspoon: It was great. We thought it was beautiful.
Alex Obert: What are some of your other favorite songs to play live?
Lajon Witherspoon: This new Time Travelers album, all of them. The old songs sound new.
Alex Obert: With all the shows you’ve done, what do you feel is the best song to open up with? Do you prefer to open up with the latest single or do you think of a song that gets the crowd pumped up?
Lajon Witherspoon: We’ve got a lot of stuff going on with it and it’s different. So it’s exciting. For me, it doesn’t matter what the song is. If you bring the energy, it’s gonna be good no matter what. It’s always gonna be cool, I’m not worried about that too much.
Alex Obert: In regards to live shows, what was your very first concert you ever attended?
Lajon Witherspoon: New Edition at the Municpal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. (laughs) I was a child.
Alex Obert: What is your favorite club or venue to see a show at?
Lajon Witherspoon: I love all the House of Blues. The Midland Theater in Kansas, my hometown. That’s a beautiful gig, I’d love to see a show there. Such an amazing place. The Ogden Theatre in Denver, Colorado. I love that. A beautiful theater. There’s so many. Red Rocks, we’ve played there. So many places over in Europe that are beautiful. They have so much to offer and I look forward to playing there because of it. There’s energy in the air.
Alex Obert: Which type of venue do you feel is best suited for a Sevendust show, something bigger or smaller?
Lajon Witherspoon: It doesn’t matter, if you put us in the back of a McDonald’s parking lot, guess what’s gonna happen? There’s gonna be a brawl, so it doesn’t matter to me! (laughs)
Alex Obert: With all the Sevendust songs you’ve written, what’s your favorite Sevendust song title?
Lajon Witherspoon: Angel’s Son.
Alex Obert: I’m gonna throw you a curveball here, what would you say is your favorite one hit wonder?
Lajon Witherspoon: Don’t Wanna Fall In Love by Jane Child. She had the earring from her ear to her nose! (laughs)
Alex Obert: What is your all-time favorite vocal performance from another singer?
Lajon Witherspoon: Anything that Jimi Hendrix has done.
Alex Obert: What would you say is your favorite album cover?
Lajon Witherspoon: The Pink Floyd back catalogue with the album covers painted on the naked girls.
Alex Obert: As someone who has made it big in the world of hard rock and heavy metal, what do you have to say to those who want to go after their dreams?
Lajon Witherspoon: Whatever you do, you stay true to your art. In this music business, if there’s any advice I can give to the ladies and gentlemen out there, it’s to be a businessman or a businesswoman in this music business. Keep your eye on what’s going on cause there’s so many people that wanna put money in their pockets when you just wanna do your craft and your art. That’s something you have to do, you have to stay on the top of your game.
Alex Obert: How long will the acoustic tour be?
Lajon Witherspoon: Forever. There’s more and more dates getting added as we speak. (laughs)
Alex Obert: On May 6th, you’ll be at the Webster Theater in Hartford, CT. Do you have any memories of playing there?
Lajon Witherspoon: Definitely one of my favorite spots to hang out at. When I’m at the Webster, it’s great. Everyone’s cool. A lot of good family and friends come out from all over the place, so it’s a beautiful spot for us there. We love going to the Webster. We played there with Lacuna Coil last year, as a matter of fact. I can’t wait to be back at The Webster Theater and I look forward to seeing them.
Alex Obert: I’d like to thank you so much for your time and a great interview.
Lajon Witherspoon: Hey, thank you brother!