Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon Talks Grammy Nomination, Fatherhood + Earthside Guest Turn
Sevendust have enjoyed a stellar career, but the band just added to their achievements by earning their first Grammy Nomination. The nod comes in the Best Metal Performance category for their single "Thank You" from the Kill the Flaw album. We recently had a chance to chat with Sevendust's Lajon Witherspoon, who spoke about what the Grammy nomination means to him and he also took some time to discuss becoming a father for the third time and his recent guest appearance on Earthside's single "Mob Mentality." Check out the chat below.
Lajon, "Thank You" has been nominated for the Grammy Best Metal Performance. It's a long overdue nomination for Sevendust. Can you talk a little bit about what it means to have that song nominated?
For me, wow what an [honor]. Actually on this tour, the last couple of tours, the Godsmack run we did and then the Shinedown one we did, Breaking Benjamin without even knowing anything about the Grammy situation at all, I said this song "Thank You" is a testimony to what we’ve all been through so long being with Sevendust. And you know everyone growing up with us has seen the ups and downs. The people that have tried to keep us down. And then look at it -- at the end of the day this song ends up getting nominated for a Grammy. What more can you ask for, you know? Because if you think about it, that song talks about people who are trying to hold you back, pushing. I feel like as a band we try to work hard and overcome those obstacles that were put in front of us for so many years and here we are now still safe with "Thank You."
How did you find out you were nominated? Was there a phone call?
I got a phone call early, early in the morning from our manager George. "Did you look at your text? I texted you." And I was like, "No, it’s seven o’clock in the morning, what’s going on?" He said, "Look at your text." And I said, "You are on the phone with me right now, why can’t you tell me, what’s going on?" He said, "Oh my God ... you guys got nominated for a Grammy." And I was like, "No way." You know of course, I'm still thinking to myself about how incredible to be on top. One of my friends, James Shields, who pitches for the Padres, called me up and said he had found out about it and he said, "You know man, that’s like the World Series." [laughs] To hear that from a pro player, it kind of made me feel real good man. And then I did a radio spot with 98 Rock right here in Kansas where I live with my buddy, Johnny Dare. You know when they introduce you with that radio voice -- here he is from so and so? It kind of goes down the whole thing -- here's Lajon with the songs that we played over the years and he also lives in Kansas and talks about this and that and then "Grammy nominated," but it was that robot radio voice [laughs]. And I said, "Man there's two things I didn't believe [laughs]."
You know, you have to take a look at it like this, what a blessing it would be to actually come home with a Grammy, but I always say now to myself and my closest friends and everyone, man at the end of the day that’s one thing that they can never take from us is that nomination. That’s a real big deal, we’ll see what happens. It’s really exciting.
For some metal fans, the Grammys haven't always been representative of what's going on and there have been some acts in the industry critical of the Grammy choices when it comes to metal. I'm curious, what's your take? What does the Grammy mean to you?
You know, my take on it is, I just look at it that to me is a big deal just to lead the music industry. I look at it as you've got the top tiers. At the end of the day a lot of people try to make it a goal to even get to the Grammy’s. I don't know. Even if we never got it or never got the nomination, we would still have became Sevendust and kick ass and do what we try to do and meet new people around the world. But I’ll tell you what, that Grammy for me, it motivates me even more to even work harder.
I can understand some people having angst about it, but for me as a 43-year-old young man, old man, I feel very, that’s like something that I've always wanted to do as an artist. That’s great. To be able to go and be around the cats that you might even listen to on the radio and see on TV, the other people that sell the albums and are doing what we all want to ultimately do in this business. So that’s a day that shines. I'm thinking that you can always take with you. So I'm happy about it. I feel for me it definitely put a fire under me. It makes me feel like it’s the beginning of a new page for us, if that makes sense.
I saw Scott Stapp on Twitter getting his Grammy ballot, and tweeting that he was voting for Sevendust. Have you seen that? What's your reaction?
It's crazy, I did get to see that. I actually got to thank Scott on Instagram. I said, "Wow, thank you so much." Several other people I've seen with ballots, I didn't even think they had those things! It's been great to see people supporting it. I hope, man. It would definitely be a dream come true for that to happen. To have the chance to do that, it means so much to me and to the band. I can definitely speak on behalf of everyone when I say that -- it's definitely a big deal for us. It's in a category that's great. You have Slipknot, Lamb of God, which I think is great. Ghost, I think what they're doing is real cool. That other band August Burns Red, I don't know much about them but it'll be fun. I respect the bands that are nominated along with us, so, we'll see what happens man. S--t, I ain't gonna lie. It'd be awesome to take the Grammy home. My buddy always told me, if we win one he's gonna build a cage for me. I'm like, "Yo, you might as well build that motherf--ker big enough so I can sit in it when I want to." [laughs]
I was going to ask if you've already thought about that. What if you win? Do you have a place ready to put it?
No, I hadn't thought that far ahead. Just to be nominated, it's unbelievable. Looking back at the history of the nominations, you know, to finally get a chance to do it. I hadn't thought that far ahead, if we were to win it. That'd be too crazy, [laughs].
I know the Best Metal Performance category is usually handed out during the pre-telecast but still people come out and walk the red carpet. Are you thinking of coming out to L.A. for the ceremony?
Oh yeah, we'll definitely be out there. I think my wife would definitely divorce me or be real mad if we didn't go to that. What an awesome thing to be invited to because you are nominated. Yeah, it's a chance. We'll take the girls out, have a good time. Do it up. They're excited, they're already looking at dresses. I'm like - calm down, take it easy [laughs]. But it's fun, it's very exciting. I'm looking forward to it, saying hello and making new friends with some of the artists.
You're definitely friends with a lot of the bands in the genre, but is there anyone outside of the rock and metal genre you'd be interested in meeting at an event like this?
Oh man! Totally! I listened to all kinds of stuff, man. I'm a fan of some R&B to pop, to what's on the radio. I have a 7-year-old daughter that knows more about some of the songs on the radio than I do. Yeah man, shoot. I'm definitely -- I don't like to say "fan" but I'm definitely a "fan" of music and all the artists that are doing to be there and be a part of it. Not just going to say I'm gonna walk up or anything but you know, it's cool that those cats are there and they're going to be celebrating and doing their thing, so I'm just happy to be a part of it. I'll definitely, I don't know who I'll even walk up to and say hello to. I don't know, but I'm definitely excited. I'll be like a kid in a candy store, for sure man.
Kill The Flaw has done very well for you, and "Thank You" has provided a great start. Any thoughts on a next single?
With the album that we're promoting, we play two songs in the set. "Thank You" and a song called "Not Today," which is incredible for me. It goes over very well live and we needed to put that out. I'm excited to get deep into the album when we go out again and try out more things, but this whole album for me, I just can't wait for it to get its due.
We took off a year and we did that acoustic album so we were really unplugged. So when we went into the studio, we just wanted to knock it out of the park and really feel that energy that we love. We went in dry without any songs at all and that was something that we prepared and talked about doing. It made good for us to sit down as a band and start from scratch and write two songs every day. It was really fun and exciting, and it pours over into the live show -- I think you can tell. We had a good time writing this album.
There's some time off for you before dates start up again. I know this is family time for you, but there's been talk about maybe a solo album for you at some point. Are you getting a chance to work on that?
Yeah, definitely man. That's still in the making too. The Sevendust machine is running real cool right now. I'm definitely still in the business too, to take my time and get out some stuff that I really want, that's on my heart. I think it can definitely head down a different avenue than Sevendust. I'm excited about doing that in the future for sure. Thank you for asking about that. I don't know, it's kind of weird to say a solo thing but I don't know if I'll call it LJ or Lajon. It's kind of weird. I just want to jam on some songs. [laughs]
This is baby No. 3 for you?
Thank you for sharing with Liz Ramanand here at Loudwire first about your child. That was the first time you put that out there and I'm sure you're happy to be getting some daddy time.
Thank you, man. It's a blessing man, he's amazing. It's been so fun to be home for the first time. My daughter, I was away when she was born. I was gone three days after she was born and I was on tour for six months. This, for the first time, to be able to be here with him to deliver and to be home for a few months after is so amazing. I have my hats off to all those incredible women out there that put up with us being gone for so long. Not only having babies and kids but just, holding the house down period while we're out there doing what we do. It's pretty amazing, man.
Lajon, we do the Battle Royale Video Countdown here at Loudwire and Earthside's "Mob Mentality," the song you guested on, that video just finished five weeks at No. 1 and is going into our Battle Royale Hall of Fame. People love that clip and song. Can you talk about your involvement with Earthside and the response to the song?
Yeah, that was very fun. To get a call from Jamie, the guitar player, who is a fan of the band. What really intrigued me about that song is the way that it was put together. He graduated from Yale. That right there peaked my interest and to hear the song was pretty amazing. I hadn't heard anything like that. I had never put vocals against anything like that so it was really interesting. I got invited to go to Sweden to actually go and record, but I've been on the road with the band and really wanted to be home so we made it work to where I ended up renting a studio in Iowa and was able to drive my family to Iowa and locked up in a studio for about three days. I did that song, which to me was incredible.
Jamie pretty much had it keyed up at the session because there was so many signature changes in that song. Vocally, it was challenging but so much fun and exciting and different. I think maybe a year or so passed and those guys were getting their stuff together with a different / various artists that they were pulling in -- some cats from Soilwork and other different bands over in Sweden, really building this project into something. They asked me about doing the video. I said of course, it'd be cool to do. So I flew to New York by myself and did the video and I knew the director, a buddy of mine that worked with Sevendust. We went out there and rocked it, man. The only thing I wish I would have been able to do was to, now I wish I was able to go to Sweden to actually sit in and work with the Moscow Orchestra one on one. That track is amazing. The video turned out to be great, so. That's awesome, thank you for those guys winning that.
Anything else on the horizon for you at this point?
Looking to get back out on the road. Looking forward to a great year and many more. We've been blessed. thank you guys for taking the time to talk to us, hopefully, it's hard to say but maybe we can bring a Grammy home. That's weird to say, but man let's try and do it.
We're rooting for you.
Thanks a lot, man. I'm sure we'll talk soon brother.