Sevendust’s Clint Lowery: “I Don’t Think The Livestream Is Gonna Go Away”

Photo by Travis Shinn.

When it comes down to it, Sevendust are a working band. The veteran hard-rock five-piece have spent the last two and a half decades making interesting-yet-ass-kicking arena agro for legions of diehard fans. And while so many of their peers and imitators enjoyed a quick rise and an equally swift fall, Sevendust have never lost ground, always trying something more, different, and new in the name of entertaining their listeners. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that in the era of COVID, the band already have a few livestreams under their belts.

“We’ve definitely done it more than some bands have done it — we’re a live band, though, we tour more than most bands, too!” says guitarist Clint Lowery. “I don’t think the livestream is gonna go away. I think there’s going to be this side-note entertainment value thing moving forward. I think bands are going to do it when they can’t go abroad. There are speciality shows, there are all these different Patreon things — it’s a whole different world. It’s just being able to access a band from a different angle.”

This weekend sees Sevendust adding two more livestream events to their name. On Saturday, the band will play 2003’s Seasons in its entirety; on Sunday, they’ll perform all of 1999’s Home. The full-album streams started when the band honored the 20th anniversary of 2001’s Animosity back in January. The fans did the rest.

“Some bands claim they don’t pay attention to what the fans say, but I do read the comments afterwards,” says Clint. “I like to hear people’s feedback. What they liked, what they didn’t like. It’s just ridiculous to not want to make your fans happy. So I’ll look at little things like, ‘Wish they’d played this,’ or ‘I wish they’d shown more of this.’ You keep that in your head, in your database, and when you do another [livestream], you can say, Let’s do that…That’s how Seasons came about — people said, ‘I really hope they keep playing these records in their entirety in the livestream format.’ Because, why not? Might as well. It was the 20th anniversary for Animosity, but it’s not for Seasons — but while we’re down, why not? People wanna hear that record.”

For a band like Sevendust, who play live as much as you do, is it really surreal to be playing to a camera and not a screaming crowd?

Yeah, it’s obviously not the ideal situation. When you look at it for what it is, really, to me, it’s like a dressed-up rehearsal. You’re there, you’re just trying to play your parts, you’re unable to feed off a crowd, so it’s just very minimal. You cannot go into it expecting to go all-out, but you definitely realize that this is a performance, and people’re going to be watching this. You try to keep that in your mind, but it’s definitely a challenge, to be engaged and feel energized. But it is cool — we’ve done a few now and know what it is. We’ve seen ‘em afterwards, so we know what we want to change and make better. It’s a new era. And it’s not that much different than making a video. You have to play into it. You’re under the microscope, so you’ve gotta play well.

That’s interesting — the camera provides more scrutiny than an amped-up crowd.

Yeah, and one thing we do is, we have a lot of content, video walls, and in this next one we’re going to have a tremendous amount. And that provides entertainment value. That creates a vibe that we really can’t do live. The experience itself is different, because there’s content for people to see. If we had the video walls we use for livestreams at our actual live shows, it’d be awesome. So one helps the other. But you’re definitely under scrutiny — as a musician, I’ll watch another band and notice flat and sharp notes. Some people doctor ‘em up, they go back, but they’re not really live. Even if it’s pre-recorded, it should have an organic feel to it.

What made you roll the album performances out in this order — Animosity, Seasons, Home?

We’d done Home and self-titled for anniversary shows. Animosity was coming up, and we had all these plans to do it for the official 20th anniversary, live, for people, and that obviously got kiboshed. So we’re like, We don’t want to miss out. And when the world opens back up, we WILL do Animosity in its entirety for people. But for this one, it was a unique situation — like, let’s just throw Home in and make it a two-night event. Maybe we’ll circle back around and do the first record, if we do another, though this may be the last livestream we’d do in a long time. But it was like, while we’re here, in this mode, and need to make a living, why not do Seasons too? I’ve always loved that record — you’re either a heavy Sevendust fan, or you like the more melodic side. Seasons is more the melodic side of the band. It’s interesting to get the fans’ perspective. I didn’t think that record sounded that great, but people love it.

It’s cool that you bring it out for the fans, despite having mixed feelings about the record.

I’ve been going back to it, learning it, listening to it — it’s cool, man. We would’ve never ordinarily played these songs! But now we’ve got all these songs that we rehearsed and built up, so now we can change out our set lists. Our set list will be broader than it was before.

Revisiting Home and Seasons, what are your gut memories? What do those albums evoke for you?

Well, when you’re digging into the tracks, you get specific memories of actual moments in the studio. When we as a band did Animosity, that was our favorite record to do. We were out of our minds back then, but we thought that record was the best representation of the band. The first record was whatever, we recorded it with an engineer we weren’t super excited about, it was just about the songs. The second record was cool, but we were trying to still find ourselves. Animosity was like, This is who we are! This is really what we want to present to the world! So going back through that record was cool — it reignited a spirit. We’d just be going, Oh man, we thought this section was so cool!

Some of the songs, like on the first record, we listen to and we’re like, ‘Man, this is so primitive.’ We’re not the same musicians, we’re not the same people. But the further we get into the catalog, the lesser the distance, and it’s more about where we’re at now. Especially if you have access to the stems and the original tracks — you can hear the fuck-ups and the cool elements. As much of a perfectionist as I try to be, I hear so many flaws and so many things I wish I could’ve redone. But that’s the beauty of it — it is what it is, and if you change any of that now, it loses its charm. 

Was there a song you found difficult to relearn — or, alternately, that you kept playing and thinking, Hell yes, this rules?

For me, there’s harmonies that are super high that were easier to do then. Same for Lajon — he cracks me up, man, he’ll be saying, ‘I was 20 years old when I did this!’ But we adjust, and make it a little easier to sing for the current state of the band. Nothing really guitar-wise — a lot of the guitar parts we did earlier on were super easy. We got a little more progressive the older we got. So there was that nu-metal thing, where everyone was doing the one-finger dance, but later on I started going back to my metal roots.

How much of you guys’ plans after this can you tell me about? Is there another livestream in the works?

I think what we’ll do is probably try to do some sort of livestream based on a live show. Like, if we’re doing somewhere like New York City, we’ll document that and stream that for everyone. So we’ll do a set in Vegas, it’ll be two hours long, and we’ll broadcast it. But that’s pending on streaming capabilities, the server — that we’d have to set up. But it won’t be a production, running it with cameras and editing it. It’ll be more like, throw some GoPros up, document a show every tour, and let that be the livestream. Because not everyone who can get to the shows or tours.

The GoPro idea is cool — will we learn some gnarly shit about Sevendust? Do you puke in a bucket mid-set every night?

Oh, yeah. That’s where the grit and dirt and behind the scenes stuff is the most interesting. Sometimes you’ll be surprised by how boring we are, but those are the ways of interacting with technology I like. It’ll take some of the mystery away, but it creates another tier of entertainment for the people.

Sevendust’s livestreams will go down this Saturday, April 10th, and Sunday, April 11th. Tickets are available online, including a bundle for both performances that’s going for just $30.

***

Words by Chris Krovatin