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A Rose By Any Other Name: An Exclusive Interview With SEVENDUST Drummer Morgan Rose

By Geoff Ketler, Cleveland Contributor
Friday, August 1, 2014 @ 4:49 PM

"I am not very confident and I don’t have an ego, but in this band, I believe that the five of us together have confidence."

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After the release of Time Travelers & Bonfires and a successful run of acoustic shows, SEVENDUST is hitting the road again, only this time they are electrified. Before their show in Cleveland I managed to catch up with drummer Morgan Rose backstage about the status of their upcoming live DVD, and the reasons behind the group’s longevity among other things. Be sure to check out the review of the show HERE.

KNAC.COM: First off, I have seen some tidbits of information released about the live DVD in the works. Where does that stand at this point? It’s gonna be a 2-Disc thing right?

ROSE: Yeah, yeah…the whole idea is that it is going to be one acoustic, one electric, and kind of doing our version of if we were the biggest band in the world – this is the kind of stuff we would have brought out; pyro, stuff like that. We are so geared on doing it right and making sure that it’s a monster DVD – a lot of people wanted a live DVD from us, you know we did Southside Double-Wide, but that wasn’t pulling out all of the stops. There was no real light package, no production, just us sitting up there jamming. It was one of the first shows we had actually done acoustically. It was early in the tour. But we are going to do it the right way, but by making sure we do it the right way, we might push this thing to the beginning of next year. Right now we are talking about doing it in September, but with the way they are doing it; it’s like a documentary, in a sense. Instead of just going to us and having us talk about our career, they are going to other people and our peers. They have a bunch of people lined up to do discussions about us - Tommy Lee and Mark (Tremonti) from ALTERBRIDGE and a bunch of other people; sports figures, rock stars. So to get all of those people and do it the right way, it might be pushed to next year.

KNAC.COM: Are you guys still planning on filming the concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York?

ROSE: That’s still where we want to do it.

KNAC.COM: I want to ask you briefly about how your experience was with the Pledgemusic Campaign? You were able to use it to fund Time Travelers & Bonfires…what was that like, because you guys more than exceeded your goals?

ROSE: Oh yeah. It was weird…they put the number up there for us to hit. I looked around the room and was like “this is gonna be hit in a few hours”. They said it was better to start it low and if you guys decide you want to do more with the project, we can make it bigger. I was like “that’s fine, we are really just looking to do an EP.” Then we talked about it and decided to do some new songs. Instead of just doing old songs, let’s do a few new songs. In the public it was said that we hit it (our goal) in like a week or over the weekend or something. The first number was hit in six hours.

KNAC.COM: (Laughs) Okay…then did they raise the bar after that?

ROSE: Then they raised the bar and that was hit over the weekend. So we hit two goals in three or four days. And then they brought the number to where it probably couldn’t get reached and we decided to use the money to be able to do a full record and have the production be a little more high quality. We were probably thinking in the beginning it was just going to be us going in there and knocking it out and then taking it on tour. Then it ended up being almost like a full tour. We did two runs with it and there might be a third one at some point. So that’s an album cycle almost. It was really supposed to be something to tide everyone over for a while.

KNAC.COM: Do you ever think about doing the live electric set with like a mini acoustic set thrown in the middle somewhere?

ROSE: Yea…that will happen. That will probably happen on the next album cycle. We haven’t really fully decided that. The thought is always that people really like to see us acoustic. The last one was like ten years ago or something like that. It almost lengthens the album cycle. We can go out there and play heavy for a year and then take a break for a little while. Then, let’s go out and do three or four months of acoustic shows. It’s fun to do those shows. They don’t beat you up as bad. It is a lot easier on everybody, including Lajon (Witherspoon) where he doesn’t have to scream so much. I mean, we play hard but....

KNAC.COM: It has to be easier on you.

ROSE: It’s a little easier on me – it’s mostly the vocal stuff, you know, because I play just as hard almost. Not quite as much, but everyone that came to that tour said it was the heaviest acoustic show they had ever seen.

KNAC.COM: I heard that you guys sold some private acoustic shows through the Pledgemusic campaign. Did those take place yet?

ROSE: Yeah, we have done two or three of those already and we have some more to do. Those are interesting. They are cool. That’s really broken down. It’s like if they guys were to come in here right now and I was playing on the table and they were playing some acoustics. Most of them are done at people’s houses. So we just come up to the house and it’s more of a hang out I think. We go there and hang out for a few hours and play some acoustic tunes, meet the kids, watch some Sportscenter, and it’s all good.

KNAC.COM: So this is the first night of the tour – what can you tell me about the set? Should we expect any surprises?

ROSE: The surprise is that we are doing a few songs that we haven’t done in a few years and we don’t know how to play them. We haven’t rehearsed for this tour, so if you’re in the venue, you might here a few songs that sound pretty shitty. Hopefully we are going to run them a few times at soundcheck and try to remember them. It’s different for me. Those guys can take any guitar and jam all day. For me – I have to keep drums as far away from my house as possible. I haven’t touched the drums in a month. I haven’t even touched a drum stick in a month and then I am going to go out there and beat the hell out of myself.

KNAC.COM: Tell me the story behind the single “Decay” off of Black Out The Sun. Because that was actually written for the previous album, right?

ROSE: Yea, we got through doing the record a little quicker than we thought. Clint (Lowery) and John (Connolly) both were like “we got time man, let’s do some more”. And me, maybe Lajon (Witherspoon) and Vinnie (Hornsby) are like “the record is done man, let’s get outta here.” They were like “listen man, we might pull something out here. We’ve got a million other ideas, is there anything from the old vault or anything we didn’t get to last go-around that we want to revisit?” And “Decay” was this riff that John had had from Cold Day (Memory) and it was actually one that I believe our producer at the time had said that it didn’t feel right and got rid of it and put something else in there. It was gonna be on the record and then got kicked to the curb – didn’t have any vocals on it, but had the music. So we were self-producing it (Black Out The Sun) so nobody was there to tell us to kick it to the curb. We had already jammed it plenty and we knocked it out really quick and the vocals went down relatively quick and then it goes to the ADA at Warner and they call us back and say that it’s the first single. I just looked at them and said; “why do we ever listen to anybody?” Why do we listen to people when we know the people that like our band and support the band and we know what they want. We are the common thing that has been with the people. Labels have changed, managers have changed, producers have changed, but the only common denominator is us and the people and we know what each other likes. We like them to go bat-shit and they like us to play a certain style and a certain kind of music. We should have known.

KNAC.COM: I wanted to ask you about CALL ME NO ONE - your other band with Clint Lowery. Are there any future plans with that or was it sort of a one and done kind of thing?

ROSE: We’ve been talking about it recently. SEVENDUST has been incredibly demanding. We found that one little window to be able to go and do something and it was really hard to try to balance them both, you know? But we are looking at possibly taking another little bit of time off after this tour. Maybe, maybe we will do another little acoustic run; short little run. But other than that, we are almost done. We are not looking at taking years off or anything like that; we are too old to be taking years off. We have to get in here and get it while it’s still relevant. While we can still do it. But it’s been talked about. We might do another one. We had a great time doing it.

KNAC.COM: I want to talk longevity for a little, because SEVENDUST is one of those few bands that still has all original members in it. In your mind, what do you think attributes to that? How do you keep it fresh and how do you stay together for such a long time?

ROSE: It was built early, we were friends before we ever put the band together. When I put it together, it was built off of friendship. I put a band together based off of personalities. It had nothing to do with talent. It was all about; “do I want to hang out with that person when I am not playing?” That’s the only advice I ever give to anyone that is asking what I advice I have for up and coming this and that. Just be cool with the people that you’re jamming with. It could be the best singer, best drummer, best guitar player, whatever and if they are hard to deal with before you ever accomplish anything it’s definitely going to be a disaster. There are egos in this business that are uncontrollable. You kind of need a little bit of an ego, just to act as confidence. I am not very confident and I don’t have an ego, but in this band, I believe that the five of us together have confidence. That’s what it really comes down to. We have been together for this long because we are very comfortable with each other in this make up. If you take me out of this and put me in MOTLEY CRUE like I was for two weeks, I was terrified. I felt awful. You take Clint out and put him in KORN, he felt terrible, he felt awful. We had high-profile gigs where we were playing in front of more people and you’re in a situation where you don’t know the other guys, the camaraderie isn’t there the way that it is with this one. You realize that it was good to do those things because it was like whoa, man, what we have is something that is very special. We can fight like brothers do. We can hate on each other like brothers do, but nobody else can do it to anybody. We are very, very close.

KNAC.COM: I heard that once upon a time you played guitar and that your dad taught you. How did you make that transition to drums?

ROSE: I did play some guitar, but that was never going to be my instrument. My dad played guitar from before I was born. He could have been a success in music probably – talented guy, but he had no confidence to play in a band. He got offered gigs that were high-profile gigs and he wouldn’t take them. He didn’t understand why anybody would want him in their band. He just didn’t have any confidence and he was a great player. I got hooked on drums early – same old story – pots and pans and anything I could hit. And my parent just had me into music real hard, right out of the chute. It was LED ZEPPELIN, THE EAGLES and EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, I was listening to everything and I had diversity when my dad would have me listening to FRANK ZAPPA and GROVER WASHINGTON and STANLEY CLARKE. Then my mother would have me listening to THE RASPBERRIES and some other horrible shit. I had diversity everywhere. When I brought KISS home, the only way my dad would buy me a KISS record was if I owned an EARTH, WIND, and FIRE record too. And I had to almost listen to them equally. It was just that kind of thing.

KNAC.COM: You’ve kind of hit on this already, but once this tour wraps, what’s in store for SEVENDUST in the immediate future?

ROSE: There could be a short little acoustic run. We talked about maybe getting together and doing a record in the first quarter of the year and just shelving it. We’re kinda in a mode right now so the writing process is usually pretty quick for us. I think that we will be out next year.

KNAC.COM: Hopefully a very long time from now, but once SEVENDUST has run it’s course what are your plans?

ROSE: Now I work as an A&R guy for a record company and that takes up all the time. The way that I’m involved in that is deep. The president of the label hired me on to find talent and to sign it. I think the thing that he really instilled in me or he expected out of me was that – I’m a musician, I have been out on the road as much as anybody. I can relate to the bands. After thinking about it, I thought that this is something that is going to make for a better relationship between band and label. One thing we always had a problem with was that we could be out doing five in a row, have a day off and then four in a row and it’s nine out of ten days and we’re cooked and they look at it like - quit your bitching. And we look at it like – come out here and try it. Come out here, get in a bus and sleep in a coffin, and get no sleep, and beat your body up for nine out of the ten days and just tell me how you feel. We are blessed to be doing this and we are happy to be doing this and we are lucky to be doing this, but there is a cost. We miss our kids. We miss our women. We miss our families and we beat the shit out of ourselves. So when we are done with doing a tour it takes some time to get back to normal. The people at the label and the people in the industry that are just working with you, they don’t understand that. They don’t know what it’s like to come out here and do that grind. Just like I don’t know what it’s like to sit in an office and be behind a desk and be bored shitless....

KNAC.COM: It sucks, let me tell you.

ROSE: (laughs) I wouldn’t want to trade places with anybody. I am happy to be doing what I am doing. But they can’t relate. When you have an exhausted, angry, young artist that has not made a bunch of money that is out there realizing his money is going elsewhere, you need to let him know – listen there is light at the end of the tunnel. I understand what you’re going through and he can look at me and go “yea…he knows, he’s been there.” So it’s worked out great. That’s probably what I’m gonna do.

Be sure and catch SEVENDUST on one of their remaing dates!

  • 8.02 - Gig It Music Festival w/ TRAPT, 10 YEARS - Morristown, TN
  • 8.05 - The Machine Shop - Flint, MI
  • 8.06 - Wooly’s w/ GEMINI SYNDROME - Des Moines, IA
  • 8.08 - Bourbon Theatre w/ GEMINI SYNDROME - Lincoln, NE
  • 8.09 - Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground - Sturgis, SD
  • 8.10 - City Auditorium w/ GEMINI SYNDROME - Minot, ND
  • 8.11 - The Venue w/ GEMINI SYNDROME - Fargo, ND
  • 8.14 - Freakster's Road House - Pontiac, IL
  • 8.15 - Pepsi Pavilion - Waterloo, IA
  • 8.16 - Missouri State Fair - Sedalia, MO
  • 8.17 - The Cotillion Ballroom - Wichita, KS
  • 8.19 - Cain’s Ballroom - Tulsa, OK
  • 8.21 - La Crosse Center - South Hall - La Crosse, WI
  • 8.22 - The Shack Event Center - Fond Du Lac, WI
  • 8.23 - Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Sioux City, IA

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