Originally created 03/16/04

Sevendust sings angst but tries to stay happy



In the music world, Atlanta might be best known for its rap, but the city that brought us OutKast and Goodie Mob has also given us the Black Crowes, the Indigo Girls and Travis Tritt.

Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, which is another huge nonrap Atlanta act, grew up listening to all of it.

"I was always brought up on everything. I listened to country music, growing up on the farm," Mr. Witherspoon said. "My upbringing was R&B, country, rock, everything."

Wait a second, the farm?

"Yeah. My family's still got horses and stuff out there," he said.

The Sevendust singer says he hasn't seen too many raised eyebrows about a black guy from Atlanta fronting a band that plays rock so heavy it helped give birth to the term "nu metal."

"It was never anything that was weird to me. I don't have any room for ignorance," he said of critics. "Anything that's beautiful and has compassion, I like. And after they see the energy and passion I have for music, they're OK."

It didn't hurt that Jimi Hendrix and Living Colour paved the way, but Sevendust has taken the music to harder, heavier places, without forgetting a little thing called melody when it comes to the chorus.

Who would have thought the Sevendust members, whose songs deal with such light, happy subjects as angst, anguish and twisted psyches, could be just a bunch of nice guys? There aren't even any feuds with other heavy rock bands or rap-rockers, Mr. Witherspoon said.

"We pretty much get along with everyone," he said. "Just do your music and we'll do ours. There's too many good things in the world going on than to be mad at someone."

As to friends he wishes he had made, the singer said Hendrix is the one artist he would have loved to play with, if, you know, the laws of death weren't so rigid.

"Man, we would do a gooooood song," Mr. Witherspoon said. "It'd be rockin'."