Sevendust, Morgan Rose Interview – ‘Controlled Chaos’ + The Future

2020-12-08

Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose of Sevendust discusses his new solo album, "Controlled Chaos," in this in-depth interview.

Morgan Rose of Sevendust – Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo

Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose joins Anne Erickson to discuss his debut solo EP, “Controlled Chaos,” the future of rock and metal music and more in this video interview

The members of Sevendust are known for being road warriors, so 2020 was certainly a strange time for them. The Atlanta-based metal band released a new album, “Blood & Stone,” in October, but they haven’t been able to tour at all in support of the new tunes.

Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose used the unexpected downtime to create. With the help of Sevendust band mate Clint Lowery, Rose crafted his first solo set, “Controlled Chaos,” which sees the longtime drummer taking the main microphone and singing lead vocals on every song.

Rose sat down with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio to talk about the experience of releasing his debut solo album, the state of rock and metal music and what else has kept him busy this year. Watch the full interview below via the YouTube player, and read the interview, to boot.

Anne Erickson: Morgan, it’s great to see you. How have you been doing during this wild year?

Morgan Rose: It’s been a really weird year, obviously. But, for the music side of it, being that we were shut off from touring, it gave me an opportunity to jump into some interesting things and do a little solo work. I’ve been doing a lot of production and co-writing and stuff like that. So, I’ve actually been super busy this year, just trying to stay careful and safe and not get sick or get anybody else sick.

Your new solo album just came out, “Controlled Chaos,” and it’s actually your debut solo record. Have you always wanted to do a solo release, or was this a new desire?

It’s totally new. I mean, I never really thought too much about it. I do a lot of writing with Clint (Lowery, Sevendust’s guitarist), and Clint was doing a solo EP after his solo record came out. The idea was that I was going to play on that, and then he decided to go in an electronic direction with more programming. So, I think he was like, “Well, you’re not going to be playing on my solo record. So, I’ll throw you some music ideas, and tell me what you think. If you’re into it, write a bunch of words and play drums and do whatever you want with it.” So, I did a song, and I want to say “Clarity” was the first song that I actually recorded. It came out cool, and I was like, well, I’ll throw it up on my website and kind of giggle about it and say, “Hey, I can sing a little bit, and it’s not just screaming all over the place.” That was the idea. My manager was the one that said, “You’re going to have to send it to Rise Records, because they have the first rights to it.” So, when he did that, they picked it up. Then, I was put into a situation where I had to write a record.

What was it like becoming the lead vocalist? People know you from being a drummer, which is more in the back compared to being the lead vocalist.

The tough part of it was that when I’m doing the vocals for Sevendust, it’s really heavy stuff, and it’s just kind of spotty stuff- a little scream here and there. If my voice has gone, it really almost makes it better. The worse shape my voice is in for Sevendust, the better it sounds. My mindset was, oh, this will be no problem. This is singing. This is much easier. Also, when you’re doing that stuff live, you do it once, and that’s it. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad- you get one shot at it. So, I hadn’t had to go through anything like that, so when we actually went into record the second song, which was weeks later, when I found out I actually had a deal for it, I blew my voice out the first night. It was gone, and it wasn’t even heavy vocals.

I just blew it out, just singing the part over and over to do comps and to make sure that we had it. I just blew it out, and I was panicked. I was like, how do I get my voice back? I’ve never really had this problem. So, I called John (Connolly) and Clint about it, because they’ve done solo records. I said, dude, am I going to lose my voice if I have to finish this? I gained a lot of respect for singers that go in there and sing all day, when they’re working on putting a record together and having to make that right. I definitely gained a whole new respect for them. I used to think they were kind of wimps about it, you know, I gained a lot of respect for them. It was tough.

Was it nerve-racking, releasing your first solo record and doing all the vocals?

Yeah! I’m pleasantly surprised that people really liked the first song. Again, it was so not a big deal to me. It’s like the Internet to me. I’ll get a thought in my mind, and I’ve gotten better at this, but I used to get thoughts in my mind, and I would say something on Twitter, and then, all of a sudden, people are just coming after me, left and right. I’m like, these people don’t even follow me. Like, who are these people? You think that you’re just kind of thinking out loud or thinking to yourself, and really, it’s coming out, and people are hearing it. So, that was the same thing with this record. I was like, I’m just going to do the record for me. No big deal. Then, I was like, wait a minute. There are going to be plenty of people that hate it, because that’s just the way society is these days. If they hated it before, they could hate it in their house. Now they’re going to tell me they hate it on the Internet. So, you’re going to have to deal with the criticism, which really doesn’t bother me at all. I mean, the whole idea, like I said, from the start was, I’m not a singer. I’m a drummer. But, I do write. I write vocals. I write melodies and lyrics and stuff. So, I was able to do it on my own in that aspect, and it is a little nerve-racking, but it is what it is. People will love it. People will hate it. I know that the people that are loyal to this band will appreciate it. I’m sure.

Do you have a favorite song up the new record?

Yeah. “Exhale” is definitely my favorite track, and ironically, there’s no drums on it at all. But, that was the one that really kind of tapped into what I had gone through prior to the pandemic, because I almost died in December. I was really sick, so that particular song meant a lot to me. I didn’t want any drums on it, because I really just kind of wanted to showcase the lyrical content of it more than anything. So, yeah, that’s my favorite.

You got very personal “Exhale,” which I think is something that will really draw people to that song.

Yeah. I did a video for it, too, and the video is super weird. It worked out, too, because there’s no drums, because I didn’t want it to be- I don’t know if I’ll do any other videos. I mean, there’s a bunch of lyric videos for the record, but I don’t think I’m going to do… I don’t want to be out in the front. That’s why I’m back in the back. I try to act like I want to be up in the front while I’m back in the back! So, I don’t know. I don’t want to be that guy. Also, I play drums, and I’m not going to do the singing, drumming thing, that would never happen. I already do enough of that with Sevendust, and I can’t stand that, so that wasn’t ever going to happen. So, this particular song, there was no drums. So, it worked out nice where I was like, okay, I’m going to build this storyline. I came up with the video idea, and I want people to see it. I don’t want to tell them what I meant by it, but it meant a lot to me. The video came out really cool. It’s a little disturbing and strange, but it worked exactly the way I wanted it to.

How difficult would you say it is to make a living as a musician today?

I’m really lucky in the sense that I’m a writer and a producer and a drummer. So, it works out for me to where I really have had no issues. It’s been really busy this year. So, anytime I really want to work, I can get it done. I can get work. I usually call- I have a few people. I run a company called Instant Mix, that we do a few things there, where we do some songwriting master classes and stuff like that. Even with COVID-19, we have them mask up and stick them in a room, and we did one in Ohio last week. But, we had them masked up. Everybody was- we do things where we’ll check temperatures and make sure everybody’s being careful. You’re safer in there than you are in the grocery store. I can promise you that. We do things like that. Prior to COVID, if Sevendust doesn’t work, which is rare, we like to have time off and vacation and go home and spend time with the kids and stuff. But, if there’s ever work needed, we have all kinds of of options of, Hey, I’m available to do some co-writes, or want to do some production, and stuff like that. I also work for a record company on the side, Imagen Records, so I’m super busy. I’ve been one of the lucky ones.

What are your thoughts on the state of rock and metal music? Do you think it’s in a good place?

I mean, there’s so much great music out there. There are bands, even if they’re not brand new- I think that there’s going to be a whole lot of really good music that comes out over the next few years, because I think that everybody had to just, you know, there was no touring. So, I think that it’s going to- I think there’s going to be a ton of great music that comes out of this COVID situation. I think a lot of bands were writing, and tons of writing going on. I’m sure the lyrical content is going to be pretty heavy, because everybody’s a little bit, you know, emotions are all over the place- scared, pissed. You know? I mean, there’s so many different views on the whole thing, as well. Where you have some people that think it’s f***ed up that we’ve been in this lockdown position.

And, I mean, I can tell by just going to different states where you can go to one place, and they’re in the middle of the streets, half-naked, licking each other’s face, and then you go to another place, and you can’t go inside to eat. And, then you go to another place where you can eat outside. I’m in California, it’s the weirdest s*** in the world here. I mean, you can’t go inside and eat here. You can’t go and work out in a gym, but you can go to a bar and sit outside and be this close to each other, hammered drunk, spitting all over each other. I’m like, I don’t get it. I don’t get it. But, I’m not supposed to get it, you know? It’s all different, everywhere. So, I think people’s emotions, depending on geographically where they’ve been, will probably dictate some of that lyrical content, as well. Frustration. It’s been a heavy year for everyone around the world, so it should be pretty exciting.

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