Last updated: February 20. 2013 4:13AM - 622 Views

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Sevendust fans aren??t used to waiting.

The heavy metal band has toured relentlessly since releasing its self-titled debut in 1997. The Atlanta, Ga.-based quintet have produced seven albums since then, but took a break after touring in support of their eighth, ??Cold Day Memory,? to pursue side projects like Call Me No One and Projected. Rumors spread that the band was reaching its end, but as they get ready to release ??Black Out the Sun? on March 26, guitarist John Connolly says the group is stronger than ever.

Local fans will have two opportunities to see Sevendust as they hit the road with Lacuna Coil, so before their shows at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster on Feb. 5 and Crocodile Rock in Allentown on Feb. 8, Connolly talked to The Weekender in his friendly southern accent about the new album, sticking together, and his dream tour.

THE WEEKENDER: In 1994, did you know that you??d be doing this almost 20 years later?

JOHN CONNOLLY: I think when you first get into the business, you consider yourself lucky to even get the shot to do it in the first place. For us to get a record deal and to get any kind of look from anybody in the business, any kind of recognition whatsoever for us was a major achievement, and honestly, if you had told me that we??d be nine records down the road and have a career doing this back then, I??d have probably laughed at you.

Someone posted on my Facebook wall earlier. They posted the first album cover, and I didn??t think anything of it, and then they put ??15 year anniversary? and it hit me. I went, ??Whoa, wait a second. 15 years? How did that happen?? But I??m telling you, we feel so blessed to have so many fans that have gotten us to this point. We??re just that little old band from Atlanta.

W: You still have all the original members in the group. How have you been able to maintain that all these years?

JC: We had (guitarist) Clint (Lowery) step out for a few years, and getting him back was a big deal. We did a lot of soul searching, a lot of talking. We actually talked with Clint for a good year before we ever actually got him back in the band, but yeah, I was talking to someone about that not that long ago. It is kind of crazy when you think ??all original members,? especially in this day and age.

What??s even weirder is when we??ll be out eating lunch somewhere and someone will actually come up and go, ??Holy s--t man, this is everybody in Sevendust actually sitting at the same table having lunch.? And we look around at each other and go, ??Yeah, it is a little strange, isn??t it?? We actually like each other??s company, and trust me, we fight like hell. When you have a relationship that??s been this long, we get on each other??s nerves. It??s not easy. It??s like five brothers ?? like blood brothers ?? in a family. ?I think we just have so much respect and so much love for each other and so much respect for what the fans have enabled this band to do that we don??t ever want to take advantage of it.

W: Out of all nine albums, what album or song are you most proud of personally or what means the most to you?

JC: In all honesty, the new record. Everyone says that, ??This is our best record;? we??ve had a handful of ??best records? along the way. ???Alpha,? I think, was a moment that kind of stuck out. I think ??Animosity? was a moment that stuck out. Doing ??Home? under the conditions that we did, I think, just because of how burned out we were, I think we look at it as a major success, but I think this record in a lot of ways. I think it??s only because we finally said, ??You know what? We??re not going to hire a producer. We??re going to go in and we??re going to do this ourselves, and we??re going to do it fast. And we??re going to do it after a break.? ?We took that hiatus and a lot of people were like, ??Oh, this is the end of Sevendust.? I was like, ??No, this is just a pause. This is for us to get away from each other, just to appreciate the fact that we all love being in this band.?

I think this record is our best work just because it represents every record along the way. People ask me, ??What album does it sound like?? I??m like, ??All of them.? It??s just a newer, more updated version of our entire catalog, and we did it so quickly. I think musically we just hit our stride.

W: Are you going to take your side project Projected on the road after this Sevendust tour, or are you going to concentrate on Sevendust for a while?

JC: Well, it really depends on whether me and (drummer) Morgan (Rose) get our way, because if we have our way, we??re actually going to get a tour where we have Alter Bridge, Sevendust, Call Me No One, Projected, (Creed/Alter Bridge guitarist Mark) Tremonti, and probably throw Eye Empire on and just do a real ??Family Values? tour. Everyone would basically be doing double duty except for (Sevendust singer) Lajon Witherspoon and (Alter Bridge singer/guitarist) Myles (Kennedy).

At some point in time, I think that we??ll be able to put together a package where we could all do this. ?The headlining sets would have to be a little bit shorter, the opening sets would be a little bit longer, and at the end of the day, we??d probably end up singing just about as much as we would during a headlining set anyway. If I have anything to do with it, that tour will happen at some point this year.

Sevendust, Lacuna Coil: Feb. 5, 7 p.m., Chameleon Club (223 N. Water St., Lancaster). $20-$22.

Feb. 8, 7 p.m., Crocodile Rock Café (520 W. Hamilton St., Allentown). $20-22.

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