Sometimes, one missed opportunity can open doors to many undreamed of possibilities. When Sevendust’s former label missed its option to renew the group’s contract due to a technical oversight, the Gold-selling, wildly popular metal band were free to walk away without so much as a formal goodbye from what had become an unsatisfactory relationship. “When we started with that label in 1997 they were perfect for us,” explains drummer Morgan Rose. “We were an unknown band playing a style of music that was far from being accepted at that point – commercially or otherwise. Bands like Shadows Fall, Lamb of God and Disturbed were not yet signed, so there really weren’t a lot of bands for us to tour with. Our label allowed us to go on the road, play live and build our following that way.”
Towards the release of Sevendust’s third record, Animosity, the band’s interactions with the label began to turn sour. “They got a lot more involved than we cared for, on many levels, and we gave in a little bit on our musical integrity, which is something that I hate to admit,” Rose remembers. “Then we recorded a demo of twelve songs and they basically didn’t like any of it, because it was much heavier.” According to Rose, the final straw came when label executives suggested that the members of Sevendust, “go buy records by The Strokes and The White Stripes and see if you can incorporate some of that sound into your band. We thought we would have to fight them, but then they accidentally missed the cut off date for renewing our option, which is something they didn’t want to do.” Morgan admits it was the best thing that could have happened to the band at that time.
“We got a clean slate to do whatever we wanted,” he says, “but we didn’t know if we were going to be an attractive signing. Happily there were a lot of people that wanted to sign us.” Out of a dozen offers, Sevendust chose to sign with the indie label, Underneath (distributed through Universal) in a deal that also grants the group its own imprint. “They gave us back the creative control that we had been missing for a while,” says Rose. “It worked out really well in that respect.” The drummer also co-produced Sevendust’s fifth and latest CD, Next. Metal Edge spoke to Morgan on the eve of the kick off date for the band’s current tour.
Metal Edge: Your bass drum patterns are such a signature part of Sevendust’s sound. With the speed and precision that you have why not go to a double kick set up?
Morgan Rose: I’ve used a double pedal for years, but it’s much easier for me to play with two kick drums than it is to play with the single kick and the slave pedal. You never quite get the same feel or the same sound out of a double pedal. I’ve thought about [going back to a double kick] for a while but then other players started coming out with them again and I thought everybody would think I was just following a trend. So I’ve been sitting tight with it, but maybe I’ll come out with something crazy on the next record.
Metal Edge: You’ve said that you don’t practice or rehearse at all before you record an album. Why is that?
Morgan Rose: I find it a little bit exciting to go in completely cold, not have my mind made up that I’m going to really do anything in particular, and just start going through the songs. I know the song, I’ve listened to it a hundred times and I helped write it, so I know how it goes. It’s just a matter of me sitting down and playing what feels right. Also, we tour so much that when I get home I make sure that there’s no drums anywhere in a ten mile radius of the house. We live near a music store and I made sure that I can move further away from it if I don’t want to be anywhere near it (laughs).
Metal Edge: You’re a great visual drummer. Which players have influenced the showmanship aspect of your playing?
Morgan Rose: When I was younger, I saw this Frank Zappa concert movie called Baby Snakes that was it: I was mesmerized by Terry Bozzio. I started following him through his playing in UK and Missing Persons and I thought he was like a chameleon that could really adapt to anything. He’s so unbelievable at every aspect of what he does. He’s got a swagger about him when he plays and it looks like his movements are done, obviously, because he feels that way. That’s his personality on stage and that’s his personality when he’s playing.
Metal Edge: You often cite Stewart Copeland as a major drumming inspiration. How does his influence show up in your drumming?
Morgan Rose: I’m a big Stewart Copeland fan even though our styles are not really alike at all. Earlier in our career I would try to emulate some of his movement on the hi-hat stuff that he does, but overall I just enjoy the way that he plays drums. The Police, to me, was an unbelievable band and even the stuff that Copeland did with Oysterhead is amazing.
Drums: Pearl Masterworks
Sizes: 10” & 12” Rack Toms; 14” & 16” Floor Toms, 20” Kick Drum, 6” & 8” Mini Toms, 14” Ultracast Snare and 10” Steele Side Snare. Assorted Toca percussion; D Drum triggers
This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.