Success is a relative term. For example, by being signed to a major label, Sevendust can ostensibly be deemed more successful than 90 percent of the bands out there. However, by any purely commercial measure, the band’s success has always been of the middling variety.
But it’s safe to say that the band has done OK for itself. For proof of that, one need look only at two facts: Sevendust has produced nine straight gold-selling albums, and (with one small hiatus) they’ve done it while maintaining the same lineup for 20 years.
That level of comfort and stability has afforded Sevendust the freedom that all bands strive for — the chance to follow its own whims. Being a slave to one’s own muse is easy enough when, as TLC once said, “you stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to.” But with “Time Travelers & Bonfires,” Sevendust’s 10th studio album, which was released earlier this year, the band walked off its well-trodden alt-metal path.
“It was kind of an accident,” said guitarist John Connolly of the new album. “A lot of the cooler ideas that we come across in our career are things that we tried but that we never thought would take off.”
So when the idea came up to make “Time Travelers & Bonfires” an acoustic album, the band figured, “Why not?” Stranger things had happened, and the band already had the benefit of knowing that their fans would take to the idea.
“It started when we were touring in support of (2012’s) ‘Black out the Sun,’ ” Connolly explained. “We would go out and do a kind of meet and greet where we’d talk to the crowd a bit, then we played some acoustic songs. That acoustic tour started as a 30- or 35-minute set, then it grew to an hour because we kept adding songs. People would yell songs out from the crowd, and we’d play them.”
From those beginnings, an album grew.
“Time Travelers & Bonfires” is the first acoustic studio album the band has attempted, but Connolly explained that it wasn’t a huge departure for the band to start thinking from an acoustic point of view. Rather, it was more a matter of reverse engineering.
“Most Sevendust songs start out on an acoustic guitar, sitting on the couch,” he said. “So to take it back to that starting point was cool.”
Connolly says “Time Travelers & Bonfires” won’t be a one-off, and the band will most likely do more acoustic work in the future. But for now, it’s back to the amps that fans know and love.
“We were ready for a break (from acoustic),” Connolly admitted. “It’s such a bigger strain on your voice. After three months of doing that long of a set each night, you’re ready for something else.”
However, Connolly adds that “Time Travelers & Bonfires” has not only brought more people into the fold, it’s also helped open Sevendust’s live shows up to people who were already familiar with the band but had never come out to a venue.
“I think we pulled in a lot of fans who’d always been fans, but were intimidated to go to one of the shows,” Connolly agreed. “We’ve got fans who’ve been with us for 20 years, but are like, ‘I don’t want to be in the mosh pit.’ ”
And there’s no doubt that any project that not only brings in a new fan base, but solidifies your existing one, is a success. CV