Clint Lowery's debut as a solo artist has been a long time coming.
In years past, the co-founding Sevendust guitarist has spearheaded several projects beyond his main band but always under monikers that suggest a collective.
Releasing God Bless the Renegades (due January 31 via Rise Records) under his own name is a big step for Clint, who typically deflects credit to his collaborators.
Over 10 tracks, God Bless the Renegades efficiently displays the acute songwriting and arranging abilities Sevendust has enjoyed for so long. Clint's keen sense of melody is apparent from the top, and his fully capable lead vocals will be a revelation to anyone who's only ever seen him as a guitarist/background singer.
"I hope people pull out my distinguishable style," he tells Q104.3 New York's QN'A. "I think what every artist really needs to strive to have is a style. Maybe with this, it’ll give them a more definitive look as to what I like and the choices I make melodically, music-wise."
Clint wrote and recorded Renegades before hitting the studio with Sevendust last year. He said the process brought up questions he'd never had to consider with prior work: what ideas do I leave for Sevendust?
"I was definitely trying to save the best stuff for my [album] because Sevendust has other writers, and I’m not going to [write] the full record over there," Clint explains.
But Renegades didn't come at the expense of Sevendust, he adds. Doing his record in advance energized Clint to dive back into Sevendust and took "pressure off" the band because he walked with a number of nearly-completed songs.
Read the full QN'A below!.
(Photo: Ashley Osborn)
First off, [Sevendust drummer] Morgan Rose was hospitalized in December with an undisclosed illness. How is he now?
He’s good, man. He’s got a couple minor things he’s got to take care of, but he’ll be 100 percent in the next month or so. He’s fine, though, thanks for asking.
It looked a little worse than it really was.
That's good to hear. So about the new record, you've released other 'solo' records before; what prompted you to use your own name this time?
I released a few different projects, and they were very much under-the-radar. I didn’t want to continue that, knowing that this was going to be a label release. I didn’t want to put this under one of those titles because this was an opportunity to put myself out there, put my name out there.
At first I kind of fought with using my name. I just didn’t feel comfortable enough doing it. After talking to a few people, I just kind of realized that it was the right thing to do. For better or for worse, it’ll be under my name. It was just time.
How did you like being the boss?
I’ve been really hands-on with Sevendust for a lot of years, in terms of the creation of the music and some of the business elements. I just like being involved. I guess what made it a lot smoother was just not having the full committee to bounce things off of.
Everyone in Sevendust has an equal voice, and everyone is engaged. So [with God Bless the Renegades] I didn’t have to okay anything with anyone other than my management team and myself. That’s the cool thing — just not having to go through that process.
You have nothing to worry about putting your name on this record; it’s really solid.
Well, I didn’t think my name was cool enough (laughs). But that’s who I am. I feel like, sink or swim, it’ll be on me.
I think it's also an opportunity for Sevendust fans to get a peek at how you work and, if they weren’t already familiar, the types of ideas you bring to the band.
Yeah. I was talking about that with someone the other day. I think a lot of musicians, especially, they’ll be able to listen and think, ‘Oh, that’s what he does! That’s his ingredient in the Sevendust soup.’ And that’s really what I hope people pull out of it.
I hope people pull out my distinguishable style. I think what every artist really needs to strive to have is a style. Maybe with this, it’ll give them a more definitive look as to what I like and the choices I make melodically, music-wise.
You definitely have a fingerprint on your music. If people followed Sevendust with and without you, Dark New Day, Call Me No One or your other solo project, Hello Demons Meet Skeletons, they get probably understand that.
Yeah, I hope people will be a little surprised. ‘Oh, I didn’t know he could sing’ or ‘I didn’t know he could write songs like that.’ It’ll be cool. Most people think [Sevendust front man LaJon Witherspoon] does everything or Morgan, so it’ll be cool [for them] to realize that other people are active, you know.
I bet some people will be surprised that this is vocally-driven solo album, as opposed to a guitar-driven album. Did you know where you wanted this to go musically from the jump or did you just start writing and sort out the material later?
I just started writing. There was a time when I was going to do a power trio with lots of guitar solos and stuff like that. Then I just scaled that back and said, ‘People know me as a guitar player for the most part.’ It was time to make a vocal-driven record, like you said.
There are a couple, I wouldn’t even call them guitar solos — more like guitar events. Maybe the next record, I’ll pull some stuff like that out. This was more geared towards the songs themselves. I didn’t want to take anything away from that.
I didn’t want to try to pull some Zakk Wylde kind of thing, where I play guitar and sing every now and then. I wanted to sing and then use my energy in creating cool layers and ambient guitars. That, to me, is an art in itself.
I think there’s a lot of creativity that I can spend on [layering], rather than shredding up a guitar solo, which I do love. It just wasn’t the place for this record.
You've been in a lot of different musical situations in your career. From being an equal member of a big band, to being a hired gun, to co-writing and producing. Now you're stepping out as a solo artist. Is there something you have your eye on doing next?
This is going to be the biggest challenge: what happens after I go out and play these songs live. We’ll probably determine what that next step will be.
I’m always looking for something to do that I’ve never done before on a production level, on a songwriting level and on a performance level. Maybe this will open up the next door.
I certainly am interested in playing with artists and collaborating with artists that just lift my ceiling a little bit and teach me and expand my horizons a little bit. We’ll see what this first challenge brings.
For some reason I interpreted the song “God Bless the Renegades” as a reference to outlaw country. But you’ve explained it as being more about counterculture you see play out on social media.
Interesting… [Social media] was one element. But, dude, that’s kind of interesting, because there is a little bit of that in it. The whole renegade thing, it’s about the one who’s going against the whole system. I like that you interpret it in a way that’s different from the way most people do. I think that’s cool and that’s what it’s about.
You recorded both this solo record and a Sevendust record last year with producer MIchael "Elvis" Baskette. Where did God Bless the Renegades fall in that timeline?
We recorded my record right before the Sevendust record. There was a month or two in between.
Some of the guys were concerned about me being a little burned out or me not being ready to do a Sevendust album. But having a flow and a chemistry with Elvis really helped me with Sevendust because I already had my creative juices flowing. I was ready to get in there. The process was cool and I was enjoying it a lot.
Me and Elvis didn’t have a really strong connection doing the first Sevendust (album we did together). I was coming off a Seether tour. I was really burned out and I was just not myself. There was a lot of tension in the band, so I didn’t really get to enjoy my experience with him the first time.
Doing my record with him was really the first time I got to know him. So that helped. It helped the Sevendust record and it helped me.
While you were writing your solo album, did you come across any ideas that you saved for Sevendust?
There was a good amount of stuff I ended up using for Sevendust, ‘cause I’d written so many songs for my thing, and there were so many different styles and textures. Elvis actually commented on a few, he was like, "Man, we should use this for Sevendust," knowing that record was next on deck.
So that took a little pressure off the Sevendust writing because I already had these songs that translated into that world.
But I was definitely trying to save the best stuff for my stuff because Sevendust has other writers, and I’m not going to [write] the full record over there.
Did you always have Wolfgang Van Halen in mind to play drums and bass on God Bless the Renegades?
I played bass on about six songs, Wolfie played bass on the other four.
There was a time that I was going to go in and do some demos for this record, but there was some stuff business-wise that kind of fell apart. Everything got put on the backburner, but Wolfie and I reconnected when I was getting ready to do this.
He’s such a great drummer and his musical IQ is off-the-charts. He’s such a good dude.
What's the status of his solo record?
Man, you gotta ask him. It’s awesome, it sounds great. I think he’s just trying to find the right home for it. He’s got a lot of material. Every single song is just crazy good. I’m just excited for him to put it out.
What are you thinking as far as the setlist for this upcoming tour supporting Alter Bridge?
I’m going to do the majority of the stuff that’s on the new record. Then I’m going to pepper in a couple songs from Call Me No One, Sevendust songs like “Xmas Day” or the Dark New Day song “Storm,” where I sing lead vocals.
I’ll kind of move those around. The people that do know what those songs are will get a kick out of it. They creatively work with what I’m doing now. It’s all kind of the same vibe anyways. It’ll be kind of cool to put those in there so the three or four people that do know the songs will be pretty happy to hear them.