With a clothing line and drumsticks that go under the name Alien Freak, one look at Sevendust's Morgan Rose behind the drumkit will give you a good idea where that nickname came from. Playing more like "Animal" from the Muppets, Rose literally pounds the hell out of the drums, braids flying, screaming background vocals with a fury.
Though he regularly wins drumming awards for his playing and appears on numerous "Best Drummer" lists, if you ask him, he sees himself as more of a songwriter. As one of the main songwriters of Sevendust, Rose says his drum work usually suffers in the studio -- something he hopes to change.
"I was writing so much that I wasn't paying attention to the craft that I was put here to do," Rose says by phone from his Atlanta home. "I would know how a song goes because I was writing it over a drum machine, but I never picked up sticks to play it until we went to record. It was a crash course in 'hurry up and get it done.' I'm not going to make anybody think I'm trying to impress anybody but myself, and I'm going to try really hard on this next record to do that."
The band has released seven albums, and you can hear the energy in Rose's voice when the subject comes up -- he's ready to record now that guitarist and songwriter Clint Lowery is back in the mix. Lowery left the band in 2004 to form Dark New Day with his brother, Corey. Lowery was replaced by Snot's Sonny Mayo until this March when Lowery returned.
"He's my woobie," Rose says. "I love that guy and always have. I was very honest when I said that I hated him and couldn't stand what he had done to us and thought that he fucked us. If you asked him if he screwed us over, he'd say, 'You're damn right I did' without hesitation. It wasn't that we didn't like each other or that we weren't musically on the same page. It was just self hurt going on and he had an opportunity to play with his brother, but the timing could have been better. I was terrified that we wouldn't survive it. It made us appreciate everything a lot more and we love having each other back together."
Rose feels the songwriting will improve now that he and Lowery have each gone and done records without the other half. Rose says bringing him back wasn't an easy process, and one that each band member had to agree on. It also had to come at the right time.
"We were a family before and we were gonna be a family again or I wasn't gonna do it," Rose says. "Clint didn't come begging back. He just let it be clear that he loved us and if he got the chance again, he wouldn't blow it. It felt like we were cheating on the guy that came in and covered for the spot for three years. We needed Clint back in the band -- we needed his voice, we needed his songs, we needed his writing. People think we threw Sonny to the curb, but it wasn't like that. Now, he's back working with his old band [Snot]. They're going to tour with Mudvayne. He's back with his family and we got our family back together."
Sevendust is currently touring in support of its seventh album, Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow. An acoustic tour is planned for next year and a new album may drop late next year or early in 2010. Rose says in order to make it more interesting for fans, and themselves, they plan to change up the setlist more on this tour.
"I just realized the other day that we've played 'Waffle' and 'Black' maybe 2,000 times," he says. "The set doesn't need to be any longer -- I'm getting the shit kicked out of me back there. There are people who come and see us and are close to us and know more than two or three songs from each record. I think we could get away with deeper cuts off the records and doing stuff we haven't done in a long time."
Rose says during one show, he was so bored performing "Black" for the umpteenth time that he actually had someone feed him nachos while playing. While that song may be removed from the setlist, Rose adds that any song may jump in the setlist when the band wants to play it. They also plan on reworking "The Past," a song recorded with Chris Daughtry, since Daughtry will not be on tour with them, but the single is on radio.
Rose's drumming style was developed on his own after flunking out of school. He says it's helped him create his own sound, thus contributing to the unique flavor of Sevendust. "We were always too heavy for the Creed people and too mellow for the Slipknot people," he says. "We have loyalty, we just don't have the numbers. Call them fans, but I call them friends. I think we have the best friends we can have."
Sevendust will perform with Taproot at Amos' Southend at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 14. Tickets are $20 in advance and $23 on the day of the show.