Guitarist Clint Lowery is laying it all out there.
Perhaps best known for his contributions to alt-metal outfit Sevendust, Lowery has played with and written music under a number of different banners, including Dark New Day, Seether, and Korn. Additionally, he’s put out a solo EP under the moniker Hello Demons Meet Skeletons and worked with Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose on a project named Call Me No One.
After 30 years making music, he’s finally putting out the first Clint Lowery album. The stars have aligned in the veteran guitarist’s life and career, making it the right time to finally pull that particular trigger.
God Bless The Renegades tells the story of Lowery’s journey: through life, through his career, in relationships, and out of a hell of his own making. The lead single, “Kings,” sums it up simply: “I’ve been through hell just for this. I’ve had my say, I found my way.”
Clint Lowery’s solo album is just the most recent step in his legacy. It’s worth an earnest listen from anyone who loves Sevendust, good music in general, and incredible tales of redemption. He got on the phone with me for a candid chat about music, life, death, and what the future holds.
Kevin Tall: Cleetus!
Clint Lowery: What’s going down?
KT: Not much man, how you been?
CL: I’m good, how are you doin’?
KT: I’m doing great. Thanks for making some time for me today, man. I really appreciate it.
CL: Aww, man, no worries brother.
KT: It was great to see you and the Sevendust boys back in February in Tampa. Well, actually I guess it St. Pete, I guess. But you killed it, as always.
CL: That’s always a great show, man.
KT: Jannus Live is a great venue, so when you got a great band and a great venue it’s always going to be a great show.
CL: Yeah man, for sure.
KT: So, I have to ask. Did you guys eat the pulled pork I made or did Morgan pitch it in the dumpster when my back was turned because some weird guy you haven’t seen in over a decade showed up with barbecue?
CL: Dude I have to be honest, I have no idea. I can’t remember that.
KT: Alright, I figured that was kind of a shot in the dark; I don’t even remember what I had for breakfast today, so all good man. The best part about being the editor is that I can delete this entire little bit.
[Editor’s note: we’re leaving it in!]
CL: Chances are someone ate it.
KT: Fair enough, fair enough. So getting down to business, you’ve been involved with so many projects and put out music under several different banners: Sevendust & Dark New Day to Call Me No One & Hello Demons Meet Skeletons — which, itself, was a solo project. What made this the right time in your life and career to put your name on it?
CL: You know, it’s just about balancing in between the Sevendust thing. Figuring out the right material was a tough challenge. But, I mean, ultimately, it was one of those things where, like, after every Sevendust record, in between each cycle, I would always want to do something because I just didn’t want to sit for two years and not write or not record.
But it seemed right because, just where I’m at in my life, I felt like if I don’t do this now, it’s going to be one of those things to slip away.
I recorded a couple songs and presented them to Rise — we had a new label — and it just seemed like, because they were in place, I’m like, ‘I’m just going to play these songs and see if they want to release it.’ They got really behind it and they were excited about it and thought it was a cool thing to do in between the Sevendust cycle. So it just all kind of just lined up, you know? I had written a couple of songs that I really I thought could be cool to do and it just seemed like the right time.
The last 10 years I’ve been trying to do this. I did other things, but, this, under my name, was kind of a hard… I knew putting my name on it was going to be a very vulnerable but liberating thing.
KT: Yeah, that’s something you can’t really walk back. It’s out there.
CL: Yeah, it’s there. Good or bad, it’s where I’m at, so here we are.
KT: So you’ve worked with Elvis Baskette before.
CL: I did on the Sevendust ‘All I See is War’ record. I knew him a little bit through mutual friends and I was a real big fan of what he did, all of his earlier Chevelle records. He was on my radar for a long time. I just always liked what he did, especially when he got hold of the Alter Bridge records. I just thought sonically he was the only guy — outside of Ben Grosse who did Animosity — I thought Elvis is the guy we need for the Sevendust sound. He gets it, what we’re trying to do.
KT: I know he’s worked with a lot of familiar faces with Alter Bridge and Tremonti and all those guys, so I figured it kind of felt like a natural choice after doing the ‘All I See is War’ album.
CL: Yeah, we just got to know him. I had interviewed with a couple different producers, I say interview; I had talked about doing it with a few different people but it kind of came back to Elvis. I was very comfortable with him already so he just seemed like the perfect fit.
KT: The first single, ‘Kings,’ shines a light on some crazy, transformative times for you and celebrates surviving your old lifestyle, essentially. What do you hope fans take away from you telling that story?
CL: I think anyone can relate to someone who fell apart and tried to pull their life back together. It’s a story that’s been told a million times in a million different ways. So automatically I think anyone that’s kind of in a bad place can see that. You know, I was as bad as it gets. I was a very much deep chronic alcoholic drug addict and to bounce out of that, not only to bounce out of that but stay productive and have a family. I guess it’s more that the takeaway is if I can do it, anyone can do it. It doesn’t have to be releasing music, it can be anything. Any dark place you want to escape from. People do it all the time. The lie that people get told that you can’t change, that’s a complete lie. We all can change, it just takes work.
KT: It definitely serves as something of a cautionary tale, especially given that it’s immediately followed up by ‘Alive’ and some of the lyrics that you get into there. Thematically, what’s the overall message behind ‘God Bless The Renegades’ as an album?
CL: As an album, it’s more of a self awareness record for me. I’m not immune to the narcissism and self absorption that we all have as people. You know the social media world and the things that we validate, how we validate ourselves as people through those social networks. It’s just kind of owning that part and recognizing it and questioning it.
In terms of relationships, there’s a few songs that kind of talk about people who put you through tough times. You can have love and admiration for people and then they can do very hurtful things. They can help you and lift you up or they can hurt you a lot.
There’s always that, I’ve watched that. Some of those are about the band dynamics. I wrote a couple songs about the Sevendust relationships. We are as close as it gets in that marriage, but there’s ups and downs. The songs are a good way to talk about it. One of the songs is about my experience with Seether, they’re all kind of these relationships that happened. Some were good, some were bad.
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This incredible human being celebrates 12 years of sobriety today. To say I’m proud of him, is an understatement. He’s an amazing player, song writer, singer, band mate, brother, and most importantly an amazing husband and father. He’s my boy. And although you might think I’m biased? I think he’s a Fkn legend. Wait till you hear his solo record!! Love you so much buddy boy. ❤️????????. @clintloweryofficial
KT: You recently celebrated 12 years of sobriety. First of all, congratulations.
CL: Thank you very much, I appreciate that.
KT: Looking back on your life leading up to that point, do your crazy, old days ever seem surreal?
CL: Yeah, the whole thing with Korn, that was my last hoorah. I had an actual opportunity to go play with them and I had started to pull my life back together, but it was too early and I went out there and really fell apart, which was crazy because it was such a great opportunity at the time. But it was a learning experience.
Those guys ended up ultimately probably saving my life by sending me home. I was getting arrested, I was binge drinking, I had a lot of personal issues going on.
So some of those things, when I got arrested in Slovakia, it doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem like I’m the same person. And I’m not. Looking back again, it’s one of those things where I’m kind of glad it happened because it just needed to happen to pull my life together. I had that white flag up, surrendering. That all seems surreal, it seems like a totally different person.
KT: This might not be the most delicate way to ask this question, but do you see any irony between Brian Welch leaving Korn to focus and get his life together and Korn ultimately being the band that helped you do that by sending you home?
CL: I think there’s a tremendous amount of poetic justice to all that. I’ve had some recent conversations with Head, I asked him about his book and how he wrote it and I was getting advice from him; that’s something I would like to do one day. He is just a great human being. When I was doing the stint with them, I knew they were limping without him. He was a huge part of the band, the dynamic, and anyone that was ever in that position, it was crazy to think that he wasn’t going to come back. It was just something about their chemistry and vibe, no one was going to be able to do it. To have a couple of guys go into that position that had a hard time and then him finding himself again to come back and be proper. I went back to Sevendust after healing and getting my life back together. So we both kind of re-entered our own bands kind of self-improved and self-repaired. There’s a lot of parallels with that. I’m so glad he’s back in the band.
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Sitting and waiting for release of my first official solo record “God bless the renegades” Jan 31. Can’t wait to play these songs live on the @officialalterbridge tour. #kings #alive #godblesstherenegades #35mm photo: @ashleyosborn @riserecords #ghostwriter ClintLowery.net
KT: I actually got the opportunity to meet him at an industry event about a year ago. Obviously, I had never been around him in the past, but it was weird to hear all these stories and then just see this totally collected, put-together dude who’s just at peace in life.
CL: Yeah, he seems very comfortable.
KT: Speaking of crazy, old days — this is something I spoke with LJ about last year — it’s hard to believe it’s been more than two decades since Lynn Strait died. In a few weeks, it’ll be 21 years.
CL: That is unbelievable. I had no idea it was that long.
KT: It’s just one of those things where you stop and think, and it’s like ‘Wow.’ For me there is this weird connection or parallel, maybe it’s just in my head, I don’t know, but hearing ‘Angel’s Son’ for the first time, I thought it was really the first opportunity your vocals got the chance to shine through and get a bit of the spotlight and now we’re talking about, 20 years later, the first Clint Lowery album.
CL: Yeah, I remember back then people were just kind of confused because they just assumed it was all Lajon. And it’s still one of those things where people are like ‘What? Who is that and why is he singing all of a sudden?’ I think that’s one of the bonuses to our band, there’s a couple of guys in the band that can sing as well. It gives more textures and more things to listen to. It takes a little pressure off Lajon having to sing every single thing all the time. So, it was. I remember being a little resentful back then because no one even acknowledged it, and it was a song that I wrote a good part of, you know? But it was good. Just to have that opportunity to sing a little bit of line. It was only because Lajon was doing the verses, and he did it kind of spur of the moment, the verse parts, and he didn’t sing on the pre-chorus, so I did. It was just one of those things that happened naturally. Then we would say, ‘This is a niche. This is something we can do from now on.’ And we started doing it.
KT: Do you think that had any affect on your development as a solo artist and just kind of where you are today?
CL: It did. It was a huge confidence builder. I went on and did ‘Xmas Day’ and things like that. I always sang, I’ve always been a background vocalist. It was one of those things where it was a huge shift in my confidence, you know ‘I can actually do this.’ I have a certain sound, and I’m going to develop it. Over 20 years it has been that situation. You just start becoming better at it and better at it and finding my own voice, you know? Lajon has got such a special thing, and I got my own thing. It’s two different things, but I tremendously respect Lajon and how he does it, how consistent he is with it. So I learned. It’s definitely a different craft.
KT: We’re looking at January 31 for the release date if I’m correct. As it’s progressing and you’re doing press and everything is coming together, where is your mind at on the project?
CL: I’m just kind of kicking back. I feel like we did a good record, and I feel like the process so far has been a success. Being able to do this, I don’t have any expectation on this. I want it to do great, I want it to do so well that it’s hard to go back to Sevendust. Not hard because it’s physically hard to go do it, I just want it to get some legs, and I want people to like and enjoy it and want to see it live. But at the same time, I will have to go back and do the Sevendust stuff. I’m just very excited it’s coming out. I’m excited that people are digging on it. I’m anxious to get the whole thing out and play it live. I think that’s what’s really going to sell it or make or break it, the live show.
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Well day 2 of rehearsal with these monster players. Felt and sounded solid today. One more and we head to @shiprocked and @officialalterbridge tour!! One week from release. Over whelmed with gratitude. @ryanbennett_drums @jonjourdan @patseals – thanks @timothysonoftimothy for hosting. #CLsolo @chuckbrueckmann for pic and everything else!! Team of great people. #godblesstherenegades
KT: Well that takes care of my next question, so instead of asking if you plan on putting together a band to hit the road and support it, I guess I’ll ask who would you look for as far as piecing together an ensemble to play your album live?
CL: I’m going to use Ryan Bennett, he played drums on Tremonti’s last solo tour. I’ve known him a long time, he played in my brother’s band Eye Empire, he’s just a great drummer. And then I have Jon Jourdan from this band To Whom It May. He’s a singer and guitar player for that band, which is incredible. He is like the secret weapon. I think we’re going to do really good work together. And then talks about getting a bass player. We were going to just run track and be a three piece with maybe him or I playing bass on a couple of songs, but I think we’re going to get a bass player too now. I’m not sure who that will be, but we will be announcing that pretty soon.
[Editor’s note: Pat Seals (formerly of Flyleaf) has been brought on to play bass in the time since this interview took place.]
KT: Well, what’s Corey up to these days?
CL: He’s with Seether, man. I don’t talk to Corey as much as I was talking to him, but he’s doing great, he’s doing Seether. I think they’re going to record a record soon, and I think he’s going to produce and engineer that. He’s busy busy. He’s a guitar player now.
KT: Looking at the horizon, where do you go from here?
CL: I try to just stay in the moment, where I go from now, just supporting this record doing the best job I can for whoever is seeing it live. I want to continue working with bands outside of Sevendust. I love writing with bands and producing. I just want to continue building this and eventually put out my own memoir and just kind of expand and maybe pass on some positive messages along the way.
KT: I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. It was great to catch up with you and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.
CL: Thank you my brother. I appreciate it.