While John Connolly may best be known for his blistering guitar playing in Sevendust, the musician also fronts the periodic supergroup, Projected. With the lineup comprised of John and Vinnie Hornsby of Sevendust, Scott Phillips of Alter Bridge and Eric Friedman of Tremonti, the quartet have released an album every five years since 2012. Making 2022 the year for their third installment entitled ‘Hypoxia’, set for release June 24th via Rat Pak Records. In advance of its release, John recently sat down with Metal Wani’s Carl Rourke to discuss ‘Hypoxia’, and all things Projected in depth.
When discussing whether or not there is a shift that takes place stepping out of Sevendust and into the role of lead vocalist in Projected, John shared,
“They feel more harmonious than they ever have. [Laughs]” John went on to say, “I’ve sat behind Lajon (Witherspoon, Sevendust) for a few decades so, you know, being able to sing is one thing. But being confident enough to do it and sell it is another thing.”
“I think this one, the biggest thing for me was, I mean, I’ve been in the vocal booth a million times with Elvis (Baskette, Producer) as a backup singer. But I’ve never been under the microscope as a lead singer, and it was an awesome experience. Because it was like, this is the first time I’m gonna get produced! [Laughs] You know what I mean? Like, for me to say that I’ve produced myself is like, I’ve engineered myself, you know? I know that there’s a certain amount of production that goes into the thought process and what I wanna do where, but when you can take that hat off completely and let the producer just be the producer, it’s a pretty cool spot to be in.”
“Because there were a lot of things that, I’ve gotta be honest with you, he would suggest it and I would be like, that’s never gonna work! [Laughs] I’d just be laughing and he’d be like, trust me! And I would do it, and all of a sudden it would be like, alright, wait a minute. There’s something cool here! So there were a lot of stones that I probably wouldn’t have turned over just from lack of experience, lack of confidence, you know? A lot of things I’d be like, no, I’m not good enough to try that. And I would do it and I’d be like, I could probably do one better, and then I’d do one. I think that whole part of the process of just being in the hot seat with the producer, I think it paid dividends.”
Lyrically, the tracks on ‘Hypoxia’ explore the album’s subject matter thoroughly, with multiple songs tackling the same topics from different angles. John shared some of the experiences that influenced the lyrical content across the record.
“Someone asked me the other day, ‘what is Stain about?’, and I was like, well Stain is about the opposite of Hypoxia. [Laughs] Looking at how far we’ve taken the whole of social media and just, you know, we’re in such a weird place as a species. The shortest little things can set people off and you watch people just completely trash relationships. And these are family members that are getting upset over Facebook posts! And I’m like, your blocking your cousin, or your aunt, or uncle, or your mom or your dad, or whatever it is. But with Stain it was sort of like if I can fix it, I mean, I don’t know how to fix it, but just the hope in the fact that I think acknowledging the problem is sort of half the battle. I think it’s up to us to solve it. It’s up to us to fix it no matter what situation we get ourselves in, we’re the ones who hold the keys to whether we can survive it or not.”
“Those songs definitely play off each other a lot, you know? It’s like, alright, it’s bad, but there’s hope. There’s always hope.”
With each member of Projected being involved in other bands, syncing up to a touring schedule can prove to be challenging. John talked about how pulling double duty (Projected member/members playing two shows in one night) could be the only solution to this for now, and about the practical challenges attached to that.
“Just durability. I mean, in all honesty, I have to get my head wrapped around it. I told Tim, our manager, I’m like, I’ll take anything that I can get and I will be more than happy to do the double duty, but you can’t drop it on a week’s notice. Because you have to build up stamina to be able to pull off that stuff. A lot of people are like, ‘why doesn’t Sevendust play a three-hour show?’ [Laughs] and I’m like, it may not be the most, like, it’s not Journey. It’s not acrobatic vocals, but they’re demanding. The delivery and how we deliver that type of music is demanding and Projected is very, very similar.”
“So, the biggest concern for me is you could throw me one hundred and I could probably play guitar all day long, but how long will the voice last? So it’s just something that you have to be conscious about. If I do double duty, I can’t go back. I can’t sing and then sing fifteen minutes after I get off the stage. You’ve gotta space it out enough where you can get a little bit of a break. And the same thing with guitar and drums, you know? It’s like, you wouldn’t wanna get up there and not give one hundred percent. So you sort of have to figure out. okay, what’s doable here.”
“If I’m opening and doing a headline set, that’s like two hours of singing a night. And I’m totally down for the challenge! [Laughs]”