Supergroup Projected, is making waves in the music industry with their second studio album titled Ignite My Insanity, which is a double album featuring 21 tracks and was released July 2017. Founded in 2012 by Sevendust guitarist John Connolly, this all star line-up includes bassist Vinnie Hornsby (Sevendust), drummer Scott Phillips (Creed) and guitarist Eric Friedman (Tremonti). The juxtaposition of talent creates a prodigious musical experience.
Lead vocalist & guitarist John Connolly’s enthusiasm shines through his voice as he shares his thoughts about the driving force behind as well as the inspiration, for starting something new. “Sevendust had taken a year off back in 2006 and again in 2012 so that is when Projected came to be,” Says Connolly. “You’ve got to give yourself a break sometimes and give the fans a break too and it allowed for time with family and to try other things. It’s important to unplug every now and again so you don’t get burnt out and it also gives everyone a chance to pursue other music ventures.”
“When Projected came out with the second album, Ignite My Insanity, in July, we took our time introducing everyone to the record and wanted to give them a chance to wrap their heads around it. First, we released a video and a couple of songs along the way. We knew it was a lot to take in and it would take time for people to accept the new music. I am loving the response we have been getting so far” Connolly enthuses. “When Lajon sang on the first Projected record, a lot of the fans were confused and wondering if Sevendust was done but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. It was just a chance for us to do something different. The writing is just like fishing for many things. You don’t know what you are going to do or what you are going to catch or when. I don’t typically sit down and write a power ballad or the heaviest song imaginable. I just grab a guitar and whatever comes to mind is what I follow. Everyone has their strengths but the big question for this was whether or not we could pull it off. So, we hit the studio and made the first record with our fingers crossed,” Connolly explains. “We had no intention of taking five years to put out another record but that is just the nature of the band because we all have our main groups we are part of. So, we determined it was time to hit the reset button because I knew what we were doing with Sevendust and with Projected, there was this big question mark of what we were doing. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to audition a bunch of musicians for this group. Scott Phillips had been a friend of mine from the Creed days and we live really close to each other so I asked him to listen to the demo and he was into it and it worked out for Vinnie and Eric too so we hit the studio to make our first record Human, in 2012.”
When it comes to writing with Projected vs Sevendust, it’s very similar according to Connolly. “We just try different things and see what happens. I think the genesis of where most of the ideas come from with Sevendust is that it starts with simplicity but when you actually get it built and you sit down, the lyrics are very strong. We all have a lot of ideas and contribute a lot to the melodies. Lajon is our secret weapon because he can basically pull of anything that we write. You know it is going to get tossed around and sliced and diced but that is just part of the process. You have to be very open to your ideas being torn apart and I love the process with both groups.” Connolly says. “I know if I am feeling it at 70% or 80% and Projected allows me more leeway to have the space to be as creative as I want to be. I do my best not to overthink it and to act instinctively. The best advice I can give is to just react when you are writing because the first reaction is most always the correct one. Most bands take 7-8 years to perfect their sound and I feel like we have done just that.
Connolly began playing the drums at the age of 13 and immediately knew he was being transformed into what he needed to be and needed to do. Later, he enrolled at the University of Georgia, as a music performance major. He knew he wanted to perform and just play music not realizing college life was more geared towards parties and football. His focus was more on education and the two years he was there were inspiring but didn’t quite push him enough so he switched to Georgia State. “I didn’t need to be the best and ended up being the worst but it was all about raising my skills. Being in the environment was just as important as learning because it allowed me to absorb as much as I could. Everyone thinks I was a drum major,” laughs Connolly. “I ended up taking a lot of piano and theory classes which taught me how to sight read music.”
In 1998, Connolly started a new band called Piece Dogs as the drummer but, the band didn’t last very long. Connolly had just began learning to play guitar a little bit when they disbanded in the early 1990’s. “It was such an important band to me because it taught me a lot. I think the biggest frustration was just as much as I love playing drums, I love writing songs. I found out a lot later in the game that songwriting was what really drove me–as much as I loved to play the drums. Without grabbing the guitar, people kind of walk through it and then throw lyrics and melodies. It was just a different thing for me, it was just a different band than Sevendust. We really didn’t have a specific sound and it was hard for us to convince people about what we were doing. The biggest thing for me was the transformation from being just a drummer to being able to write songs and that has to have been the biggest thing for me.”
When he joined Sevendust, Connolly was living in the same apartment complex as drummer Morgan Rose so after the Piece Dogs went south, they began working on demos. “The song Black, is the first song I had ever written,” Connolly says. “I had my little four track out and my little Marshall amp along with a drum machine. I had no idea what I was doing but I began messing around and Morgan told me we had to take that song to the studio and record it. It was one of those things where he just heard the song and reacted. Originally, the thought was that I would sing and play guitar but I wasn’t really ready to take that step. Playing guitar was already out of my comfort zone so it began with baby steps and next thing I knew, 25 years had past.”
“Projected is a huge part of my life but it’s only a piece of my life. It is also a piece of everyone else involved,” Connolly says. “It is another chance for me to work with a different group of guys and I also enjoy the downtime when I can be with my family and rest my head in my own bed. A lot of musicians take the down time for granted but it is something that is important to do sometimes to keep your sanity. I just keep on doing what I do and things always seem to fall into place.”
As the hour dictates the close of the time we’ve spent with Connolly, he makes it a point to mention it is imperative not to sweat the small stuff and he reiterates his earlier point of not letting yourself over think when it comes to the creative process.