Music as the Falcons' secret weapon
The Atlanta Falcons sit perched atop the NFC, thanks in large part to their unblemished home record. Atlanta is 6-0 at the Georgia Dome with home games against New Orleans on Monday night and Carolina in Week 17 remaining.
Opposing teams obviously must cope with Atlanta's offensive stars Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White, but also a crowd worked into a frenzy by the hard-rock Falcons anthem sung by Atlanta-based Sevendust.
For lead singer Lajon Witherspoon, the decision to record a Falcons team song was a no-brainer and an honor. And he's quick to point out, the team hasn't lost since the song was played at a game.
"We can't take the credit," Witherspoon said. "But it's cool to think our song helps in some way in either motivating players or getting the crowd pumped up."
Sevendust is enjoying a rare break before heading back out on the road next month with Korn and Disturbed on the Monster Energy Music As A Weapon 5 Tour. The two-month layoff has allowed Witherspoon the chance to watch Falcons games with friends and family. Earlier this week, he took some time to talk with The Life about his love for his home team and the franchise's latest musical contribution.
The Life: I know you guys are from Atlanta, but how did "Falcons On Top" all come about?
Witherspoon: I have a friend, Edsel, who is the singer for a band called Dope. He had me come up to do a song for the National Hot Rod Association -- NHRA -- and it actually went down real quick. Edsel was already doing some work on a Falcons song and asked if I'd listen to it and maybe give it a shot. He was like, "We had one guy lay it down, and we want to see what you can do with it." They let me change it around a little bit, but it went down so easy being from Atlanta, A-town, being comfortable with it and making it fun. I didn't know what to expect, but I got a call month later and they really liked the song. We put some Sevendust touch on it. We had a day off on tour in Chicago, rewrote it, recorded it, mixed it all together, and the next thing you know, it's at the dome, and they haven't lost a game since.
The Life: The last time the Falcons made the Super Bowl, it was all about the Dirty Bird. How do you think your artistic contribution compares?
Witherspoon: You can't get away from the Dirty Bird. I think that's something that is going to always stick. What's funny is while doing the song, I told Edsel that "Falcons On Top" was almost like the Dirty Bird. Last night at dinner actually, a gentleman and his wife were sitting across from us, and they they didn't look like people that would know anything about Sevendust, if you know what I mean. But they came up to me and said they wanted me to know that they really enjoyed my music and love seeing it in the dome. I took a picture with him and his wife, and then a guy at the bar wearing a Falcons hat heard the guy say "Falcons On Top," and he did the same from the bar. It's pretty cool. People that never knew our band are being moved by the Falcons and being on top of the game, and there's just great energy from everyone around here.
The Life: Now, you remember when the Falcons had Deion Sanders in the 1990s and he and MC Hammer made "2 Legit 2 Quit" the unofficial Falcons theme song? You can be honest -- you know the hand movements that go with the song, don't you?
Witherspoon: I think if anybody was a fan of music, they know the moves to "2 Legit 2 Quit." You couldn't get away from MC Hammer.
The Life: Did you have any Hammer pants?
Witherspoon: (Laughs) Let me tell you, I met Deion Sanders years ago, when he came to Atlanta. I was working at a place called Merry-Go-Round at Gwinnett Place Mall; I had every pair from the polka dots to stripes. I met Deion at the Merry-Go-Round probably wearing them. I was a kid right out of high school. I met Andre Rison, a bunch of guys. My dad used to take me to the Atlanta Athletic Club, and you got to see all the players playing basketball. It was cool growing up around here; as a kid, you kind of felt part of the team.
The Life: The Falcons are the top seed in the NFC right now. That's got to be pretty pleasing.
Witherspoon: I honestly felt an incredible energy from these guys and see fire in them. You knew something good was happening this year. It's been incredible to watch this team do what they've done this season. I don't think there's been a game that has been boring. They definitely are in a league of their own. Boring, [but] definitely in a league of their own …
The Life: So it's safe to assume you've got them Super Bowl bound?
Witherspoon: Oh definitely, without a doubt. They have to be. Falcons on top.
The Life: In the video for the song, you're all wearing Falcons jerseys, but you've got a little older model than the other guys.
Witherspoon: That's right. That's my jersey. The other guys got new jerseys for the shoot, but I wore the one I rock every Sunday and Monday. It hangs in the closet behind the door on a special hanger. My wife is like, "You've got to be kidding me." But I'm weird like that.
I'm working on getting tickets to this game against the Saints. I'm waiting on a phone call. I definitely want [to] tailgate outside. We're normally out on the road. This is the first time really that I've been able to be here. A few of the guys are in town so we're definitely going to try and make it. It's been a while since Sevendust had two months off.
The Life: As a Falcons fan, what's it like to see Mike Vick do what he's doing for Philly and the possibility of seeing him in the playoffs?
Witherspoon: Honestly, Mike Vick is an incredible player. Just with anyone going to another team, it happens. I think it's great. I don't think it's anything to be afraid [of]. He'll be coming in real hot, but we got Matt Ryan doing the same thing all season long. It could be a great game, a great matchup.
The Life: The team is undefeated at home. Now is your chance to take some credit …
Witherspoon: We can't take credit, but I feel like if the song helped motivate and helped pump up some people, then I feel really proud and honored.
The Life: Did you play any sports growing up?
Witherspoon: I played football and wrestled for Norcross High School. Wrestling was really going to be my thing, but I ended up really digging music. That was my passion. I took judo for a long time, and I was wrestling over at the high school in the eighth grade. The judo made it really easy for me to throw people. As a matter of fact, I used to hang out with Shelley Poole and was able to work out with him while going to Norcross. It was really awesome. I remember running around the track wanting to one day be a football player like him, but the Lord let me go down a different avenue.
The Life: Who?
Witherspoon: Shelley Poole. You know him.
The Life: I don't think I do. I'll look him up when we're done here.
Witherspoon: Yeah, do that.
Note: And there's a perfectly good reason I didn't remember a Shelley Poole. Poole played one game for the Falcons during the 1987 season. Now, I lived in Atlanta at the time, but I was 5 years old. That, and Poole didn't have a recordable stat besides an appearance.
Matthew Glenesk is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis.