John Connelly discusses his work life work life balance between his legendary band Sevendust and Projected. How does he know which band he is writing for? Manage his time and get away? Brock covers all that and a pineapple pizza.


With society consumed by hardline opinions on opposite extremes, neither side of a conversation tends to bend an ear to the other. It sucks the oxygen out of human interaction and leaves us gasping for a healthy breath. Projected explore this social suffocation on their third full-length offering, the aptly titled Hypoxia [Rat Pak Records]. The group—which unites Sevendust’s John Connolly [vocals, guitar], Tremonti’s Eric “Erock” Friedman [guitar], Sevendust’s Vinnie Hornsby [bass], and Alter Bridge/Creed’s Scott Phillips [drums]—artfully address themes of confusion and chaos through a hard-hitting hybrid of magnetic melodies, immersive soundscapes, and intricate instrumentation. Attracting a growing fan base and earning acclaim from Loudwire and more, the band progress through the flames of change once again on these thirteen tracks.
“When the Pandemic happened, everybody was on social media all of the time,” recalls Connolly. “People were going off on each other, and the whole world got crazy. It was 100% Hypoxia. Everyone was talking, and nobody was listening. I had to get off socials for a while because it messes your mood up. You see friends ending relationships over stupid things they said on Facebook. This is where we are. It’s like, ‘Just listen for a second’. Instead of talking, we need to learn the art of listening better. That’s what a lot of this album deals with.”
Dropping their debut Human in 2012, Projected initially emerged as another creative avenue for these longtime friends, collaborators, and musical cohorts. The quartet instantly reacted with listeners as “Watch It Burn” amassed 200K Spotify streams and counting. In between, the members released records and toured the world with their other bands until Connolly brought everyone back together for Projected’s double-disc epic Ignite My Insanity during 2017. Beyond looks from Loudwire, SideStage Magazine, and more, Cryptic Rock awarded it “4-out-of-5 stars,” and Icon Vs. Icon called it, “an album designed to resonate with fans from the member’s original projects and guaranteed to garner new fans along the way.” Projected slipped into slumber once again only to awaken during 2021. This time around, the musicians pared down the vision from the breadth of the preceding double-album—yet they nevertheless maintained the force of their delivery.
“I usually keep 50 or 60 pieces of music in my Dropbox,” notes Connolly. “Instead of working on 20 demos, we worked just as hard on 10. We wanted to see if we could put the time into them and make these the best. I essentially decided, ‘If I have eight hours, maybe I should use this time for one song instead of two’. We knew we had a solid batch of songs and a certain amount of time to make them work.”
For the first time on a Projected record, all of the members recorded in the studio together with producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette [Sevendust, Alter Bridge, Mammoth WVH]. They fed off the face-to-face energy, funneling it into recording.
“Since it was the first experience with everyone in the studio, we wanted to focus,” he goes on. “It’s much cooler when you can be in the same room with a real producer like Elvis. I’m more in tune with this creative process. It’s nice to have the band in there. You don’t have to guess. You play the part, the crew looks, and you keep moving forward.”
Such forward motion defines songs like the first single and title track “Hypoxia.” The guttural riff cuts through a haze of electronics as Connolly screams, “You’re wasting all my oxygen.” It spirals off into a hammering hook.
“I was neck deep in Iron Man training,” he goes on. “We study a lot of hypoxic workouts, and I always found the word ‘Hypoxia’ to be really interesting. It stuck around and meant a lot to me. I drew the connection to our general breakdown in communication.”
Then, there’s “Stain.” It illuminates another side of the record as it builds towards a cathartic chorus underlined by a hummable guitar line.
“It’s about basically being the guy who wants to fix it all,” he elaborates. “It asks, ‘What would it take to fix everything you wrecked on Facebook with your family? What would it take for all of us to treat each other with humanity?’”
“The Thing That’s Real” plays with the sonic soundscape as the guitar screeches above ominous keys while the vocals hover on the hook. “There’s a different balance to it,” notes Connolly. “The arrangement was quirky, and it intrigued all of us. It’s a good musical representation of where we’re at.” From the piano-laden opener “Consequences” and its crushing companion “Dead Weight” (Co-written with Morgan Rose of Sevendust) to the ominous epic “Death Is Mostly Permanent,” Hypoxia ebbs and flows between fits of heavy screams and introspective soundscapes. The album concludes with one final emotional exorcism on “At Your Window.”
“So many lives were lost in the Pandemic, but I think we learned a lot as a society,” he adds. “If you look outside your window sometimes, the positivity is there for you to see. Some people don’t see it, but it’s there. You just need to say, ‘It’s not as bad as it may seem’.” In the end, that message rings loud for Projected.
“Projected is special for me, because I’m just making music with my friends,” he leaves off. “It’s cool Projected has stayed around. We’re on our third record. It’s the next step, and we’re evolving. I hope you hear it and go on a journey with us.”