Posted July 28, 2014 by Jeff in Tunes

7 Questions with 7 Seconds’ Kevin Seconds

7 Seconds photo by David Robert
7 Seconds photo by David Robert

After taking a break from touring and recording, the hardcore punk band 7 Seconds went back to the studio. Earlier this year, the guys released Leave a Light On, their first studio effort in years. The albumwas produced, engineered and mixed by Steve Kravac(Blink-182, Less Than Jake, MxPx) at Hell’s Half Acre Studioin Southern California. The title track is so melodic, you could imagine hearing it on commercial radio. Singer Kevin Seconds recently phoned us from his Sacramento home.

Your last studio album came out in 2005 and this is your first tour since 2006. What’s it been like getting the gang back together?
It’s pretty different as you can well imagine. Everything’s changed technology-wise. We fell behind even though we stayed active as far as shows go. We discussed it and I was writing in the background. Everybody has family and kids and jobs and stuff. I didn’t want to put us in a position where we’d come out with a new record and couldn’t tour behind it. It wasn’t until I started talking to the guys at a time when they could commit that we got excited about writing new material and doing whatever it took to get us back into the studio. Once we did, everything went really quickly. It was recorded differently. We weren’t in the studio at the same time. I thought it wouldn’t work and there would be no way we could be connected to the material and have that thing you want with your band members but he record turned out great. I was happy that we had that space and breathing room. We have a tendency to be a bunch of goof offs when we’re all in the room at the same time. We got way more done a short period of time.

Talk about your songwriting process.
I don’t know. It’s funny. I do a solo acoustic side thing. It’s easy for me to write those songs for whatever reason. I don’t write with this history behind it. I write whatever I feel. I don’t have this obligation to not write about a certain thing. There’s a certain way I write 7 Seconds songs.  It’s a little tougher to do, especially since we don’t live together like we used to and we don’t work together nine months of the year. It’s different now to write material for the band. That was the challenge, I thought. I would work on stuff on my own and send the songs out as MP3 files. I would tell them to tell me if the song sucks. I want every song to be something that we’re all into. Everyone was excited I was writing new songs.

There are songs on the new record that could have been kind of generic sounding and those ended up being my favorites. Once the other guys got their hands on them, they took on a life of their own.

The title track is my favorite song. It’s really melodic. It could even be on the radio.
That’s what everyone keeps saying. That was initially a really fast song. We were doing preproduction and I don’t remember if it was my idea but we tried a mid-tempo version and everyone said, “That’s it.” Once we did that, it became a different song. We shortened the song a bit more. When it was faster, it was 30 seconds longer. I’m really happy with the way it came out. A few people have said it should be on the radio. I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio for music. I don’t know if bands with guitars get played on the radio any more. I was like, “Fuck it. Let’s just make good record.”

You formed in 1980 in Reno. What were the early days like?
There was no scene. We made the scene based on being teenage kids living in a city that is a gambling town. It was all about gambling and drinking and prostitution and all those things that might be fun when you’re 30 or 40. When you’re a kid, there’s not anything else. It made us instantly into rebels. The big thing to do on weekends was cruise the main drag on Friday and Saturday nights. I tried it and it sucked. I needed to find a way to make my life more meaningful. There was no blueprint as to what to do if you weren’t in a top 40 band, which we weren’t. There were no clubs or radio that was going to play us. We just guessed. Turns out people were doing that all around the world and connecting with other people from other places. By ‘81 or ‘82, there was a nice network of people and you could book a tour. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t glamorous and it was a little dangerous but you just did it. There was no other choice. The concept of a scene didn’t come into play until a few years later when everyone realized we were part of something amazing and special and needed to go for it. That’s how it all started.

Were you listening to other punk bands?
We were basically trying to do what we heard the Ramones and the Clash do. You could get their albums. They were on major labels. The concept of an underground music scene was brewing, but we didn’t know about. There weren’t national acts coming to Reno so we would just read magazines and would read about younger kids putting sound systems in buildings and making their own shows happen. We read about Black Flag and DOA and Dead Kennedys were playing these places. We would find any garage we could put a sound system in. We would write guys like Jello Biafra and ask him to come out and play. You could put flyers up. Somehow the word spread. Once you had one or two of those under your belt, you felt like you could do that. I was the guy who was stupid enough to make the phone calls. I was trying to create something out of nothing and we did. Not in a major big way like the scenes going on in Boston and DC and L.A. But it got enough respect that bands would call me and ask to play Reno which was amazing.

You signed a major label deal in 1995 with Immortal. What was that like?
We had a friend who was an A&R person we liked a lot. He was excited about putting out our records. We had considered doing our own label but that would mean me doing most of the work, which I didn’t want to do. Labels like Epitaph and Fat weren’t interested. We sent them a demo and they passed. We didn’t have options at that point. Amazingly enough, there were five different deals and Immortal was the best of them. They had money behind it and they were willing to let us write up the contract. I knew we wouldn’t be a commercial success. At that point, we needed to buy a new van and new gear. That was the only option at that point. It was fine. We were on the label for about a year. We put out a record that got all over the place. It was the first time we experienced having big money behind it. It was also obvious that we wouldn’t be happy in the situation. They didn’t know what to do with us. I guess if we had gotten our heads around the idea of trying to write a hit single thing we could have attempted that. But we got out of the label deal and moved on.

Will you be recording and touring on a regular basis now?
I’m playing it by ear. If you had told me we would be going to Europe and South America and Australia, I wouldn’t have bought it. In this nine-year period, we’ve been playing. We’ve been doing festivals. Because we’ve been doing that and there isn’t pressure to do the promotional thing, we didn’t do a lot of interviews. We were relying on the fact that we’ve been around for so long, someone knows who we are. We relearned how much fun it is.  I love to tour and I tour constantly on my own. It was healthy for us to go through this. We needed to go through it to get to the point where we appreciate playing music together. I keep saying that if this is our last record and our last go around, we ended on a good note and we’ve had an amazing run. Not many bands last 30 years and for good reason. Most bands probably shouldn’t. People probably say that about us. I want to keep focused on what’s in front of us and keep doing it as long as we’re physically able to. I’m hobbling on a torn meniscus now. It’s a reminder than I’m 53 and not 23 on stage. I have to think about these things. It’s been pretty fun.

Upcoming 2014 Tour Dates

Jul 30
Aug 1
Aug 2
Aug 4
Aug 5
Aug 7
Aug 8
Aug 9
Aug 10
Aug 13
Aug 14
Grog Shop Cleveland, OH
Voltage Lounge Philadelphia, PA
Brighton Music Hall Boston, MA
Asbury Lanes Asbury Park, NJ
Ottobar Baltimore, MD
The Masquerade Atlanta, GA
Vinyl Music Hall Pensacola, FL
Walters Downtown Houston, TX
Three Links Dallas, TX
Pub Rock Scottsdale, AZ
The Glass House Pomona, CA


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected]