‘Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over’
When he first started out Kevin Seconds spewed the immortal line, “I’m gonna stay young until I die.” And two decades later, he’s still practicing what he preaches, as evidenced by Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over the bands upcoming SIDEONEDUMMY release due out in January 25, 2005, the audaciously titled 13th long-player by his legendary punk band, 7Seconds a band considered by many that came after as pioneers in the movement.
Perhaps no modern-day rock record so eloquently, aggressively, and unapologetically tackles the topic of growing up and growing older as does Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over. Note the old-school anthem “Your Parents’ Hardcore” (in which Kevin declares, “Others have given up the life/Hey, that’s OK/’Cause here we are, we’re here for good, we’re here to stay”), or “Where Is The Danger?,” a delightfully scathing attack on today’s truly blank generation of punk posers (sample lyric: “All of the promise but minus the knowledge/Why bother now that they teach punk rock in college?/Co-opted culture, misguided intention/Hardcore’s extinction almost guaranteed/So gifted and smart, everyone looks so pretty/But where is the danger in Hot Topic city?”). Other Take It Back manifestos — “Still On It,” “My Band, Our Crew,” “Say My Thanks,” “Big Hardcore Mystery,” “Our Core” — also explore what Kevin confirms is “the main theme of the new album: the battle to feel valid and relevant as veteran punk-rock ‘wise old men’ in a scene that is overwhelmingly dominated by younger, cuter, more fashionable boys.”
7Seconds’ validity and relevance is already unquestionable. Since Kevin and his brother Steve Youth formed the group in 1979 in the unlikely hardcore hub of Reno, Nevada (before eventually relocating to Sacramento and becoming an integral part of the original Cali-punk explosion), they’ve seen countless musical trends come and go, and they’ve easily outlasted them all. (They even got swept up in the 1990s’ alt-rock boom and ensuing major-label feeding frenzy, but eventually emerged from their short-lived Epic Records deal unscathed.) So it goes without saying that 7Seconds are well aware that pop-punk is just another passing fad bearing little resemblance to the meaningful music they’ll still be cranking out long after the fickle TRL crowd has moved on to the next big thing.
“As happy as I am about the concept of punk getting out to the masses, I have a big problem with some of these boy bands masquerading as punk rock or hardcore and creating this whole new meaningless, sub-genre/culture that has absolutely nothing to do with rebellion, creativity, originality, and sincerity,” Kevin states. “Nowadays, anyone can be ‘punk rock’; you don’t have to work for it or pay any dues. All you have to do is go down to your local mall and buy everything at Hot Topic, and you’re good to go. Most of these bands sound exactly the same and have no balls, soul, or heart — but naturally, they sell 20 times the amount of records that I ever will, so they seem to be the smart guys. What do I know?
“I realize this attitude makes me sound like the crabby old man that I am,” he adds with a laugh, “but what can I say? At least we’re up for the challenge of getting our asses out there and rocking people the way we like to rock people. I know that there are kids out there who absolutely hate the mainstream-y shit that is being labeled ‘punk’ or ‘hardcore’ these days, and they’re looking for something with a little more perspective and meaning, with some connection and lineage to where it all started.”
Certainly fans of all ages hungry for punk with substance will not be disappointed by Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over — 17 sweaty, steely tracks of what Kevin proudly describes as “super-fast, back-to-basics, melodic hardcore…real hardcore, not the metal or emo shit.” The album fittingly takes its title from a line in “Our Core,” a track named after the new term 7Seconds recently coined to describe their music (incidentally, 7Seconds were also one of the first bands, along with Black Flag and D.O.A., to adopt the term “hardcore” nearly a quarter-century ago). Explains Kevin: “Let’s face it, when someone like me says ‘hardcore band’ and some 17-year-old kid says it, chances are we’re talking about something completely different. So I just liked the idea of coming up with ‘our core’ — something that kind of describes us and other old-school-sounding hardcore bands who are bitter and fed-up!”
Although Take It Back boasts a rare melodicism and musicality that stems from Kevin’s various side projects (the psych-rock power trio Drop Acid, the indie-garage group Go National, his lo-fi singer-songwriter solo work under the moniker Ghetto Moments) and the band’s willingness to experiment (“We’re all huge music geeks influenced by bands and artists we love, and we’ve never had a problem trying to do different things”), it’s still straight-up punk rock, pure and simple — unlike some of the poppier mid-period 7Seconds efforts that alienated close-minded, punk-purist fans. “The funny thing is how so many people have come around to really appreciating those quieter records over the past few years,” Kevin muses. “But in all honestly, the harder, faster stuff is what we do best. We’ve loved every song and album we’ve ever put out, but strip away everything and we’re just an old-fashioned hardcore punk band from Reno.”
And in true punk tradition, Take It Back is a total D.I.Y. affair: The basic tracks were laid down during two breathless days at 7Seconds’ regular recording haunt, Sacramento’s Hangar Studio; the lead vocals were done at Kevin’s own Joyous Pitch Invasion Studio; and the backing vocals were recorded with friends on a small mobile system at the coffeehouse Kevin owns with his wife Allyson, the True Love Cafe. Kevin also took on all the engineering work himself — a first in 7Seconds history — before handing over mixing duties to Descendents/Black Flag legend Bill Stevenson, whose production credits include All, Anti-Flag, Good Riddance, Lagwagon, MxPx, Season To Risk, Shades Apart, and the Suicide Machines.
The intense, uncompromising new disc (the band’s first in five years) is sure to help expand the enthusiastic all-ages audience that keeps turning up to see 7Seconds on the Warped Tour or at the band’s own legendary club gigs. “We’re shocked to see the amount of really young kids who come out to our shows year after year,” Kevin marvels. “It’s strange, but also really great. If we were like some of the old punk bands out touring right now, who draw nothing but 35-plus-year-old guys who just got out of prison or who haven’t been to a punk show in 20 years and decided to come check out the ‘dinosaurs,’ we would have called it quits years ago.”
With a new album brimming with more pure punk passion than could ever be mustered by most bands half their age (not to mention with half the talent), 7Seconds obviously have no intention of calling it quits. “There’s a genuine love and respect that the members have for one another, and that most definitely carries over to our supporters,” says Kevin. “I believe that connection has created an energy that has lasted for years and is the biggest reason why we are able to keep the shows fun and intense — and chaotic! Not many bands last this long, let alone punk bands, and we’re just happy that this still manages to be amazing, fresh, and fun.”
In 7Seconds’ aforementioned unofficial theme song, “Our Core,” Kevin sings, “Who’ll make the comeback record/Who’s going to be the one to make it all as great as it once was?” But it’s completely rhetorical question: After one listen, it’s clear that 7Seconds are that band, and that Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over is that record.