Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 64 - Interview with Seven

SEVEN


Seven are an AOR band that the older readers amongst you might remember from a while ago. This is because the band have a history that dates back to the early 90's. Strangely however, their brand new self titled CD is their debut release. Ian Johnson asks the band about their history, Phillip Schofield and why it's taken them over twenty years to finally make an album.


Seven

Can you give us a potted history of Seven please. I know that you have one that dates back to the late 80's early 90's?

Keith and Simon (and his brother John) were in a band called Face to Face in South Africa and Mick was in a band called UC27. When Face to Face ended, Simon returned to the UK to join his family. After a few months he suggested reforming the band in the UK and John (bass player) asked Mick to join us in the UK as drummer. We were initially based in Woking, but after meeting Mike Parker (our initial Manager), we moved to Bournemouth. We discovered that Mick was a much better singer than drummer and realized he needed to come out from behind the drums and become the lead singer. After a couple of years the line-up changed when Mike Parker introduced Pat Davey (Tom Robinson and many other sessions) on bass and Austin 'Oz' Lane (Dancing in English) on drums to the band and the final line up was born.

John Wolff (The Who, John Parr) joined Mike parker to co-manage the band and shortly afterwards he secured a support slot on the first nationwide tour of Brother Beyond. We picked up valuable live experience (and a sizeable fan base), and attracted Phillip Schofield's attention who started to play our demo's on radio one. Whilst on tour, the head of Polydor's wife and kids came to one of the shows and the story goes that she went home and told her husband that he needed to sign us. That combined with the touring, fans and Phil's plugging, a deal was offered and as a bit of media hype, Philip Schofield was on hand to witnessed the record deal signing.

Polydor focussed the band in a clear Pop direction and in hindsight this would prove to be the undoing of Seven. We had for many years been crafting our sound very much in an AOR rock vein and had a number of really credible recordings and tracks. This was around the time when Soul to Soul burst on the scene and AOR was becoming a little out of fashion. The band had a real 'Boy Band' type of look and our management pushed us in that direction with the hope that it would break us to a larger market. As individuals we were just happy that something was starting to happen and we were going to get music released and we always convinced ourselves that once established we would be able to record the music we loved.

The band embarked on a number of high profile pop tours opening for the likes of Brother Beyond, Jason Donovan, Richard Marx and The Monkees. We got to play all the top venues, which was fantastic; including Wembley Arena, the NEC, BIC, SEC and even the Royal Albert Hall. These touring opportunities were certainly not an ideal fit for the type of music we produced apart from the Richard Marx tour which was definitely the best for us with a grown up audience we were able to rock it up and truly be ourselves. It went down really well!

We recorded two singles with Polydor both of which were produced by John Parr. The tracks had a rock edge but were certainly produced for a Pop market. Both had little success in the charts at the time and shortly afterwards we were dropped from the record label. I think that we proved to be a bit of a quandary for Polydor, as we were the only 'POP' act they had on their books (Stone Roses era!) and we really didn't fit in, and with the changing music market there was no clear direction in which to take us.

After trying in vain for a good period of time to revive our recording career we decided to part ways and explore other opportunities.

Following Seven's break up Keith, Simon & Oz formed a Band called Glory Days (but unfortunately it was short lived). Mick continued to record solo material and toured through Europe with a rock show for Levi Jeans. But the dance scene was just kicking off in the UK and we were just out of our time! Pat continued to play as a session bass player as he has continued to do up to today! Keith and Simon decided to move back to South Africa 15 or so years ago. Mick moved to the midlands and Pat and Oz stayed in Bournemouth.

In my review of the new album I say that you have what I can only describe as an old fashioned approach to melodic rock/AOR (in a good way though). Are the songs then new ones or ones you had left over from your earlier days?

All of the songs on the album were written back in the 90's. It is certainly a tribute to that time though we were really focussed on the album sounding modern and vibrant and the production that Lars Chris was able to bring to it managed to keep hold of the essence of the Seven sound but bring it into this century!

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You have some impressive guests artist on the new album including Mark Mangold, Dig Digital, Frederick Bergh and Adam Wakeman. Were you as a band determined to have as many keyboards as possible on the new CD?

No, not at all, though we did manage to use an impressive number! It came about during the recording process when Lars called in players he and Khalil knew would add an up to date and rocky feel to the original tracks. All their performances are fantastic and have individually enhanced the final album.

What did you all do after the band finished and what was the catalyst for getting back together to make this album?

Over the 20 years following the break up of the band we have all got married had kids and progressed with a normal life style all without trying to revive the band days. Pat was the only band member that continued to make a living from music and he has played on many different albums in the UK. His latest project is with a group called Diesel. They have a release out at the moment on Escape Music called 'Into the Fire'. It is a rocking album that is really worth a listen!

It was while he was recording the Diesel album he had a conversation with Khalil Turk from Escape Music and it turned out that he loved Seven's music back in the day. He asked Pat to see if we would consider getting back together to record the album that we should have done in the 90's. it was a really easy answer for each of us to make as we all felt there was more that we could have done together as a band and to get an opportunity to fulfil that was too good to turn down.

Was it hard for the band to record the album, as I know that you all live in different countries?

It is amazing how technology has changed the recording process since we last recorded. Lars Chris was fantastic to work with and would e-mail files around the world for each of the guys to add their parts and then collate them and make it sound like we were all in the same room for each recording. After we completed the first few tracks it really fell into place and the process worked seamlessly. It is an amazingly efficient was to work and with the band member spread across two continents it was the only way we could have completed the album.

What does Seven mean - does it have a meaning and if so, what is it?

There is no philosophical meaning for Seven. At the time we were looking for a new name for the band we decided on Seven as a perfect number that has unusual connotations - Seven days in a week, seven notes in a musical scale, seven directions (up, down, left, right, forward, back & centre), seven deadliest sins, seven continents, seven wonders of the world... It just felt right!

The production by Lars Chriss (Lion's Share) is fresh and vibrant but it still pays homage to the big AOR productions of the 80's. Are Seven happy with what he did on the CD?

We are really happy with the result that Lars has achieved. Having been out of the studio for so long we needed someone with enough vision to take a bunch of dated tracks and breath new life into them. He has done a fantastic job!

I know Phillip Schofield and John Parr helped you out in the past have they heard the new album and if so do they like it?

Not yet though there are plans to get the album to both of them. It will be really interesting to see how they like it!

With the band being spread across the world will touring be a possibility for Seven?

It is something that we would love to do, even though there are the obvious logistical issues though. I am sure we will play live again at some point in the future.

Finally you must be excited that after so many years you have a Seven album to show off, so what does the future hold for the band?

Having the opportunity to record and release this album has been a dream come true and it has brought back to life all the desires that used to drive us on back in the day. All I can say is songs are being written and we are going to keep it going! We hope you all love the album.

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