|ROCKWIRED INTERVIEWS 7TH SUN
THIS IS NOT THE ENDIt is easy to hear 7TH SUN's debut release 'FROM THE BEGINNING' as some sort of nostalgic romp with some ERIC CLAPTON styled picking, STEVE WINWOOD ivory tickling and GINGER BAKER's four-to-the-floor assault on the drums. While the bands core members (J.T. CURTIS - vocals/guitars, ADAM KURY - bass, and STEPHEN QUADROS - drums) moonlight as the CREAM tribute band WHIPPED CREAM, they have taken your dad's late-sixties English rock with 7TH SUN and made it relevant to the social and political climate of today - a world just as manic and chaotic as any that CREAM's music tried rising above. 'FROM THE BEGINNING' is an album that takes you some where. While I was never one of those kids that listened to PINK FLOYD or any thing like that (I was more into New Wave), in listening to '...BEGINNING', I get it. The band goes from jazzy instrumentals to strutting rockers, funky breakdowns, almost reggae-styled grooves and anthemic guitar solos, all in a moments notice. Nowhere does this bands sound come together more perfectly than on the sizzling track 'BIG MAN'. Unlike the current crop of "alternative" rockers (if they even call them that anymore), 7TH SUN gives you reason to believe that rock n roll doesn't have to be all pop psychological heartache, false earnestness, and empty posturing. It can be a hell of a ride.
J.T. CURTIS AND STEPHEN QUADROS OF 7TH SUN
TALK TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THEIR DEBUT CD 'FROM THE BEGINNING'
GOING BEYOND TWO MINUTES AND FIFTY SECONDS
AND PENETRATING THE MIND AND BODY
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
Getting this interview together was a little tricky. I was asked by the band earlier if I could do a conference call and the misunderstandings grew from there. The mistake was mine and I ended up apologizing to everyone. The interview happened piecemeal. The first member I spoke to was founding member, vocalist and guitarist J.T. CURTIS. Here is how it went.
What's all going through your head with 'FROM THE BEGINNING' being out there for everyone to hear? How do you feel about it?
J.T. CURTIS: I'm pretty excited about it actually. I did the album because I really had some stuff to say with this being an election year. I'm glad I got it out before the election, even though I know it's right up to the wire here. It' been a very interesting year.
It's been an interesting past few months.
J.T. CURTIS: Thats true.
Talk about the band's name.
J.T. CURTIS: I came up with the name a while ago because Sixth Sun was already taken. It started in high school when I read a book by ORSON SCOTT CARD called 'SEVENTH SON', and I always thought that that would be a cool name for a band but I changed the 'O' to a 'U' because I thought that 7TH SUN looked cooler and sounded cool. We do keep getting a bit of the 'ONEDERS' complex (from the TOM HANKS film 'THAT THING YOU DO'). People will try looking us up on the internet and they will put in the 'O' or spell out 'seventh'. The band's name really gives a lot of insight into what the music is all about.
How did the band begin?
J.T. CURTIS: I had started the band back in high school and it was kind of an after school activity originally and then everyone went their separate ways and I kept trying to do things with 7TH SUN's material and nothing ever really worked out up until I started getting into doing other musical projects. I was doing production music. I do production music and a couple of other things. I've also played with a couple of other bands and then STEPHEN QUADROS and ADAM KURY and I formed a CREAM tribute band that we call WHIPPED CREAM. We still have that band actually. While I was playing with them, the musicianship was so strong when we were playing that I looked back to the stuff that I had done with 7TH SUN and said 'You know what? I think I found musicians who can really do these songs justice.' I asked the band if they wanted to do this album and they said 'yeah'. It was mostly songs that I had written during high school but we wrote a couple of songs together and it turned out to be a really good album.
What drew you to music in the beginning?
J.T. CURTIS: I kind of come from a musical background. My mother, BECKY CURTIS used to sing backup with OTIS BLACKWELL. In fact, when she was singing with him, she was pregnant with me. Officially, I could say that I was on stage with OTIS BLACKWELL. That's my claim to fame. Me and the band play with her. She recently got back into music and I said to her that me, STEPHEN and ADAM will back you up. When we did our record release show at the PALMER ROOM, she opened up with us backing her up and then we did our set. From her inspiration and my dad's love for music, I'd have to say that music for me has always been an escape and then it became something that I just love doing. I would go home after school and play guitar because I didn't have any friends. It was something that gave me meaning to life as corny as that sounds and I have to say it's hit it's peak with playing with the guys in 7TH SUN right now.
How did songwriting begin? What sort of fueled that.
J.T. CURTIS: In the beginning, I started writing mostly blues songs because I couldn't write anything else, but I don't think it was until 2001 that my state of mind changed and there were so many things going on - you had BUSH and the Iraq War and so many things that were going on that my songwriting got more complex because I didn't want it all to be purely blues. I was listening to the ALLMAN BROTHERS at the time and they really helped me out with learning about arrangements and making things different and it got to a point where I couldn't not write a song because there is too much to talk about. Most of the songs on 'FROM THE BEGINNING' were written while I was in high school but a couple of songs that are written by me, STEPHEN and ADAM. One of those started at a jam session where we had realized that we needed a real smoking instrumental because we needed an excuse for STEPHEN QUADROS to play a drum solo because he's a fucking amazing drummer and that was a really good song that we put together. There was another one that was left off of the album called 'OUT OF THE DARKNESS' which is very powerful and we were very happy with it but due to time constraints, we couldn't put it on the album, but when we start working on a second album, I think it will appear on that one.
Talk about the band a little bit. What do you think that each of them sort of brings to the table musically, creatively, and personality-wise?
J.T. CURTIS: The real core of the band is STEPHEN QUADROS and ADAM KURY. We're the guys from WHIPPED CREAM and we came together for 7TH SUN. STEPHEN QUADROS is the drummer but he's very musical. He's really almost a band leader himself. His perception of music and his perception of time is amazing. He's got so much energy. He is the oldest guy in the band, but he's got more energy than all of us combined. He's a very interesting person. I love STEPHEN. He's a great guy. He's so crazy in the sense that he's got a lot of energy but at the same time, he is very serious and very focused about what he does and that is why I think that he has done so much for himself in so many other fields. ADAM KURY is an incredible bass player and incredible singer. I think that his voice compliments what I sing and his bass playing is incredible. He's an extremely nice guy and a lot of fun to work with. On the album we had MIKE RUSSECK as the keyboard player and he played a lot of great solos and gave us some good vocals. We had other people join in on the album. We had JASON LAND on guitars and BECKY CURTIS sang a couple of back up vocals.
At the moment, what tracks on FROM THE BEGINNING stand out for you?
J.T. CURTIS: I think we're all into 'BIG MAN' because on that one we just went into the studio and recorded it live and it turned out to be a very powerful track because everyone really lets loose on that song. When we went in to do the vocals , we experimented with so many different things. ADAM sang one part, I sang another and MIKE did another part and it really worked out great because you've got all of these characters. BIG MAN - being one of our favorite songs - is justified by the fact that it was so well received at our gig at the PALMER ROOM. It was almost like the audience was another part of the band. We did this sort of call and response thing because the song has a certain amount of urgency so we were like 'Hey, we need you guys to do this with us! We need you to say BIG MAN!' and they started shouting it. It was a great experience and it showed me that the song is very powerful.
Talk more about the live shows.
J.T. CURTIS: Nobody has thrown stuff at us yet. The last show we did , the audience was very responsive. The sound that comes out of us being in the studio is ggreat. We had a great engineer working with us named JOHN THOMAS who was call J.T. - THE OTHER and he really helped us get a great sound, but live we don't feel so contained and we feel free and we have the physical elements. We have a great stage show. We have a jam band quality to us but we try to jam in a way that is not so self indulgent. We can play what we want to play but at the same time, give the audience their due as well and I think thats why the audiences have been as responsive as they have been.
What would you like someone to come away with after they've heard this album?
J.T. CURTIS: Honestly, when I first listened to this album the whole way through, I thought 'My God! What a dark and depressing album!' just because I was thinking of some of the circumstances that were happening while I was writing some of the songs - war and homelessness and things like that. But since the album has been released, I've received a large number of compliments and people saying that the album is upbeat and uplifting. Of course, I was like 'What?'
I kind of thought that in a way.
J.T. CURTIS: Then I thought the setting is dark and the circumstances around the songs are dark, but the message is a call to arms. It's about getting together and being one person and rising against the darkness of society. If people can listen to the album and feel like 'Hey, I really felt uplifted listening to that album!' then I feel that we've done our job.
Minutes later, ROCKWIRED got on the phone with drummer STEPHEN QUADROS. Here is how it went.
What are your thoughts on the new CD?
STEPHEN QUADROS: I'm very confident on what we did and the budget we did it on. The band is really eager about getting out there and playing live and we want people to hear what we've got. The chemistry between the players is amazing. Obviously J.T., ADAM and I come from the CREAM tribute band WHIPPED CREAM and have totally flipped things around and to go into something like 7TH SUN has fleshed us out and has allowed us to be ourselves a lot more and I'm really excited about people coming out and seeing our long ass jams and the whole experience.
I just spoke with J.T. and he was telling me that when the band is in the studio, it feels too contained despite all that you were able to get out recording FROM THE BEGINNING. Do you feel that 7TH SUN is more of a live band than a studio one.
STEPHEN QUADROS: J.T. and I have discussed this a length. Different bands throughout the ages dating back to the sixties and seventies and at height of the experimental rock era - they had the dilemma sometimes of being a great live band going into the studio and trying to duplicate what they did live. I think what we did on these songs is we created studio songs. Take a band like CREAM. They've got a song called WHITE ROOM which was a massive hit. The WHITE ROOM that you hear on the album is a very produced and dynamic sound whereas the live one wasn't quite as effective. The opposite was true of their studio version of SPOONFUL and it's live version. I don't think the procress contained the band per se. I just think that it showed a different element but obviously, this is a live band. So if you really like that CD, you're going to see a lot more in a live experience. I think the great live acts are the ones that can give you a little bit extra or sometimes a lot extra when you see them live. Everyone from SPRINGSTEEN back to HENDRIX - when you see them live, it's a special experience and the records are still good. I think it's just apples and oranges. I understand what J.T. is saying but again, I think that this band has achieved quite a bit but live, we stay true to that record. We don't play completely different versions of the songs but sometimes those songs stretch out and we go places that you didn't hear on that album
Where do you come from musically?
STEPHEN QUADROS: It's funny. I was asked that question when I was in a band with CARLOS CAVAZO (QUIET RIOT) and TONY CAVAZO called SNOW. Someone asked me who my biggest influence was and I said ROBERTO DURAN - the boxer. I want to play drums the way he fights. He was complete animal. He's from the street. That was an inspiration as far as gut instinct . Technically, it was the classic drummers from England. I always wonder why I like all of these English drummers from this certain era. The biggest influences were GINGER BAKER and RON BUSHY. RON was actually an American drummer for IRON BUTTERFLY. I think IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA had a drum solo in it that I thought was a masterpiece and I still do. So those two drummers got me started. I listened to MITCH MITCHELL from HENDRIX and JOHN BONHAM from LED ZEPPELIN. There are a lot drummers today that I really like. TRAVIS BARKER from BLINK-182 had re-invented how to put rudiments into punk music. Now he's playing hip-hop and there are all different directions that I'd like to go but the KEITH MOONs and the GINGER BAKERs are what did it for me. Even RINGO. RINGO, to me, was an incredibly tasteful drummer that defined the songs whereas some of the other drummers that I've mentioned are soloists. I can't figure out why it was the English players, but those guys had that old 1960's sound that they I love.
So you, ADAM and J.T. form the core of this band.
STEPHEN QUADROS: At first J.T. and I met when he was looking for a drummer to play in a CREAM tribute band. I had heard of other tribute bands based around JIM MORRISON and JIMI HENDRIX and that kind of thing but I thought the idea of a CREAM tribute band was a good one. I knew ADAM from another band and we hadn't played together in at least a decade. He was off doing his thing and I was doing my thing. I work as a broadcaster too when I'm not killing time as a musician or an actor. So yeah. We are the core of this band.
Talk about J.T. and ADAM. What do you think that each of them brings to the table?
STEPHEN QUADROS: J.T. is the founder of the band and he is the youngest member at 23 years old. When I first met him, we got a long. We clicked musically and we never bickered. We've always listened to each other. 7TH SUN is the kind of band where we can get up on stage and say 'Okay, let's just play whatever we want to play.' We won't even play anything off the album. We're just going to jam; start with a shuffle and go into slow blues and pretty soon we'll go into this hyper speed heavy metal. J.T. comes from the blues but he's got a really strong hold on R&B because his mother is a really good R&B singer. She sings on the album. J.T. comes from a real heart felt Blues and R&B background but he loves his rock n roll. ADAM comes from the same sort of textures but he's got this wall of sound bass playing to where he can really handle a trio but when we add other instruments like a keyboard or a second guitar he doesn't have to fill in as many holes as he did before. He's a dream to play with. I've been very fortunate because when ADAM can't make it, I bring in TONY CAVAZO who I played with for years and years, but ADAM is also a heartfelt singer. J.T. and I are kind of like the PETE TOWNSHEND and KEITH MOON personality. I'm not quite as excessive KEITH MOON but there is that alpha male personality trying to get the attention on stage where ADAM is very grounded, kind of like JOHN ENTWHISTLE or even a BILL WYMAN type. I don't want to say that ADAM is the yin to our yang but it fits together very well.
It makes for a very interesting rhythm section.
STEPHEN QUADROS: Thank you! I appreciate that.
What songs off of the album stand out for you?
STEPHEN QUADROS: There are two that grab me because of what they will fdo to a listener in todays world. The days when you needed two minutes and fifty seconds worth of music are gone. Now all bets are off. Radio is basically controlled play lists and nowadays people can make it on their own with things like YOTUBE and MYSPACE. You don't have to go by two minutes and fifty second songs. I think the track 'BIG MAN' is a tour de force for the band. It doesn't just showcase us instrumentally, but lyrically and vocally. We get into this funky groove. It's almost like SKA thing. We really showcase the band on that one. The other song is 'HARD AND SLOW' which is kind of a funk groove that goes into 6/8 which is a shuffle-type feel. I really like how J.T. sings that one. I would have to say that those two tracks give people a strong glimpse of some of the basic core elements of 7TH SUN, but also some of the extremes, which they will see when we play live.
What would you like someone to come away with after they've heard 'FROM THE BEGINNING'?
STEPHEN QUADROS: There are a couple of things. I want them to enjoy the entire spectrum of the experience. Usually, live audiences with a new band want to rock. They want to get their asses kicked and they want to get blown away. At our record release party, we made a conscious decision to get away from the slower and more introspective songs and go for the rock stuff. We did a couple of covers like 'MAGIC CARPET RIDE' and another song that will be on the next album called 'TICKET TO THE BRIDGE' which is sort of like this funky GRAND FUNK RAILROAD kind of thing with this crazy bass solo. I want them to be completely exhausted and totally spent from having a great time, but I want them to be peaked a little bit by our lyrics and our stance on society and our outlook on life. We want to basically penetrate their minds and their body.