Kevin Seconds Interview 3/19/13:
By Jon Pebsworth
Jon: I’ve been fortunate enough to have met you and seen you play many times over the years. One of my first punk shows was 7Seconds at Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach around 1987. It was an epic night for me… Do recall those days? It was many years after 7Seconds started but still fairly early in your long career; do you by any chance remember that show? Or do you remember the days of Fenders and Goldenvoice?
Kev: I remember those Fender’s shows like they happened last week. We played there many times and despite some of the crazy violent shit that took place there and back then, i’ll always have a warm spot in my heart for that place and those gigs. up until playing those Goldenvoice shows, we had never played for more than 200-300 people when all of a sudden, there we were in L.A. playing in front 3,500, 4,500 kids. It was nuts but it rules.
Jon: I met you officially during my years at SideOneDummy. We worked together on the artwork and release of “Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over.” I love that album. I remember really enjoying talking to you on the phone and working on this record with you. What are your memories of this era of your band? I would consider this your “Warped Tour” era. I remember you guys playing Warped Tour in the 90’s and starting with SideOne around that time. How was that experience for you and the guys?
Kev: It was a sort of re-birth for us, to be honest. We had still been playing and touring a lot but we hadn’t done a record in a few years and we had no idea whether people would still care or not. We had been with a few labels but didn’t really have a label home by 1997, 98 and no one seemed particularly interested in us. We thought about starting up our own label which I STILL think would have ben a good idea but there was a lot of apprehension based on all the craziness surrounding my old label Positive Force so when Joe and Bill approached us about doing something on Side One Dummy, the timing was perfect. We had known Joe for years and liked him a lot and at the time, the label was just small enough but definitely on the rise, to make sense for us.
As for the Warped Tour, we had a blast. We got to play every day with some of or favorite bands (Bouncing Souls, H2O, Lunachicks), had some great shows sharing the stage with the likes of Avail and Agnostic Front, and we loved the community aspect of the tour itself. That said, by the time the tour ended, we were beyond thrilled to be jumping back into our van and playing clubs again.
Jon: I have recently seen you play solo a few times. I saw you in Fullerton at the Slide Bar where your wife sang some amazing backups and Kepi played drums. I love the solo stuff you have done on Asian Man Records and listened to the CD you gave me close to 50 times now with my girlfriend, who loves you. I remember thinking during your set that night about the 7Seconds lyric, “I’m gonna stay young until the day I die” and thinking what an awesome moment this is… Kevin is the real deal and he was for real when he sang that lyric both then and now! It was and is very inspiring to me. Can you tell me a little about your motivation now and what inspired you to continue on with music?
Kev: In all honesty, and as cliche as it may sound, without music running through me, I have no idea who I’d be or where I’d be in my life. It’s that one thing that I have always felt I was decent at and it has filled so many holes and voids in my 50-plus years on this planet and I’m always deep in it. I want to be. I HAVE to be. But as I get older, it has become harder and harder for 7Seconds to get out and tour like we used to and yet, I STILL LOVE TOURING! hahaha. It’s been a part of me for 30-some years. What the hell else am I going to do at this point that brings me this much happiness?
Jon: Can you tell me about how your solo records came to be and how they came to be on Asian Man? I am friends with Mike Park and have mad respect for him as I’m sure you do. Did he approach you about doing these records or did you goto him? What is the recording process for a Kevin Seconds solo album?
Kev: I’ve known Mike for probably 20 years now and have always loved and respected him as a person. Back in the late 90’s, 7Seconds went out on the road with Skankin’ Pickle and we had the time of our lives. We just REALLY hit it off with those guys. From then on, Mike and I stayed in touch, mostly on the Internet, and sometime in 2001, he played at the True Love, Allyson and I’s old coffeehouse and Matt Skiba came up from the Bay Area with him. That was the first time I had met Matt and I guess on the ride back to the bay that night, the two of them discussed the idea of Matt and I doing a split album together. I loved the idea. I wasn’t super familiar with Alkaline Trio at that time but I had heard some demos or saw some live videos of Matt playing solo and I loved what he did. Mike released the record on Asian Man and as far as I know, it has done really well. Shortly after that, I asked Mike if he would be interested in releasing a solo album of mine and he he was down. But I have to say, it’s been nothing but pure joy working with Mike and making records for Asian Man. I’ve had some shitty experiences with other labels, especially regarding my solo output, and Mike has always been wonderful to work with. As you know Jon, he’s the real deal. I love the guy!
Jon: Can you tell me really quick about the first solo record and what it took for you as a musician to get into that mode?
Kev: I started playing solo shows, just me and an acoustic guitar in 1989 or so. I was living on and off with my ex-girlfriend in NYC and she bought me an acoustic guitar and somehow, I got the balls to busk on a few street corners and even in the subways there for a couple of week. I didn’t do it as often as I would have liked and I never really got a feel for the system or etiquette of busking down there but it did allow me to grow some confidence, playing on an acoustic guitar in front of people and I ended up making about 70 bucks total…hahaha. Randy Now at City Gardens in Trenton, New Jersey offered me a solo slot, opening for Dramarama, and I just went for it. It was pretty bad but it got the ball rolling for me. A few weeks later, he asked me to open for Ween there and it just has never really stopped since.
But I didn’t get the courage up to release a true solo record until around 1997 when I did the Stoudamire album on Cargo Records. I went in and recorded a lot of the instruments myself. I had Allyson sing on some songs and my friends Brent Spain and Chris Carnahan play drums and bass, respectively, and I just made a fun little acoustic-based folk-pop record that very few people bought…hahaha.
Jon: When 7Seconds first started, what was the punk scene like? I have an early 7” of yours on blue vinyl and you looked so cool with the war paint under your eyes and me and my friends were so into the whole “California” punk sound with melodies and such. You were there and were a major part of what became such a memorable sound to this day. How do you look back on those days and did you have any idea you would come to influence so many bands that came after you? Even bands on the east coast like H2O have acknowledged your band as being a major influence.
Kev: I’ve loved every single second of being in 7Seconds. Even when band members left, or when all the stupid violent shit was going on at our shows, it has all made a lasting impact on my life and has shaped me into the human that I am today, good and bad. It’s an honor to still be asked to play shows, especially when bands we love ask us to play with them. How can you not love that? But the old days, as tough and harrowing as they often were, were amazing. I wasn’t even sure I was going to survive them, to be honest. I just rolled with it and tried staying true to what was important to me, to us.
Jon: Clearly you are a lifelong hero in punk rock and also have a genuine love for the music and lyrics you write weather they are you and an acoustic guitar or with 7Seconds. Do you feel satisfied and proud of your accomplishments? What do you have in store for the future? Can we hope to see another 7Seconds album? Will there be more solo stuff? Do you have any other projects in the works?
Kev: I suppose that pride is what I feel when I think back on all the records and tours and shows and friends we’ve managed to make over the past 33 years. I just love that, for the most part, I’ve gotten to do so many of the things that I always wanted to do as a kid and have managed to even make a living doing it. I’ve met amazing people and have seen places I would have never seen had I not been in this band. I never forget that. I can’t and I don’t want to. I can’t really think of any true regrets I have regarding my time with 7Seconds. Maybe I would have had us record albums a little differently. Maybe I wouldn’t have had us take such long breaks in between records and tours like we have. Maybe I wouldn’t have slept with strange punk rock girls in cities here and there…hahaha. But seriously, it’s been an amazing run.
As for future stuff, yes, there are many plans in the works for both me and for 7Seconds. The band has an album’s worth of new songs that we’ve been working on and fine-tuning and hoping to get released sometime in 2013. It has to happen. It’s driving us crazy and we’d like to hit the road with new material to play for people. I don’t even care that there’s a REALLY great chance that zero percent of people out there want to hear a new 7Seconds record. We’re going to do one, anyway.
I’m always writing and working on new solo tunes and touring like a madman. I have a shitload of brand new songs I wrote and have recorded in my trusty green Ford Econoline van and would like to see that come out by summer of this year. I’ve also got a handful of 7 inch vinyl projects I’m working, for a couple of different smaller labels. I’m very excited about that.
Jon: Lastly, where can we see you next? I know you do a lot of touring still. You play tours where you play in peoples’ living rooms! How is that going and can you play at my place in North Hollywood on the next trip?
Kev: I’ve got a few things coming up in the next couple of months, West Coast stuff mostly. I’m even doing a few shows on the acoustic stage at this year’s Warped Tour.
7Seconds has a club show at Punk Rock Bowling in May and then we go to Europe in July for a couple of weeks. Our main goal though is NEW FUCKING ALBUM. Once we get that finished, we’ll do as much touring as 3 40 year olds and 1 50 year old can do.
For more info and tour dates’ goto: