Channels Seven Channels
Seven Channels is an explosive new modern
rock powerhouse that mixes elements of Creed, The Marvelous 3 and Bang
Tango. On this, their debut record, they offer up ten modern rock meets
power-pop gems that strictly adhere to the 3 ½ radio hit format.
With an eye towards infectious hooks, they pile on rich harmonies, ringing
guitars and hard hitting drums and bass to create pure ear candy.
Fans of the Marvelous 3 will find a lot
to love here as this CD captures the same raw energy presented with a polished
delivery that marks the Marvelous 3s albums and vocalist Kevin Kirkwood
could easily pass for Butch Walkers brother.
Songs like Superconnected, Breathe,
Electric Voices are an easy fit for Modern Rock Radio and are sure hits
if program directors have enough sense to spin the songs. Other songs like
Rooftop and Helium take on a more punk meets power-pop feel that offers
a nice contrast while remaining true to the bands overall sound.
All together this CD marks a strong debut for Seven Channels and a compelling
buy for fans of powerful yet melodic rock.
"It's about persistence," says Kevin Kirkwood.
"We've been through so much - personnel changes, car crashes, the deaths
of family and friends, but we still press on. Like Velcro, we endure, and
like a parade, we always move forward." Lead singer for Seven Channels,
Kirkwood is talking about "Velcro Parade," one of the debut album's tracks
- and summing up the spirit of this remarkable band. Guitarist Dallas Perry
joins in: "We think of our music as the dark side of pop - there's sometimes
a serious, brooding quality to it, but our trademark is in finding a real
sense of hope in the midst of all that." Along with powerhouse drummer
Ben Holt and bassist extraordinaire Dalton Humphreys, Kirkwood and Perry
make music of light and shadows, songs that signal the arrival of a Dallas,
Texas-based quartet as a force to be reckoned with. Seven Channels, assertive,
edgy, yet melodically irresistible, is music whose time has come.
From the full-bore attack of "Helium" and
"Rooftop" to the rhythmic subtlety of "Circle" to the elegant guitar/bass
interplay of "Electric Voices," the album builds in memorable intensity.
"Breathe," the album's lead single, is a heartfelt paean to some of Kirkwood's
dear departed ones; it begins insinuatingly with a simple guitar riff,
then builds to a life-affirming crescendo. Underlying all the music is
urgency and passion, a desperation caught best by Kevin's singing: "I've
got the motion to fly/even though I might fall out the sky" ("Velcro Parade").
With executive producers Paul Ebersold
(3 Doors Down, Space Hog) and Michael Alago (responsible for signing Metallica,
White Zombie) overseeing the project, Seven Channels headed for Memphis,
Tennessee and Ardent Studios in fall 2000. There, with producer Skidd Mills,
they found their perfect match. "Outside of keeping us laughing with Monty
Python routines, he hardly ever got up from the console," Dallas says.
"He kept us putting in 10-hour days, and we loved that because we pride
ourselves on our work ethic." Mills' efforts paid off with production that
retains the band's underlying pop sensibilities while sharpening their
sonic attack. "He told us, 'I love your writing, I just want to hear everything
heavier," Dallas remembers. "And that's exactly what we wanted."
As for the Seven Channels' work ethic -
it has impelled the band an amazing distance in a short span of time. It
was only four years ago that they released their first indie EP, International
Wonderful, a disc that introduced the band's precociously mature songwriting
and impressive chops. Relentless roadwork and the EP's reception led to
another milestone - Seven Channels' selection as one of the "Top Five Unsigned
Bands in America" on VH1's 1999 Rock Across America Tour. That same year,
Mars Music (one of the nation's largest music instrument retailers) held
its first national band showcase called the "Quit Your Day Job!" Band Quest.
Out of 3,000 submissions, Seven Channels was chosen as the winner and went
on to sign a recording deal with Palm / Mars Records.
Seven Channels started as a glimmer in
Kevin Kirkwood's eye. His father a minister, spent time establishing food
banks in Africa while at home the marriage was falling apart. Kevin, suffering
from a broken home, turned to alcohol as an escape. "I drank to medicate
myself from the pain. I didn't want to have to think about it." But by
the time he turned eighteen he reached his breaking point. "There was no
specific thing, I just snapped out of it. I didn't want to wake up one
day and be this old guy hanging out on the porch drinking his life away,
so I stopped." He began locking himself in his room to create music. "My
drinking buddies didn't want to hang with me anymore so all I would do
is play." Music compelled him to change. "I realized that we have seven
days a week, seven opportunities to channel creative and positive energies
- that's where the idea for the band came from."
In junior high, back in Tyler, a small
East Texas town, Kevin was musically obsessed from an early age. He dreamed
of becoming a jazz trumpeter. After playing horn throughout high school,
he progressed to hip-hop - vocalizing and adding trumpet licks with likeminded
aficionados. It was an eclectic beginning for a rock singer, but since
childhood he'd also nurtured a life-transforming admiration for David Bowie
(Bowie remains an influence, Kirkwood says, for "his way of taking on different
characters for different songs."). Alternative rockers like Sponge and
the aggressive metal of Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood rounded out his formative
listening, as he envisioned a life in music. He began writing songs and,
he says, "I wanted to be a drummer first." Then, five years ago, "I went
to a vocal coach who said I should stick to writing," he adds, laughing.
One listen to the singing on Seven Channels exacts nice revenge on that
nameless vocal coach - Kevin's dramatic vocals, swooping from a growl to
falsetto, is the soul of Seven Channels.
Seven Channels revved into high gear when
Kirkwood met Dallas Perry. "Here's this huge, 6 foot 3, tattooed guy with
a goatee down to his chest," Kevin laughingly recalls. "And then he turns
out to be the nicest guy - and just an amazing guitarist." Schooled in
style of the players he admires (Metallica, Joe Satriani, Slash), Perry
brought a new aggressiveness to the mix. "I grew up in Houston, listened
to a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and had played in a Texas blues-rock band,"
Perry says. Drummers and bassists came and went until the ace rhythm section
of Ben Holt and Dalton Humphreys joined the fold as the band relocated
to Dallas - Ben a dynamo percussionist who grew up on Motown, Humphreys
a singularly inventive bass player who refined his craft playing sessions.
Together, they realized Kirkwood's vision:
"For a while, it was just me with back-up players. But I wanted the vibe
of a band." And it's as an ensemble of rare, symbiotic power that Seven
Channels distinguish themselves. Accomplished, committed players, they
achieve real focus, never wasting a note, always serving the songs. And
the songs of Seven Channels are thematically wide-ranging - from "Breathe"
("People around me have died untimely deaths, from cancer, car wrecks and
other causes. The song's about breathing them in my heart and soul," Kevin
says) to "Circle" ("It's ultimately a song about the band itself") to the
yearning essence of "Superconnected" ("
You can save my soul/compress to
a vacant place that was torn from me/revolve into your reality
in theme, yet unified in passionate delivery, this is music built to last.
And for Seven Channels, it's only an unforgettable
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