Seven and the Sun Biography
Last updated: 07/02/2002 09:34:19 PM
"Music is about sharing," states Seven, singer and songwriter with new Atlantic rock group Seven and The Sun. "This band is out to bring everyone together as if we were around a campfire, talking to them through our lyrics and getting them moving all at the same time."
Lighting the spark for that collective campfire is 'BACK TO THE INNOCENCE,' the New Jersey-based group's debut album, produced and recorded by Neal Avron (Everclear, The Wallflowers, SR-71). Propelled by Seven, twin brothers/songwriters Wally (guitars) and Bill (programming) Brandt, and guitarist Eddie Zak, the collection leaps forward in dramatic fashion with the rhythmic, irresistible "Jump," then further makes its multi-faceted case with an assortment of infectiously melodic pop-soul tracks such as the earnest, soaring "Tell Me" and the feelgood "Walk With Me."
For the Bronx-born, Jersey-bred Seven, scarcely a year has gone by when something musical wasn't tumbling around his mind, looking for an outlet. "I was just a little kid when I started writing songs, really using my imagination," he says, noting such key early influences as Queen, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, and even the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. "Music and writing were always something I was interested in."
While a junior in high school, Seven – whose unique nickname came, as such things often do, from his mom – was recruited by a crew of fellow students to sing vocals on a recording they'd made for entry into an MTV unsigned band contest. "They heard me singing along to the jukebox in the cafeteria," he remembers. "I think we ended up coming in second or third but that didn't matter, because I was hooked. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life."
Seven brought his newly discovered love of writing and performing to Jersey City State College, where music studies led to the formation of a number of short-lived rock bands with a revolving cast of classmates. "This was the early '90s but there was a definite '80s feel to a lot of what was going on," he laughs. "It was the kind of scene where everyone wanted to prove their chops, see how many chord changes and time changes they could squeeze into one song."
With that in mind, Seven decided to strip his music down and launched an acoustic duo with a fellow JCSC student. "It was kind of like Simon and Garfunkel on crack," he recalls. "We had a great blend musically but on a personal level we didn't. It was always a stressful situation with the two of us."
The duo soon dissolved and after a short-lived mid-90's stint as a solo artist, Seven encountered the brothers Brandt. An almost instantaneous connection was made and the three musicians began working together. "The three of us shared a mutual desire to do what we loved," Seven recalls, "which is making music in a very selfless and enjoyable way. We really believe that songs are just kind of sitting up there in the sky, waiting for us to come together and pull them down.
All that was missing was a lead guitarist, and as it turned out, Seven and the Brandts didn't have to look very far. "Eddie Zak was like a local legend," Seven says. "He lived in the next town over when I was in high school and it was my dream to have a band that he would want to be part of. He's a true guitar virtuoso."
It was during this same pivotal period of new beginnings that Seven began a four-year apprenticeship with Mario Lisanti, the Hoboken-based opera and theater voice teacher. Lisanti instilled the budding artist with a greater appreciation for the connection between performer and audience.
"I would sit in on his classes and then go home and write new songs all night," Seven says. "Mario gave me a solid foundation for what I wanted to accomplish. It was like the Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi."
After a time spent mining a more contemporary R&B-oriented vein, Seven and the Sun found its true sonic identity. They came up with the track that would become "Jump."
"In two months we had finished an album's worth of material in that same vein," says Seven. "Writing this record was really an inspiration in and of itself. It was a matter of rebuilding the group in a way. It healed us, too. These songs are like our positive mantras."
In Winter 2001, the band took their good vibrations to Los Angeles' House of Blues Studios, where they were joined by such established pros as drummer Matt Chamberlain (Tori Amos, The Corrs), keyboardist Jamie Muhoberac (Eric Clapton, Seal, Bush), bassist Mike Elizando (Eminem, Mary J. Blige), programmer Dan Chase (No Doubt, Tricky), and keyboardist Patrick Warren (Fiona Apple, Michelle Branch). The resulting "BACK TO THE INNOCENCE" features a stunning range of emotions and an equally remarkable variety of sounds, from the smoothly propulsive "Walk With Me," to the introspective, strings-textured balladry of "Black and Blue," to the riff-driven "Back To Innocence," complete with its hip-hop inspired snap-down.
Talented producers and engineers in their own right, Seven and the Brandts also make up the We Three Kings production company/label, which has entered into a partnership with The Atlantic Group. The trio has already been busy writing material for a number of outside artists, with several irons in the production fire slated to bear fruit later this year.
"We've been so overwhelmed between the album and our We Three Kings work that I'm very much looking forward getting on the road and playing these songs for people," says Seven. "We're all looking forward to really putting a face to this music and making a real solid first impression."
Watch out world – here comes The Sun.