For 35 years, 7 Seconds has been a stalwart of the hardcore punk scene. Founded in Reno, Nevada, by brothers Kevin and Steve Marvelli (who adopted the new last names Seconds and Youth, respectively), this Sacramento crew has also figured prominently in the straight-edge movement.
An energetic man by nature, Kevin, now in his early 50s, hasn't slowed down since the band formed in 1979. Along with 7 Seconds, he has maintained a steady solo career. He ran a popular coffeehouse, True Love, with his wife for a number of years in the early 2000s. He's an artist too. And he's even currently organizing a documentary about his experience as a restaurateur.
Last week, we here at Crossfade spoke with the hardcore veteran about family, touring, and how staying busy has been the secret to staying young.
Crossfade: Let's start with how you've managed to be in a band with your brother for 34 years and not be publicly at each other's throats.
Kevin Seconds: That's the key, really; publicly, we are pretty professional, but we've been good; in the early days, we had to learn to adjust being in a band together and having mutual respect. I couldn't look at it as yelling at my little brother, but honestly, he's such a good musician and a big part of what makes this band. We know when we are having a bad day and have woken up on the wrong side and respect that. Same for the other guys, Troy is just like a brother, and everybody has their quirks, I guess when we were younger, we had a little less patience, but we're all older now.
Troy and Bobby have now been in the band for what, over 20 years?
Yes. Troy joined in '81, '82, and Bobby came in '86 or so, and we've had some bumps here and there, but he came back, and we've all been together since.
I guess he channels his frustrations through "smooth jazz."
[Laughs] The truth of the matter is that all three of them are amazing musicians; they can play it all. It's surprising that it is smooth jazz, but he really has the chops for it.
Let's talk about this year: You've had a busy one with your solo album Off Stockton coming out in February and then the new 7 Seconds' full-length, Leave a Light On, in May.
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Yup, and in-between we've been doing a lot of touring to support the record. This is the first time in nine years that the four of us have come together as a band to record and tour, and we were a little bit worried before we started the U.S. tour, but it really went well, and we get to pretend like we're 20-year-old kids again.
You guys went down to Brazil too.
Yes, it was a great experience.
Only Brazil, though.
Yes, we've been trying to tour down there for years and have had offers to go down and do Brazil, Argentina, and Chile -- pretty much all throughout South America -- but we just, for whatever reason, couldn't make it work, so with this promoter it just felt right and fell together. Hopefully in the next few years, we'll be able to do that and maybe Costa Rica. There's a great music scene down there and an incredible energy for the style of music that we play, which is awesome. I was blown away by the amount of humanity and the energy in Säo Paulo; the feel in the air was like New York multiplied. It was exciting to be able to go down there and do it.
Next year, you're doing Europe?
Yes; what we like to do is a short run in the spring and then hit the festivals during the summer. We're also in talks about doing a week in Australia. South America will more likely happen later in the year, and in-between we'll do regional parts of the U.S. We're just going to promote the album, and if it continues to be fun, we'll play it by ear. We are trying to keep it from becoming a chore. It's a lot of work, and you have to be away from family and the things you love, but it's great to be able to still do it and have the amount of fun that we have doing it.
I don't want to be cheeky and ask if "you're going to be young until you die" or something hinting at that, but I guess staying busy is the key, right?
I think so. I mean, not just staying busy to fill up time. I have friends who do that and never slow down because they think that once they slow down it's over, and maybe it is, I don't know. For me, I don't know, I've never been a "vacation" guy; I've never really gotten that. I mean, I like to get away and travel and go sit on the beach, but I also love knowing that there are other things for me to do like artwork and music -- there's always something to do. Even like hosting an open mic here and there. I like different things.
Even when I go back and do the records for 7 Seconds, everything feels fresh and revitalized. Even after playing hard-core punk rock music in the basement for this long, it still feels fresh. Whether ten or a hundred people show up, I feel great, and it makes me work harder at it.
After 35 years, how do you see the punk rock landscape today? You've been quoted saying that at one of the festivals, out of 50-odd bands, you recognized two names. I feel the same way sometimes.
You know, the older people can either hold on to the thing and be all, "Ah, it's not what it used to be" and turn into my father, or we can try and listen and watch. I see things that I'm not as inspired by as I used to be, but my job is to try and find inspiration. The youth is always going to be the heart and the soul, and that's where it should be. With punk rock, I'm glad that it's happening and that it keeps going. I know what that feels like, so it's cool. It's fun; I'm happy to be in a band that after 34 years is still making records because it is fun.
We might not be selling thousands and thousands of records, but we've just made one of our best, and the response has been great, and we are all very happy with it. That's all you can ask for at this point.
That's important, having that pride.
Absolutely. That's it. As long as that pride is not meaningless pride. If it's not based on love, if you don't have that, in my opinion, it's done. I think that's why it's still cool for me to be in a band with three goofballs, because we've all been together for so long and we know everything about each other. We've seen the dumbest things and the coolest things, and it's still fun.
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I'm in a band that I love, a marriage that I love, I'm doing the things that I love, and I try to think about that every day and not forget it nor ignore that.
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7 Seconds. Presented by Idle Hands. With the Interrupters, Between Enemies, and Die Trying! Saturday, November 1. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets cost $12 via idlehands305.com. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-757-1807, or visit churchillspub.com.