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Ruminating on 7 Seconds' hardcore influence

Local punks don't always rock together

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Punk rockers are an opinionated bunch, especially when it comes to the music they love and hate. Since forming circa 1980 in Reno, Nev., 7 Seconds has been one of those divisive straightedge/hardcore bands that inspired countless impressionable youths to change their listening habits and, indeed, their lifestyles. Others couldn't press the eject button on their tape player fast enough.

Those who were moved by the fist-pumping positivity of such anthems as "We're Gonna Fight," "Regress, No Way," and the group's most well-known number, a cover of German new wave singer Nena's antinuclear-war song, "99 Red Balloons," are in luck. This summer 7 Seconds is on the road supporting Leave a Light On (Rise Records), the band's first album in nine years. Brothers and founding members Kevin Seconds (vocals) and Steve Youth (bass), along with more recent members Bobby Adams (guitar) and Troy Mowat (drums) have crafted an album that further embraces the melodic three-chord chargers that defined such seminal 7 Seconds releases as 1984's The Crew, and the group's acclaimed 1986 partially live/partially studio-recorded album (produced by Minor Threat's Ian MacKaye), Walk Together, Rock Together. Before 7 Seconds makes its way to Atlanta, local punk rock types and scene vets weighed in on the group's influence.

"When I first started playing in hardcore punk bands as a kid, we played with a band called Reinforce, who put out an EP of all 7 Seconds covers. That was my intro to them. I eventually found Walk Together, Rock Together on cassette, at a record store. Besides [the recording's] rad cover of '99 Red Balloons,' one of my favorite songs as a kid, ["Walk Together, Rock Together"] was an important one to me, too. My life was about breaking down barriers of many different kinds, and the song spoke directly to me upon first listen. It's hard for me to pick favorites when it comes to bands, but if I were to make a list, there's no doubt they'd be on it." — Adam Anzio, Black Linen.

"I don't really care for them but also never gave them much of a chance growing up. I feel bad saying it because I haven't heard much by them, but from what I have heard, they, well, suck ass. But like I said, I haven't really ever given that band a fair shot, so maybe I should at some point." — Kylee Kimbrough, Dasher.

"They're not street punk. They're straightedge hardcore. I wouldn't call Dag Nasty or Moss Icon or Minor Threat or about 1,000-plus other bands punk either. While this has a very nostalgic quality for me personally, this kind of stuff always sounds dated as fuck because hardcore got raided the hardest by shitty mall punk and hardcore bands in the late '90s and early 2000s, and made most of this stuff sound like a joke." — Michael Patrick Keenan, HAWKS

"I first heard 7 Seconds when I was 8 years old. My sister played me their cover of '99 Red Balloons' and I learned to play it on bass, an instrument I have never really played live ... or well. I was obsessed with that cover as a child. That was the first and last time I learned to play a song by playing along with a recording. To this day I 'paint by memory' and just figure out songs away from a stereo. Great band." — Jeffrey Bützer, the Bicycle Eaters

"I grew up listening to that band, which really helped get me further into that side of music. I remember blasting 'Walk Together, Rock Together' over and over until it was burned into my brain. It definitely had an influence on the kind of music I listen to and play today." — Ryan Davis, Zoners

"I was in the 11th grade and the only type of music I thought existed was rap (I know, right?!). There were these punk kids that sat to the left of me and one of them, Jake (their de facto leader), had a shirt that was the cover art for The Crew. I was mesmerized by it. I knew I was done with rap, I just didn't know where else to go. When I got home I got on Kazaa, and after sorting through some '7 second' porn I finally found some music. Now I don't even know if this shit was on that album, but it stuck with me and I never listened to rap again." — Fontez Brooks, Baby Baby

"The Crew and Walk Together, Rock Together are two albums that are the embodiment of '80s skate culture, in my mind. Whenever I listen to them it just makes me feel overly youthful and positive. It really does take me back to being a kid in the '80s." — West Evans, formerly of Archrivals, Knife and the Fourth Ward Daggers

"I can't say I ever really got into 7 Seconds. I think I saw them in, like, 1998 at Warped Tour, and they covered Sham 69's 'If the Kids are United.' I've always been into stuff on the downer side of things." — Josh Feigert, Wymyns Prysyn

"7 Seconds was huge for me, and will always be. Major impact, especially with how fucking fast they were versus the stuff that was coming out at the same time as them. I will always hold them in high esteem. We [Quadiliacha] played with them a few times in 1994. I actually got to play guitar on a couple of their songs, too!" —Will Greene, formerly of G.G. King, Carbonas, and Quadiliacha

"I remember when I first heard 7 Seconds, they grabbed me with their fast, gritty sound and positive themes. The Crew is my favorite record, and 'Clenched Fist, Black Eyes' is my favorite song. It reminds me of growing up on the Southside, when that album got me through a lot of hard times." — Richard Henderson, Antagonizers ATL

"I don't hate them and would not look away if they were playing. But they must really get along or be doing something right, due to their longevity." — Jennie Castillo, Sioux City Sue

"7 Seconds were special. ... Bands tend to follow one of two paths. One path produces the Ramones: 'Here's what we do. You love it. We love it. We'll keep on doing it.' The other path, chosen by 7 Seconds, is a bit trickier: 'Here's where we were. Here's where we went. Here's where we are now. We like all of it. Hope you do too.' Every turn on this path requires a rebuilding of your fan base, as older fans will desert you along the way. At the end though, the journey itself may stand taller than any destination." — Chet Knight, the No Disciples and A.P.A.

"It took me seven seconds to realize they're terrible, so I went the opposite direction. I'm positive they were too positive for me." — Chase Noles, Dinos Boys

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