Kevin Kirkwood â€“ Vocals / Lyricist
Dallas Perry â€“ Guitar
Dalton Humphreys â€“ Bass
Ben Holt - Drums
â€œItâ€™s about persistence,â€? says Kevin Kirkwood. â€œWeâ€™ve been through so much â€“ 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.â€? Lead singer for Seven Channels, Kirkwood is talking about â€œVelcro Parade,â€? one of the debut albumâ€™s tracks â€“ and summing up the spirit of this remarkable band. Guitarist Dallas Perry joins in: â€œWe think of our music as the dark side of pop â€“ thereâ€™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.â€? 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.
Seven ChannelsFrom the full-bore attack of â€œHeliumâ€? and â€œRooftopâ€? to the rhythmic subtlety of â€œCircleâ€? to the elegant guitar/bass interplay of â€œElectric Voices,â€? the album builds in memorable intensity. â€œBreathe,â€? the albumâ€™s lead single, is a heartfelt paean to some of Kirkwoodâ€™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 Kevinâ€™s singing: â€œIâ€™ve got the motion to fly/even though I might fall out the skyâ€? (â€œVelcro Paradeâ€?).
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. â€œOutside of keeping us laughing with Monty Python routines, he hardly ever got up from the console,â€? Dallas says. â€œHe kept us putting in 10-hour days, and we loved that because we pride ourselves on our work ethic.â€? Millsâ€™ efforts paid off with production that retains the bandâ€™s underlying pop sensibilities while sharpening their sonic attack. â€œHe told us, â€˜I love your writing, I just want to hear everything heavier,â€? Dallas remembers. â€œAnd thatâ€™s exactly what we wanted.â€?
As for the Seven Channelsâ€™ work ethic â€“ 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 bandâ€™s precociously mature songwriting and impressive chops. Relentless roadwork and the EPâ€™s reception led to another milestone â€“ Seven Channelsâ€™ selection as one of the â€œTop Five Unsigned Bands in Americaâ€? on VH1â€™s 1999 Rock Across America Tour. That same year, Mars Music (one of the nationâ€™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 Kirkwoodâ€™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. â€œI drank to medicate myself from the pain. I didnâ€™t want to have to think about it.â€? But by the time he turned eighteen he reached his breaking point. â€œThere was no specific thing, I just snapped out of it. I didnâ€™t want to wake up one day and be this old guy hanging out on the porch drinking his life away, so I stopped.â€? He began locking himself in his room to create music. â€œMy drinking buddies didnâ€™t want to hang with me anymore so all I would do is play.â€? Music compelled him to change. â€œI realized that we have seven days a week, seven opportunities to channel creative and positive energies â€“ thatâ€™s where the idea for the band came from.â€?
Seven ChannelsIn 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 â€“ vocalizing and adding trumpet licks with likeminded aficionados. It was an eclectic beginning for a rock singer, but since childhood heâ€™d also nurtured a life-transforming admiration for David Bowie (Bowie remains an influence, Kirkwood says, for â€œhis way of taking on different characters for different songs.â€?). Alternative rockers like Sponge and the aggressive metal of Motley Crueâ€™s Dr. Feelgood rounded out his formative listening, as he envisioned a life in music. He began writing songs and, he says, â€œI wanted to be a drummer first.â€? Then, five years ago, â€œI went to a vocal coach who said I should stick to writing,â€? he adds, laughing. One listen to the singing on Seven Channels exacts nice revenge on that nameless vocal coach â€“ Kevinâ€™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. â€œHereâ€™s this huge, 6 foot 3, tattooed guy with a goatee down to his chest,â€? Kevin laughingly recalls. â€œAnd then he turns out to be the nicest guy â€“ and just an amazing guitarist.â€? Schooled in the pyrotechnical style of the players he admires (Metallica, Joe Satriani, Slash), Perry brought a new aggressiveness to the mix. â€œI grew up in Houston, listened to a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and had played in a Texas blues-rock band,â€? 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 â€“ Ben a dynamo percussionist who grew up on Motown, Humphreys a singularly inventive bass player who refined his craft playing sessions.
Together, they realized Kirkwoodâ€™s vision: â€œFor a while, it was just me with back-up players. But I wanted the vibe of a band.â€? And itâ€™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 â€“ from â€œBreatheâ€? (â€œPeople around me have died untimely deaths, from cancer, car wrecks and other causes. The songâ€™s about breathing them in my heart and soul,â€? Kevin says) to â€œCircleâ€? (â€œItâ€™s ultimately a song about the band itselfâ€?) to the yearning essence of â€œSuperconnectedâ€? (â€œâ€¦You can save my soul/compress to a vacant place that was torn from me/revolve into your realityâ€¦â€?). Varied in theme, yet unified in passionate delivery, this is music built to last.
And for Seven Channels, itâ€™s only an unforgettable beginning.