You recorded the ‘Walk Together, Rock Together’ 12” on the ’84 tour with Ian MacKaye at Inner Ear Studios. Any memories of that recording? What motivated the writing of the title track?
The writing was going on during the tour. I was way into keeping a journal back in those days – still am but just not as consistently – and I was always jotting down thoughts and lyrical ideas. The song ‘Walk Together, Rock Together’ was loosely inspired by a really fucked up incident that happened at a show in Green Bay on the tour. Or I should say, it happened at what would have been a show in Green Bay. Some local metal heads decided that punk rockers were an easy target and came to the venue – a pizza joint – to bust heads. A small riot ensued and the show was shut down before we got a chance to play. But it struck me how insane and stupid it was that young rocker kids, who were basically fuck-ups and misfits, looked at young punk kids, who were fuck-ups and misfits, as some sort of threat or enemy. In my mind, it just didn’t add up so I used that particular incident as the basis for the song.
Our experience with Ian and Don Zientara at Inner Ear Studios was pretty incredible. Ian seemed to get what we were going for. It was funny because he was our age and yet seemed to have his shit really together, unlike us (haha). He really knew his way around the studio and he and Don had a great rapport and made it a really fun experience.
A year or so later, you started to write the material for the ‘New Wind’; kind of the ultimate ‘departure’ record. What was the motivation?
I’m not sure that we saw it as a departure. We weren’t attempting to bail on hardcore or punk rock. We just got caught up on our many influences and were pretty shell-shocked by the amount of violence we were seeing at punk rock and hardcore shows, especially in Southern California. I had written a lot of the New Wind material at home and had pondered starting a whole new side project that would be more of a melodic, mid-tempo type of thing but I played the songs for the guys and they seemed to love them and we decided to record them as 7 Seconds. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, after the success and popularity of both The Crew and Walk Together, Rock Together but we weren’t thinking about being smart at the time (haha).
I’ve said this many times but I just don’t recall us ever having some focused idea or us being so driven by a particular idea that we looked at doing different things musically as some sort of way to gain a wider audience. We just wanted to feel like we could control our own creative destiny and at the same time, we had all this activism running through our veins that we wanted to maintain.
Was there backlash from anyone in regards to the ‘new sound’
Absolutely, there was. No one took the amount of shit from the hardcore scene as we did. People were pissed, sending us death threats. I remember several shows where kids would stand up front and were just visibly bawling their eyes out, they were so disappointed and disenchanted by us. It was really frustrating and depressing and it did get under our skin. Ultimately though, it helped us grow a thicker skin.