7 SECONDS IN 1981. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: KEVIN SECONDS, STEVE YOUTH AND BIX BIGLER | PHOTO: GARY ELAM
I have been sitting here staring at the screen of this laptop for the better portion of an afternoon trying to come up with an introduction to this interview with Kevin Seconds.
Why is that? I don’t know. It could be writer’s block. It could be my constant lack of concentration. Or it could be I am just a lousy writer.
Or it could be I know deep down there in my gut, an introduction to an interview with him on a site like this is almost pointless.
Their impact on Hardcore is something so massive you’d expect it to be known almost telepathically; especially among the like who read DCXX. So let’s skip the grand introduction and get down to what we really want to do: Read about the past, present and future of one of the pioneering bands of this music we all love so much.
7-Seconds… Take One
HESHER KEVIN PUNKING OUT IN 1980 | PHOTO: CARI L MARVELLI
How and when did 7 Seconds come together in Nevada?
Kevin: Steve Youth is my younger brother so our mom brought us together…hahaha. But no, my family moved from Sacramento to Reno in 1977. At the time, I was 16 and Steve was ten or eleven and we were both just crazed hard rock kids into bands like Judas Priest and Van Halen who fell in love with bands like the Pistols, the Ramones and the Clash.
Once we heard those bands, we knew immediately that we wanted to do what they were doing. And Reno was pretty much a perfect place for rebellion to flourish because, as a kid, there was nothing for you to do unless you were a jock or a stoner and you had parties and did shit like cruise the main drag every Friday and Saturday night. None of that appealed to us and we were looking for something more. Punk was that something.
As far as 7 Seconds goes, the seeds were actually planted in the early part of 1979 when Steve and I got turned on to bands like the Dils and D.O.A. Those bands had a harder, faster, more intense edge to them than the British and New York wave of bands and we related to it even more so. We immediately knew that we wanted to play fast and we decided to start a band called X-Banned but we couldn’t find a drummer in Reno who could play that fast. That is, not until this guy I worked with at a Montgomery Ward, a kid named Bob Seeds, told me he was a drummer and wanted to join a band. We’d sit up all night playing records for him and he liked the bands we liked and before long, we started practicing at a friend’s basement. We never really played gigs but we got to the point that we started to sound pretty good. Everything was moving along until Bob joined the Navy and by the end of ’79, he was gone. Not long after, Steve and I were in a record store in Sparks and we noticed this long-haired guy in a big parka covered in punk rock band buttons and we were so excited that there was yet another punk fan in our town, we went up and started talking to him and we hit it off instantly. His name was Tommy Borghino and he invited us to come listen to records at this friend of his’ house and we were blown away because between Tom and his friend, they had the biggest punk rock and new wave record collection we had ever seen. Eventually, Tom decided to buy a drum kit and start drumming and by January, he was our new drummer. At the time, I didn’t want to sing, I wanted to be the guitar player so Tom’s younger brother Jimmy tried out with us and we liked his style and spirit. We played our first show at a biker/redneck/Top 40 bar on March 2, 1980 and within a year, I was singing and playing guitar for the band.
AN EARLY 7 SECONDS GIG IN NEVADA | PHOTO: CARI L MARVELLI
Can you remember when you started to hear word of this ‘Hardcore’ thing starting to bubble?
There was a cover article on Black Flag and the L.A./Huntington Beach scene in a Bay Area music magazine called Damage and they made mention of ‘Hardcore’ in their description of some of the bands from that area. D.O.A. were the first band we ever heard refer to their style of punk as ‘Hardcore’ and we worshiped them so I think we just decided that, if it was good for them, it was good for us. I immediately loved the term because, at the time, I thought that perfectly defined the sound and feel of some of the bands around North America we were starting to hear about. I had started finding ‘zines in places like Rough Trade and Rather Ripped Records in the Bay Area and they were covering a lot of what was happening in Southern California and beyond. Obviously, Black Flag and Dead Kennedys were getting the bulk of the coverage and those bands sounded dangerous and appealed to us greatly. The great thing, even though it was sort of frustrating back then, was that there weren’t a lot of photos or in-depth interviews of a lot of these bands so it was hard getting information on them. That definitely added to the mystique of what was going on everywhere else but in our city.
How did the Hardcore scene in Reno start to develop? Who were some of the first bands to start around 7 Seconds?
I’d say the scene element began sometime early in 1979 at, of all places, local weekly showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show. We didn’t know it then but many of us going to those showings and meeting those who went every week like we did, were building up a pretty cool social thing that you couldn’t really find anywhere else in Reno. 7 Seconds started playing parties around town and by the summer of 1980, there was a really fun little underground scene that grew from those parties. Other bands sprouted up during that time, bands like the Thrusting Squirters and The Wrecks, an all-girl band who were sort of our sister band.
EARLY ALL FEMALE RENO PUNK BAND, THE WRECKS | PHOTO: GAR ELAM
I love The Wrecks. Your sister was in this band, right?
The Wrecks were so much fun. We loved them, especially Bessie the bassist and Jone the guitarist. Steve and I used to see them perform at RHPS and they were at our first gig and supported us enthusiastically. They also did what was arguably, Reno’s first punk rock ‘zine, Paranoia. My sister wasn’t in the Wrecks but she did love and play punk rock and had a couple bands of her own, like Condemned and Anti. She also put out a great early Reno punk/hardcore scene ‘zine called Media Massacre.
7 SECONDS WITH BUDDY TONY TOXIC ON VOCALS | PHOTO: UNKNOWN
When did you guys start pulling road trips to California?
Our first road trip was probably when D.O.A. invited us to come play with them at the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco in 1980. After that, we started making short trips to Sacramento, Fresno, Santa Cruz and Chico. We had some incredible and memorable experiences and were fortunate enough to get to see and play with bands like The Lewd, No Alternative, the Red Rockers, Husker Du, Meat Puppets, etc. etc.
Do you remember how the correspondence with Ian MacKaye started?
Henry Rollins was the first DC hardcore kid to make contact. He wrote us saying that he got a copy of one of our early demo tapes from Biafra and wanted to trade a copy for his band S.O.A.’s new 7 inch. Soon after, we heard from Ian and it was similar. We started writing letters back and forth, trading tapes and records and filling each other in on what was going on in our respective cities. I still have and adore those letters.
7 SECONDS 1981 | PHOTO: GARY ELAM