7Seconds is so wrong, so right

Thirty-four years and still going strong: Sacramento's 7Seconds on hardcore, touring and advice for young bands

Photo courtesy of 7Seconds

Catch 7Seconds live on Friday, June 13, at Concerts in the Park in Cesar Chavez Plaza, located at 910 I Street. The show starts at 5 p.m., and there is no cover. Visit www.facebook.com/official7seconds for more on the band.

There’s a fun anthem in the middle of the new 7Seconds record, Leave a Light On.

It repeats: “30 years and we’re still going wrong / 30 fucking years we roll along.”

7Seconds, an iconic Sacramento hardcore band since the ’80s, is still kicking and screaming. The band’s 15th album dropped on May 27, and apart from that single track, new listeners would have no idea that frontman Kevin Seconds is 53 years old. The band’s energy sounds as strong as ever.

It’s been nine years since 7Seconds released its last album, Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over!, or went on a major tour. Seconds has, instead, focused on his solo acoustic music in Sacramento, while Steve Youth, Troy Mowat and Bobby Adams have stayed busy as dads and businessmen in Reno, Nevada. But Seconds never stopped writing punk songs, even though a full-length 7Seconds record wasn’t in his plans.

“This time last year, we weren’t completely convinced we should bother,” Seconds says. “We had no idea whether anyone would give a shit or know who we are still.”

That changed when Seconds linked up with Rise Records—owner Craig Ericson is a longtime fan, and wanted to release more 7Seconds.

Leave a Light On delivers classic hardcore punk, with melodic sing-alongs that promote social awareness, political activism and positivity. They’re the same ideals from when 7Seconds essentially founded American hardcore in 1980.

“When we first came out, the idea was that we weren’t just about being negative, nihilistic punk rockers,” Seconds says. “We were about trying to make our shitty world a little bit less shitty. Always.”

Even though Seconds helped coin the term, he wonders if he can still call 7Seconds a hardcore band. It’s been 34 years, and hardcore has changed.

“The mainstream hardcore or metalcore or whatever ’-core’ it is these days, I think is all about making money, being famous and getting laid,” Seconds says. “And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think hardcore always had a conscience, and that’s what made it stand out.”

There’s still an element of the old ethos and community in the underground scene, Seconds says. And lest fans think Seconds has become a bitter outsider, there are lots of contemporary bands he digs, like Iron Chic, Off!, Off With Their Heads and Sacramento’s Pressure Point.

Still, he says there’s too much of the “typical rock band being rock stars kind of thing.”

On Leave a Light On, Seconds has a song directed toward young bands—hardcore or not—relishing carefree, potentially self-destructive stardom. It’s called “Simple or Absolute,” and this is how Seconds sums up his message: “I know you think everything is amazingly great for you right now. You’re the shit. But it’s pretty temporary. It’s fleeting. Enjoy it now, but plan for something when everything goes downhill or back to normal, because that’s when it really fucks with your head.”

Seconds says the guys in 7Seconds always tried to stay grounded and self-aware—and make fun of themselves more than anyone else. It’s worked out well.

Friday’s Concerts in Park lands in the middle of 7Seconds’ international summer tour, which hits Canada, Europe and Brazil on top of 18 states. Seconds has gotten comfortable with van tours as a solo artist, but the whole band hasn’t hit the road together in about nine years. Seconds admits it’s daunting, but not because of age.

“For the first time in years, everyone’s actually actively eating better, exercising more,” Seconds says. “People quit smoking, quit drinking. Everyone’s actually trying to be healthier.”

It harkens back to the song “30 Years (And Still Going Wrong).” As Seconds sings: “Who could have seen it? / Nobody had a clue / We’d still be doing what we love to do.”