The folksinger’s homecoming
Kevin Seconds talks solo records, affordable art and 30 years of 7Seconds
Three seconds into “Run Run Run,” the fifth track on his new album Off Stockton, Kevin Seconds screws up.
And then he laughs and laughs, and ultimately proceeds with a simple, rootsy folk tune, punctuated by harmonies with his wife, Allyson.
Why leave the misstep on the final record? Despite the general seriousness of his lyrics, Seconds wants to make sure fans know he has a sense of humor.
“You need to make fun of yourself,” he said. “Plenty of other people will.”
Plus, he had a blast producing Off Stockton, set for release on Tuesday, February 18, on Rise Records. Rather than record it himself, Seconds went into his buddy David Houston’s studio this time around. It might be the most clean and polished of his six solo albums, though the instrumentation is sparse. Most songs feature just Seconds and his guitar, with the occasional visit from a cello or organ.
“It’s probably the most straightforward, folky record I’ve made,” he said. “I didn’t want to fuss with it too much with too many layers.”
But for anyone strictly familiar with Seconds as the frontman of influential hardcore punk band 7Seconds, the solo work may come as a shock. In fact, some fans who think of 7Seconds probably still think of a bunch of idealistic guys in their 20s. Time has passed, after all, and Seconds turns 53 in March. But the folk and punk worlds merge with Seconds’ music—he said many of his fans are actually fans of both.
“A lot of punk rockers are mellowed out with kids and lives, so this kind of music is more appealing to them than what they might have listened to when they were younger,” he said.
Seconds still tours with the punk band he founded more than 30 years ago in Reno, Nevada, and he thrives on having both projects simultaneously.
“I’m finally at the point that I understand the differences,” he said. “I know I have to be a certain way for both—I have to think differently and feel differently, and I like that. It makes life more interesting.”
On his own, Seconds can set up on any street corner and play. He doesn’t have to coordinate with four other personalities. He can really sing instead of shout. Plus, he’s always dug the sound.
“When I was younger, getting into harder music, I put those folk records aside because I needed to wrap myself into loud, furious, angry music,” Seconds said. “But I’d go back to them.”
Still, 2014 is going to be a busy year for the musician. Not only will he be touring for his new solo record in the spring, but he’s dropping a new 7Seconds record in May—the first full-length since 2005.
“I think it sounds incredible,” Seconds said of the 7Seconds record. “It’s the first time we got into a studio and got a producer who made the record we wanted to make.”
After a national tour, 7Seconds will hit Europe and hopefully South America. It can be a little tricky to plan, though. Most of the guys in the band now have wives, kids and jobs to schedule around. It’s another reason why Seconds so appreciates the solo time—more unencumbered touring.
Seconds will kick off his spring tour with a record release show at Fox & Goose. There, he’ll have another recent creative project for sale: trading cards featuring some of Seconds’ favorite paintings. The cards, of which he recently printed a thousand copies, feature unique sketches and autographs. They’re an affordable way to connect with fans, he said.
“I’ve discovered that when you make your art available in the same way you make your music available, people love it,” he said. “I think on my last tour, I sold more art than music.”
And, of course, the show will feature Seconds playing his new songs—many of which revolve around this town.
“My songs are Sacramento-centric—everything is about something or inspired by something that happened here,” he said. “It’s funny. I’m always trying to get the hell out of here, but then when I’m out, I can’t wait to go home.”