Monday, February 27, 2023

Let's continue to 'Walk Together, Rock Together'/ 7Seconds special

1984 Alison Braun photo

By Andy and our Crew

If you were already on board with 7Seconds, you surely couldn't wait to see what path they would traverse next on their hardcore punk trek.

Perhaps you went back as far as the rough-and-ready Vicious Scam Tapes days or the more blistering EPs, and definitely the vital sing-real-loud sounds of "The Crew" album. Wherever you jumped into the fray, 1985 was gonna be a crucial year in the 7Seconds realm.

Enter "Walk Together, Rock Together" and they elevated the whole genre. Those 7 (yes) songs were packed with an abundance of heft, melody and hope that would remain in people's minds for years after the BYO Records/Positive Force Records year stamp. The Nena cover is, of course, killer and I encourage anyone to dig into their (or The Stripes) catalogue to locate some gems that are buoyed by some punkish guitaristry and gutsy vocals.

In a cool instance of rock together, trade together, Kevin Seconds and I swapped EPs -- his "Blasts from the Past" for my Sorex "Portrait of a Prisoner" -- in the parking lot when our bands shared a bill with the Circle Jerks and the Yobs in Sparks, Nevada, in 1985. 

This year, we're treated to an essential reissue and remaster of that EP -- forever emblazoned with the ace Brian Walsby cover art -- by Trust Records. You're also rewarded with a two-song 7-incher ("Regress No Way/We're Gonna Fight") to accompany the deluxe gatefold album, which features a 20-page band oral history from 1984–1986.

What follows are some of our Crew's accounts about what "Walk Together, Rock Together" and 7Seconds mean to them:

** Alison Braun:

I shot (the leadoff) photo on 3/23/1984 at the Olympic Auditorium before "Walk Together, Rock Together" came out and it is one of my favorite images, still. It really captured the essence of unity and inclusivity which sometimes seemed lacking in our scene.

As a fan who was not into drinking or drugs, 7Seconds' straight edge ethos and their message of unity and empowerment continues to resonate with me today. The band's commitment to speaking out against injustice and promoting social change continue to make their music relevant and inspiring, decades after the album's 1985 release.

2014 Cat Rose photo

** Robert Taylor:

I grew up in a small rural Kansas farm town, one of those towns where your high school football career defines you for life. Conformity wasn’t a suggestion; it was a requirement. I was in 8th grade when I embraced the fact that I had zero interest in sports and decided to forge my own path. Thankfully, the Clash entered my life with “Combat Rock” right at that moment. 

I didn’t know anyone that knew anything about punk, so I was starting my journey on my own. My only reference to punk rock would be the cartoonish punks that you’d see in movies and on TV, but I wasn’t a violent kid who hated my parents. I was rebelling against my peers and their values. I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, I wasn’t violent, and I got along with my parents. The Clash, Sex Pistols, and Billy Idol were my staples until I finally discovered a nearby college radio station, KJHK, that opened my world to punk, hardcore, and all things alternative. I’ll never forget when I first started hearing songs from the newly released 7SECONDS “Walk Together, Rock Together” on KJHK. It was loud, fast, aggressive, raw… everything that I loved. 

It was 1985, I was 16, had a job and finally had money to buy records. I rushed to buy “Walk Together, Rock Together.” Until now, I was mostly recording songs off of the radio, so lyric sheets hadn’t entered my life yet. When I read the lyrics to “Spread,” it hit me. “I grew up with love and affection, know what it means to spread that infection.” There were punks who felt the same way I did. They weren’t caricatures of what the normies thought punks were, they were singing about my thoughts and feelings. They even thanked their mom in the liner notes. Hey! These punks love their moms, too! It only reinforced and strengthened my love for punk rock, I finally felt like I had found my tribe. Living in a redneck world where teenage boys had to permanently display a false bravado with no emotions other than hate, I finally had support that it was okay to be myself and have feelings. That record told me that there were others like me out there and that everything was going to be okay.  

“Walk Together, Rock Together” caused me to dive into “The Crew” and Minor Threat (where I would finally discover what Ian was singing about!). It all fell into place like dominos and shortly after, my parents would finally start letting me go to shows at nearby Lawrence, Kansas. My second show was in the fall of 1985, it was supposed to be 7SECONDS at a new venue called the Outhouse, a cinder block building in the middle of a cornfield. 7SECONDS would unfortunately have to cancel the show due to the infamous “bottle over the head” incident. I wouldn’t see them until 1989, but that’s another story. “Walk Together, Rock Together” will forever be the record that let me know that I had support to be who I was when I needed to hear it the most and I will always be eternally grateful. 

** Reject Girl:

The opening feedback and 1-2, 1-2-3-4 that starts "Fuck Your Amerika" on "Not So Quiet on the Western Front" was my introduction to 7Seconds, along with countless other bands that were huge influences that were featured on this record. That comp started my love for this band. 

"Walk Together, Rock Together" inspired me in such positive ways, especially while I was dealing with a lot of negative, dark, and painful things as a teenager. Hearing Kevin Seconds’ lyrics on "We’re Gonna Fight" (from the 1986 reissue) and the title track... seriously, the words of "Remains to Be Seen" are true regarding what punk bands dealt with, starting from nothing, and really, truly all of us punk rockers in finding our path, if we are ever fortunate enough to do so. Overcoming barriers, our main goal is to better ways, help our communication with our positive commitment and all can succeed! Yes! Kevin Seconds nailed it with those sentiments. 

In addition to the ruling songs on the original EP, Ian MacKaye’s production is damn near perfect. The full album they made it into in 1986 with live tracks on the B-side is killer, and I think scratched the surface of what they do live. This record was IT. 

I remember seeing them do all these rippers off WTRT at a show with Liquid Jesus I snuck into at the Cactus Club (I was REALLY underage), and then a few months later at One Step Beyond, both in San Jose, my hometown and land of The Faction and Los Olvidados. They formed in 1980 and I believe really hit their stride by this second record, even though "The Crew," released a year earlier, is still a constant I’ll throw on my turntable. 

Don’t listen to the hipster fakes, Epitaph boys, or "Oh Oh Oh" chorus haters who will try to tell you different, trust me on this one. The two sets of brothers from the land of Circus, Circus, meth, and many grifters who decided to start a band get it. So many bands and records inspired me, but "Walk Together, Rock Together" was and still is a lifeline. If hopping a bus to Reno or anywhere, I NEED this record in my possession for life. 

** Chris Shary:

In 1986 I had a hand-drawn 7SECONDS shirt that I used to wear over the top of my hoodie with the lyrics to “Walk Together, Rock Together” written on the back. My hope was that someone standing in line for something would maybe read it and know where I stand. Sure enough, someone took the bait: Mike Fitzpatrick. 

Mike was the brother of one of my good friends in high school but I had never really spoken to him (probably because he was a full-on metalhead (YES, I was that shallow)). Anyway, Mike was in the bowling alley, read the shirt and it piqued his interest. We struck up a conversation about the lyrics, what it meant and the next thing you know Mike and I had struck up a friendship. Like you did back then, we started trading tapes with each other. Mike would expose me to Hanoi Rocks, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, and I would turn him on to The Dead Kennedys, Angry Samoans, Dag Nasty, etc… Mike was/is a super intelligent, funny, and compassionate person whose love of music surpassed mine by a mile. He was this really amazing person, who I never would have bothered making time for because of his outward appearance and what I perceived to be his musical background. 

“Walk Together” opened my mind to look past preconceived notions and find common ground in music which has led to lifelong friendships. I can’t really think of many other bands who can more quickly open up friendships like a shared interest in 7SECONDS. It’s like a secret handshake for some cool secret society. “Walk Together” was a turning point that brought some more grandiose thinking to what they had already been doing and it hit for me at that exact moment when I, too, was ready to stop being a close-minded teenager. No doubt, that album changed me for the better. I just got off the phone with Mike this morning, and I can verify that it changed him, too….and we’re still friends. 

2014 Cat Rose photo

** Sandi Whitehead (AKA Punk Pixels):

I grew up in a small town feeling isolated and alone. I was different. I wanted to connect with my peers, with the concepts of what “normal” was, but no matter how I tried I couldn’t find a way. That is a very dark and lonely place to be.  

I remember my first show. All of the sudden my world opened up. I saw hope. Hope that there was something different out there. The soundtrack to that time in my life, the opening up of my world, is punk rock/hardcore. Bands like Minor Threat, Fugazi, Gorilla Biscuits, 7Seconds, and many more gave voice to what it felt like to be on the outside looking in. The music brought us together and gave us a place to belong.

7Seconds was one of the first bands I discovered back then. "Walk Together, Rock Together" was on constant rotation for me. It’s hard to describe exactly what that band, those songs, those lyrics meant to me but the words that spring to mind are freedom, hope, love, acceptance, happiness, healing, and unity -- things I had rarely seen or experienced until that time. I am now 46 years old and the songs from that album instantly bring back all of those amazing, intense feelings.  

I am a fiber artist and this past year I had the honor of gifting a doll I made of Kevin Seconds to him. I cannot begin to tell you how much it meant to have the opportunity to give back a small piece of the joy that 7Seconds has given me over the years. I am so incredibly grateful for the music –- it has meant so much to me and I know many others.

** Nolan Erck:

People from my parents’ generation know where they were when they first heard The Beatles, or when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. I know where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard 7Seconds “Walk Together, Rock Together.”

I was in my friend David’s bedroom in Fairfield, CA. This girl Sara was visiting his family from back east and had brought with her a bag of cassette tapes. David and I began rummaging thru the bag looking for new (to us) bands to check out. That’s when I saw the black and yellow cassette cover. This was 1988, I was thirteen, and had just been introduced to the world of punk rock via 7Seconds “Walk Together, Rock Together.” My life was about to change substantially.

Before the tape was even finished, I pressed “rewind” and made a copy for myself (remember dual cassette decks?!). That dubbed tape was played obsessively for several years, until I bought the album on CD. That very same tape sits on a shelf behind me as I’m typing this -- it means too much to get rid of it.

Since then I’ve bought every album, and seen 7Seconds live tons of times (from one side of the country to the other). Nowadays, I’m fortunate enough to know the guys in the band personally, and have racked up some great adventures along the way. My buddy Robert and I went on a road trip through the midwest to see 4 shows on their recent tour with Circle Jerks and Negative Approach. 

I’m currently the webmaster for Kevin and I have played a bunch of solo shows together and been a guest on each other’s podcasts. Allyson Seconds, myself, and some friends made Kevin a 60th birthday video during the Covid lockdowns. Later this year I plan to get my first tattoo -- the periscope logo. And most importantly, I now consider Kevin a dear friend. 

...and it all started with “Walk Together, Rock Together.”

Thank you, 7Seconds. For everything.

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