SEVENTRAIN – Running On All Cylinders
March 31, 2023, 11 months ago
“They’re actually hearing and listening to the whole song, which is pretty cool,” enthuses Seventrain guitarist Eric Horton when gauging fan response to the band’s new self-titled EP, out now. “It seems the song ‘So Far’ has been getting the best response. I noticed when you do the lyric videos, you can monitor the playthroughs, and they are like at eighty percent all the way to one hundred percent and ‘good’ is like fifteen to twenty percent, or twenty-five percent.”
“So Far” is the opening track on the four-song EP and sets the tone for workmanlike hard rock/heavy metal backed by the other Eric in the band – Eric Koonze and his gritty, bluesy vocals. He describes “So Far” as “a guy fighting himself. I kind of wanted to leave it open so it wasn’t about drugs, you know what I mean? Because it could be an addiction; you’re getting far away from who you used to be as a person. So that’s where the ‘so far from home comes from.’ It’s more of a metaphor than actually going to your house (laughs).”
Horton expounds on the track, “The concept of the song I always thought was, as you go through life and you start getting on in the middle of life and things like that, you start realizing what’s important. Some of these choices you make when you’re younger gets what you think you want and when you get to maybe the backseat of that decision; well, that’s not really what’s important.”
Seventrain works as a complete unit with all members having say in how a song is constructed and is also why the EP was self-produced.
Horton explains, “It really boils down to – you know after recording and writing several albums in my life and dealing with other guys that thought they were producers or engineers, you just kind of come to a point where you’re like, I think I’m pretty good and we can do it on our own. We know what we like and with the way technology is these days, you don’t really have to go into a studio for equipment purposes or space. We just had this focus of, if it sounds good to us sonically and artistically with the song, then other people should probably like it, you know? I mean, I’ve been saying this a lot – we like a lot of popular songs and if we do stuff that we enjoy, than other people will like it as well since we all have the same influences as everyone else that does this at a higher level.”
As for the choice to do an EP rather than a full-length, Horton answers, “We had ten songs written musically and then Koonze came in and wrote all the lyrics in probably like two, three weeks, bam, bam, bam. The long part is just getting in-between gigs and things like that and getting it recorded, which is why we did the EP.”
Seventrain released their last full-length, Back On Track, in 2019, but as Horton attests, the album was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There’s some really good material in there. I’m even considering doing some more lyric videos on that. I mean, it’s out there and it’s good stuff. So I don’t know why we wouldn’t push it, you know? And just bring more attention to the band. This last album is more honest to who we all are as musicians.”
Koonze concurs, “There’s good songs on it. If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s new even though it’s got the stamp ‘2019’ on it. I think a lot of people should hear it. You can always go back, like when I first heard Dokken, I heard the Under Lock And Key album first and then I went back heard Tooth And Nail. I was like, ‘Wow, this is good too!’
The four songs on the Seventrain EP will also be featured on the band’s next full-length.
As Horton enlightens, “What’s nice about that is remember when [Iron] Maiden put out – when [Bruce] Dickinson got back in the band and they put out ‘The Wicker Man’ back in 2000? And then they released the song and it was a little bit different than what was on the album. There’s actually some harmonies on that one they released and I thought they should have left them on there. The nice thing about this is, I’m listening to [the EP] and we’re going to add more probably to it as time goes by; we’ll put more flavor in it and stuff like that.”
When discussing the track “Rollercoaster”, Koonze laughs if it documents a particular person. “I’m going to say ‘no’, not one in particular, [if I do] that might get me in trouble (laughs). It’s about the crazy bitch, but you have fun, but then you’re like, ‘Oh no, what I have got myself into?’ But you’re still having fun. It’s a rollercoaster.”
Horton likes the party atmosphere of the song and attests these sets of songs are stronger thanks to everyone’s input. “Dave [Odegaard, guitarist] came up with the actual riff on that. Kind of how we write is someone will bring in an idea and then we’ll just kind of pass it around the room and everyone will get their input and we’ll fight and argue and then have beers. Out of the three Seventrain albums that I’ve been a part of, this is the one that’s had the most input from everyone, which is nice. And I think it makes better songs, to be honest with you.
Horton likens final track “Save My Soul” to Judas Priest as the band lets it rip musically, while lyrically tackling a serious topic of addiction. “The opening riff, it was funny because I’m like, this very Judas Priest-y especially after their last album came out and Dave came up with that intro lick thing and I’m like ‘Holy Glenn Tipton!’. If you listen to it again, to me it just reeks of Judas Priest. Like something right off of Firepower.
Koonze talks about the lyrics stating, “It’s an addiction song where the guy is going and taking everything to the limit more than he expected to. I kind of took it and made it more of a like an inner battle. Part of the lyrics say, ‘I’ll fight this war inside of me.’ So you’re fighting yourself not to do the bad things that you shouldn’t be doing, but they just happen anyways. So then he ends up blaming the devil (laughs), whether he exists or not.
“You get to the end of the song and it says, ‘I won’t let the devil take my soul.’ It’s another one of those things where you’re trying to just get through life the way, especially since it’s been so shitty. There’s a lot of people that of addiction during Covid. People just lost their mind, you know? So, I figured people could relate to that. Eric had a lot of it written, the melodies were all good and I just wanted to make it more relatable and put my twist on it.”
To switch things up, 25 years ago a heavy metal band called Cage with Sean Peck on vocals and Horton on guitars, released their debut record Unveiled independently with that strange, robot wizard on the cover.
“Oh God, you mean the worst album cover in the history of man?” laughs the guitarist, who was with Cage for two albums.
“Even to this day I’m still friends with Sean Peck. We were in a band called Nomad and I swear to God, that band should have done something,” recalls Horton. “It was really good. Maybe my brains are pickled from the day. He formed Cage out of that actually. And I joined and they weren’t doing much. Sean had a great voice and they started doing some stuff and I said I’d be interested. I got in the band and we decided to write an album, which was Unveiled, the first album. I wrote ‘Shoot To Kill’, ‘Dancing Around The Fire’, ‘Unveiled’, and I think like two or three other songs. And we had some of the prior stuff that we put on the album.”
The guitarist goes on to explain that a journalist in Europe submitted ‘Shoot To Kill’ to Rock Hard magazine and that’s what set the band off.
“It won ‘Best Unsigned’ song. We didn’t even know this was going on,” recalls Horton. “We got a call and they’re like, ‘Hey, you guys want to play the Dynamo Festival in six months?’ And, we’re like, what’s that? (laughs). Lo and behold there’s like a hundred thousand people there, Metallica’s playing, King Diamond playing and Monster Magnet, and Zakk [Wylde] right when Black Label Society was coming out so that kind of popped the band up a little bit. We were actually drawing like eight hundred to twelve hundred people to our local shows. We were doing House Of Blues sized venues, just us on our own.”
Going back to Unveiled, he remembers, “That album was good. The artwork was done by some kid because we had no money. So you get what you pay for (laughs). I think he just got a computer and we just let him go for it.”
Back on the tracks with Seventrain, while the band has nothing on the table for touring due to costs, the San Diego-based band is looking at regional shows, including an upcoming Headbangers Brawl show on April 14 where the band will play classic metal tracks plus Seventrain originals.