I remember being a 15-year-old kid going to the famed 924 Gilman St. in Berkeley for one of my first punk shows and being horribly intimidated. My parents dropped me off outside of the club with my friend. I was wearing my Vans skate shoes, Dickies shorts, and an oversized "NOFX is for Kids" t-shirt which I bought at my first concert, which I had attended a few months earlier. I stared in disbelief at all the punks with their hair in liberty spikes, wearing camo, and covered in homemade patches which were either of bands I had never heard of or covered in slogans that all contained words like "slave", "system", or "class war." As professor Henry Jones once said, "We are pilgrims in an unholy land."
Once inside and waiting for the Misfits tribute band I had come to see take the stage, I noticed a huge back patch of the 7 Seconds logo on the crusty punk in front of me. I thought it was the coolest logo I had ever seen. I naturally assumed from the guy wearing it that they probably didn't sound like Pennywise, or the Offspring, so I probably wouldn't care for them and promptly forgot about them.
Flash forward eight years to me wondering around in Dr. Strange Records in Southern California. While looking for a new album, the store's employee put some music on over the store PA. I immediately found myself tapping my foot and nodding to the beat and being amazed I had never heard this band before, seeing as the music was fast, pissed, and melodic, which is just the way I like hardcore punk. When I asked who the band was and he directed me to their section, I recognized the target logo that I had seen so many years ago and knew I had to have the album. That day, I bought The Crew by 7 Seconds and I have been constantly amazed by it since then.
7 Seconds' debut LP, The Crew, embodies what is best about `80s punk. The album is fast, abrasive, and catchy as hell. The songs are all played at a breakneck speed and seem to blend together to almost create the feeling of a non-stop, thrashing show. The musicianship is excellent, as Steve Youth does some amazing bass fills that require God-like dexterity, and drummer Troy Mowat sounds like he is going to pound his set to dust right before he passes out from pure exhaustion. Above all the controlled chaos from the band, Kevin Seconds' high-pitched voice soars, spewing out lyrics that range from talking about a more gender inclusive scene to racism and politics. After hearing the all-inclusive lyrics of "Walk Together, Rock Together" I know that Kevin Seconds would have loved to have had the shell shocked 15 year-old NOFX kid from Gilman at any of his shows. An interesting side note is that there are a few straight-edge songs on the album. Yes, 7 Seconds talk about being straight-edge on the album, but never do they come across as preachy or militant, but rather as speaking about why they chose to live the drug-free lifestyle that they do.
Within the album, the vocal harmonies and gang cheers seem to foreshadow bands like Bad Religion (Brett or Greg had to have heard the track "Trust"), Model American (who cover the track "Die Hard"), and any hardcore punk band today, all while simultaneously channeling early hardcore bands like Minor Threat and Bad Brains. To some, the vocals of Kevin Seconds are too high for the songs, but I find that his voice fits the songs perfectly. The recording quality leaves a lot to be desired, but this is common in early punk recordings, and in the case of The Crew, it actually enhances the energy, sincerity, and rawness of the recordings.
Though 7 Seconds may have deviated from their hardcore roots for a brief time period, there is no doubt that The Crew is a true punk rock classic.