The unexpected return of multi-national melodic rockers SEVEN has been met with positivity and excitement from critics and genre fans alike. With the recent release of the bands stunning second album ‘Shattered’ we talked to lead vocalist and original member Mick Devine about the new album, new writing partners and the reemergence of this cult act.
Interview by Woody
What inspired you to write a brand new Seven album after so many years? Correct me if I’m wrong but your debut album was songs originally demoed by the band back in the day, so was writing all new Seven songs after twenty plus years difficult?
The first Seven album’7’ was really a tribute to the band as it was back in the 80’s and 90’s, all of the songs were the ones that we wrote and played in all of our tours back in that time. The response we got to the first album was so good that it inspired me to push on and start writing again.
When you sat down to write the ‘Shattered’ album did you feel pressure to give the songs a specific feel or sound that fans would instantly identify as Seven or did you enter the song writing process with an open mind?
After we finished recording ‘7’ I started to work on some musical ideas that were sent to me from Fredrik and Lars. I had no real focused idea on where these songs were going or if they would turn out to be any good. All I did was try and come up with the best melodies possible and I had help with that from Keith on the first few songs we wrote and I then really focused on writing lyric’s that had real meaning for me. Nothing was written to a formula; we just wrote what felt right for the track and thankfully it turned out well.
‘Shattered’ see’s you working and writing with an all new team – some fantastic names are involved like Lars Chriss and a personal favourite of mine Keyboardist Fredrik Bergh. What was it like working with these guys on the songs and the production of the album?
Well they are not a completely new team as they all worked on the recording of the first album and so it made sense to work with the same guys on the new Seven project. The guys started sending me ideas to work on soon after we finished ‘7’ and it took a while to get back into the swing of writing songs again but we really got into a good rhythm and the songs kept on coming. Working with them was a true pleasure, they are all fantastic musicians and writing melodies and lyrics to their musical ideas was a real labour of love. I really enjoyed it. The recording process worked in the same way as when we recorded ‘7’ and under Lars production the result was even better on this album.
You’re the only original member of Seven in the band now, did you ever worry about negativity or using a different band name? Hardcore music fans can be extremely precious and unforgiving when it comes to line-up changes.
I wasn’t really worried about that as all of the former members of Seven had a chance to get involved and only Keith really contributed when he had the chance to give the time. It ended up that I was the only former band member available to form the new project, and as the 2016 line up all worked on the release of ‘7’ it was a natural progression to formalize them as the new line up. We did get a few negative comments when the new album was first announced but that was soon forgotten when they started to hear the new material and realized that the true Seven sound was still there in the songs and even improved on ‘Shattered’.
What are your initial feelings on the reactions and responses to the return of Seven and the two albums you have released on Escape Music?
I was firstly so surprised at the quality of the production and recording of the first album and Lars really managed to take the sound of Seven from back in the day and breathe new life into it, bringing it up to date. This continued in the recording of the second album though I think that the writing and the performances have improved even more as we progress.
The reviews for both albums have been fantastic, more than I could have ever hoped for and on my Facebook and Twitter sites the comments have been awesome. The links to my pages are @MickDevineMusic on Facebook & @DevineMichael on Twitter. Look me up.
Do any of the songs on ‘Shattered’ have any messages or meanings you’d like to share with fans or stories you’d think would interest people?
I always try and write lyric’s that mean something either personally to me or about a situation or comment on the lives we all live today.
Light of 1000 Eyes – From the first guitar chord you know what you are going to get with this track. It really kicks!
It is written about the celebrity culture that we live in today and I am telling it from the point of view of someone who is living in the bright lights of the world’s media. On the surface, it seems that they have everything at their feet, riches, fame etc. but in reality, they are prisoners to the characters that they have created and very few of them are able to have any true freedom when they are living in ‘The light of 1000 eyes’!
A Better Life – Lars and I wrote this track and at its heart is a tight chugging guitar, which I love the sound of when the track drops out just to the guitar after the chorus! It is written simply about never giving up on your dreams. No matter what stage of life you are in, nothing is impossible if you can open your mind to it. The only thing stopping you from living out your dreams is you!
Fight – We spent the longest time writing the melody for this track. Each time we came up with a new a new version it just felt like it needed something else. In the end, we got in touch with Jeff Paris who brought in a fresh and interesting melody with a killer chorus. Writing the lyrics was really easy after that. Fight is a classic song about a broken heart, but in this case the ‘Fight’ is to keep that person out of your life and not a desire to get them back.
Shattered – There is so much going on vocally with this track, I think that Lars nearly lost his mind trying to get the mix right in the chorus but it sounds huge! It is a song about a love lost and is a defiant commentary saying that no matter what you have done to me I will survive. I may be ‘Shattered’ but I am never broken.
Live This Life – This track is a great thumping rock track and is written about how life is so short and no matter what situation you may be at the moment you need to make the most of every minute. This is a song about ensuring sure you make the most of the time you have… None of us know how much of it we have left. Make the most of it.
Pieces Of You – This is a track full of luxurious keyboard pads and driving guitars. It is a bitter commentary from a place of real hurt. It is a story about someone who gave everything they had to someone but received only ‘Pieces’ of them in return.
Broken Dream – This is a classic melodic rock track in a Foreigner vein. It has a real classy feel and is one of my favourite tracks. It is a song about living your life as if you have missed out on what you were always meant to be!
High Hopes – Is a track that has hints of Journey in the music production, though I wish the vocal was as good as Steve Perry’s…. and that is really what the song is about. It’s about always setting your sights high and never giving up. I may not be as great a singer as Steve Perry but I am the best version of Mick Devine I can be right now.
I Needed Time – This was the first track written for the album. Keith and I started working on a backing track from Fredrik and we came up with ‘I needed Time’. It is a laid back groovy melodic track that gives loads of space for the vocal to pop through. I am really proud of this track as it was the first we wrote together and it turned out to be awesome.
Taking Over – This is another track that Lars and I wrote together. It is about not always towing the line in life. Sometimes you have to say enough and take control, and then once you have done that you need to hold on and see it through. It is a bit of a commentary of my life and where I find myself now.
Last Illusion – This track has an awesomely deep and dark backing track with a rhythm that is almost a shuffle beat, that really appeals to my ‘Toto’ loving roots. It is about breaking down the barriers and restrictions that we place on ourselves in life, it’s like we walk around with a mask on to disguise who we really are.
Do you think there is any possibility of Seven ever performing live? I know the current line-up makes live shows a little awkward logistically but do you think a one-off appearance at a Festival could ever happen?
I think that there is every chance we could play together. All of the musicians live in Sweden and I live in the UK but as you say if the right opportunity came along I know we would love to do it.
I think most people were shocked to see Seven return and even more shocked with the release of ‘Shattered’. Is this just a one-off for you or do you intended to keep going with Seven or even working on other musical projects in the future?
This is definitely not a one off. The release of Shattered has proved to me that the Seven sound can progress and get better and better. I am certainly committed to doing another album as long as people want to hear it. I am also involved in other projects so please look out for me in the near future.
A lot of musicians talk about their experiences in the music industry especially pre-2000 of been really negative and become disillusioned with the whole industry. What was your initial taste of the music industry like back in 1990, was it a negative or positive experience for you?
There were so many things going on when Seven were signed to Polydor, the music industry was changing, the popular music world was changing and rock music like ours became out of fashion and so when we were dropped by our record company there was nowhere to go. These days you have the ability to record at a high level and release your own material even without a record label backing, so there is much more opportunity nowadays to keep going. It is awesome to see so many great bands having the opportunity to come back after so many years and that is due to great music lovers and record labels like Escape who are willing to release new material from bands they loved back in the day. They are some of the most committed fans there are!
Is there anything else you would like to add or say to Fireworks readers?
I would like to just say thank you to all of the Fireworks readers who have bought our album and I hope you really enjoy it. For those who have not bought it, if you like to listen to good melodic rock music with a modern heavy edge, I am sure you will love ‘Shattered’. Why not give it a try?
Most of all keep rocking and keep the music alive.