Aim Higher is a new solo project from punk rock legend Kevin Seconds. Kevin is well known for his work with 7Seconds and also from a few other side projects. Aim Higher sees him recording everything himself and has just been released on 7” via Rise Records. We checked the record out and it’s insane, it’s beyond good. So when the chance came to throw a few questions Kevin’s way, we jumped at the chance. Here’s what went down…
Hi Kevin, thanks for chatting with us, so we’re here to chat about your new record as Aim Higher, can you tell us a bit about it in your own words please? It’s a project I started in 2015 when I was foolishly attempting to write and record 400 songs that year. I knew that if I was going to do it, I’d have to incorporate many styles of music to keep it interesting for myself and anyone listening so I just started banging out tunes from all types of musical genres – punk, folk, metal, pop, even some rap stuff – some good, some not so good. I started writing these really intense short songs on my baritone guitar and i loved the snarly feel of them and gave it a name (Aim Higher) and a fake history. Fans started to play along and before I knew it, I had people telling me that they wished I would release some of the Aim Higher songs as a legit release.
Where did the inspiration for this record come from? I still love making short, fast hardcore punk rock, done old school style and since 7Seconds doesn’t do much playing these days, I figured I’d do it on my own and see what happened.
The four tracks clock in at just under 5 minutes, was the shortness intentional or is that just the way the songs played out? I just love shorts songs. I’ll write longer ones if it feels right but when it comes to aggressive punk rock type stuff, short is always better.
Is it right you recorded the whole thing yourself at home? How was that process? Yes, I have a small studio setup in a spare bedroom we have here at our house and I do everything here. It’s basically a Mac Mini using Logic Pro software. I play everything on the recordings but who knows? If this turns into a real band project, I’ll probably record with other people.
Are there any plans for a full album at all? I have no real plans other than to find the right people to play live shows with. Ideally, I’d like to keep the line-up fluid so I could travel light and just play with people from parts of the world I’m visiting but who knows if that’s even feasible? But yes, eventually, I’d love to do a full-length Aim Higher album.
How has it been working with Rise Records on this release? I love it. Rise has been GREAT to work with. They’ve put out the last 7Seconds and Kevin Seconds albums and Craig who runs the label has been very supportive of me doing cool projects with the label.
Is the fact that the record is available on vinyl very important to you? It just seems like vinyl music to me and it’s hard to justify putting 4 songs on a CD. It’s just not very cost effective whereas, people are buying vinyl again so it makes sense.
Are there any plans to tour at all? Would you consider getting a band together to play the songs live? Absolutely. Like I said, I’m just trying to find the right people. Most of the cool people I get along with and who I think would be fun to play music with are in other bands and have many other commitments so it’s a little harder for me to start a band these days. I’m REALLY picky (laughs).
How do you hope people perceive the EP? Obviously, I’d love for the E.P. to stand on its own merits and not be compared to anything else I’ve done but I can’t dictate any of that. Hopefully, people will enjoy it for what it is. I’ve seen comments from people who complain about the lo-fi quality of the production but they’re missing the point. It’s not meant to be slick or polished.
Are there any plans for new material or touring with 7Seconds in the future? Nothing in the near future. Our drummer Troy is dealing with a recurring and very serious wrist injury and there’s no 7Seconds without him. The 4 of us also just don’t feel the need to go out on the road right now. We’ve toured a ton in our 37 years as a band and as we get older, it gets harder to do.
Aside from 7Seconds and your solo work, what side project or collaboration are you most proud of? I loved the Go National band project I did with my wife Allyson in the 90s. I sort of regret that we never got to do any real touring because I thought we were fun. I’ve also been doing a subscription-based club called Song Forge (patreon.com/kevinseconds) since the beginning of last year that I’m very excited about. Basically, I write and record a bunch of new songs every month and the only people who have access to them are my subscribers. It’s very exclusive but super fun and it’s keeping me on my toes, as far as song writing goes. I’m also working on a new record with my wife Allyson that I think will be amazing once it’s done.
You’ve worked with some notable labels like BYO and Asian Man, has there been a label you have enjoyed working with the most at all? Asian Man has probably been my favorite to work with just because I love and respect Mike Park and feel like he’s doing everything the right way. He’s also very honest and won’t blow smoke up your bum and I appreciate that.
How do you find the more DIY labels to that of the major labels? My experience with a major label (Epic/Sony) was brief and I honestly don’t recall much about it other than making a little more money and doing more press (laughs) so being on an independent label just feels like home to me. I’m not a mainstream guy. I don’t work or think like one. I need to work with people who get what I/we do and not try and fuck with it constantly which is what I think major label people feel they need to do.
I have read descriptions of you as ‘Non militant Straight Edge’ does that sound right to you? I don’t describe myself as ‘straight edge’ even though I don’t do drugs or drink. I refuse to let it define who I am and I do not advocate the negative, harmful shit that many of the so-called militant straight edge scene kids have done.
Do you feel it’s important to mix punk and politics? Sure. If that’s your jam. I have no problems doing it. Life is politics and vice versa. To actively set out to avoid politics in art just seems silly to me.
Talking of which, what’s your take on Trump? He’s an idiot and an embarrassment and not qualified to be President.
How do you handle the downloading/file sharing issue? I’d prefer that people who love my music buy it but ultimately, I just want them to listen and get to know my songs.
Back when 7Seconds started out there wasn’t the whole ease to promote a band like there is now thanks to the internet. Do you feel it’s still possible to be a successful band without using these modern media options that are so readily available? I can’t imagine anyone wanting to have musical/artistic longevity being able to do it with these options these days. People who shun the technology completely actually make me a little mad.
So what’s up next for you? Continue writing and recording. Hopefully find some people to play with so I can take Aim Higher out on the road and a couple of big solo tours for me this summer here in States and abroad.
I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but have you got any words of advice you could offer to bands out there? Find your way to honest humility and never lose sight of it. You can be passionate and confident without having to be an insufferable prick to people. Make the love for what you do your first and foremost source and never let money be your motivation.
Huge thanks for chatting with is, it’s much appreciated and we look forward to hearing more from Aim Higher
Interviewed in March 2017. Thanks to Kevin Seconds and Mike Cubillos
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Posted on: Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 at 3:19 pm
Posted in: Online Exclusive