7Horse Live In Studio

The WERS studio had a visit from 7Horse today for a wonderful live performance. The duo, consisting of longtime friends and rock veterans Joie Calio and Phil Leavitt, draws its sound from Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top up to recent blues rock groups like The Black Keys. Their debut album, Let the 7Horse Run,  is about “laying something down that’s so good you want to hear it forever,” says Leavitt. Both were a part of the popular 90s LA rock band Dada and transitioned over to their new sound this past year.

7Horse started off their set with “Meth Lab Zoso Sticker”, a track whose slow drumming and prickly riff blended smoothly into a sped-up country blues breakdown similar to Cage the Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”. With Leavitt on snares, symbols, and vocals and Calio on a metal-bodied acoustic guitar, the two showed major confidence in their sound. “The music business has changed so much,” Leavitt said. “It’s really hard to write, record, market, and finance a record. We’re proud of the entire project. This is real reinvention history; we put aside a band from twenty years ago and started something new.”

Sure enough, their new 7Horse material is different from their Dada works. “This is a song about a break-up or a bar fight – we’re not sure which. Maybe you can help us out,” Leavitt laughed before beginning their second track: the bare and subtle “Step Outside”. “Simplicity is often overlooked,” Calio said. “We had a few ‘reset’ songs with the same chord that just helped focus us in and we knew that’s what we had to do.” Just a minute into the song and it was clear that simplicity was exactly their focus beneath it all. Constantly reminding themselves that they were striving for “riff commitment”, the two pushed for straightforward tracks and reached them.

“It was a long ride in Dada,” Leavitt said of their band whose hit record came out in the 90s. “The band had gotten to its limit… so we decided to break it all down and start from the bottom up.” They made Let the 7Horse Run in a couple weeks with “more of a Stones and less of a Beatles feel,” Calio said. “It feels like I went back to where I started… There wasn’t this indulgence of tripping out on a mix for days – we just sat down and made it.”

When asked about their new sound, Calio said, “I don’t know if it was a specific thing, but it was an obvious thing.” Their blues slide riffs were something they couldn’t hold back, and the decision to have Leavitt sing instead of Calio, who previously sung for Dada, was clear. “When I heard him sing, I was like ‘Done’,” Calio laughed. Just like that, their style sounds right regardless of whether or not this is your first time or the fortieth hearing their blues rock music.

7Horse ended their in-studio performance with “Low Fuel Drug Run”, a WERS favorite about a race to return a rental car on time. Exactly like the plot of the lyrics, the track was quick and fun with Calio leading on vocals just like the Dada days. Oddly enough, his voice serves as a break from the regular sound but seems to unintentionally admit that Leavitt’s is meant for their new style.

In addition to WERS, 7Horse are stopping by a number of radio stations to perform for all sorts of listeners. “This is what we do; come in [to stations] to play. Instead of playing someone else’s game, we’ll do ours,” said Leavitt before Calio added, “We’re more of a human connection band.” In person, on-air, and on their record, it’s obvious the duo make that connection. They’re the general kind-spirits the music industry is starting to lose sight of – and we couldn’t be happier we’re right there to support them.

By Nina Corcoran
Photos by Jeeyoon Kim

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