It hasn’t exactly burned up the charts, at least not yet, but there’s no denying that the feel-good hit of the summer is Seven and The Sun’s “Walk With Me.”
The first single off the rock group’s debut Atlantic album, “Back to the Innocence” (released June 18), “Walk With Me” is equal parts laid-back and exuberant: “All the girlies say we rock it, and I’m feeling high now/ Working on a suntan, we don’t even try and block it/ And it’s hot as hell but we don’t care/ ‘Cause we don’t have to go nowhere/ we’re just chilling day by day.”
The NBC soap opera, “Passions,” picked the hook-laden song to use for its summerlong storylines, and even invited the New Jersey-based band to perform it uninterrupted during an episode in May.
Still, singer-songwriter Seven – with twin brothers Walter (guitars) and Bill Brandt (programming) and guitarist Eddie Zak – says he’s getting the biggest kick out of hearing from fans who say the song has lifted their spirits in unsettling times.
“We’re getting tons of e-mail,” he said recently. “We’ll go into a city and we’ll play, and then you hear back from someone who saw us. Some lady in Indianapolis said to us, ‘Every day on my way to work, I have to get up at like 5 o’clock in the morning and take care of the kids, then I get into work, and just when I think my day is starting off the wrong way, I turn on the radio and I hear your song come on and it puts a smile on my face and helps me get through the moment. I just want to thank you for that.’
“Just to hear little things like that, people writing in their own experiences, it’s great as an artist to make a connection with someone.”
The songs’ exposure in a popular daytime series caught Atlantic a bit by surprise. To meet the strong demand from “Passion”-ate fans, the label pushed up the release date of “Back to the Innocence” from July 30 to June 18. Things happened so fast, the song broke without an accompanying video to play on MTV and VH1.
“Walk With Me” is finally making headway at radio: It sits at No. 32 on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 Tracks chart and debuted last week at No. 40 on the Top 40 Tracks chart.
“The song’s doing great,” Seven said. “We’ve been playing, touring around and going to radio stations because they’ve requested us to do shows. So far, the response has been overwhelming. It’s a good place to be.
“Everything takes time, and we’ve been doing this for over eight years. It’s a marathon; it’s not a sprint. We’re just trying to take it step by step, and yet there’s a lot of songs on the record that we feel confident about. Hopefully, we can build a career out of this.”
On the surface, the band may seem to have popped out of nowhere, but all four have their feet firmly planted. They built a studio together and have a production team called We3Kings. Bill Brandt holds down the fort when they’re on the road, preferring to spend time with his wife and children.
One artist they’re working with is a blast from the past: Ya Kid K, a Zairean rapper whose rhymes can be heard in the Techotronic hits “Pump the Jam” (1989), “Move This” (1992) and “Move It to the Rhythm” (1995).
“She’s a tremendously talented artist,” Seven said. “She took some time off to have some babies and during that time she continued to write. She was very, very young when she was signed and did ‘Pump Up the Jam.’ English is her fifth language, so she didn’t have a great grasp of the English language when she put that song together.
“Being like 29 years old now, she’s got a wealth of experience behind her and a better grasp of the English language. She’s a tremendous singer and an unparalleled songwriter. She was worked over a lot in this industry. Unfortunately, that’s the way the industry works sometimes; they take advantage of those who don’t know any better. But it’s a new day, and she’s working toward other positive things in her career. She was able to come out of it with herself intact.
“There are several labels interested in what she’s doing. Right now, we’re just trying to complete the record in its entirety. We’re excited about it.”
Seven and The Sun could write their own book on how a new artist can survive in a cut-throat industry.
“We were shuffling around for years trying to get things moving,” Seven said. “There was always a lot of potential there, but no one really takes the time to develop it. They may see it, but they want you to do it on your own; they want you to use 50,000 records.”
“Right now, artist development is the responsibility of the artist, just from the perspective of your craft,” Walter Brandt said. “It’s on you to get it together and hopefully then the record company can take that to the world and sell it.”
“The record companies are under a lot of pressures from the corporations they’re owned by and people downloading music, and it’s their theory that they’re not making as much money through album sales as they did before,” Seven said. “They’re taking less and less chances and putting less money and time into things and looking for things they feel are the much safer bets. Art and music aren’t about the safe bet; it’s not about quarterly margins; it’s about documenting experiences and connecting with people and connecting with yourself as an artist.”
ON THE WEB: www.sevenandthesun.com.