7th Order interview on KAHU 91.7 FM Radio
Pahala, Hawaii (2013, exact date unknown)
transcribed from a 96k/mono MP3 file - please contact us
if you are aware of any typos or transcription errors
Interviewer: Aloha, friends - Melinda Sonoda here, and I want to welcome you a very special edition of KAHU 91.7's "Big Island Profiles in Music", and I am delighted to be your hostess for this weeks' episode. I have to tell you, everyone here at KAHU 91.7 has been talking about this, all week - we are totally jazzed to have a very special guest on the program today, Daniel Jones of the Big Island based rock & roll band, the legendary 7th Order. This is a very special time for the band - they have a new CD coming out, "The Initiate's Journey, 2003-13" - a career retrospective. Now, I have known Daniel for many years, decades, actually - and have been following the band right along. And I am certain - this upcoming release of theirs is going to be a big breakthrough for them *and* the rock & roll music scene, worldwide. I really want to get into the whole 7th Order history, if time allows, it is a very exceptional story. It would be for any band, but as a band whose roots are here in the islands - it's even more amazing, for us.
So let's get it going here. I hope I still have you on the line, Daniel?
Daniel: Aloha, Melinda - I am here, and thanks so much, it's great to be on the show.
Interviewer: Good morning and thanks for being with us today - we're beyond delighted you could join us. For our listeners who don't know of 7th Order - if you listen to KAHU I cannot imagine that you don't - but they have been around a while, as a rock & roll band - they have quite an astounding history, and have made some of the best rock & roll music I have ever heard - and in the bargain, they achieved a great deal of worldwide recognition. Please tell us, if you would, Daniel - where did it all begin for 7th Order?
Daniel: Ah, OK...let's see...you hit me with the tough questions first...it's too early for such a long story (laughs). OK, so...the first jam session as a possible band, just sort of trying out some songs and different players and the whole thing, took place in December of 2001. But in a way, the basic idea really predates that by decades. Geoff Thorpe...many folks may also know him as the guitarist and founder of Vicious Rumors, he and I have been friends since school days in 1960's Honolulu - I mean, like, he's really my brother - we were like a lot of other kids, the great music was all over the radio back then, and we got into it heavy. We went on our own individual music journeys, eventually, separately winding up in North America, but stayed in touch. He did well with his band, Vicious Rumors - it took me longer to get into something I could really commit to, but we stayed in touch. I always knew when I did do something that seemed to have some possibilities - I'd have to get Geoff involved somehow.
Interviewer: So then, the inspiration - you kids were influenced by music on 1960's and 70's Honolulu radio? Like what, exactly? Who were you listening to?
Daniel: Yes, eventually, but I was actually born in Page, Arizona. And Geoff was born in Los Angeles, as he was from a show biz family. Anyway, my father brought the family to Arizona on a job - but we then moved to Fresno, California until I was 8. I had an older sister who listened to the radio - I recall The Beatles, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Stones, The Yardbirds...all their hits...and growing up where surfing was happening...The Beach Boys. But there so many others, too. Elvis was big in Hawaii too, still...of course...and he did that huge satellite TV broadcast in 73 or so. And it kept spreading out, in every direction...everywhere, TV, radio, in the movies. The Beatles movies - but then like the "Easy Rider" movie was a great touchstone - with folk and psychedelic rock. Roger McGuinn and The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, The Band...and say, for example, Steppenwolf doing a Hoyt Axton song like "The Pusher". It was a never-ending stream of amazing music. Oddly enough, though - in the same household, my brother was listening to this, I mean...the most God-awful music...I won't even name the bands because it would be embarrassing (laughs).
Interviewer: Of course...and it really was everywhere, wasn't it?
Daniel: And we were so into it - we dug deeper, from there - the previous rock & roll era's giants...Chuck Berry, and whoever influenced the 1960's scene. Carl Perkins, Duane Eddy. And heavier bands who could really jam - like The Yardbirds and whatever came out of that band...Cream, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin. And the deeper we got into it, the more great music we discovered - there was such an explosion of music. Humble Pie, Ten Years After, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Savoy Brown, The Doors. You walked into Records Hawaii or DJ's Sound City in Ala Moana, or the Record Museum, the Vinyl Doughnut - and there was just, a wall of new records, every week - one more amazing than the next. And there were guitar players I zeroed in on, like Mick Taylor and Paul Kossoff...it was almost too much to keep up with.
Interviewer: Now, this is where it's interesting for me, personally - the music, what I was into. We are about the same age - you are now in your mid 50's, as I am, right?
Daniel: I am looking down the barrel at 53 at the moment..don't rush me!.
Interviewer: Right, I won't (laughs) - I am in that range too - and our listeners from that era, I mean - some people, locals, would know there was a rock & roll scene in Honolulu back then. But Hawaii is not widely known as a rock & roll mecca from that era - it's not a place known by the world, to have been a hotbed for rock & roll...that was L.A. & San Francisco, New York, London...
Daniel: Yeah, well, you know - people not familiar with what was happening here don't get it, but if you were here back then...wow. The Diamond Head Crater Festivals...we had it going on, big time. That was the equivalent of a Woodstock ever 6 months - and it was within walking distance of our house. I mean, Geoff and I went to see Deep Purple, 2nd row - their first show with the late Tommy Bolin, Jeff Beck on the "Blow by Blow" tour. Alvin Lee on his 1st solo tour. Clapton...The Faces final tour passed through Honolulu, and Peter Frampton was the opening act, whom we all knew from his Humble Pie days.
Interviewer: Totally, the movers and shakers of the rock & roll scene at the time..
Daniel: Oh, no question. I was real lucky, too - in the early 70's, I met a guy who would become a lifelong friend, Steven B. Williams...
Interviewer: Right, the late Steven B. - the Honolulu radio legend
Daniel: For sure...the old KIKI Radio...I met him and Robert Knight there...
Interviewer: Another Honolulu rock & roll icon - the famous rock & roll photographer...
Daniel: Exactly...as fate would have it, I met them both at the same time, maybe 1973 or so. They walked into KIKI radio one Saturday, when I was near unconscious, passed out on the couch - too much of a good time I mean, back then actually - and I am not kidding - the radio guys used to get stoned on the air. They saw me there, and were not happy...what is this whacked out kid doing here, in this shape? A "...this is a place of business - who gave this kid whatever he is high on?!" sort of thing. But somehow, someway - we became instant friends. And they were already established, in the rock & roll world - I was very lucky to make that connection. Not just professionally or anything like that, I mean - as friends.
Interviewer: I am trying to do the math here, but you would have been like...12 or so?
Daniel: I have to approximate, but sure - around that time. It's a bit hazy. And those guys influenced my tastes big time, that was a real turning point. They were huge on The Yardbirds, Jeff Beck, and Robert had all of these Yardbirds records you just could not get in the US back then, well - certainly not in Honolulu. And they were such terrific guys, wonderful friends. Steven B. passed away in 2006, sadly...but I stay in touch with Robert still, he's in Las Vegas these days.
Interviewer: They did a movie on his life, a few years back...in like 2010, maybe...
Daniel: Right, "Rock Prophecies" - it's out on DVD now. Really fabulous.
Interviewer: So it was the rock & roll scene of 1970's Honolulu - you'd met some industry people, you and Geoff Thorpe...connections got made. The Crater Festivals were going on, the bands passing through town. And the whole backdrop in Honolulu...the surfing, the good times, partying, a very psychedelic scene - the lifestyle and influences - and you guys would have maybe began playing music yourselves around this time...?
Daniel: Well, Geoff and I took off into it in a big way, dove in and never looked back, at like 14 or so. And I can say this now, I guess, sure - there were a lot of drugs going around, it was common for kids to get into it. It wasn't everyone - but our crowd, whatever. We had no idea, as kids, in the era - what addiction was, or alcoholism, or anything - I mean, we understand those things these days. A lot of us kids back then, we were growing up in alcoholic situations too - but as far as I can tell - as you know, my father was a worthless drunk and a wife beater - he was eventually...he actually killed my mother, but a lawyer kept the son of a bitch out of jail. The only thing he cared about in life, was sitting in front of the TV in his underwear, getting drunk every day...he's gone now anyway...thank God...but he really should have died in prison. He drank himself to death - and he may even have had some help in doing that, I might add, and you know the whole story. Anyway, my mother was a wonderful person, she deserved so much better than she got. My brother David...man alive, I mean...well, you know that whole story about that situation. What a loser, junkie, thief he turned out to be...I'm pretty sure he slipped me LSD when I was like, 12 or so. And from what he told me, as I recall, my uncle Bob, Bob Jones, my father's brother - gave *him* weed for the first time. When I returned to the islands from an extended trip to the mainland, he was kicking the stuff again, going through withdrawal, and telling me that he'd stolen like thousands of dollars from his own company and went on a big smack run - needless to say, his company eventually went out of business. Last I knew of him anyway, he was talking about how cool Scientology was - Jesus, what a twisted piece of work - that was one of the last conversations we ever had...lol. Did I tell you that story about when we went to see Leslie West and Mountain at the Waikiki Shell, in '73 or so? Geoff Thorpe, and myself - my brother , or one of his friends, dosed the wine we were drinking with LSD...and then this jackass just...well, walks up to the concession stand and told them he was "dying"...and got taken away by an ambulance (laughs). Anyway, school wasn't interesting and things at home were bizarre - I mean, my brother...the way I heard it was, at school...he was locked in closets and had has mouth taped shut by teachers...like, there was some kind of problem, at home...violence and the drinking and whatever. And eventually...like, what can you say about a guy who is supposed to be chaperoning school kids...on his kid's school outing - and he goes in the bathroom at Volcanoes National Park, while being a chaperone, mind you - goes in the public bathroom there to shoot up heroin?, So anyway, for me - music was a way to throw myself into something - and get away from these crazy people. Like they say, you do not choose music as a career...it chooses you. Maybe music, for a lot of people, is a leap into an imaginative, creative world - that takes you from an insane real world.
Interviewer: For sure, addiction and alcoholism was a real problem for society even back then, and I can just imagine what kind of chaos that must have been like. But now, let's talk a bit about what happened with...with your musical skill development - or how your aspirations took that kind of a firmer hold, gained momentum - or a direction started to take shape...
Daniel: Well, this where it was at - it was the people I was meeting, they were pushing me forward. I mentioned Geoff, of course - and then Steven B. and Robert Knight. Then I crossed paths with a guy, John Lincoln - that's where the guitars and songwriting thing really started to take off.
Interviewer: OK, now you are going back a ways - John Kalani Lincoln, the papers back then made him out to be, allegedly, Hawaii's number one "bad guy"?
Daniel: (laughs) OK...if you say so. I don't know anything about that, and even if I did...for the record, I don't know a damn thing (laughs) - I guess I read the papers or saw the news too, sure.
Interviewer: Not me, I am not saying that (laughs), the media did. I don't know the fellow, but in the news...the stories one heard, he was a large figure. But how did that connection get made?
Daniel: Well, isn't radio the media? (laughs) No - no, we don't have to time to go into all that anyway (laughs). I just happened to be around when he was writing those songs in the 70's, that would later turn up on local radio..."Liliokalani, My Hawaiian Queen" and "Oh, Akua" and all that...I saw him writing those songs, maybe they were pretty well completed, the writing anyway, by then perhaps, but not yet recorded. I was sitting around with him with guitars while he was dialing those songs in, getting ready to record them, I was a teenager and in my formative years musically.
Interviewer: And for that to have influenced a rock & roll band, style-wise, like 7th Order - I am not sure I see how that connects. Those songs, I recall them, as being on KKUA Radio's "Homegrown" albums - local artists, unsigned. They were on the radio back then...and it was like a 1970's Hawaiian folk music..but not ukulele music, or Cecelio and Kapono or Gabby Pahanui or Kalapana...
Daniel: No, not like those bands, style-wise...but he was on the radio, on the local scene...but I mean, more of just...the actual *writing* of songs influenced me. I knew Lincoln to play like, Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" or I remember him being into like, what Joe Cocker or Johnny Cash was doing too - which was bluesy, rockabilly. Lincoln's songs were about Hawaii, those themes that also related to his life and history here, and certainly...John's environments and circles at the time, what was influencing him, as to what he was writing about. It's something I prefer to be careful with, even now - to even talk around, instead of about, more directly - I am on the radio, and to say anything about who was locked up, or certainly to be careful about related topics, what anyone was locked up for, not for me to even get into, really.
Interviewer: Wow, OK - so you want to stay away from all that, and so do I (laughs). But rock & roll bands like The Beach Boys wrote songs about having a good time, surfing, cars, girls, things we could relate to here. Where was your life at, though - I mean, as the 7th Order story starts to get up and running here...I am hearing that drugs, hanging out with a crowd you were swept up in - and then, as someone who would become a songwriter - what rock & roll artists write about, it influences the lyrical and musical themes.
Daniel: OK - but to speak to it this way, that is sometimes what the blues or folk or some rock & roll music could be about, right? "Parchman Farm" and "Folsom Prison Blues", "Midnight Special" or later on, "Jailhouse Rock", or Humble Pie's "30 Days In The Hole" - so it could be that, a guy's thing was to write about his life...prison, making mistakes, injustices, a rough life But there was a connection I saw, from Lincoln to a folk-blues thing, and prior to that - for me, it was the 50's blues and rock & roll guys, Elvis - and The Beatles, Dylan, The Yardbirds, Hendrix, Humble Pie, Ten Years After. It was, seeing a guy write songs...taking ideas he wanted to express, picking up the guitar, and working at it until the pieces all fit...and then you got a song about something...that you believe in and feel something about. And then you play it for people and get them onboard for your vision. That whole process.
Interviewer: To be frank with you, not every rock & roll band starting out in Hawaii, lands on the radio all over the world. You started out the way you did, and 7th Order is now in the history books - literally. The obvious online resources like Wikipedia, but even "in print" media and The National Public Library. Now...a band starts out, rehearsing in the garage - then they are landing gigs, playing covers in clubs maybe - they get a following, dial in their skills. They expand their following, or not, they may break up or splinter and other bands get formed...months or years go by and the band either gets bigger or goes in the opposite direction, and it happens quickly or slowly. In your case, I'm fascinated by how you started out the way you did...and where you did..and wound up where you are. I am not sure there are a lot of bands in rock and roll history, who started out here in Hawaii...and got to the level 7th Order is on.
Daniel: There might not be a lot of Hawaii bands who did that, I suppose that is true. To be real complete, in telling the story, the way things happen, usually, are exactly as you describe I guess. But Geoff took off for North America to get Vicious Rumors going around 1979 or so. I was off to North America too, eventually, but there was some bouncing around on the Honolulu club scene, places like "The Rock and Roll Cellar", "The Crows Nest", "Little Orphan Annies" out by the airport. And I met a few more people in Honolulu, before leaving, like Jesse Ed Davis - he was a guitar player I hung out with here back then.
Interviewer: From Taj Mahal's band...of course. And at the Concert for Bangla Desh...
Daniel: And about a million other things, sure. He was a huge influence - we would drift into Puck's Pub in Honolulu...drank, jammed, he had the most amazing stories. He'd played with everyone... Dylan, George Harrison, Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood, Leon Russell, Gene Clark of The Byrds...what an amazing guy. He was an astounding player, but a wonderful human being. I met his girlfriend first, Patti. He had been through it all, too - his experiences helped me out a lot, mistakes he helped me avoid and such. It was very sad to pick up a "Rolling Stone Magazine" in '87 and read that he had died. Heartbreaking, for me. I really miss his friendship. I met and worked with guitar players, who shall remain nameless, who were a lot more full of themselves - and did way, way less in the music world. Genuinely a great guy. And I was really influenced by George Harrison, too - an amazingly lyrical guitar player, very influential. So to talk to Jesse about having worked with George, that was another cool thing. I learned a lot about guitar playing, life and the music business from Jesse Ed...God rest his soul. He encouraged me, an aspiring young rock & roller...I owe him a lot, really. He ran it all down to me, the whole story about signing with a label, how to handle music publishing stuff, the works. Seeing how John Lincoln's writing and publishing matters got handled was another part of that education, as well.
Interviewer: But at some point, you mentioned - you left Hawaii to go to North America and seek your fortune?
Daniel: I actually came here to the Big Island first. Geoff was way more ambitious, that is what he did - he went to California. I still had some bouncing around to do, and in the 70's - the Big Island was a terrific place for us Hawaii outlaws and raising hell.
Interviewer: (laughs)...as best I can recall. But still, it is not a place known for breaking rock & roll bands, not even back then.
Daniel: Oh, no...indeed. I came here because I was still, still...I don't know. The most polite way to say it is, direction less. There were lot of drugs around back then. And other reasons to get sidetracked, too - I had gotten mixed up with a woman, when I was like 17 - she was 25 - and wow, did that ever take me off course.
Interviewer: Not the first time that ever happened - aren't rock and rollers favorite targets for all these wild women (laughs)?
Daniel: Oh jeez, and certainly not the last time (laughs), I won't comment further on that (laughs). But that one situation took me in a few wrong directions, actually - if you aren't watching out, a guy can get maneuvered into a corner. Ah, I mean...I was so young, still a kid - and she got pregnant, by then she was 26 or so...and I was pretty whacked out. She knew exactly what she was doing but I didn't have a clue, right? Anyway, I was a bad horse to bet on, to say the least. In retrospect, she could have been charged with a crime, for what was going on - which might have prevented an awful disaster later. But anyway - I'd been in a lot of trouble through those years, too. Not to blame anyone, we all have to take responsibility for our choices. I was so...I guess, easily led into who knows what type of situations. And sadly, there were some consequences for my son, as you know. But anyway, so that took me from Honolulu to the Big Island, then finally North America - Boston, to be exact.
Interviewer: To play music, or to get away from the Hawaii drug scene of the 70's?
Daniel: Who knows, why does a teenager do any of the things they do? I am a believer in fate and destiny though, and as we found out, music turned out to be the larger reason, eventually.
Interviewer: OK, there's a word I want to key in on, "fate". As you discuss the extreme twists and turns on the pre 7th Order path - I am reminded of a 7th Order song, "Throwing Fate The Slip". As you talked about John Lincoln writing about his environments, does this same dynamic apply here? I mean, with your music writing vision, lyric ideas and such - as the main songwriter for 7th Order...the themes go in so many different directions.
Daniel: They do, indeed...as do I (laughs)
Interviewer: But now, I now am getting a glimpse into why "fate" is a theme you would explore in a song, knowing more about the details of the band's path...or the journey. But your other lyric themes - which get into spiritual concepts, the song "Lazarus" come to mind...and what I interpret as a more obscure, esoteric theme, "The Lake of Memory"...and the natural world as a metaphor for human behaviors, "Force Of Nature Comes Down", then history and conflict in remote corners of the world, "Road to Yerevan".
Daniel: Right, that reflects my personal path - perhaps. I mean, after leaving Hawaii for Boston, it was just the beginning in a way - of another chapter in my education. Did you ever read Herman Hesse books, like, "Siddhartha"? He was off in many different directions, searching for something, and I felt like that too - or I feel like that now - looking back. I knew that music, being in a rock & roll band, was what I was supposed to be doing. Usually, but not always, it's your family that...it's there that you are supposed to get your encouragement and support and direction. Certainly not in my case, the exact opposite, really. I mentioned that, the environment I was stuck in, wasn't a good one. And I made my own mistakes, but once I got away from my family - it opened the door, good things started to happen. The people who become your chosen family - for me, friends like Steven B. and Geoff Thorpe, Jesse Ed Davis and Robert Knight - people who encourage you or guide you, believe in you. They become like a family. Then, it started to into higher gears - I was now in my early 20's and traveling around North America, playing music, really getting into it.
Interviewer: Is there anything from that early era, recorded music...that we might know about or be able to find, that would be a harbinger of 7th Order?
Daniel: Not to speak of, I mean - maybe - there are recordings around, somewhere. There were tapes being made over the years of what I was doing, yes. But honestly, I was more concerned with playing live. I did not care in the least about being on the cover of magazines or all of that. I cared about playing rock & roll music that really locked in, that could get off the ground.
Interviewer: In reading about 7th Order's history online, and talking to you over the years, it sounds like you were just sort of traveling around the US and playing gigs...
Daniel: That's one way to say it, yes (laughs). I spent a lot of time searching for direction. To get by in life, music is not the easy path to take, right? I took breaks from playing music and even tried doing other things. Nothing that ever really made me happy, though. I had spent time in Boston, Hollywood, Atlanta, Phoenix, Tulsa...no music people I was meeting, really impressed me though...as anyone to really get onboard with, you know, get a real solid band going with.
Interviewer: So at what point did, as a band, the 7th Orde, thing start to happen - when, on this journey, did that get on track?
Daniel: By the time the mid 90's rolled around, I was in California. Curiously, so was Geoff Thorpe...and Steven B., in the Bay Area, and I think Robert Knight was in L.A. Geoff had been doing real well with Vicious Rumors, I helped out in small ways with that band here and there, and he and I hung out when we could. But something happened in 1996 that would cause me to become a bit more focused...I met a guy who had been a big influence on Geoff and I as kids in Honolulu, a British guitar player, Martin Pugh - who was now living in California.
Interviewer: The guitarist from Steamhammer...
Daniel: That's him - and we knew of him from that period in his career, I think the first record I had with him on it was the first Rod Stewart album, the one he did while he was still in the Jeff Beck Group - with Ron Wood and Micky Waller. But it was the "Armageddon" album that really blew us away.
Interviewer: OK, there's a lesser known masterpiece - with Keith Relf of The Yardbirds...
Daniel: That is the one - I recall reading an article in "Rolling Stone Magazine" in '75, before it came out. I was always knocked out by The Yardbirds, and I knew of Martin too, of course, and bassist Louis Cennamo...also with Steamhammer, and in Renaissance with Keith. And the drummer, Bobby Caldwell - with Captain Beyond and Johnny Winter. Geoff and I and our friends read about this new band, and I'll tell you - I was calling every record store in Honolulu on the run up to it's coming out. I feel sure I had the first copy in Honolulu...from Sears Roebuck at Ala Moana Shopping Center. I went by there with my $5. bill, after school, and caught the bus home...studying the record jacket. A real work of art. And when I put it on the turntable...wow. It was a powerful record. Like everything Relf did, it was a milestone in rock & roll music.
Interviewer: I recall it, anyone into music at that time would, absolutely - it was a standout record, in a sea of standout records. Then, what exactly caused your path to cross with Martin?
Daniel: I recall meeting someone he knew, who gave Martin my number and we started talking. We were all within driving distance of each other, and I was helping out both Martin and Geoff a few music things they were working on. But as the 90's were winding down, I was then sort of going between Seattle and L.A. - and I would see a bit less of Geoff, and more of like Steven B. and Robert, who were both in L.A. At one point, Geoff came down to see me in L.A. and we drove up to spend an afternoon at Martin's house. It just felt like, we were all on the same page in so many ways. I know Geoff was up for doing something, though his first commitment is always VR - and Martin was raising a family and perhaps had limits on what he could commit to. But there was an obvious chemistry and mutual respect, it was a great moment to be hanging out like that. I felt like, there was something in the wind...I believe the other guys did as well.
Interviewer: So it's now coming up on the new millennium - and as you mentioned earlier, the first 7th Order sessions were in December of 2001. What was it like, then, to work with someone like Martin...whom you and Geoff had held in such high regard?
Daniel: Right...that is when Geoff and Martin flew up to Seattle, where we were setting up a studio. I picked them up at the airport, their flights came in within an hour of each other...Geoff is such a character - he climbed in my Jeep and announced "...alright, it's on - the 'guitar summit" is underway!" (laughs). For Geoff and I, I can't even put it into words. I mean, Geoff has done some great stuff, with a lot of great people - I had my share of good times as well. But this was different, we were so blown away by Keith Relf, The Yardbirds, Steamhammer...and how that evolved into the Armageddon album...it set our neighborhood on fire. Now, when I read about Armageddon online, then 7th Order is mentioned right there as well. It ain't bad, I'll tell you.
Interviewer: I can just imagine...and it ain't bad for us, to listen to the music, either. But now, tell us more about those sessions - you had all the material done being written, and ready to record? You had the idea for the band all worked out, and this was it - you were putting it in motion?
Daniel: It moved the process right along, I will say that - we were buddies, and we just wanted to work on music together and see what happened. It was a long weekend - and we were all just blown away at how great the energy was, when we plugged in and turned it up. We all had a couple of songs each to pitch in, not fully written and arranged, though - but we just flew right through it. We all just had a blast - we did not have the studio 100% set up, but we had it put together enough to make it usable. I think we had like, early on, a Korg D1600 console with like 4 mics on the drums. And a real inexperienced engineer, whom we later had to get rid of - and this very young drummer, like 19 or so, Nick or something, maybe, nice kid - can't recall his name. He needed way too much supervision, and eventually he quit showing up for rehearsals which saved me from having to just out and out fire him (laughs).
Interviewer: So sorting out the personnel had to happen, and it was decided then, that 7th Order was born?
Daniel: Not exactly, it was decided that, we all had a great time and wanted to do more. "Throwing Fate The Slip", which you mentioned earlier, that track you have heard - that is from those sessions. But we did not know exactly how we wanted to proceed a that point. The initial discussions, over that weekend, was that the option existed for perhaps reforming Steamhammer. Martin later asked me to write up a set list - what would a reformed Steamhammer's live set list look like? It went that far - but we did still not have the songs all fully written yet, just the basic ideas - very few lyrics or finished arrangements. I had been auditioning vocalists, too. But when it started to seem like, later on - that Martin's participation would only be part time, we had to come up with a band name - Steamhammer wasn't a realistic option.
Interviewer: Really...but you are 7th Order's vocalist, and to me - and I suspect, quite a few of your fans - that's a huge part of your sound. You were looking for someone to do the vocals? Wasn't that your role?
Daniel: (laughs) I have done the lead vocals for this band so far, yes - but I became the vocalist by earning the spot, though. We came at from a few different angles to see what was going to be the best way to get it together. I mean, Geoff and Martin were not going to be full time members, but instead they are actually "guests". Albeit very, very involved guests. And we had to have a touring band, that could deliver - so if we had a bassist who could belt out one of our songs better than I could, then...so be it.
Interviewer: Speaking of bassists, I recall reading somewhere that Geoff played bass for some 7th Order sessions?
Daniel: On one track, "Throwing Fate The Slip", yes - that's is Geoff. But that is just who he is - a real "get the music done" sort of guy. I think the bassist at that session, he was a bit of a youngster - so it was running late and past his bedtime or something - he had to bail (laughs). So Geoff just takes his bass right from him, the guy did not even get to set it back down in the guitar stand. I played bass on a demo or two, as well.
Interviewer: So the first sessions went well - when did the finished tracks...and the final decisions that a band now existed, when exactly did that happen? And if it was not going to be a reformed Steamhammer, how did the band name 7th Order get decided upon?
Daniel: Well, that was December of 2001 - so we all went our separate ways for Christmas. As 2002 got underway, I kept on writing - we all reviewed the mixes, the music we emerged from those sessions with, the song ideas we had put down. We talked on the phone periodically, and I kept on working - I had the studio set up by now and kept going. I had local musicians in Seattle sit in with me here and there, looking for guys who would be good candidates for the band. I had quite a few guys pass through, and some seemed OK and were around for a while. It was quite an experience, I mean, we had a certain level of inspiration or ability we had to "hit it" on. I wasn't going to settle for a "good enough" player for this band, no way. It was funny, too - I mean - I had one guy sit in with us briefly, on guitar. We were going over the arrangement for "Force Of Nature Comes Down" - I told him, "...this guitar part needs a Chuck Berry energy". He sort of scowled and said, "I don't know any Chuck Berry licks". Obviously, well...that guy wasn't going to be right for us (laughs).
Interviewer: So deciding who was going to be in the band, officially, it wasn't something that happened quickly?
Daniel: Oh, it was a process alright...we did have auditions, and some guys - I gave them a while to sort of prove themselves. I mean, musicians may get nervous at auditions - so I give them a while to kind of, you know - show me who they really are, personality-wise and what have you. But it comes down to this: Martin, Geoff and I were the guys who were at the center of the whole thing...but both Martin and Geoff were just too committed elsewhere to be "members" in the traditional sense. And I want to also acknowledge Jian Lakerson here, he was a fine guitarist who sat in on a gig or two. Oh, there was this one guy, Jesus...his name escapes me, but he insisted on being called by some ridiculous nickname...wait, it was like McKatt or something...what a piece of work. Mark or Mike maybe, or something, I think he was from Michigan. He didn't even make it to the "audition" stage. I actually felt sorry for him, he was a funny little guy, but real odd. I spent a little time with him, hanging out, he was practically begging to be involved, and I'd talked to him a bit about sitting in. But after spending a bit of time with him - it became obvious that something was *very* wrong with this guy. And sure enough, I would see him around town, drunk, throwing a tantrum in downtown Seattle, a very odd little man. I had thought at one time, maybe we could have him sit in on bass - but I started to hear from other people around town, "watch out, this guy is a total jackass" or emotionally unstable. I put that together with what I observed, and he was crossed off the list. I think I heard later, he went and did some technology stuff, some "virtual reality" thing, where people pretended they were little bunny rabbits online or I don't know what (laughs). Seems about right for a guy like that (laughs). Anyway, it was a process, we had to wade through some real characters to get a solid unit locked in.
Interviewer: But the band name..7th Order...
Daniel: Ah yes, sorry - missed that one (laughs). OK, well through all this - I was reading Rudolph Steiner books. Which actually, conversations with Robert Knight and Steven B. in L.A. had led me to, a few years earlier. Those guys were way ahead of me, in their thinking. Anyway, it was in a book of his "Staying Connected" that I was reading. And in this book, Stenier talks about the "Orders of Angels" and the "Archai" are of the "7th Order". I liked band names like say, "Armageddon" - you know, something deep and mystical and thought provoking So I talked about it with a few folks, people seemed to like it...and there it is.
Interviewer: OK, so...now, we are at a place where - you guys are ready to go, recording can get underway, gigs booked, the songs that will later become the 7th Order catalog are being written...
Daniel: They were being finished...just about finished being written, yes. I had the job of doing that, I did try to get involvement from other people in the mix at the time. Martin had a great song idea, that became "Road to Yerevan" - we actually worked on that at our very first sessions. No lyrics, and only like the basic riff existed and maybe the bridge. he and I finished it up, and again - it was something I was reading at the time...about Armenia and that region...that inspired that theme. Then he came back to Seattle and we tracked it. Wow, what an adventure that was - I thought someone was going to die, before it was finished. Martin had tried to work that up with Kieran White at one point, I heard a tape of it - maybe from the late 70's. And Martin also tried to work that up with Jeff Fenholt, I think. Then Bill Lordan, from Robin Trower's band, sat in on a version.
Interviewer: An adventure? That particular song?
Daniel: Wow, yes - we made a few passes at it before we had what we felt was "the take". We did stuff largely live in the studio, to get that spark, that "in the moment" energy. And Martin had an idea for the tempo he wanted for it...you can hear the difference in versions, from the time we first did it. Anyway - he actually sat at the drumkit himself one night and played the snare, as a guide track. And when we brought the full band in, we used that guide track to get the tempo. Anyway...when the band was gone and we were doing overdubs...Martin told the engineer to bring that original track back into the mix, so he had it in his headphones, when he did a guitar overdub. The engineer says "I erased it - it's gone, I figured we didn't need it anymore". Martin was...ah...unhappy, I'll just say that about it.
Interviewer: Uh oh...so that take was now unusable?
Daniel: It appeared that way. But after the engineer left, I rolled up my sleeves and sat down at the console, and eventually found a way to save the situation. The damage was done though, relationship-wise...we kept going with that engineer to get that job, that song done. To make matters worse, the engineer didn't seem to be willing to take any responsibility whatsoever for what he had done - we'd had a bit of trouble with that guy making excuses for screw ups in the past, too, so this was the last straw. I worked with him for a while longer, to finish up stuff in progress - but there was no way Martin was going to risk him making that sort of mistake again.
Interviewer: But the finished version, the released version - that was from those sessions?
Daniel: Oh yes, but it came very close to not happening. It was sort of sad, actually - this engineer was just real inexperienced and not very, well...mature, we'll say. So, Martin was not going to work with this guy again, and I cannot really blame him - though we did finish the mixing part of it all with that guy. We also had other problems with that engineer, I won't go into all the details here - but it was obvious, at that point - his days were numbered.
Interviewer: This was all done in the studio you guys had built, in Seattle?
Daniel: Quite a bit of the earlier stuff, yes. Actually, "Lazarus" was started there but finished here on the Big Island. I actually did a considerable part of the engineering on that song myself, come to think of it.
Interviewer: I have to tell you, though - "The Lake of Memory" was my introduction to 7th Order, and is my personal favorite. It has the drive and energy that I think is now the 7th Order "stock in trade", so to speak. The musicianship there, well - on everything by the band - is head and shoulders above the competition. Anyone who knew of Martin and Geoff's work with their other bands, any fans of that kind of guitar work - would be knocked out. Intricate, but bluesy and soulful, extended jamming, amazing guitar tones. There's only a handful of songs in rock & roll history that rise to that level, the writing and playing both. I have mentioned this to you before, privately - it's really like a modern day Yardbirds, with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page - I kid you not. So, I would like to know - where in this process did that song emerge?
Daniel: That is a composition of mine, I had started writing it in 2002, maybe just after the first sessions, I believe. That was done live in the studio, the basic tracks. And thank you, I don't think we mind The Yardbirds comparison one bit, really. But that was not my intention, I don't believe - it just came out that way, one of those songs that sort of wrote itself. And when you get guys like Geoff and Martin, at the top of their game like that - it's just going to burn. We were all in the pocket, and felt good about what we had to work with. The song, the band, the moment, the stars lined up and we went for it. As great as both those guys are, as guitar players - to see the respect they had for each other, during the process...it was really amazing
Interviewer: And that's got be tricky, getting those layers of guitars to work out, on record.
Daniel: Not at all, it just flowed. Martin plays that lead guitar intro, then the middle section solo. Geoff comes in with a sort of chorded, tremolo/12 string sounding thing later on, and we just took off from there. Geoff helps me out with some vocals, too. We were happy with how that came out, and that was what we sent out to radio first. I think I have a copy of it, an early mix, with a CD label that says "Steamhammer" as the band on it. I remember driving back from the mixing sessions for that one, with Geoff - at night. We were listening to the playback, and knew we had something going on.
Interviewer: And by now, it was the summer of 2003 - the worldwide radio debut of 7th Order was on the horizon. It happened, it was out...then what was the initial reaction, as you recall?
Daniel: The reaction was very positive. It was on the radio all over the world, pretty quickly. We actually had to decide, what radio station was going to get to air it first. There were a number of radio people who were aware we were working on something, Martin, Geoff and I - and a few folks seemed to be quite keen on seeing what we would emerge with. You know, Vicious Rumors is huge in Germany, and Steamhammer are legends there - industry people who knew we were writing and recording, there was a lot of interest in what we would come up with. Bob Spillane, The Mickster, his terrific "Dangerous Rock & Roll Show" on WNTI In Hackttstown, New Jersey - he debuted as fabulously - and CKWR Radio in Ontario, Canada - Stan Hilborn's terrific show - they were on it, right out of the gate. Radio stations in the New York area, and Wisconsin, Florida, overseas - Holland, Scotland, England, Germany. Probably others, I am not sure exactly where else, off the top.
Interviewer: I have heard a recording of that first broadcast, and you guys got quite a build up.
Daniel: We did, and we were honored, of course. It was debuted on a New York City area station, as I recall, on a Saturday night. I was in still based in Seattle at the time, but I was down in Phoenix for that weekend. We were playing gigs in the Pacific Northwest on the roll out, we didn't have a CD out for sale yet though. I was doing radio interviews on stations in the US and Europe, to follow up on all of the interest "The Lake of Memory" was generating. I think.
Interviewer: So it was just "The Lake of Memory" that you had sent out, at this point?
Daniel: As I recall, and then "Force Of Nature Comes Down" was sent out, like 3 months later...we played a bit more live, and in early 2004, got asked to play on a TV show in Seattle. Things were moving right along. Lucky for us - the drummer we had at the time, who was all wrong for us, as it turned out - he bailed out on us on very short notice. That's how we got Tim Kelliher onboard - he'd been with the original Randy Hansen's Machine Gun - for that gig. And wow, did he blow us away. He had like a rehearsal with us the night before - and a sound check the next day, at the TV studio. And he just flew...taking us right along with him. He's as a good a drummer as you are going to find, and a terrific guy as well.
Interviewer: Now...I was always puzzled about something, though this era for the band.. Why no CD release at the time, with all of the obvious interest in 7th Order?
Daniel: We talked about it, and were looking at what move to make, with getting something in the marketplace. But this is what was happening - the music business was changing. People were downloading songs more frequently then, instead of buying full length CDs. We watched this trend and thought, is the market going back to where it was in the era of 45 RPM's? Should we just release an EP? Things like iTunes were still ramping up, so it was something we wanted to handle correctly. We were talking to different labels, too - we had offers, but wanted to be smart about that too. I went back east abound this time, actually - we were considering relocating, where to base the band. Was Seattle the right place to be? It's kind of an isolated market up there.
Interviewer: But, did putting off the release - did it work out for the band, in retrospect?
Daniel: Oh yes, I mean - with things that happened later, that could not have been anticipated. It would have been difficult to support a CD release.
Interviewer: Things that happened later...I know this is not easy to talk about, for anyone who is a parent, or specifically anyone who has lost a child. But I know from previous conversations, and the band's history - your son passed away around this time?
Daniel: Yes, my son Dylan...that was November 2004...that was when that happened.
Interviewer: Was there a question about, even continuing with the band or not? I cannot imagine, as a parent, how one deals with that.
Daniel: Me neither. I mean, the first thing is, shock. Total shock - you cannot wrap your mind around it. And that lasts for a while. And if that was not bad enough, the day it happened, was Thanksgiving Day 2004. We had not talked in a while, there was some tension - his mother was...well, I mentioned earlier, she obviously had some real problems...and he died in Massachusetts, a prescription drug overdose, suicide or an accident, we don't know. And I was traveling that day - I was back in Seattle for the holiday. That same day, my father was rushed to the hospital, here in Hilo - with a perforated intestine. I was in shock, and did not know where to go first. My son was gone - but my father was still alive...the years of alcohol abuse had been wearing him down anyway perhaps. I could do nothing to help my son, so I came back here. I then made up my mind, that I would be moving back to Hawaii, and I would finish the CD for release here. I had to go on with the band, though I felt pulled in a few different directions, I had to focus on something.
Interviewer: It must have been tough, I cannot imagine, really. And leaving North America, while you had some momentum as a band - after having about the heaviest situation a guy could be faced with, hitting you right between the eyes. No one can really say, "this is the right move or that is the wrong move", after anything like that.
Daniel: No question, I was very shook up emotionally - and I knew I did need to take a little time to deal with it, if possible. But I knew - coming home was what I had to do. I figured I would finish up some overdubs here, and handle the CD release from here as well. Touring to promote it, well - that was going to have to wait. We would play local gigs, I would sort of reconfigure the band as I had to. But I had been away from the islands for a while and I needed to reconnect, that was all there was to it.
Interviewer: Did it happen like you expected, with returning to Hawaii and getting the band back on track?
Daniel: Well, not exactly - I got back, and one member of my family starts telling about me how he'd stolen thousands and thousands of dollars from his company to support his heroin habit...he'd eventually contracted Hep C...and how he had been a chaperone on a school outing for one of his kids, and while at Volcanoes National Park with them...went in the bathroom to shoot up. I had to sit with him while he was going through one of his withdrawals. And I saw that my father was still doing nothing more than sitting around in his boxer shorts all day long, drunk, in front of the TV. I mean, all these years had gone by, and these people were still killing themselves. And if that wasn't bad enough, the band had another setback - and it was not just a business setback, but a really deep personal loss, when...
Interviewer: ...you mean, what happened with Steven B. Williams?
Daniel: That's it, we lost Steven B. He'd been a management consultant for 7th Order actually, such a source of wisdom and friendship, over the years. I mean, well over 30 years I had known him. I spoke to him last in like, early May of 2006. Then...nothing. I called, I emailed, and never heard from him. After a while, I emailed Robert Knight saying, "where's Steven?". As I was waiting to hear back from him, I just did an internet search on his name. And I got the news headlines, "Honolulu DJ Murdered - Found Floating Off Catalina Island". I just could not believe what I was reading..
Interviewer: It was devastating for all of us, who knew...rather, knew of him, from the radio. He was an amazing radio talent, maybe the best the islands ever had - a local legend, long before I ever got on radio, myself - but I grew up in Honolulu too, though that era, and I recall vividly how terrific his show was. His taste in music, at a time when radio people had a choice about what to play - was unbelievably good.
Daniel: And not just that, he was a great guy - a great friend. I mean, friends like that, you love more than family. I mean, my family does not make that much of a contest anyway, but still. And the way he died, can you believe it? Murdered like that, shot in the back of the head and thrown in the ocean. That creep who did him in, wow - what a soulless being. I owe those guys, too - I mean, Robert and Steven B. made double sure I understood, who The Yardbirds were, and Jeff Beck in particular. I walked into the DJ booth at KIKI, as a teenager...maybe in 74 or so...waving the soundtrack to the movie "Blow Up", that had The Yardbirds with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on it. I had just found it in a used record store, and got on the bus to go down there. He still had the headphones on, turned around - snatched it away from me, threw it on the turntable and cued it up to play...boom. What an experience for a kid that age, he was the number one rock & roll DJ in Honolulu.
Interviewer: Wow...I guess so...
Daniel: And between him and Robert, through those guys - I met some astounding rock and roll people, and was at parties and at gigs you would not believe. Not just in Honolulu in the 70's too - I mean, like, in 1999 - I was with Steven B. at a private party at BB Kings place in Universal City, Robert got us in - and Eric Clapton is at the next table. In New York City in '89, Robert had called me in Boston and said, "We're going to be backstage at Madison Square Gardens, when Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughn play there, on Saturday night. Be there.". As a bonus, Peter Green was there, talking to SRV, when we were backstage after the gig.
Interviewer: OK...let me see here...Beck, SRV, and Peter Green?
Daniel: I couldn't believe it either. And Stevie was dead about a year later...just awful, that was. And, Steven and Robert, what their friendship meant to me - still, in Robert's case, to this day. The encouragement and guidance, I have been very blessed in that respect. And on my own, in my travels - getting to meet and hang out with like, Mick Taylor and Roger McGuinn in Boston...BB King and Clapton in California. And of course, Jesse Ed Davis and Martin Pugh. In that way, I've been very blessed.
Interviewer: So the influences they helped expose you to, or that you got exposed to anyway - that theme in the 7th Order story is right there again. But what was next, then, I mean - obviously this news was another setback...but what happened to keep 7th Order moving?
Daniel: I think, my friends just encouraging me, actually. By this time, we had a lot of new friends all over the world. And guys like Geoff of course. I mean, Steven B. and other people I had lost...I owed their memory that, to keep going. By the time the "Road To Yerevan" EP was finished and out, in like 2011-12, we'd just been playing here in Hawaii for a while now. "The Lake of Memory" was still on the radio around the world, as new listeners found it and picked up on it. We'd sort of become known and established in our own way, an underground sort of popularity I guess, without the benefit of international touring and a big label behind us.
Interviewer: Which I guess, would begin to set the stage for what is going on now, the upcoming release - "The Initiate's Journey, 2003-13".
Daniel: That's exactly right - it was a while ago, I guess in like 2012. I had been going through some stuff in our vaults, studio outtakes, live things, the video clips we have. And radio folks like yourself, whom I had shared some things with - were like "why are you sitting on this music?". I began to wonder why, myself...it seemed like a good idea to get it out, maybe.
Interviewer: So what can we expect to be on it?
Daniel: I had some tough decisions to make, honestly. I decided it need to be mixed media, so people could check out things like video, MP3 files, ringtones, lyrics and the like on their computers with the disc. I wanted to include some of the radio broadcasts we had in the vaults, too. I thought those had some interesting elements to them. Interviews and stuff like that. I had found an original mix of "The Lake of Memory", and there were some studio outtakes that I thought needed to be heard. So it now became an issue of space constraints. You only have so much room on a CD.
Interviewer: Are we going to see the Seattle TV broadcast on the video portion?
Daniel: At least some of it, sure - and the full audio of "100 Year Rain" we did there, with Tim Kelliher on drums.
Interviewer: It sounds like a dream come true for long time fans of the band, like myself. But with promoting it, all of the internet resources - sites like Youtube and Reverb Nation, all of the social media sites...Facebook, Twitter...to what extent do you feel like, you can expand your audience in the modern day? Have you found that, the availability of music on those sites, cuts into actual CD or download sales?
Daniel: Well, we aren't sure exactly - we are present, everywhere you mention, of course, like any band. But the radio people I know around the world, they still like a physical CD. Sites that you mention, they are obviously a promotion tool, sure. But the audio and the video you see there - it's compressed and the quality isn't what a CD is. Just like, a CD isn't ever going to be as good as vinyl or tape or analog. But we are in this for the long haul - and the sites you mention are here today, but there is no assurance they will survive the next wave of sites, with a different focus or design. Look at MySpace, you know? They were the top social media site, but now - it's full of zombie profiles...abandoned. We have a profile there, and it's active - and we have many fans there. But, they were on top - and now they aren't even close. So who knows?
Interviewer: That's a good point. I think another thing people have run into, is the download sites - there are established sites that will obviously be around for a while. But there are others, that sort of come and go - they profess to be doing something new, but for whatever reason, is does not capture the consumer's imagination in a complete enough way, and it's gone. So what resources do you put your energy into, as an artist, how do you make those choices?
Daniel: You don't, actually. You write the best music you can, and put it all into performing it - and the rest of it, is again...it's up to fate. Make informed choices about platforms and sites, environments on the 'net., all of that. But I mean, I look at some very, very established band's web sites or Twitter accounts...and they have not been updated in a couple of years. Yet they still are going strong, I believe.
Interviewers: So you aren't sure how much all of that matters?
Daniel: Like I said, write and perform as best you can. The rest of it will fall into place, perhaps, if it's meant to - keep walking and your feet will find the path. Don't stress about things you have limited control over, put that energy into the music.
Interviewer: Ah, OK - that's a very good outlook. Daniel, I see we are nearly out of time, but I do want to take a moment to ask...what's next for 7th Order?
Daniel: After this interview? Some coffee, maybe some TV.
Interviewer: (laughs) Right, I mean - after that.
Daniel: (laughs) That makes more sense, doesn't it? (laughs). Well, I have more interviews like this to do on the run up to the release. Still some final decisions about artwork, and even some choices about the data content, before it goes to manufacturing. At that point, I will then be more focused on what's next. I have a few new songs, I want to record - I talk to Geoff Thorpe often and he's up for that - but there has to be a trip to California, to follow through on that.
Interviewer: So...you do not want to...you aren't going to record here, in Hawaii?
Daniel: There are so many good resources there, I wish I could do it here - but from what I see on the scene now, California just makes more sense.
Interviewer: Better studios?
Daniel: More choices, and more of...just everything. When you need a great player, there are just more of them there - deeper talent pool, overall resource pool. I love Hawaii, it's my home and where I grew up. But I know what it means to "hit the wall" professionally here, too.
Interviewer: And how about a tour?
Daniel: That is something I would love to see happen. And from the emails and phone calls I get, I gather I am not the only one. A tour cannot be launched from here, for all the obvious reasons. I actually see a move happening, to really set that in motion - not a permanent one - but an extended visit to North America, probably California. At the very least, I would have to be there a year or two, I think.
Interviewer: Daniel, really...this is going to be one of the great moments in my radio career, no kidding. And I feel sure that this new CD is going to just explode for you guys, and rightly so. Is there anything you want to say to our listeners, in closing?
Daniel: It's been a blast for me too, Melinda - we have talked about doing this for a while, haven't we? I'm glad you finally got after me, and wouldn't take no for an answer this time (laughs). But yes, thanks so much to you, and KAHU Radio - and mahalo to all of your listeners, and all of our fans. In closing, all the latest news on 7th Order is on our web page - 7thorder.com. And we are everywhere on the 'net...Twitter, Facebook...stop by and say "hi", anytime.
Interviewer: Mahalo, Daniel - and I do hope you will be back on the show again soon, when there's more 7th Order news, or even if there isn't...just to hang out with us, OK?
Daniel: I'd be delighted to, Melinda, anytime...mahalo...
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