Born to Run: 7Lions to Tour in Support of New Album Release
by Holley Dey
“We’re not shoegazers.” Nah, they’re not lookin’ down. This band is jumpin’ high, ramping up the live performance action, inciting the crowd to feel it, move it, dance it. Says rapper Prophet, “We’re fans of uptempo; we want the crowd to be excited, to feel good from our shows.” Oh, there may still be an occasional opportunity to wave a lighter in the air, but don’t count on it. The 7Lions are built to run, and they’re burning up the track.
Signed to Grammy winning producer and songwriter RedOne’s 2101 Records, the band offers a new and different sound that blends electropop, indie rock, hip hop and even classic rock to produce music that 7Lions describe as “left of center”, but that lies close enough to the midline to attract mainstream audiences. Think Coldplay meets Kanye, add a dash of Linkin Park and 311, and oh, throw in some hip hop. Got it? Thousands on the west coast do. 7Lions is a consistent draw for live performance venues across California, and come 2013 the band will bring their music and brand new EP to audiences nationwide.
Born to Run was released in June 2012 to five star customer reviews and strong sales, despite limited radio play. The title track is a positive anthem to the hard won success that comes from staring down long odds and fighting through adversity. “Sky turns black, don’t matter, built so strong, won’t shatter…” Prophet’s rhymes and smooth, measured delivery contrast with the insistent urgency of lead singer Forrest Fulmer’s distinctive rock rasp to produce a sound that lifts and energizes, that commands feet to leave the floor.
The song’s theme is familiar territory for 7Lions, many of whom have faced and overcome daunting personal challenges to grow a career in music. Mika “Prophet” Guillory was raised in an impoverished area of San Francisco; lived with his grandmother after his mother left home and his father became seriously ill. There weren’t many things to do in his neighborhood, he says. You could sell drugs on the corner, run with a gang or go to the Boys Club. Mika chose the Boys Club where a mentor introduced him to swimming, basketball and to rhyming. There the young boy could explore music and other creative outlets in a safe environment.
One of those outlets was graffiti art. He’d draw at bus and train yards, on community art walls and with a mischievous hand, on the occasional Bank of America. Mika would often sketch with a partner, a boy who signed his work “Prophet”. One sad day, that boy died after hitting an electrified rail in the tram yard. The boy’s mother asked Mika to take her son’s moniker in his memory. Mika has been known as “Prophet” ever since.
His bandmates have different stories to tell, but all of these share a common thread of pushing through obstacles. It’s a theme that also resonates with the public at large. The LA Kings hockey team adopted the hard pumping “Born to Run” as their anthem during the 2012 season. The song has been used in NASCAR, NFL and major league baseball television broadcasts. A young female cancer survivor, sponsored by the band, listened to the song while running a 100 mile challenge.
Their sound is mature, but 7Lions came together as a band only three years ago. Each member brings significant music industry experience to the group. Says Prophet, 7Lions is like the “USA Olympic basketball team where everybody wears a different jersey, but now they’re under the same roof!” He credits keyboardist and producer Morgan Taylor Reid for the raw blend of musical styles and instruments showcased on Born to Run, and for the chord progressions heard throughout the album. He remembers meeting lead singer and guitarist Forrest Fulmer at an artists residency program. Fulmer was then frontman for the band “Omission” that also included drummer Tony Tommasi and lead guitarist/back-up vocalist Will Carpenter. When Prophet was invited to the stage, and his hip hop poetry added to the mix, Forrest responded, “I want to do what we’re doing – what do you call it?!” Accomplished bass player and teacher Daniel Hange was soon auditioned and recruited to the band; 7Lions was on its way.
The majority of the band’s songs have been written together in Morgan’s home studio with melody and lyrics contributed by several band members, shaped around a form built by producer Reid, and under the mentorship of RedOne. The five songs on the debut EP, explains Prophet, focus primarily on the universal themes of love and loss:
Born to Run – a positive, hard pumping anthem that celebrates those who overcome adversity and beat the odds.
One Man Symphony – an intense chorus and driving drums that insist when love goes wrong, it is as if you are alone on stage, one man playing a symphony.
Emergency – a hybrid ballad with a mid/uptempo chorus that declares an emergency when you are separated from someone you love
Taking Over– a tribal anthem with heavy drums that speaks for youth, offering a rebellious cry: we are here, and we will be heard.
One More Time – a ballad that addresses loss and regret; if I had one more chance, could I make it right?
There are wide ranging influences in the music that 7Lions makes. Says Prophet, “We are a connected generation. We listen to all kinds of music, from Michael Jackson to Coldplay, Bach to modern classics, to instrumental records from Africa.” The hip hop poet has had the opportunity to travel with RedOne to Morocco, to Sweden and spots around the world, picking up bits and pieces and bringing those influences back to Los Angeles to inspire the music. Eventually, 7Lions would like to follow in the path of bands like U2 or Coldplay, to make music with international impact, to be welcomed to the world stage.
For now, the band is carefully mapping out a strategy to bring their music to markets across America. Social media will play a part; there are cross promotions planned with other 2101 artists including Porcelain Black, but touring is a large part of the plan, and 2013 will find 7Lions on the road. Prophet looks forward to the journey and making a difference. “The exploration and discovery of new music is one of the most life altering things we can do. It’s not every day that we can do that, but it gives us the opportunity to change the way we think about things. If we can bridge the gap for someone looking for something inspirational or different, then we give them a little vacation, at least for that moment.” In other words, put on your dancing shoes!
Preview and download Born to Run on iTunes here.
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