Vanessa DeRenzio – Sevens Nines and Tens
Seven Nines and Tens have been rocking the local music scene since 2007. Starting as a strictly instrumental band, they recently went though a major revamp, adding vocals to their melodic metal sound after years of requests. With a new album on the way, I was lucky to get the chance to catch up with Dave to ask him about his thoughts on the album, and the evolution of his music in Seven Nines and Tens.
nMC: You worked with producer Steve Hanker again on this release. What does Steve bring to the production and how much does he steer the ship?
Dave: Steve and I are super like minded as far as our approach to all things music are concerned. He is really savvy as far as the technical side of recording goes. Combine that with an unflappable need for everything to sound as perfect as possible and the fact he and I approach recording sessions with the a large amount of enthusiasm, I think it makes for good finished work.
Steve and I have been good friends for awhile as we used to play in a post punk band called Katastroyka. We’d always be talking about music which eventually evolved into us collaborating. Steve would often tell me about recording sessions he was working on and I remember being impressed by how much attention to detail he would subject to his projects. I write a majority of the music, which him and I produce together. Because of his exceptional technical knowledge base he does 100% of the engineering and technical work on instruments and sounds. He also will be doing all the mixing for the songs we just recorded. This is actually the 2nd recording we’ve worked on together. Our first being the Constants & Axioms single which I thought turned out really, really well.
nMC: Your music was previously instrumental, and has started featuring vocals. Was that a conscious decision for you, or was it more of a natural progression?
Dave: To be honest, I have been having people ask me “where are the vocals?” since the band played our first show in 2007 and never once did I seriously consider it. Never did I once even really think about it. However, when Mario Nieva joined the band and implied a couple of times that vocals would add to the sound, that was all it took for me to starting getting my vocals in shape. I really look up to Mario as a musician because of his background as a member of one of my favorite band’s: Mystery Machine from Chilliwack. I didn’t not add vocals for all this time to defy those who repeatedly asked for them but it’s funny now that we feature singing, I’ve realized I really like singing and I feel it really adds to our sound.
nMC: According to your Facebook page you did three months of preproduction for one day in the studio. Was there any particular reason you decided to do the whole record in one day? Were there any additional days for overdubs or was it recorded entirely in one day?
Dave: We would’ve preferred to have more than 12 hours to track the 6 songs we did but unfortunately our budget wouldn’t allow for it. Our main focus of the Rain City sessions was making sure the drums sounded amazing. That said – part of the 3 months of pre-production included me writing metronome parts that matched all of the songs so we could rehearse and ultimately record in pretty much perfect time as a band. I find immersing myself that much into a project is necessary to get the desired outcome.
We are aren’t sure at this point if the record is going to be a full length or just a really, really long (40 minutes) ep. I definitely anticipate spending more time when we do our next recording as I’d like to do 12 songs or so which is twice the amount we did. We are going to do our next record with Steve and I producing again but I have a name in mind that I want to collaborate and I know if we can get the resources (aka the cash) together we could make it happen.
nMC: How would you describe this release compared to your previous work? Will old fans still feel at home? Will new fans be tempted to check out your back catalog?
Dave: The guitars are tuned lower on this new record yet I don’t think it’s as heavy as our first one. As well I think we approached aggressive sounds from a different, less “metal” standpoint. I think this record is less “mathy” then our previous material as well. There aren’t as many odd time signatures or unusual shifts between sections. I think our old fans will still embrace our new stuff it’s still me writing the songs and after 6 or 7 years of doing so, I feel really dialed in along with an all encompassing devotion to simply write the best songs I humanly can. I love to write songs, it’s my favorite pastime. I’ve been writing songs for 20 years and I still feel that I have so, so much to learn and that I haven’t even come close to writing the best material that I potentially could.
Dave: I wrote about 120 songs for this record starting around August 2012 and the 6 songs that ended up on the record I feel, appealed the most to my own preferences as far as musicality, songwriting, feel, emotion, and dynamics are concerned. In the past sometimes I would choose to bring a song to the rest of the band because of how devastatingly heavy I thought it was or how technical it sounded. For this record I brought the ideas that resonated with me as a whole. I would consider our first record to be not unlike a box of really rare baseball cards stashed under some teenagers bed. For this new record I think things are exactly as I just described except that the bed that the cards are under is inside a Pyramid.
Dave: Although the new record is not conceptual, there is a theme that runs throughout. My 8 years of living in the downtown Eastside in Vancouver and being immersed (at least as a spectator) in arguably the worst neighborhood presently on earth, maybe ever, has given the new album a theme of inner city living. I’m not pretending that I come from a background of poverty, I consider my position to be from the perspective of someone from a middle class background and my observations on the rampant drug abuse, violence, police corruption, and municipal neglect that I see day in and day out.
nMC: What band or artist do you cite as an influence that would surprise most listeners?
Dave: I have a lot of influences within the genres we already play. Post Rock, Progressive Rock, Indie Rock, Math Rock, Post Metal, and Shoegaze all come to mind as far as stuff we sound like. However, I listen to a huge amount of music that generally doesn’t sound a thing like Seven Nines & Tens. Music such as Oasis, The Black Crowes, The Hellacopters, Rocket From the Crypt, Lifetime, Saves the Day and tons of 80s/90s hip hop. A lot of Def Jam records hip hop and rap from the 90s have a huge influence on me. Stuff like 3rd Bass, Epmd, Brand Nubian, Redman, Lords of The Underground, Digital Underground, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee, Dr Dre, have all shaped my own take on music.
Dave: It’s almost like there is this pocket of time where the genre of rap and hip hop was excellent and it’s since devolved or evolved into something less excellent as time has gone on. I like how the great hip hop artists almost seem to have this ability to create their own universe and within that they tell their stories. That really appeals to me. Also, the music almost seemed dangerous to me when I was growing up with it’s themes of sex, drugs, violence, and the streets. I found that it that was sort of thrilling in an adolescent sort of way.
nMC: In today’s musical landscape, with distribution and publicity so accessible to every band and singer via the internet, what sets 7 9s and 10s apart from other artists?
Dave: Growing up and playing in bands, writing songs, and recording them in studios, I feel I learned a lot from my own mistakes. I started wondering if the songs I was writing would turn out better if I worked on them more leading up to the recording sessions. I learned this of course the hard way, I would write songs in 5 minutes, declare them finished, record them 8 months down the road and be left wondering why I didn’t like the finished product very much.
Dave: I started to realize that to have excellent recordings involves so much, much more then just writing a song, showing up to the studio one day, and recording. The effort you put into making sure everything is as good as it can possibly be before recording is so key. Everything from how well the instruments you’re using are set up to executing the material in time is so crucial.
Dave: I don’t know if I physically or mentally feel like a have an advantage over other artists. I do know that I expect a pretty high standard from myself as a songwriter and to satisfy those expectations I have to do some form of work on the band on daily basis. The 3 or 4 years I spent writing leading up to the first Seven Nines & Tens record, I basically had one goal, which was to get signed to a record label on the strength of our recordings. The fact that we put our record out ourselves and were almost instantly arranging signing to European label Fluttery Records definitely affirmed to me that I could trust my instincts as a songwriter and that my approach was working.
nMC: Any plans to tour Behind this release?
Dave: We are definitely going to tour for this record. We’ll start with some festival dates such as Sled Island, South By Southwest, and North By North East and go from there.
Some bands we’d love to tour with include but are not limited to: Cave In, Junius, City of Ships, The Atlas Moth, Ken Mode, Anciients, The Icarus Line, Mystery Machine, Indian, Quicksand, Arctic Sleep, Pelican, Capsule, Torche, I could go on and on.
nMC: Lastly, Stones or Beatles?
Dave: The Stones. I think Mick Jagger has a great vocal range plus I love the guitar playing on the classic Stones records like “Let It Bleed” and “Exile On Main Street.” Thanks for interviewing me Vanessa.
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