It's no secret that I'm a sucker for a good modern soulful blues band. Now, I never thought I'd find that out a Los Angeles based band, but 7Horse is full of surprises. Their groove is the kind you'd love to dance to with a drink in your hand. Bands like these really capture the "drift" in our Drift & Die mentality. Check out an interview Tamara did recently with one half of this dynamic duo.
Tamara Grant: How would you describe your type of music?
Phil Leavitt: We use that great old catch-all phrase originally coined in the mid-twentieth century when describing our music. It does have a very specific meaning. When you combine a little blues with a little country and give it a swinging feel, what have you got? Rock’n'roll. It's our own modern take on a classic form.
Tamara: Who are your influences?
Phil: Influences. There are too many to list them all. Blues masters like Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Mississippi John Hurt to the originators of rock n' roll, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis to the '60s British rock Titans who picked up the mantle, the Stones, Beatles, Zeppelin, The Who. We can't forget the influence of punk rock; The Ramones or the country outlaws, like the legendary Merle Haggard. Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders get a lot of plays in the tour van. The Police; basically the greatest music that was ever written and recorded. Take all that (and many more) and mix it with a little Rat Pack era Dean Martin Vegas showroom, and more or less, you've got 7Horse.
Tamara: How was it, Phil, being on the Dr. 420 show?
Phil: The Dr.420 show was a good laugh, and while I do know a few things about cannabis, I found it very educational.
Tamara: What was the music scene like where y’all are from?
Phil: I never felt part of a "scene.” I've played in bands, and really (for better or worse) have been focused on what I'm doing with my band and pretty much ignoring everything else. The upside of that is you don't find yourself chasing a trend. The downside, if your band breaks up nobody calls you for a gig.
Tamara: What does your name mean?
Phil: My grandfather, who I loved dearly, and was a big influence on me, came up in the Capone era in Chicago. He worked in illegal gambling there for many years before moving to Las Vegas in the early '60s. That's where I was born. He didn't gamble at the tables (he knew the odds were stacked for the house) but he did love to play the ponies. He had a bet down at a race track every day of his life for over 60 years. His favorite bet: $20 on the 7 horse to win.
Tamara: How did you guys meet?
Phil: Joie and I were set up really. He was running the mailroom at Geffen records and I was involved with an older woman (I was just a kid, really) who worked in the music publishing department. She and Joie were friends. He told her his band, Dada, needed a drummer. She told him she knew the "best drummer in LA.” I think her opinion may have been colored by our relationship but Joie took her seriously. He and I have been together ever since. She married another drummer.
Tamara: Any funny stories about each other?
Phil: When you've played and traveled together as long as we have you know the other guy better than you know yourself. Two things I know about him; 1) He's an absolute gear head. If you get him talking about guitars and amps you'd better not have anywhere to go for the next several hours. 2) If we're in a restaurant together, I take one look at the menu and I know exactly what he's going to order, including salad dressing; always balsamic vinaigrette.
Tamara: Which one out of the two of you is a bigger troublemaker?
Phil: Again, so many to be inspired by but I'll say the great jazz drummer Buddy Rich; a true powerhouse on the drums and a real entertainer. He made a big impression on me as a kid. He had his own band. He was the leader; a personality not just a side man. Plus, he had a take-no-shit attitude that I can relate to.
Tamara: Funniest thing that has happened on tour?
Phil: We checked into a hotel once (I won't say the name), and went up to the room. I walk in and lying beside the bed, on the floor,is a used condom. I had just gotten my first iPhone. I snapped a photo and went down to the front desk. New room, no charge for the night. We thought, what a great idea, just start dropping condoms wherever we go.
Tamara: Favorite place to perform and why?
Phil: My favorite place to perform is anywhere there is a great crowd of people. Any day, any place, any time. I live for it. It's where I feel most alive and at home. Oh, and Madison Square Garden ain't bad either.
e. Rachel Rosell