Photos courtesy of 7Horse.
American blues and rock duo 7Horse’s fifth album, The Last Resort was released on October 28. Phil Leavitt and Joie Calio, multi-instrumentalists behind 7Horse, have a lot of history playing music together: In the early 1990s, the duo formed the acclaimed alternative rock band dada.
With the Top 5 hit 1992 single “Dizz Knee Land,” dada became a huge success, according to Leavitt. “Overall, we sold about a million records, and this was back in the day when physical record sales actually existed,” Leavitt said. “We got to tour the world. We did a tour opening for Sting, we played with Depeche Mode, and did a lot of other cool things in the ‘90s.”
However things were on the decline for dada, according to Leavitt. After the band was signed to a major label (MCA), it recorded one album and was dropped. “The record industry was changing, and we took a hiatus from dada, which was much needed,” said Leavitt. “I ended up in Las Vegas and eventually I became a member of the Blue Man Group.”
Leavitt says around a decade went by then he found himself in Los Angeles again, and reconnected with his former bandmate Calio. “So we decided to bring back dada. We had studio time and were intent on making another album with the band. But, for whatever reason, around 2010 we were unable to make a new dada record so we decided to change things up and go in an entirely different direction,” Leavitt said.
Calio and Leavitt decided to form a duo, but switched roles. “I was the drummer in dada, and Joie was the bassist, but in our new project, Joie switched to guitar. I’m still on drums but I’m also the lead singer. Our new band was to be named 7Horse.”
Leavitt said that instead of rehashing the old alternative rock sounds from dada, the duo was heavily influenced by modern blues. “At the time we were into The Black Keys and The White Stripes, bands like that,” Leavitt said. “So we used that as a starting point to jump off into our new band’s music.”
Leavitt said that the first song he and Calio worked on, ‘Meth Lab Zozo Sticker,’propelled the band into the world, as it somehow was featured in the 2013 major motion film The Wolf of Wall Street. “That song came from a riff Jolie sent me,” Leavitt said. “He lives in Seattle and I live in LA, so we write music by sharing ideas through our I Phones. I didn’t know anything about the title, but I just wrote lyrics around it.”
Since then, 7Horse has released five albums, the latest one entitled The Last Resort, which was released on October 28.
The album was created during the pandemic and lockdown of 2020. “The title of our album, The Last Resort to me, is about turning inward. This record was created by tapping into the power of imagination.The music is full of feelings, emotions and our perspectives of the world. To me I see it like when all else fails the last resort is your own inner world.”
Leavitt said that while the music is important he hopes people will also consume the band’s lyrics. “We try to connect with people; we want our music make them feel the groove, but if you dig a little deeper into some of the songs, the lyrics are a commentary on the world we’ve been living in and how people have lost their minds, for instance the song “Hippies on Acid.” There is a lot of stuff on this record to be discovered besides just the beats and grooves we try to hit people with.”
With the band’s previous album, Songs for a Voodoo Wedding, a track entitled “A Friend in Weed,” has attracted some cannabis enthusiasts, according to Leavitt. “With that song, there is a double entendre for sure,” Leavitt said. “It’s actually a song about the town in Northern California, called Weed. Several years ago, we went up there for a festival for 420 and were so fascinated by this town called Weed,” he said. “Funny thing is, it’s not named after cannabis, it’s named after a man with the last name Weed. This song was about knowing and befriending people in the town of Weed, and as we always say a friend with weed is a friend indeed.”
Leavitt quickly points out however that he is a cannabis connoisseur. “I’m a big time cannabis user; my parents were both cannabis users as well. I would smell the stuff in my house from a young age, he said. “In high school, I wasn’t into drinking or smoking pot, because of my upbringing I shied away from it,” he said. “But then, when I was 20 years old and found myself in Hawaii, I was introduced to some bud called Kauai Electric. I took a hit and within a minute I was laughing uncontrollably, and it began a love affair with cannabis.”
Leavitt says he is a regular user, and uses it to relax and mellow out, but also for creativity, as a musician. “I used to play stoned, a lot with dada,” he said. “On tour before shows, I’d listen to The Chronic by Dr. Dre and just get blazed, as a ritual. But, now I can’t get high before shows, it’s just too much. But I do use it in the studio for writing, it opens up doors to creativity.
“I like to use sativas during the day, so I don’t get couchlocked. I just like uplifting mind expanding strains and find them mostly to be sativas, though indicas do help with relaxation and sleep. I’ve only had positive effects and only benefits from using cannabis… it’s a plant that was put here for us to enjoy.” – Phil Leavitt
Leavitt says he mostly likes Sativa strains but sometimes will try indicas or hybrids. “I like to use sativas during the day, so I don’t get couchlocked,” he said. “I just like uplifting mind expanding strains and find them mostly to be sativas, though indicas do help with relaxation and sleep. I’ve only had positive effects and only benefits from using cannabis… it’s a plant that was put here for us to enjoy.
As for the immediate future, 7Horse has a special show in Los Angeles at the Roxy Theater, on Friday, Nov. 4. “We have been putting a lot of effort into this show,” he said. “We are gonna have a lot of artistic visual elements from the new album included in this show, but we also have some special guests including Runaways singer Cherie Currie, and some former and current members of Blue Man Group.”
Leavitt said 7Horse will plan a tour in early 2023, but so far only have the Nov. 4 show lined up. “We plan to play more shows and book a tour for sure, so look out for us in 2023, but we hope our fans in LA will come check out at the Roxy, it will be a perfect show for anyone who likes to get in an uplifted head space .”
For more information check out 7th Horse.