Ken Leighton 4 p.m., Sept. 20
The Secret Seven
RIYL: Wilco, Ryan Adams, Fountains of Wayne, the Pixies
- "Not Gone Hollywood" · April 17, 2013
Inception: San Diego, 2008
Influences: The Beatles, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, ELO, Paul Simon, Velvet Underground, Jeff Buckley, Pixies, the Jayhawks, Radiohead, Weezer, the Flaming Lips, Chris Isaak, Fountains of Wayne, Van Morrison, Eels, Starsailor, Death Cab for Cutie, Ryan Adams, Spoon, Tom Waits, Slayer, Flo Rida
The day after singer/songwriter Zachary Goode was born, the Beatles publicly announced their breakup. He’s been trying to bring them back ever since.
Born in New York City and brought up in the small artist’s community of Provincetown, Massachusetts, Goode began writing, acting, and singing at a young age. Attending the legendary Saint Ann’s Performing Arts School in Brooklyn alongside future stars like the Beastie Boys and Jennifer Connelly and receiving classical training at Stagedoor Manor and Appel Farm Arts and Music Center in New York, he sang and acted in dozens of plays and musicals, even performing in an Off-Broadway production of Runaways as a child.
In the 1990s, Goode fronted the San Diego bands Ghoulspoon (SDMA winner Best Hard Rock Band) and Divided by Zero (SDMA nominee, Best Hard Rock Album, for the Black Sea), occasionally playing solo acoustic shows and stockpiling songs.
In 2008, Goode formed the Secret Seven, joining forces with former bandmate James “Spooky” Albers and the powerhouse rhythm section of Twon Ridenhour and Troy Rippengale. Goode also plays in the Weezer parody/tribute band Geezer.
“Returning to the classic songwriting roots of the Beatles, ELO, Elvis Costello, and Cat Stevens,” according to the band, “the Secret Seven carries the torch for catchy, harmony-laden rock like Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, Fountains of Wayne, and Weezer.”
The Secret Seven made their live debut in late April 2009 at the Whistle Stop. A debut album, Turn Your Back to the Sea, was released in July 2010. “Twon and I recorded and self-produced the entire album at his home studio, Auraltone Studios,” says Goode at the time. “We self-released it in limited-edition packaging. Each CD is hand packaged in recycled chipboard packaging, hand stamped and numbered, and affixed with a wax seal from the band.”
Goode moved to L.A. in late 2012. “My wife does mental health research for UCSD, and she was offered the opportunity to work on a project for UCLA. She grew up in Santa Monica, so her family is there. I've always loved a challenge, and starting over in the big city appealed to me. I'm slowly meeting people, and I've seen a lot of ‘bass player for hire’ ads on Craigslist so far. Not a lot of ‘bass player wants to join or start a band’ ads, so that seems to be the main difference between L.A. and San Diego. The whole history and landscape of L.A. really appeals to me. Originally being from New York City, I dig life in a big city.”
L.A. is where Goode finished the next Secret Seven full-length, How to Imitate Thunder. “The new album has a lot more depth and instrumentation, as I played piano/keyboard on about half the tracks,” he says.
Goode says his relocation to L.A. essentially left him the sole permanent member. “I had a killer band that recorded this new album with me, but they’re all San Diego–based, so I need to start from scratch again. I’m in the process of finding all new band members to play the album live.”
Not that Goode has necessarily “gone Hollywood.” “I’m still playing with Geezer, so I go back and forth every few weeks to play shows [in San Diego].” Why not keep a local roster intact for Secret Seven? “Living in L.A., it’ll be impossible to get together for band practice and songwriting unless I find some new players. It’s a lot easier in Geezer, because we’re playing covers, and we hardly practice anyway!”
The album essentially features, other than Goode, a new Secret Seven. “Twon and James both left the band before we started the new album. James has been playing guitar as a sideman with a bunch of local bands and Twon actually left to build his own recording studio, the Cabana Studio, where we recorded the new album. He's sort of like the fifth Beatle, since he knows the songs and how I like them to be recorded. Troy stayed on and played bass, and I added my Geezer drummer Nas Helewa [Cotton the Machine], Oliver Fiedler on guitar [Snake Oil Revival, Deliverance Machine], and backup singer Shani Ayanna [Sunday Hustle].”
An online video for the album track “Junk” was created using footage from the movie The Man Who Laughs. “That’s one of my favorite Victor Hugo novels,” says Goode. “When I discovered the film was public domain, I just chopped it up in iMovie and created a new storyline to fit the lyrics to my song.”
The album also includes a Neil Young cover. “The version of ‘Winterlong’ we recorded is closer to the Pixies version they did back in 1990 for a UK B-side. I’ve always loved the song and used to play it for solo acoustic shows.” The video and song are playable on the Secret Seven’s page in the Reader’s online Local Music Database.
As for the album title, “It’s just one of those names that popped into my head and stuck. I’m hoping people don’t think it’s a Norwegian black metal album. They’ll be severely disappointed when they hear...theremin and harmonies.”