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Dis/Location, The 'Guitar-ded' Release By Seven Mary Three

"Be ready for the rock," mock-warns Seven Mary Three. In fact, from the opening salvo of the balls-out "Settle Up" to the aggro "Bark No Bite" to the emotive first single, "Without You Feels," Dis/Located is indeed "guitar-ded," full of "1970s dirge-y, dirty type of riffs," observes singer Jason Ross.

The group's fifth outing, scheduled for release on May 11th, captures the raw power of the literate, universally personal songs of band founders Ross, Giti Khalsa, Casey Daniel, and the lineup's "new" guitarist of four years, Thomas Juliano. Dis/Located's 11 tunes, in fact, represent the most immediate, from-the-gut collection in a stellar career that began with 1995's platinum-plus American Standard and its massive radio hit "Cumbersome," and was furthered on tours with Aerosmith and Matchbox Twenty and subsequent albums showcasing the young band's insightful, timeless take on rock.

If 2001's Economy of Sound represented a new start in Seven Mary Three's musical life with the addition of Juliano, Dis/Located is even more of a fresh beginning. "We didn't reinvent the wheel, but we reclaimed the reason we started the band by making this record," Ross says. "It's brash. The record was made quickly, and we were forced to make quick decisions, so it became the document of a definitive time. That time? January 2004.

"Each day we worked on this album it got better, more fun," recalls Ross of the disc that was trackedčand partially written--in a mere 20 days in the musical mecca of Athens, Georgia.

"I feel this is a record where we didn't have expectations, ours or anyone's. We didn't have a label to say, 'well, you know, we want something that can cross over to multiple formats, why don't you write 'Cumbersome' part four?"

Mammoth, the band's label, went out of business, the dozen bands on its roster homeless in late 2002. Seven Mary Three also split with their manager, signed with new representation (and old friend Steve Balcom), then, after live gigs that put fresh wind in their sails, inked a joint venture with DRT Entertainment.

Even a cursory listen to Dis/Location will reveal some of the band's state of mind, musically interpreted, and the title also references the constant touring which kept the band from home more than six months out of every year. "One of the other reasons it's called Dis/Location is because it's completely polar: Makeup songs and breakup songs," says lyricist Ross.

"The hate songs are really seething, sublime kinds of disconnect, while the love songs are nuanced, 'I like the flaws' stuff. Then there's 'Made to Be Broken,' which was written when Mammoth was dissolving. I hate it when people write songs about the music business, because who gets to enjoy that?" he laughs, adding: "But there was a period of time when things were so what I didn't want them to be. And I was getting angrier, so I wrote this song as a reminder."

The songs also explore the terrifying vulnerability of deep love ("Oceans of Envy"), a momentary epiphany when looking into a stranger's eyes ("Where Are You Calling From"), the perils of a never-ending party ("Settle Up") and the semi-title track, "Dislocated," which Ross terms the "un-'Cumbersome.' If 'Cumbersome' is the call, then 'Dislocated' is the response."

Despite sometimes-dark topics that will connect with reflective music fans, Ross notes that Dis/Location, co-produced, engineered and mixed by Brian Paulson (Beck, Wilco, Son Volt) in Athens' Chase Park Studios, was a lot of fun to make. He also dispels the band's sometimes too-serious image. "In Athens, we stayed in this scary hotelčthey always put you in the 'murder room,' the first-floor corner by where the chain-link fence has a hole for the killer to escape," says Ross, he of the vivid imagination. Fortunately, Seven Mary Three emerged unscathed from the recording process, and unlike previous records, where the frontman retreated into "monk mode," this outing he decided to enjoy himself.

"We fell in love with this one bar, and after recording from 1p.m. to 1 a.m., we'd hit last call there. We'd have nightly talks with the bartenders about what the worst songs and best songs ever written. I wrote a bunch of potential future lyrics while I was there. I met a really cool poet," Ross furthers. He looked like Hemingway when he came into the bar at 1:15 every night, and he gave me the good advice to enjoy myself, to revel a bit."

Part of that enjoyment was the fast-and-loose vibe that went into the creation Dis/Located. "I'd written and kept notebooks all year long, so I already had all the lyrics written down, but not pieced together," Ross explains. "I'd write a chorus or a verse, but it was more fun for me this way, as I didn't sit on my couch at home playing the songs until they were dead. I just took all my words with me, put them on music stands, and when the music played, I sang. While we were doing the basic tracks I'd put down a scratch vocal, that's when the song was really written."

Clearly, it's been a busy, full-of-change several years for the band. And Ross, who formed the lineup in 1992 at the College of William and Mary in Virginia while still a teen, does ruminate on Seven Mary Three's place in the musical scheme of things: "It takes a lot of work to survive in this business if you don't have the big machine behind you - and even if you do have it! I guarantee you, Beyonce is fucking tired," he laughs.

You can never rest in this business. Seven Mary Three have had scant time to rest in the last decade, and the band, once based in Orlando, is now spread out from Boston to Florida to North Carolina, making writing a technological challenge. Still, unlike so many of their brethren, Seven Mary Three is surviving and thriving. And as to the loose theme of Dis/Location, it made itself apparent during the making of the record.

Actually, it's more of an unintentional goal than a theme: "Someone saves you, shows you a way to save yourself from yourself---a lot of these songs address that," muses Ross. "I'm hoping that's what the songs will do for someone else - help to enlighten, but not in any high-minded way. The best art, music and literature is not exclusionary; it's usually about emotions everyone has."

And tapping into those emotions has been the key to Seven Mary Three's success. That and one other thing: "We've never really caved into pressure. Win or lose, we've done it all on our own all these years," Ross concludes, "and that's the thing I'm most proud of. We've stuck to our guns. This record is the beginning of the rest."

Provided by the MusicDish Network. Copyright © Tag It 2004 - Republished with Permission

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