Mike Groove - 7 Rivers

October 10, 2002

Give me some background on the band.

7 Rivers is comprised of three members but we do use other guys to complete the project. The core members are three members and we are guys that have known each other for well over 10 years. Either playing in bands with each other or knowing each other through other bands. The drummer, Mike Boisclair and I got together to work on some songs and neither of us could sing so we had a handful of songs that were coming together very nicely and decided to call an old friend musician of ours, Ted, the lead vocalist down to have him do some singing. We then put the CD together over a short time period of time and the interesting part of that is we put the tunes and the CD together very quickly because our drummer, Mike, was going to have surgery on his hands and we did not know if he would be able to play again. We put it together very quickly and as it turned out his surgery was very successful and he's able to play. As it turns out we jumped the gun a little bit where we really didn't need to but we were doing it as kind of like "well let's do this just in case" so there it was.

You had no idea how the surgery would turn out.

Absolutely right. His wrists are fused. He had some problems early in his days of drumming. His wrists are fused so they don't bend. He plays a different style of drumming. Where most drummers have very quick wrists he has no wrist movement at all. He had to adapt his drumming style to be able to play. He had some plates in his wrists too. Metal plates and such. What happened was they removed those and the doctor said "chances are that you will be able to continue playing and you won't have any discomfort but there's a chance that you may not be able to." As it turns out, removing the hardware from his hands actually made it better. The thing about Mike is he has very poor joints in his body in general. He had to develop a whole style and setup of his drums to be able to play comfortably. Where most drummers set up their kit in the traditional way, he sets it up in a very nontraditional way and it allows him to play more comfortably. He keeps his arms and shoulders tight to his body as opposed to flailing them all around like a Keith Moon type which he would not be able to do.

Where did the name 7 Rivers come from?

It's a term used in yoga. The seven rivers represent the seven chakras or energy centers in the human body and they're represented by a different color. There are seven different colors and if you look at our album cover, the colors are represented on the album cover itself. These seven energy centers of the body, if you can tap into them using yoga, help you develop a better mind and body attitude in life. A very positive thing.

Who designed your album cover?

The artwork was done by DiscMaker but the album concept came up by the members of the band.

When I was listening to the CD I heard a lot of influences like Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons Project. Are these bands that influenced you?

Yes, absolutely. You hit the nail on the head with the Pink Floyd influence. The three of us in the band are very much Pink Floyd fans. We enjoy that music. Let's say we don't try to copy them but I guess it sort of just comes out that way. It's one of those things. Our lead singer is very much into the Moody Blues. I don't if you caught any of that influence but it's just a style he emulates and it's not so much copying. It's more just like that's sort of how it comes out.

Who does most of the song writing in the band?

The majority of the song writing is done by myself and Mike Boisclair, the drummer. One of us will come up with a riff or an idea. Then we'll build on it based out of that. It's collaborative to an extent where there are no bad ideas. We use everything we can somewhere somehow. If something sounds too similar to what we've already used we might not use it, but generally speaking, one of us will come up with an idea and then we'll build off it based on that.

Does Ted do a lot of the lyrical writing?

Actually no, he does not. He does very little song writing. Generally speaking, music and lyrics are created mostly by myself and Mike.

That's rather unusual.

Yeah, you're right. We are definitely hapless want to be vocalists. If you heard us sing, you'd run the other direction. On our demos we try our hardest to sing the best we can before delivering it to Ted. Generally Ted will add his own flair to it but for the most part we do the writing.

What inspires you musically?

Good question. Myself and then I can speak a little bit for Mike I guess, for myself musical inspiration will just hit me at the strangest places. I might have a guitar and I might be sitting in front of the TV watching a football game and it will have nothing to do with the football game but I'll just come up with something because there is typically no music playing during the football game. Where I can sort of get my mind off of music. Sort of watch TV and strum a little bit and then bam, something comes out. That happens to me. If I try to sit down and write something, I get nothing. If I just pick up the guitar on a whim, I usually get something. That's kind of how it works for me. For Mike Boka, a lot of the time he will pick up the guitar and he will intentionally try to write something. He'll say "all right, I'm going to write a song today." He'll come up with a chord structure or a riff or something like that, and a lot of times what will get his juices flowing is something that's happened to him when he was under surgery. This will sound kind of amusing but he's had a lot of surgeries on his hands and wrists and things of that nature and they'll give him pain killers as you know and sometimes that will send his mind off to a different place. For example, the second song on the CD called "Aeroplane", that's an experience he had where his hands were in great pain. He was taking pain killers to ease the pain but the prescription was running out and there wasn't going to be anymore so he had to deal with that last tail end of dealing with pain and coming off the pain killers. To readjust back to reality let's say. He's not a drug user. We're not drug users generally speaking but that's definitely lit his inspiration fuse a little bit sometimes.

Tell us a little about the album, Path Of Fire.

Path Of Fire is a mix of songs that in our careers we had written and never used and new stuff. It's mostly new stuff but it does have a small selection of stuff that we had recorded either in bands that we had been in together or separately. We brought it together to say "okay, this song was a decent song we wrote a few years back. Let's put it on here and have it have it's final say" if you will. I think a lot of artists, good or bad, like to release a lot of things they've recorded. Sometimes as well it's not our A material bit it means something to us so we'd like to lay it down. The newer stuff actually came out relatively quickly because of the situation where Mike was having his surgery and he may not have been able to play again and we needed to fill the album. Inspiration for some reason was flowing through us and we were able to pull off a lot of new, fresh tunes quickly that weren't forced out of us. Like I'd be at home and I'd be noodling around and bang, I'd have a complete idea in one evening and I'd show it to the guys and "let's work on this and what happens." It would come along very quickly so the concept of this album was a small collection of older stuff and some newer stuff that came together very quickly. There's no common theme running through everything but we are musicians who right or wrong, good or bad, for better or for worse if you will, like to record our material and release it and let it go out and let it be judged whether people like it or not. As opposed to a lot of musicians who are under a time constraint and a record deal where they have to release something. We like to get our music out there and we like to try different styles and we like to incorporate outside musicians sometimes on our recordings also because it adds a different flavor to what we're trying to do or what we're trying to present. Basically that's how Path Of Fire came about. We enjoy a lot of different music. We enjoy classic rock. We enjoy current music. We enjoy heavy music. We enjoy folk music. I think we tried to get a lot of that on the album. It came out more on the lighter side than we have done in the past. We have done some heavy, heavy, heavy stuff in the past and this came out a little lighter than what we have previously done. Again, right or wrong, good or bad, what people think of it, we're going to put it out there and we're going to let it go. We're going to say "tell us what you think of it. We accept what you say."

It seemed like a mixture of different styles to me which was pretty cool. It was kind of refreshing.

That's the question that I would pose to the music industry these days. Can a CD come out and be diverse or do you have to be what you'll become? Like for example, System Of A Down released their album Toxicity. It was done very well. We as a band enjoy that CD and it's a pretty good mix of things but it tends to be on the heavier side. Could a band like that come out next and do a strictly acoustic album? Can Britny Spears come out and do something edgier or does everything she do going to be pop diva pop kind of thing? It appears that in popular music, in nationally released music, you kind of have to be what they expect you to be. In independent music, you can be whatever you want.

They want you to be that next great thing that's going to make them a lot of money.

Right, it's all about the Benjamins. When you're an independent artist, yes money is nice and it would be great if we could release a nationally released album but you've got to scratch and claw and put it together however you can. Do the best you can with what you have.

Are there any particular tracks on the album that stand out to you?

Well, we chose "Aeroplane", the second song on the CD, as our single because we feel that that tune collectively was among our better performances that go over live. That seems to capture exactly what we were looking for. That's one. The first song, "You", is another one. It's a song that was written and recorded very quickly. It's got nice movement to it. Another tune, one slightly older one, is called "We Never See The End". That tune also had never been recorded by a band. It had only been recorded by me as a demo and we feel that that tune actually went together well and it sounds really good live too.

I was intrigued by the song "Michael Doesn't Live Here Anymore".

That's actually one of the slightly older ones. It was something that had been done as a folk number only. No drums, no bass, no other instruments. The tune is actually a metaphor about growing up and growing older and how when you're young and you have a crowd of people you hang around with, you feel like it's never going to end. You feel like you're going to be friends forever and you're going to hang out on every Friday night. Then as you get older, that changes because life gets in the way and you may or may not see the same people you see all the time and it'll get less and less and less. Essentially that's what's happened to us over time where it was a big party all the time and it no longer is anymore. It's essentially more of a metaphor for how life changes and it changes you whether you like it or not.

I liked "We Never See The End" and "7 Rivers" I like too.

"7 Rivers" is actually, if you follow along the lyrics, it's speaking of the seven chakras and the meditation in yoga. Essentially it just follows you through the journey you can go on heavily into meditation and yoga.

Do you guys get to do a lot of gigs?

Well, we do gig when we can. It's not as frequent as we would like due to scheduling and prior previous commitments that we have. When you're slightly older in this business certain other things take precedence sometimes like a paying job and house payments and car payments and all that stuff. We do get out there. We sometimes do unplugged gigs, we sometimes do full band gigs, we have rotating people that come in and play the gigs with us. It's all based on availability.

Have you been able to take the band out anywhere?

Generally speaking, no. New England is a big enough region in itself. We have not been out of New England in this band.

Any chance in the future you guys might hit the road?

That depends on a couple of things. That depends on the success of what we're doing here. The more successful that we do get, the better a chance we would get to get outside of our little region here.

How has your album been selling?

It's selling about how we expected it to which is decent but by no stretch of the imagination tremendously huge. I say that not because I don't believe in the album. I say that because it's the nature of the beast now. In another band that both me and Mike were in about nine or 10 years ago, the Internet wasn't as prevalent. It pretty much wasn't there. Independent releases weren't as great as they are now. It seems like anybody can record a CD at their house, press it and distribute it from their house now than they could 10 years ago. You have your own website. You post your CD on the several different independent CD sites that will sell the CDs for you. Stuff like that hoping the best. You sell them at gigs and such. We're moving through them. I won't say that yes we've sold 15,000 or 20,000 copies. That's not the case. It's moving at a slow but steady pace and I'm happy where it's at.

Have you got around to the MP3s on different sites? How do you feel about the whole MP3 thing?

Yes. For the independent artist, it is absolutely the best thing you could hope for. You give away some of your music and hopefully they'll buy the rest. That's how I look at it for an independent artist. It is the best thing. If somebody purchased my CD and let their friend rip it, I don't have too much of a problem with that because it's getting out there.

Any other comments or ideas?

I thank you and all the folks out there like you that have independent publications on the web. You're helping me promote my music and hopefully I'm helping you promote your site. The independent community can only get bigger and stronger with people like us.

7 Rivers