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The Origin of Project 7X

The following excerpts are from an interview with Scott Newton (Vocals, Guitar, and Arrangement)

How did Project 7X come about?

For about a year or so, my longtime friend - and ex-band mate - Steve Haraburda and I talked about working together on a live project. But we kept going back and forth about what material to do? Between the two of us, we have tons of original material, but going out there with all original material required a great deal of promotion and perseverance. And frankly, we just wanted to get out there and perform music that people would recognize and enjoy.

Then in the early part of 2004, I was scanning through some late night TV and I came across an infomercial about a Time Life collection of music from the 1970s. Now, here’s the thing - I grew up during the 1970s and by the end of the decade, I’d had my fill of popular music. I mean there was a lot of bubblegum early in the decade, and a huge amount of senseless disco knock-off crap toward the end. Finally, when the new wave stuff started to emerge, I was entirely ready to move past the 1970s.”

But listening to that infomercial – I remembered that there was indeed some really great music in that decade. Then it hit me – let’s do a tribute to the cool music of the 1970s. After all, since that time, I’d often heard these songs on the radio and always turned them up for a listen. So, I was stoked – because I thought we could do a lot with that material.

Shortly after, I called Steve to pitch the idea of doing a show based entirely on 70s rock. At first, he sounded a bit perplexed – as I’m sure his mind flashed back to the bubblegum and disco – but when I started rattling off some of the material I had in mind – he was quickly onboard with the concept. So, that’s how Project 7X got started.

How did you select the material for Project 7X?

The inspiration to focus on 70s rock was probably back in February of 2004. For the remainder of the year, I did some extensive research on what songs to include in the project. Thanks to the Internet, I found listings of the top 100 songs from each year for the 1970s decade. It was like paging through a long forgotten school yearbook. I found myself thinking, “Got to do that one….and that one…and that one”.

So, actually the challenge was to trim down the list. I had to put some criteria on the selections. First the songs had to be ones that everyone would know. Next, we had to be able to pull them off with a guitar based lineup. And this was really important – the core of the songs had to be well written – in terms of lyrics and melody. I mean, there was a lot of music on the list that had been a very cool recording – but you couldn’t strip it down to just a voice and an acoustic guitar. Think about the song Layla by Clapton. It was a huge hit as it was originally released, but then had a second life years later as a successful acoustic number – it told a story and had the flexibility to be striped down. But on the other hand, think of Roundabout by Yes – a very cool song – but I strongly suspect that even Yes would have a tough time pulling it off successfully with one voice and one acoustic guitar. And finally, the songs had to have the wiggle room so that we could interpret them in our own way and give them a sound that would fit in with what you’d hear on the radio today.

Despite these restrictions, I found a virtual mother lode of material to choose from. There was material from all the greats – Chicago, Credence Clearwater Revival, Clapton, Tom Petty and many, many, many more. And I’m sure as we go forward, we’ll continue to introduce new material to the initial 2 hour show.

How did you assemble the personnel for Project 7X.

Upon completing the play lists – I set about finalizing the arrangements during the remainder of 2004. Steve was on board from the start. But we had to find the other players. Of course, our first choice for bass was Sam DeMarco. We’d known Sam for many years, but had only played with him once at a rather informal party back in 2001. Thankfully, Sam was available to join-up. Then there was the issue of a drummer – which was a little tough. We would have liked to work with our other good friend John DeMarco (Sam’s Brother). But, John was playing full-time with the Fabulous Janes and was not available.

Despite, the absence of a drummer, we began to rehearse and fine tune the show over the next few months. And by the Summer 2005 – we were ready to go – with the exception, of course, that we still hadn’t found a drummer that fit in with the project.

Then we met up with Vern Hammersmith. It was actually quite by accident. I was talking with my next door neighbor relating the challenge of finding a drummer. And he said – “Hey, you’ve got to hook up with Vern.” It turned out that Vern had been around the area for quite a few years and actually knew the DeMarco brothers from the days that they had played in Risk. Vern was good fit – he’s a real rhythm powerhouse.

Anyway, from that point the Project 7X lineup was complete.

So, you have the music and the players. What’s next?

After the extended period of rehearsals and prep of the show, we’re anxious to get out and play some engagements around the Chicago area. So, we’re working on bookings right now – and we’ll list all our appearances on our website. After that, I guess it’s just the process of getting the word out.

Also, we’re going into the studio sometime in September to produce a CD of some of the material. That too will be on our website – hopefully around the holidays.


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